Taylor, Mary Grewell – Obituary
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Mrs. Wm. Taylor, early pioneer of Kittatas, passes. One of the oldest living settlers here, dies Sunday first teacher. Crossed Plains Oxteam, fought Indians, was still active .
Mrs. William Taylor, 75, joined the band of Kittitas county’s vanishing pioneers in mid-afternoon Sunday [October 1, 1933], succumbing to a month’s illness. Mrs. Taylor, despite her advanced age was in rugged health and quite active until she became ill the first of last month. Her passing takes from the ranks of the valley pioneers another of the earliest settlers. Mary Grewell was a true product of the West, crossing the plains from Iowa to Vancouver, Wash., at the age of six years in 1863, spent many years in the midst of Indian Wars, and taught the first school in this valley.
She was born in Chariton, Iowa, February 27, 1858. During the trip in covered wagon westward, her father died July 7, 1863. The ox team journey from Iowa to Clark County required six months. The family settled there for 10 years coming to the Kittitas Valley over the old Government Road (the blockhouse route) in October, 1873, settling in a homestead near the present town of Kittitas.
The following year she conducted the first school in the county, with a room in their log cabin, housing the initial formal educational endeavor of this community. In 1877 she was married to William J. Taylor on January 16. To this union were born three children, two of whom survive: Archie, who died at the age of 3 years in 1880, Minnie Michels, and Frank Taylor of Ellensburg. One brother, Clate Grewell, White Bluffs, and a sister Belle Little, Tieton, also survive.
She has made her home here constantly since entering the valley. With her husband she lived on the Taylor homestead four miles northeast of Ellensburg until 1898 when they moved to town. Mr. Taylor preceded her n death in 1924. Mrs. Taylor had lived here to see the valley grow from an Indian-infested wild frontier land to the modern irrigated farming community that it is today. To her the hardships and perils of her early life in this valley of plenty was a colorful pageant. Present residents of the valley within a distance of four and five miles from Ellensburg find it hard to realize that Mrs. Taylor’s Indian stories are not mere tales, but to her were real everyday problems.
Upon one occasion she outwitted five Indian bucks, and fled to safety in brush along a creek bank until her husband and other neighborhood men returned from Yakima with ammunition. Not many months ago she related to a representative of the Record events of that occasion. Tense with threats of an Indian uprising, she became nervous when left alone in the house, with her sister, the nearest neighbor, three miles distant. Starting to the barn to seek the companionship of her dog, she was accosted by five Indian bucks outside the house. When she tried to pretend she did not see them, a fiendish yell commanded her to stop. She told them she was going over the hill to join the men. The redskins were skeptical, but Mrs. Taylor finally convinced them, and as soon as she was over the crest of the hill, ran the three miles along a creek to her sister’s house. She found no one there, and started to crawl along the creek to her mother’s home. After a short distance she found her sister hiding in the bushes, and then a little later found her mother who, too, was taking cover in the creek brush. There they huddled in fear of their lives until the men returned from Yakima.
Mrs. Taylor told of sleeping in the fields to avoid Indian attacks. On those occasions the dogs were tied up so that they could not follow and reveal to the Indians their hiding places. The name of Mrs. Taylor, as is that of her husband, written high on the list of honored pioneers. The history of their lives is a recording of the early days in this community. Funeral arrangements have not been announced. [Interment at IOOF Cemetery]
Contributed by: Shelli Steedman