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Bland, Joseph and Margaret

by Betty West Miller

Joseph E. Bland was an early pioneer of the Territory of Washington. He was born in Indiana and had settled in Skagit County in Washington at the age of 24. He married Margaret V. Ewing in 1886. They had nine children all being born in Edison, Washington, from 1887 to 1911.

Their oldest child Gertrude married Edward Jewell and moved to Douglas, Alaska, in 1914 where mining was active and with hard work, a living could be made. This tempted Joseph & Margaret Bland to do the same. In April 1916, the Blands and some of their children arrived in Juneau on the steamer Al-Ki. Joseph went to work soon thereafter for the Ready Bullion Mine in Treadwell. To be closer to his daily work, they moved from St. Annís Ave. in Douglas to The Pines, a community of homes put up by the mining company for their employees which was further south of Douglas. They resided there until Joseph no longer could work due to an eye injury caused by a flying piece of steel during work one day. They moved back into Douglas. In February 1923, Joseph and Margaret went to Seattle to consult a specialist about his loss of eyesight where he received some treatment but wasnít able to continue work.

In 1925, the Blands sailed back to Juneau to live out their lives with their already established Juneau family. Their children now living in Juneau were Gertrude (Jewell), Emma (Thurman), Ethel (Pettichord/Dyer), Myrtle (Converse), Anna, Charles, Myrna (Martin), Alta (Orme/Phillips) and Earl. Joseph died at the age of 75 years in Juneau in 1933. He is buried in the family plot at Evergreen Cemetery. Their children all remained in Juneau except Ethel, who moved to Utah, and are all buried in the Evergreen Cemetery.

Margaret continued to live among her remaining children here in Juneau where she was the center of their lives all residing in the 10th Street area below the Juneau-Douglas Bridge. In her later years, she was housebound, due to her large size and inability to get around. Her home was a small apartment attached to the home of her son, Earl, and her daughter Myrna, and in an adjoining yard was her daughter Myrtleís home. She was surrounded by her children and their children. She loved to sit in her rocker behind a card table and work her jigsaw and crossword puzzles. She always had family dropping in and out of her place to visit on a daily basis.

Margaret, at the age of 81 years, died at St. Annís Hospital in Juneau in 1950 a few days after Christmas. She is buried beside her husband in Evergreen Cemetery.

Four generations: Margaret Bland holding Betty West, Myrtle Converse on left with daughter Berna West.

Joseph E. Bland

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