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Skagit River Journal

of History & Folklore
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Noel V. Bourasaw, editor 810 Central Ave., Sedro-Woolley, Washington, 98284
Home of the Tarheel Stomp Mortimer Cook slept here & named the town Bug

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Cub Ramsey and his wonderful life

(Cub and Deer)
Cub and a downed deer on Blueberry Mountain

      Ed. note: Back in 2000, shortly after we started the website, Peni Ramsey found us on the Internet and wrote to me and shared a brief story about her father-in-law, Cub Ramsey. Cub was a legendary figure who we heard about around campfires when I was growing up in the Utopia district near Lyman. He was over 80 and hard of hearing when I tried to interview him by phone. And then he died suddenly and I lost my chance. But Peni persevered and sent us a steady stream of memories and scans of Cub's wonderful life. Update July 2004: Cub's lovely wife, Theona, also passed away a few months later. We have added her obituary at the end of this page.
      Peni is the daughter of Wes and Myrtle Syverson and her sister, Vicky, married into one of Sedro-Woolley's historic families. Her husband is Charles Lederle, grandson of the Lederle family that had the shoe stores on both sides of Metcalf street. Peni and her husband, Gary V. Ramsey moved in with his mother at the family home on District Line road after Cub's death in January 2001. She adored Cub and wrote about him: "He was kind, gentle and caring. He had wonderful sense of humor." She didn't know much about Cub's father, Tif Ramsey, but she shared the family memory of him, too: "It is said that Tiff never met a stranger. He opened his home to friend and family as they moved into and out of the area. I believe he served in the Coast Guard in this area before he moved here." But there is much more to the story and we share it in four parts below.

Ramsey family memories about Cub, compiled by Peni Ramsey
(Rule school)
Cub's longtime friend Cecil Hittson loaned a copy of this photo of the Rule School back in Arkansas where they both attended. Cecil notes that he and Cub both walked several miles each way to the school from their home and you can see that a cemetery surrounded it. Cecil's parents came to Lyman in 1922 on their honeymoon a few years after Cub's parents came here.

      On March 10, 1907, Tilford "Tif" Ramsey married Eller Braly (Brawley) in Green Forest, Arkansas. Tif was the son of Henderson Ramsey and Rhoda Gage. Eller was the daughter of Wyatt Braly and Alice McMahan. Rhoda Gage is a descendent of David Boydston and Mehitable Snow who is rumored to be a descendent of Stephen Hopkins of the Mayflower.
      Cub Ramsey was the oldest and only son of Tif and Eller, born January 19, 1908, with the name of Cuthbert. [You will soon understand why he was named for a cub bear.] Cub was born in Green Forest and moved with his family to Lyman before he was a year old. The family was counted in the 1910 census, but the next child, Jesse, was born December 18, 1911, back in Green Forest. Eller was so homesick that the family decided to return home.
      It is unknown why Lyman was the original chosen destination. Maybe there were already family members here. Family names include Sims, McCalib, Jackson, Bunch, Hittson, Snow, and Lennox. Cub attended 4 years of school at the Rule School in Green Forest. Cub's sister Sylvia was born Dec. 26, 1919 in Green Forest and then in 1921 the family again moved to Lyman. Sister Fern was born Dec. 4, 1925, in the apartment behind the Lyman Bank. Fern married George Johnson and they still live in Sedro-Woolley. In 1928 the family moved to the northwest corner of Hamilton Cemetery Road and Cabin Creek Road. Tif named the area, Punkin Center, and the fire department later adopted the name. I know there??s a story that goes with the naming, but I??ve never heard it.
      Tif worked as a blacksmith at the Skagit Mill Company in Lyman. Cub said this is the equivalent of a millwright today. Cub worked at the mill as a pond monkey, spinning the logs in the pond to remove the bark. He fell in one day, and drenched, he ran down the railroad tracks and home to change his clothes. As far as he knew, he was never missed.
      Cub??s greatest love at the time was hunting and fishing. He hiked into the high country often. One of his favorite places was above the Main Line on the Nooksack River. Cub and a friend built a cabin complete with stove. [The friend may have been his cousin Bert Lennox. Tif's older sister married a Lennox] In the 1970??s the cabin was gone, but the stove remains. Cub fished Baker Lake, Shannon Lake, Day Lake and many rivers in the area. Bear Creek Meadows has always been his favorite hunting place.

