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A new historical special section presented by the Lynden Tribune and Ferndale Record.

The Archives

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Women of Whatcom County


Marie Spaan, humble yet visionary while working with others, was the driving force behind the establishment of the Christian Rest Home, now the Christian Health Care Center, in 1955-56 ................................... C5 The McClanahan family of early Lynden represented a blend of both the American settler and native American traditions, as descendant Denise McClanahan is now digging out in her research ....................... C2


Lynden Tribune | Wednesday, August 30, 2017 | Ferndale Record

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Tracing back a diverse ancestry Denise McClanahan is back in Lynden where her great-grandparents blended cultures By Calvin Bratt

   LYNDEN ­— Denise McClanahan has one foot set firmly in the American settlement story. The other foot is native American, among those who were already here.    The Lynden woman is a diligent researcher of both sides of her ancestry. She collects photos and dates and names, and she is eager to share her treasure of information with anyone interested.    “I’m here as the family historian,” she said during a visit in her East Grover Street condo.    Denise came back to Lynden only in 2012. She was born and raised in the Olympia area, where she in turn grew her own three children. She lived exactly 37 years in the same house until its quick sale, and that allowed the unsettled lure toward her roots to draw Denise back to Whatcom County.    “I knew that my father was born here (Laurel area). I really liked Lynden. It just felt like home,” she said.    She also has more interest in her ancestry than her siblings and cousins. So she has been the one to dig it all out and bring it to light.    It’s a fascinating mix. Daniel and Nina McClanahan    One of Denise’s great-grandfathers is Daniel Abbott McClanahan, who was one of the earliest white settlers at what is now Lynden, preceding the more wellknown Judson and Hawley families. Daniel was, like counterparts James Patterson and John Tennant, at first a single male explorer in the northwest Washington Territory of the 1860s, and each took a native Indian woman as his wife.    Many of these adventurous men had been drawn to Whatcom by the lure of the Fraser River gold rush of 1858. Daniel was from Kentucky and Missouri originally, went on a cattle drive to California and may have been among the gold-seekers there. By 1865 he was in Port Townsend,

Denise McClanahan delves into her rich ancestry history, encompassing both American settlement and native American culture, at her Lynden condo. (Calvin Bratt/Lynden Tribune) Washington Territory.    Nina Seclamatum was a sister of Nooksack tribal leader “Indian Jim,” who died at age 100 in 1911 and is buried in the Nooksack cemetery on Northwood Road. He was an important bridge figure at a time of great cross-cultural transition

locally.    Daniel McClanahan settled on upland from the Nooksack River approximately in the area of Lynden High School and Bradley and Kamm roads today. He suffered from tuberculosis (or consumption), as did many in his day, and died at

around age 50 in 1873. His wife Nina died a few years later, also of the same wasting disease, leaving their four children parentless.    The four offspring, all born at LynContinued on next page

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Lynden Tribune | Wednesday, August 30, 2017 | Ferndale Record


The McClanahan family rests atop Snoqualmie Pass on the way to picking fruit in the Yakima area, possibly around 1920. From left are Horace Greeley, son Sylvester, wife Etta, and son Cecil, with Leonard likely taking the photo. Right: Daniel McClanahan's gravesite is in the Lynden Cemetery. (Courtesy photo) den, were: John Marshall, in 1866; Horace Greeley, in 1869; Nora, in 1871; and Daniel Abbott Jr., born in 1873.    With so few very early settlers, the McClanahan story intertwines with that told by Phoebe Judson in her book “A Pioneer’s Search For An Ideal Home.”    Daniel McClanahan was the only other white man nearby at first in 187071 besides Holden Judson, she wrote, “a warm-hearted kindly neighbor.” But Daniel knew that he was ill and was con-

cerned that his family would be taken care of after his passing. Eventually at least the three oldest McClanahan children would be among the many that Phoebe did foster in her care over the years. The lineage    Going back from Daniel McClanahan, Denise has a tie to some prominent names in American history. Davy Crockett’s grandmother was a McClanahan.    The family was originally from West-

moreland County, Virginia, where they were “neighbors to and attended balls given by George Washington,” according to Denise’s research. “The McClanahans were all well educated, as they could all read and write, owned large parcels of land and all left wills.”   Daniel’s great-grandparents were William McClanahan and Mary Marshall. William was an ordained minister and one of only two ordered by Congress to take to the field during the Revolutionary

