Mary Jean Ferris

My father, Walter S. Rosenberry was born in Athens, Michigan on August 3rd, 1882.  His parents were Samuel Rosenberry and Mary Amelia Hitchcock.  His father’s family was Pennsylvania Dutch and his mother’s English.  His father had served in the Civil War before moving his young family to Athens, Michigan where my father rode horseback to school, helped his father build barns, and participated in lively dinner conversations, usually about politics.  Not long ago, I found an acceptance letter to Dad from the University of Michigan Medical School.  I am sure the family could afford to send only one at a time to the university and Uncle Marvin was already in law school. Instead my father chose to go into the lumber business and he started with the Winton family in Minn. Before too long he met my mother in Newport, WA while on a buying trip to the Northwest.  She was in my grandfather McInnis’s lumber office.


A connection between the families had taken place in Merrill, WI where the McInnis family was then living.  My mother’s younger brother had diphtheria.  The family doctor said there was only one doctor he would trust to do a tracheotomy, his name was Dr. Rosenberry, my father’s uncle. The child died but a connection was made.  I tell this story because it is so typical of how the lives of people in the lumber business became intertwined, especially those who came from Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota.

My mother and father were married in Spokane in 1905.  They moved to Thief River Falls, MN where Dad would begin his career in management for the Winton Co.  My brother Walter was born there and John was born in Minneapolis.  In 1911 my parents moved to Rose Lake, Idaho where the Wintons had purchased an established mill.  The Wintons and my father also owned several mills on the St. Joe River.  In 1918 the Wintons purchased the Stack Gibbs plant in Gibbs, Idaho making a move to Coeur d’Alene a logical place to be to manage the different plants and the logging operations.  My parents purchased the Hart home at 820 Sherman Avenue which had been built by Mr. Fred Blackwell as a wedding gift for his daughter.  My brother Bob and I were born there.

In 1929, my father suffered a heart attack which made the last 12 years of his life and his career a challenge.  When my brother John graduated from Stanford in 1931 he returned home to support Dad in his work.  Besides his health problems it was a difficult time to be in the lumber business.  The depression meant the end for many companies and for those that survived it was important to deal with the unionization of the business.  In addition, there were always the threats of fire and tragic accidents.  We all felt great sadness on July 4th, 1938 when Billie Keeler, the Wintons’ logging boss, was pinned and killed between a logging truck and a warehouse on the property where the Resort now stands.  Such accidents as well as drowning occurred all too often.

My father always wanted to be supportive and helpful to the men who worked for Winton Lumber Co. When times were difficult many companies would lay off the workers who were over fifty. Dad kept them all. When medical coverage became an accepted benefit one local doctor wanted to be the company doctor. My father sided with the employees who wanted to be free to make such a choice. He was active in the Western Pine Association and developed a process of certification of graders which produced a level of skill and fairness that had not been present before.

Dad helped a number of young men attend college. That effort made him realize how important a junior college could be for a town the size of Coeur d’Alene. He pushed the Winton board into giving the land they owned in the Fort Grounds to the city which was eventually developed as the campus for NIC. Fortunately the beaches around the campus were later saved from development so that now the entire area can be enjoyed by everyone. On a trip home from Minneapolis, Mr. Huntington Taylor and Dad had a chance to visit on the Great Northern train with its President. By the end of the visit they had laid the groundwork for the Hayden Lake Country Club to purchase the golf course, Bozanta Tavern, and other buildings for $28.000.

Dad was interested in and supportive of the Boy Scouts and Camp Easton. He was a member of the First Presbyterian Church, Rotary, the Masons and the Shriners. My mother devoted much of her time and energy to caring for dad and thus extending his life. She always drove with him to visit logging camps and other lumbermen in the area. My father died in 1941. My mother moved to Spokane in 1951 and died in her home in 1970.