(Cub and motorcycles)
Cub with Bert and Phyllis Lennox on their motorcycles. Click on the photo for another photo of Cub with his cherished motorcycle

      Cub loved life and lived it to the nth degree. He played the banjo and the mandolin. During the depression he saved his money for saxophone lessons in Seattle. Cub owned a Harley Davidson which he rode everywhere. It was on one of his trips to Eastern Washington when he was broad sided by a car. One of the handlebars went through his thigh. Tiff drove over and picked up son and his motorcycle. Cub had the motorcycle back together before he was able to ride again.
      In the late 1930??s Cub met his future wife at the Cook Road Grange where he played in the band., The White Coats. Cub came down off the stage and asked Theona Hunter to dance. She was flabbergasted! He was very handsome and highly sought after. Theona was a descendant of the Dannenmiller family, early pioneers near Avon, and the Riplinger and Felton families. In 1941 Cub and Theona married and shortly thereafter moved to Milton. Son number 1 was born in 1942. Cub drove a work bus to the shipyards in Tacoma where he worked during the day. While he worked there he made two rings. One for each mother, the rings are now in the possession of his two granddaughters. He also worked for a short time in a cabinet shop.
      The family returned to Skagit county in 1947 and moved to their permanent home in 1948. He worked for a short time at Skagit Steel and Hall??s Machine and then he worked for 35 years at Goodyear Nelson as a grader. Son number 2 was born in 1949. In 1962 he began building his new home. He had a framer come in and frame the house and did the rest himself. In 1965 the family moved in.
      Over the years Cub collected work-working tools and made many items including a dressing table for his wife, a large bureau for himself and his boat, La Whisk. He made lamps and jewelry boxes with parquet. At the age of 90 he made me a quilt rack with a small railing at the top. Cub planed his own wood; we saved many rounds of various types of wood for him.
      Cub had a huge garden every year. In his later years it was smaller, but still about 40?? x 30??. The garden was always lush and weed free. Every year he tilled the garden and planted rye grass. It was very sad to see his garden at the end of the season the year he died. He harvested his crop, but was unable to do the finishing touches
      Cub passed away January 13, 2001.

Click on these thumbnails for full-sized photos
(Day Lake)
(Watson lakes)
(Day Lake)
Far left: Cub and Doyle Wright at Day Lake near Clear Lake.
Center: Cub fishing Al Gentry at Watson Lakes.
Right: Cub and Bert Lennox at Day Lake near Clear Lake.

Obituary Cuthbert "Cub" Estel Ramsey
Born Jan. 19, 1908, died Jan. 13, 2001

      Cuthbert Ramsey, better known as Cub, was born to Tilford Elbert and Eller (Brawley) Ramsey on Jan. 19, 19-9, in Green Forest, Arkansas, and entered into rest on Jan. 13, 2001, in Burlington, following a brief illness
      At the age of 13, Cub relocated with his parents to Lyman, then in 1928 moved to Hamilton and in 1941 moved to Milton. Before moving to Milton, Cub worked for the Skagit Mill in Lyman. After relocating to Milton, Cub worked for the shipyard in Tacoma.
      Cub entered into marriage with Theona Roberta Hunter on Aug. 2, 1941, in Sedro-Woolley. Cub and Theona relocated to the Skagit Valley in 1947, settling in Burlington in 1948, where they have resided since.
      Cub worked [in Sedro-Woolley] for Skagit Steel, Hall's Machine Shop and Goodyear Nelson sawmill, where he worked as a grader for many years, retiring in 1973. Cub is also a past member of the Western Council L.P.I. Timber Operators Council. Aside from providing for his family. Cub's interest were hunting and fishing, woodworking, working in his garden and playing his banjo.
      Cub is survived by his loving wife and partner of almost 60 years, Theona, at the family home [between Sedro-Woolley and Burlington. Sons Richard Lee "Dick" Ramsey and his wife, Deanne, of Lake Whatcom, Gary V. Ramsey and his wife, Peni, of Burlington. Grandchildren Marilyn Houser and her husband, Michael; Chad Ramsey, Carmen Ramsey, Kevin Ramsey, all of Burlington. Great-grandson Lucas Van Esch of Mount Vernon. Sister LaFern Johnson and her husband, George, of Sedro-Woolley. Cub was predeceased by his sisters Jessie Toler and Sylvia Kness.
      His funeral was conducted on Jan. 17, 2001, at Hawthorne Funeral Home in Mount Vernon, with graveside service on January 18 at Hawthorne Memorial Park.

Click on these thumbnails for full-sized photos
(Nooksack river)
(Boathouse on Baker Lake)
Far left: Cub fishing on the Nooksack river.
Center: Cub's boathouse at Baker Lake before the dam, early 1920s.
Right: Clayton Porter and Cub at Cub's Cabin on the Nooksack river.

Cecil Hittson memories of Cub
      The Ramseys came from Arkansas from the same area as my family . Cub may have learned his hunting skills in the Ozarks and his fishing skills from noodling fish in the Osage River near Rule, Arkansas, where Cub went to school.
      He was the only person that i know of that brought home a buck deer that was blind. The story goes that he and a friend were hunting in the area of Howard and Sister creeks. He was watching a doe and buck graze. He noted that each time they moved the buck would grab the tail of the doe. Watching this action he determined the buck to be blind. He crawled within about 40 yards and shot the does tail off . He then quietly walked to the buck, took hold of the tail and led the buck back to his truck where his partner cut the buck's throat. The buck was and dressed out in Koop's meat market. The buck was only a Y but dressed 225 pounds.

