Monday, May 3, 2010

Update: Our Little House, the FERI family, and Orcas Island

Well.  I was able to find out a great deal more about the FERI family who were the likely builders of our little house, and the first family to live here. There are some  "anomalies" in the records found that make me think there is a very interesting story here.

The first thing I discovered through records was that the wife of JACK FERI b abt 1899 Italy was FLORENCE GRAY, born about 1874 probably on Orcas Island, WA.  She was the daughter of JOHN W. GRAY b 1832 KY and LUCY unknown, either a Native American from Alaska or First Nations member from British Columbia, Canada. JOHN W. GRAY can be found in the 1870 WA Territorial census, single man, a logger  from KY, living in Samish twp, Whatcom Co WA (very near here). From 1880 until 1900, JOHN, his wife LUCY and children including FLORENCE lived on Orcas Island WA.

In 1910 census, FLORENCE GRAY had already married THOMAS J BRYAN and had two young children, ELSE age 2 and THOMAS J BRYAN Jr age 3.  The family was living on Orcas Island.

Now comes the interesting part.  The eldest son of FLORENCE GRAY & JACK FERI was WARREN ROSCOE FERI, who is listed as ROSCOE on the 1930 Anacortes, Skagit Co WA census. WARREN was born in 1912, just two years after the 1910 census.  What happened to the first husband and two children?  They are not in subsequent census records, and so far I haven't found them in Washington State at all.

The next item I found was a 1917 WWI draft registration for JACK FERI from San Juan Co WA. All the information matches up, and on the registration JACK indicated he had a wife and child.  However--and this is extremely curious--the person who was the registrar disputed that this was true. I don't know what the reason for this might be.  I am not sure what the legalities were concerning inter-racial marriage at that time and in that place, but it was not uncommon, I think. The town in San Juan County where JACK was living looks like "Alya" on the document, but I believe it was the village of Olga on Orcas Island.  There were very few people living in Olga at that time, and everyone knew everyone. Why the county draft registrar should dispute JACK's claim of a wife  & child is beyond me!

I found several WA state birth records for JACK FERI and FLORENCE GRAY, indicating children born in Pierce County, WA.  Pierce County is a couple hundred miles south of Orcas Island. Why Pierce County and not San Juan County?

And finally, there's that 1930 census record, which has some weird stuff in it. First off, the children listed on the census were indeed the children of JACK FERI and FLORENCE GRAY, and not hers from a previous marriage. The census taker crossed out "Italy" as their father's place of origin and scrawled in something that appears to look like "mixed blood" or "negro blood".  I can't get a close enough magnification to really read it. And I have to say, I've never seen anything similar on any other  WA census record.

Also, there were three children, not two.  I missed one lurking on the following page (Fie, Fie, bad sloppy genealogist!)

The three children of JACK & FLORENCE (GRAY) FERI were

WARREN ROSCOE FERI b 1912 WA; died Medford, Jackson Co OR
EDWIN GRAY FERI b 1919 WA died 2001 Orcas Island WA

The next record I found was from the San Juan Journal newspaper in 1942:

1/22/1942---ORCAS BOYS ENLIST IN U.S. MARINES The Journal is informed that Maurice G. Rodenberger, son of Mr. and Mrs. Glen Rodenberger; and EDWIN FERI, son of Mr. and Mrs. JACK FERI, both of Olga, have enlisted in the U.S. Marines and have been sent to San Diego for training.

FLORENCE N. (GRAY) FERI died in 1945 in San Juan County, WA, according to WA state death records. 

And last of all, I found the obituary of EDWIN G. FERI's wife DONNA from 2006:

DONNA MAY FERI, 78, of Eastsound, Orcas Island, Washington died unexpectedly on January 17, 2006 at her home. She was born February 4, 1927, the daughter of Paul and Edith (Swardthout) Alexander in Seattle, WA. At the age of 15, her parents moved to Orcas Island and for over 60 years she has lived and loved Orcas, and is considered an island pioneer.
In 1949, she married EDWIN G. FERI and together they owned and operated the West Sound Store from 1968 – 1976. Donna worked for the San Juan Sanitation Department handling the books and administrative duties for Orcas Island.
She loved to watch, study and feed birds in and around her house, especially looking forward to the humming birds. Donna enjoyed reading, fishing, gardening and tending to her flowers.
In Lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Donna’s name to your favorite charity. She is preceded in death by her parents and her husband Ed in 2001. Donna is survived by her son, Mike Feri of Bellingham, WA.

I am very happy to have found all this information, as it shows that this was a family that lived for a long time on Orcas Island, a very small community.  There is likely to be some historical record of the Feri family there.

My next step is to visit our local library and museum, where there may be some record of when the family built our house and how long they lived in it!

If anyone reading this has any further information, please contact me.

Have a great day!


1 comment:

TK said...

This was so interesting, Betty. I just sent you an email regarding the Bryan children at the address listed in your sidebar. Hope it gets thru okay. Looking forward to reading more as you find out stuff!