A Pioneer Story

Posted by: Richenda at Saturday May 2, 2009 in

I was looking for the pioneer story I mentioned in an earlier blog so I could post it. As yet I haven’t found that one, but in searching I came across this story of an Avalanche and I had to share it.

From: Told By The Pioneers, Reminiscences of Pioneer Life in Washington, Vol. 3., 1938. Editors F. H. Loutzenhiser and J. R. Loutzenhiser. Washington Pioneer Project, Olympia, WA.

by Mrs. W. E. Borton (Mary Brisky)
Chelan County

“A one room log cabin was built in 1887. In 1888, my father, with Sepin and Gonzer, who had come from Bickleton with him, were cutting logs to enlarge the house, which stood at the foot of an arched slope of the mountain. At 8:30 A. M. father had gone down to see Brender. The minister, Rev. Beggs [Biggs], had been lodged for the night. Sepin had been shoveling the snow from the roof. With the shovel in his hand, he heard the swish of a big wind—the mountainside, in the space of a breath, had hurled itself on the unprotected cabin and crushed it as though it had been a celluloid toy. The force of the wind blew Sepin out of the way. Only a heap of snow marked the place where three children and two grown persons were entombed. High up the opposite canyon wall were the splintered logs, bits of furniture, colored scraps of dishes, the wheel of the sewing machine, and other objects. Sepin went for help. At 5:00 P. M. they lifted out the dead bodies of my mother [Laura J. Treadwell Brisky] and the minister, Beggs. […]
“I had just stooped to pick up the baby [Belle Brisky] when the avalanche occurred. I did not realize that it was snow which was smothering us until it was melted by the baby’s breath. The baby melted the snow fast, as she never stopped crying until she was unconscious. I was thrown near mother, whom I could hear, but not see. Mother spoke calmly to us, telling us to lie quietly and breathe as lightly as possible. She asked if we were hurt, or if we could wriggle our arms and legs.
“Mother told us that we would see our father again, but that she would not ; that I would have to be their mother after that day. She instructed me about the care of the baby, even about cooking and sewing. She never stopped talking and the sound of her calm, reassuring voice quieted us children. We were asleep or unconscious when the rescuers dug us out. The cows and the horses cold not be saved.
“To this day I believe the chopping down of the trees and snaking them down the mountain, loosened the avalanche. That was forty-eight years ago, and there has been no repetition.”

This story is one of many recorded through the Washington Pioneer Project and published in at least three volumes. This story is from Volume 3. Volume One is online through the office of Washington’s Secretary of State .

For more information about the people in this story, see Rob Salzman’s e-tree website and the Brisky Treadwell Cemetery in Cashmere, WA.

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