Click on these thumbnails for full-sized photos
(Cub and Bert Lennox)
(Cub and Bear)
(Lennox and Jackson)
Far left: Cub and Bert Lennox.
Center: Cub and a bear.
Right: Bert Lennox and Ted Jackson.

Former Green Forest citizens go bear hunting in Washington
Lyman, Washington, Oct. 14, 1926
      Dear Editor. If you will give me space in your paper I will tell all of my old friends of a big bear hunt. On September 29, Tee Jackson, Tom Wilson, Bert Lennox, and my son Cuthbert and myself shouldered our pack sacks, containing about 50 pounds each, and started on a hunting trip to the snow-capped mountains of northwest Washington, about 28 miles from Lyman [near the Nooksack river]. There are no inhabitants in these mountains except wild animals.
      We hiked all day, arriving at our camping place about six o'clock p.m. and pitched camp at the same place where Tee Jackson, my son and myself camped last year while on our hunt and where Mr. Jackson had the good luck to kill a bear.
      On October 1, after having a day's rest, we shouldered our 30:30 rifles and started off for a bear. We had not been gone from our camp more than 15 minutes when I head the report of a rifle; then the signal shot — two shots close together. We went to see what had happened and found that Cuthbert had killed a very large bear, weighing about 400 pounds. He shot it thru the heart from a distance of about 200 yards. We dressed him and had a dinner of bear meat, which was very appetizing.
      That afternoon, Cuthbert and Bert Lennox went out for another hunt. They came up on three cubs about grown. Bert shot and killed one and a full grown bear, the parental bear, came to protect the cubs. They had quite a hot battle but finally the bear was defeated and she took refuge in the woods. The boys, feeling quite victorious were now willing to shoulder their cub and return to camp. In the meantime, Tee Jackson was having a battle with another big bear, but he was more than Tee could master.
      Having all the meat we desired, we decided to go home, having seen nine bears and two deers. The place where we were in camp was 4,000 feet above sea level and to our west was the twin sisters, two tall snow-capped mountains. On the north was Mount Baker, covered with snow all the year from 15 to 25 feet deep, and in the top there is a dormant volcano, which has not been in action for many years. Looking eastward you could see the Cascade mountains. The scenery was beautiful and our hunt quite thrilling, but my next big hunt will be on the Bradshaw mountains, south of Green Forest with old Bounce [illegible word] looking for a possum.

(Group at cabin)
      1933 photo at the cabin in the woods near the Nooksack river. Caption on the back: Ralph Cooper, Pearl Peare, Doris Mullen, Francis Mullen (sister to Denny Mullen and played in the same band with Cub), Jessie Koops, Laurence Hedden, Cub and unidentified

Obituary: Theona Roberta Ramsey, Oct. 21, 1914-June 12, 2004
Skagit Valley Herald, June 15, 2004
(Theona Ramsey)
Theona Ramsey

      Theona Ramsey was born to Samuel and Dora (Dannenmiller) Hunter on October 21, 1914 in Enumclaw, Washington and entered into rest on June 12, 2004 at Skagit Valley Life Care Center in Sedro-Woolley. [Peni Ramsey: she is the granddaughter of Katherine Felton Dannenmiller who arrived in the Harmony (near LaConner) in Whatcom County around 1877 with her parents Martin and Margaret. Katherine was about 2 years of age. Theona was the oldest of the Dannenmiller grandchildren.]
      The family moved to Anacortes in 1915 and then to the Hunter family farm in Mount Vernon in 1932. Theona graduated from the Mount Vernon High School in 1933. She attended and graduated from the Mary Stone Beauty School in Seattle. She worked as instructor at the school prior to working in a beauty salon. On August 2, 1941 she married Cuthbert (Cub) Ramsey and they moved to Milton, Washington. They relocated to Skagit Valley in 1947, settling in Burlington in 1948 where she resided until moving to the Life Care Center Sedro-Woolley. Theona was a homemaker and mother.
      Theona is survived by sons Richard Ramsey, his wife Deanne and Gary Ramsey his wife Peni; grandchildren Marilyn and Michael Houser, Chad and LaDawn Ramsey, Carmen Ramsey, Kevin Ramsey and one great-grandson, Lucas VanEsch. Theona is also survived by one sister, Ethel Peterson, one aunt, Alice Post, and numerous nieces, nephews and cousins. Theona was preceded in death by her husband "Cub", her parents and one sister, Wilma Charlene Ward.
      Open visitation for Theona will be on Wednesday, June 16, 2004 from 10:00 to 5:00 pm at Hawthorne Funeral Home, Mount Vernon, Washington with Graveside Service to follow on Thursday, June 17 at 11:00 am. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made in Theona's name to the Arthritis Foundation or the American Cancer Society.
      Full arrangements have been entrusted to the care of Hawthorne Funeral Home and Memorial Park, Mount Vernon, Washington.

Story posted on June 1, 2004, and updated July 31, 2004
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