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Death Comes To Mrs. Ferguson/Valley’s Oldest Pioneer Passes
Only four months short of attaining her 100th birthday, Mrs. Elizabeth (Grandma) Ferguson, who was the oldest pioneer woman living in the Kittitas valley, died this morning at the home of her daughter, Mrs. Lottie Ferguson Harris, at 302 E. Fourth street here [March 24, 1951]. She died at 2:10 a.m.
She was a daughter of a pioneer family, as well as being a pioneer herself. She came across the plains in 1860 with her family, making the six-month trip when a girl 9 years old.
Grandma Ferguson was born Elizabeth McEwen in July, 1851 at Fremont, Iowa. She married the late James Ferguson in 1868 at Victoria, B.C. and came to this valley in 1872, a year after their parents, Mr. and Mrs. J. H. McEwen and Mr. and Mrs. James Ferguson. When Mrs. Ferguson arrived in the valley, smokes of nine family dwellings could be seen on a clear day.
The Ferguson and McEwen families crossed the plains by way of Salt Lake City in the same wagon train and stayed together when the caravan broke up near Walla Walla, where they stopped for a year or so then went to Shelton to live until 1871 when they moved to the Kittitas valley.
Mrs. Ferguson remained at Shelton with her two children and her brother, William McEwen, when the families moved here, staying behind to take care of the stock accumulated from the time of the families’ arrival in Washington in 1860.
In the spring of 1872, Mrs. Ferguson’s husband came to Shelton for her and they crossed over Snoqualmie Pass. She made the trip on horseback carrying one child on her lap, the other behind her. When the party came to Lake Keechelus, the trail was found covered by high water from the lake. A raft was constructed to transport the wagons while cattle and horses were driven around the hills.
Robber’s Roost, the valley’s first store, was the only building in Ellensburg when Mrs. Ferguson arrived here. Like most early day pioneers, Mrs. Ferguson worked both in the home and on the ranch, helping with the haying and other jobs usually considered men’s work. She held the plow which cut the ditch from Nanum Creek to the home ranch about 4 miles east of Ellensburg. One of her sons helped with the horses. The ditch is still in use.
For the past five years, Grandma Ferguson has lived with her daughter, Mrs. Harris. Of her 10 children, others surviving are: three sons, James H. Ferguson, Kent; George H. and Ben Ferguson, Ellensburg; two daughters, Mrs. Lillie Morrison, Kittitas and Mrs. Bessie Phelps, Ellensburg.
Mrs. Ferguson is also survived by a sister, Mrs. Laura Wheeler of Ellensburg, 12 grandchildren and 19 great grandchildren.
Funeral services will be conducted Tuesday afternoon at 2 o’clock at the Honeycutt-Evenson Chapel, the Rev. Dan Rueb officiating. Interment will be in the I.O.O.F. Cemetery.