War. Mary Marshall was related to John Marshall, the influential long-serving chief justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. A widespread story claims the Liberty Bell cracked after its ringing at the death of Marshall in 1835.    However, the family name at times seemed close to disappearing in the Washington state branch.    Little is known of Daniel and Nina’s oldest son, John Marshall. “It is believed Continued on next page

C4 that he was involved with the Alaska Gold Rush of 1898 and was unheard of again,” Denise wrote.    Nora, at age 19, succumbed to the same affliction that had claimed both of her parents. Daniel Abbott Jr., the youngest, married, but left no children. He died in Lynden in 1953.    That left Horace Greeley, who married Juliet (Etta) Matthews of Ferndale in 1893. They had three sons, Leonard, Cecil and Sylvester Orlando. Neither Leonard nor Cecil had any children.    Sylvester married Myrtle Allen, of Delta, British Columbia, and to them were born Darlene, Neil, Denise and Roger. Those four, in turn, now have among

Lynden Tribune | Wednesday, August 30, 2017 | Ferndale Record

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them 11 children and 15 grandchildren, so the McClanahan lineage is carried on in the Northwest.    Denise has three children all living in western Washington, including a daughter and grandchildren in Bellingham. The ongoing story    Due to her deep links to local history, Denise McClanahan has made contact with two other chroniclers of it: Mary Michaelson, formerly of the Lynden Pioneer Museum and a historian of the Judson and Goodell families; and Candace Wellman, who just recently released her “Peace Weavers” book on cross-cultural marriages that helped to unite the Salish

From left in this pre-1934 photo of the McClanahan family are: Horace Greeley, Etta, Cecil, Myrtle and Leonard, with Sylvester kneeling. Horace Greeley’s dark hair turned “a beautiful white” as he aged, according to his granddaughter. (Courtesy photo)

Denise McClanahan’s father, Sylvester, provides the only line of descent today from her grandparents Daniel Abbott and Nina Seclamatum McClanahan. (Courtesy photo)

coast in the early settlement years 1850s to 1870s.    Denise has participated in a helping research group for Michaelson.    She is also learning more about her Nooksack lineage as well as issues facing the tribe today.    And even her native heritage may not be entirely Nooksack, as great-grandmother Nina may have had some Swinomish blood in her. The tribes did intermarry.    She can trace her connection to the Swanasets of the Nooksack tribe today.    But at just one-eighth native, Denise cannot be an enrolled member of any tribe currently.

  Great-grandfather Daniel Abbott McClanahan reportedly was buried under an apple tree on the land he settled. However, as the Lynden Cemetery was officially established in 1889, remains from elsewhere were reinterred there. So Daniel and two of his children do have gravesites in Lynden Cemetery. However, there is no known gravesite for Nina, Denise said.    If she chose to, Denise could also take off into an ancestry search involving her mother, who was Canadian. Her father, Sylvester, met her mother, Myrtle Allen, when he worked at an oil well in Ladner, British Columbia. That likely would take her off in an entirely different direction.

Lynden Tribune | Wednesday, August 30, 2017 | Ferndale Record

The Archives


Today’s CHCC had its start in 1956 And Marie Spaan was its visionary and first fulltime administrator By Calvin Bratt

