by The McCormick Brothers
The great grandparents on our father’s side, McCormicks and Conners, were born in Ireland. Our Grandfather Richard McCormick was born in Pottsville, Pennsylvania, August 8, 1859, and died May 3, 1934, in Pacific Grove, California. He was buried in Douglas, Alaska. He was a charter member of Pioneers of Alaska, and his picture is in the Masonic Temple with all charter members of Pioneers. He had three brothers, Walter, Jack and William and one sister, Mary.
Richard came to Treadwell in 1885, as a blacksmith for Treadwell Mine and Mill. After the cave-in at Treadwell, he was Postmaster in Douglas and owned a small store, located where Louie’s is now operating. Behind that building was a large hotel “San Souzie.” He was the first and only Mayor of Treadwell and was night watchman for the foundry for many years before his death. Our grandmother, Nora Conner, was born in Sutter Creek, California, February 1863, and was buried in Douglas, Alaska. She was (so we’ve been told) the third white woman to reside in Treadwell.
Our grandparents had eleven children, 6 boys and 5 girls. Ann McCormick was born in Sutter Creek, California, in 1883 and died at the age of 84. Ed McCormick was born in Sutter Creek in 1885. He worked for many years at the Alaska Juneau Mill and died in 1947, at age 62 and was buried in Douglas. Bill McCormick was born in Treadwell October 1890, and died at age 76. Mae McCormick was born in Treadwell and died at age 37. Richard McCormick II, our dad, was born in Treadwell in 1894, died and was buried in Douglas on June 8, 1957, at the age of 63. John McCormick was born in Treadwell in 1896, died and was buried in California in 1966, at the age of 70. He was first Chief of Selective Service for Alaska, appointed by President Harry Truman. Ray McCormick was born in Treadwell in 1897, died and was buried in Douglas in 1951, at age 54. He worked for many years for the Alaska Electric Light and Power Company. Lillian McCormick was born in Treadwell in 1900, died and was buried in Douglas in 1911, at age 11. Rita McCormick was born in Treadwell in 1903, and died at age 57. Kathleen McCormick was born in Treadwell January 9, 1905. She married Walter (Andy) Andrews and had three children, Patricia Troberg, Phyliss Burgan and Bill Andrews. She died July 2, 1996, at the age of 91 and was buried in Douglas. Walter (Mickey) McCormick was born in Treadwell in 1907, died in Petersburg in 1945, and was buried in Douglas. He worked on tug boats for many years around Southeastern Alaska.
The great grandparents on our mother’s side, McConnel and Croseby, came from Northern Ireland.
Our grandparents, Molly and Silvio Pellascio were married at age 24. They had three children, Francis, Donald, and our mother Kathleen. Mother graduated from nurse’s training in May 1927, along with our Aunt, Kathleen McCormick. She did private nursing after graduation for several weeks and then she, along with Aunt Kathleen, sailed from Seattle on the cruise ship Dorothy Alexander, to Juneau. They arrived in Juneau in mid-July, 1927. Richard and Kathleen were married in 1928, in Juneau by Bishop Crimont.
Mother was considered the village nurse in Douglas during the early years of her marriage. Telephone service to Douglas was out from midnight to 8:00 a.m. except for emergencies. To get a doctor from Juneau you woke the operator, got the doctor out of bed, called the captain of the ferry boat, who in turn called his crew. By the time they all arrived in Douglas, the baby would be there before them, or the emergency would be handled by someone else.
The telephones were a box affair that hung on the wall. A crank was turned to alert the woman at the exchange. You gave her the number you wanted. If you didn’t have the number you gave her a name, or the name of the person she was staying with, and the operator handled it from there. Often she would say “I think she is visiting so and so, I saw her going that way a few minutes ago.” Then she would ring that person’s house. Or it might be, “I think she went to Juneau, I saw her going down the dock about ferry time.” The woman on the switchboard was a fountain of information and gossip.
Our mother was an avid gardener and raised beautiful flowers and a well tended vegetable garden. For the last few years of her life, she took dolls donated at St. Vincent dePaul Thrift Shop and restored them. She moved to the Anchorage Pioneers Home, October 2, 1990, and continued her volunteer work. Over 750 dolls were restored during her residence at the home. Mother died at the Anchorage Home on June 6, 1995, at the age of 88. She is buried with the rest of the McCormick clan at the Douglas Cemetery.
Our father started working at an early age. One of his first jobs was at a meat market and during the winter he made deliveries by dog sled. One of his favorite sports was boxing, and he participated in many “smokers” which were popular at that time.
He was working at the Alaska Juneau Mine when he married our mother, and continued to work there for 10 years. Ill health, as a result of working underground, resulted in a move to California. Our grandfather owned several ranches there and dad ran a dairy ranch for him. After a few months, our parents realized that Alaska was home, and the family moved back to Douglas. He found employment as a stevedore on the Alaska Juneau Dock, and then worked as a pipefitter-plumber at Mt. Edgecumbe, and ended his working days as a watchman at the foundry in Treadwell.
Richard and Kathleen had four sons, Richard Jr., James, Robert, and Anthony.
Dick Jr. married and had a son Michael and adopted three children, John, Shelly and Tim. His wife Paula had three children, Debi, Robert and Michael. He graduated from the University of Alaska in 1950, with a B.Ed. degree and received a M.Ed. degree from the University of Washington. He spent twenty-eight years in education in Alaska as a teacher, coach, principal, and superintendent. His teaching career included positions in Douglas, Fairbanks, Nome, Juneau-Douglas and Wrangell. He served in the U.S. Army 1951-53, and was a mayor of Wrangell.
James McCormick married Donna Groom and had three children, Molly, Glen and Andrew. Jim worked on a tug boat and commercial fished prior to serving in the Marine Corps during the Korean War. Upon discharge, he purchased Douglas Trucking Company, which he successfully ran for many years. He has been a commercial gill net and halibut fisherman in recent years, in the Tillie.
Robert McCormick had a daughter Lori. During his early years he worked as a laborer, sawmill employee, cold storage worker and cab driver. Bob retired from the State of Alaska after years of service in the Legislative Print Shop.
Tony McCormick married Gwen Pierce and they had three children, Shannon, Erik and Kelly Jo. For numerous years he worked as a commercial halibut fisherman, establishing himself as a top hand in the industry. He was a partner in Reliable Transfer and worked there for many years. Tony went to work for the State of Alaska and retired from the Legislative Print Shop.
All four boys graduated from Douglas High School and presently reside in the Juneau-Douglas area.
Kathleen and Richard McCormick.
(L to R): Dick, Bob, Jim, (standing) Tony.