   LYNDEN ­— 2016 marked the 60th anniversary from the opening of what is now the Christian Health Care Center. It began in 1956 as the Christian Home for the Aged and Infirm, a new facility on South B.C. Avenue. A dedication and open house at the site on March 17, 1966, drew nearly 2,000 people, the Lynden Tribune reported at the time.    Construction began in 1955 and went through the winter. There was a supporting society and a board of directors, and an admittance committee in 1956 consisted of Herman Elenbaas, Pete Enfield and Grace Boerhave.    Before opening, the hiring of three registered nurses was a priority. “One of the requirements for a first-class nursing license is that the rest home have three registered nurses,” Elenbaas told the Tribune.    Mrs. Oscar Liffengren was named the first head nurse and supervisor. Joining her were Mrs. Henry (or Albert) Glass and Mrs. Wilbur Kirkpatrick.    Others announced in March 1956 as first hires were: Misses Frances Bierlink and Elizabeth Van Beek as nursing staff; Mrs. Bert Vander Griend, Jeanette Terpstra and Mrs. George Haveman for housekeeping; Mrs. Henry J. Van Dyke and Mrs. Jennie Bakker as cooking staff; and John Kiel as custodian.    At the open house, the visitors could appreciate these features of the “beautiful new home for senior citizens”: the furnished

The supporting society of the Christian Rest Home assembles in October 1956 at Lynden Christian High School. At this meeting it was reported that the home now had 46 residents. (Courtesy photo) residential rooms, a well illuminated nursing station, the walk-in freezer and refrigerator and a big cooking range in the kitchen, a nurses’ lounge, an 11-bed infirmary, and a spacious recreation room in the basement.    The first 12 residents to live there were Lars Tobiasson, Karen Paulson, Ella Loring, James Roosma, Mr. and Mrs. Herman Terpstra, Pete Stuurmans, Pete Noteboom, Grace Dyk, Al Stuurmans, G. Houg and Nellie Jansma, the Tribune reported. Their ages ranged from 73 to 91. And the admittance committee was quickly being flooded with Continued on next page

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C6 additional applications.    By May 1956, highlights of visits and activities at the Christian Rest Home were being regularly included in the Tribune. New residents were being added.    Sixteen girls of the Loyal Temperance Legion came by to sing and mingle. Bert Matter showed his moving pictures of Mount Baker, Nooksack Falls, Stevens Pass, the Alaska Highway, the Apple Blossom Festival of Wenatchee, Bremerton Navy Shipyards and Boeing Field.    New residents moving into the Christian Rest Home in June 1956 were Mrs. Eva Tyler of Lawrence, Mrs Anna De Boer and L.C. Bovenkamp of Lynden, Mrs. A. Miedema of Oak Harbor and Mrs. Bernice Paddock from The Firs of Bellingham.    Some residents took outside excursions themselves. Pete Noteboom had returned from a month’s visit to Denver, Colorado, and Orange City, Iowa, with his grandchildren.    By October 1956, Marie Spaan was the superintendent of the Christian Rest Home, writing its highlights for the Tribune. Bulbs were being planted for next spring’s flowers. Pastors were conducting Sunday vesper services, and it was hoped that a fund would soon produce a piano for the lounge. Visitor had been both local and from out of town.

Marie Spaan remembered by those who knew her   Following are several tributes to Marie Spaan by several who knew her:    Marie Spaan (1903-1996) was the visionary leader and first administrator of the Christian Rest Home, which was established in 1956 on South B.C. Avenue in Lynden. Using the theme “The Total Person in the Total Program,” she promoted this model with persistence and patience.    Not only did Marie’s ideas gain community-wide support, but her effort became of interest to the State of Washington. This included her appointment to the Governor’s Council on Aging and lecturing at the University of Washington.    In addition to her work on behalf of the elderly, Marie taught with distinction at Lynden Christian School, was a faithful member and teacher at Lynden’s Third Christian Reformed Church and was the financial manager of Cornelius Spaan’s concrete stave silo business.    For her wisdom and leadership, we gave thanks to God for this gifted woman, and honor Marie Spaan for her contribution to the Lynden community. — Ron Polinder, Marie’s great-nephew

Lynden Tribune | Wednesday, August 30, 2017 | Ferndale Record    The vision of having a retirement/nursing home complex for the elderly in Lynden, Washington, was my mother’s idea. She worked tirelessly to make it happen. Moreover, she was well qualified for the task:     • Her initial schooling was in a oneroom school near Pella, Iowa; she was the only person in her particular grade.     • She graduated from the local high school in Newton, Iowa.     • She spent college years at William Penn College in Oskaloosa, Iowa.     • She began her professional career as an elementary school teacher.     • She attended the American Institute of Business in Des Moines and subsequently joined the advertising side of a firm located in Des Moines.    When she married Cornelius Edward Spaan, Marie left the Iowa firm and moved to Lynden, Washington, where she became a very well respected member of the Lynden community.    She and her husband built a pioneering silo business that introduced concrete stave silos to the Pacific Northwest — something new and unusual at the time. Concrete silos now dot the Western Washington landscape. Marie Spaan’s role was taking care of the financial side of the business.    She not only helped run the silo business, but invested herself in the Lynden community in various ways. Over the years, Marie Spaan served:     • As a highly respected elementary school teacher in the Lynden Christian School system.     • As president of the Mothers’ Club, an early attempt at providing parent-teacher connections/conferences.     • As a Bible teacher for women at Third Christian Reformed Church in Lynden.     • As a supporter of various communal activities sponsored by the town of Lynden.    After reading in various periodicals about the coming needs of the elderly, Marie Spaan came to the conclusion that Lynden had its own elderly with needs, and she thought the time was ripe for addressing those needs on an institutional basis. Thus was born the notion of building a Christian retirement home for the Lynden community.    Looking back, this was a very visionary perspective. At the time, children took care of their parents, often in their own homes. Thus there were many who thought a retirement/nursing home was not necessary. There was also a minority who believed institutional retirement care was simply not appropriate — this was not the way Christians should care for the elderly. Several also spoke about bad experiences they had with nursing homes. But Marie Spaan persisted with her ideas and convictions. She also recognized early on that planting seeds and

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publicly addressing issues would take time, expertise and patience. These she possessed. She also brought to the task educational experience, business acumen and public respect.    With her husband’s full support, Marie M. Spaan laid out a plan to get her “dream” moving forward. It initially included the following elements:    1. Make a tour of nursing homes in Western Washington to get the lay of the land — that is, get a clear picture of the actual state/status of retirement/nursing home care as it was currently practiced. This she did at her own expense. And the results were very revealing.    2. Determine on the basis of gathered information (both from the “tour” and readings on aging) the quality of elder This was Marie Spaan in her later years. (Courtesy care currently being provided photo) by retirement institutions. along with experiential encounters in a vaThis was in the early 1950s. riety of places and lots of reading, helped    3. Lay out a focused plan for the new redetermine Marie Spaan’s philosophy of elder tirement home project — one that provided care. It was what she called “The Total Person the best possible residential care, was rooted in the Total Program.” in a faith-based tradition and that addressed    In her thinking, this meant residents current problems facing institutional care for needed two fundamental things: the elderly in the state of Washington. Much    First, as elderly persons they needed to here was missing, and in need of change. be seen as whole beings with multiple needs    4. Be willing to lay down some cash for — not just individuals with physical needs, the project early on, once the retirement but persons with spiritual, social and intelhome idea had gained some credence. This lectual needs as well. would suggest to the community the se   Second, as program recipients they riousness of the project. (This is what the needed activities that supported the prior Spaan family did, along with others who saw holistic outlook. This meant: the potential.)     • Getting churches involved with spiri   5. Begin the whole effort by contacting tual support, including worship services. local people and asking for project support,     • Starting arts and crafts activities for especially those in the business community. residents so they became engaged in making This meant finding individuals sympathetic things. to the idea of an institutional home for Lyn    • Asking people from the community to den’s elderly. The initial board of directors for give presentations on various subjects. the retirement home project came out of this     • Training all staff in the ways of holistic initiative. And it was this initial board that thinking regarding health care. voted to have Marie Spaan serve as the first     • Visiting residents when it was feadirector of the new venture. sible for staff, including patient visits by the    After the initial tour of various Western home’s director in order to gain information, Washington retirement/nursing homes, it but also to offer support and be a role model. became clear to her that the project’s fo   Today, the preceding may seem obvicus needed to be on more holistic living ous. But in the 1950s, this was new and radifor residents. More than once, my mother cal stuff. It took the 1960s to spread the nonoted that “retirement and nursing homes tion of “holism” widely, what to my mother in the state are currently nothing but dumpseemed just plain “common sense.” This is ing grounds.” She also said, “The residents not to suggest that she was not a visionary; do nothing; they just spend their time sitshe was. Nor does it suggest that she left no ting around. No wonder they have health problems.” Thus, her firsthand information, Continued on next page

Lynden Tribune | Wednesday, August 30, 2017 | Ferndale Record

The Archives mark on healthcare in and for the state of Washington; she did. In fact, her pioneering efforts led to lecturing at the University of Washington on issues of the elderly. She also became part of the Governor’s Council on Aging. “The Total Person in the Total Program” had traveled beyond Lynden.    What first caught the attention of state officials was the fact that residents at the Lynden facility often improved in health. This was uncommon in the ‘50s. When a resident was admitted to a retirement facility, the demographics usually demonstrated a steady decline in health. And a decline in health meant the state of Washington needed to redress the situation with additional funding. Then one day state officials in Olympia discovered a financial anomaly. The Lynden retirement facility was often costing the state less per resident than other retirement homes. Officials wanted to know why and came to Lynden to figure it out. What they found was a different kind of healthcare/retirement model — one that benefited not only residents, but financially benefited the state of Washington as well.    For me, much of this awareness comes from conversations heard at home. And there was a lot of conversation during the early days, and on many retirement home subjects.

   Clearly, no one makes a communal project alone; it is always something shared. In my mother’s view, many hands and hearts were needed to make the retirement idea work: residents, families and their children, volunteers of all sorts, neighbors, ministers, health care professionals and administrators. All such people contributed to Marie Spaan’s success. If my mother were alive, she would personally wish to thank each contributor for their service. She was a smart, generous, giving person. And deeply Christian. So thanks belong to all who joined together in order to make the retirement project work during the very early years. I wish I could remember all their names. Each is a founding hero in their own way.    Marie Muilenberg Spaan gave so much of herself to Lynden, and she did it in so many non-self-serving ways. This includes laying a solid institutional foundation in retirement care so that the elderly could have a meaningful and Christian place to live out their remaining days. Thank you for allowing me to share. — Donna J. Spaan, Ph.D., Marie’s daughter    She was a very intelligent and wise woman! My grandpa Stuurmans was one of the earliest residents at the Rest Home —and

This was the front of the Christian Rest Home on South B.C. Avenue around 1970. (Courtesy photo/Christian Health Care Center) he loved it there. He described Mrs. Spaan as pleasant and fair.    I remember this line Marie Spaan said to me and she tried to live by it: “If your children have a problem, don’t ignore it even though you think it is small. Be sure you listen to them, and talk it through with them.” — Glenda Polinder,

We Are Looking Standout Citizens For Your Nominations! The Lynden Tribune and Ferndale Record are looking for local heroes in our community to celebrate.These exemplary individuals may be firefighters, law enforcement, teachers, coaches, neighbors or anyone who strives to help make our part of the world better and brighter by helping others.




a niece by marriage    “She had a disciplined classroom, very fair. I remember how good a math teacher she was. As I look back, she was a quality teacher and person.” — Harold Terpstra, fourth-grade student of Mrs. Spaan

To nominate someone you’ll need the following information: √ Nominee’s Name √ Their City of Residence √ Why They Were Nominated (service to community) √ Who They Were Nominated By √ Your Phone Number √ Your Email

Where to send nominations: √ Fill out a form at the Lynden Tribune office √ Mail information to the Lynden Tribune office at 113 6th Street, Lynden, WA 98264 √ Email information to √ Fill out the form available at


Lynden Tribune | Wednesday, August 30, 2017 | Ferndale Record


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