Thursday, April 23, 2009


This is about a death in the extended webwork of family that descends from seven Welsh sisters who emigrated from Scotland long ago. Via their marriages, they lived quite different lives -- some prosperous and some not -- but all carrying along a family style and genome that is alive and kicking at this very moment. I used to think in terms of the famous brilliant ones as being most important, but now I’m more and more convinced it is the enduring legacy of the quiet faithful ones that are the real backbone of human culture. Kathy and my other cousins and I talk of this tension between public achievement and private reliability, central issues of our own lives. So I post this news.

The earliest Welsh in Eugene Strachan’s records is Josias, born in New Battle (? so there must be some doubt) Scotland. He had at least one son, named William Welsh, b. 1780 and d. 1825, both in Scotland. His wife was Helen Spiers, b. 1785 and d. 1854, both in Scotland.
Thomas Welsh, their son, was born in 1814 and died 1889 in Scotland. He married Jeannie Gillis, who was born Jan. 8, 1820 on St. Simons Is., Georgia, and died on July 24, 1903 in Scotland. There were seven children, one of which was a boy.

It is their children who are “our” shared great-grandparents.

Mary Welsh Ramsay is the ancestor of Katherine Rouzie. George Dyer Ramsay started Ramsay Machine Works in Victoria, B.C. in 1903. (A history is at:

Catherine Welsh, Mary’s sister, married Archibald Strachan, becoming a homesteader on the Dakota prairie and then a resident of Oklahoma with their sister Ellen, who had married James S. Robertson. Both are buried there.

Mary Welsh Ramsay
and George Dyer Ramsay had four children:
1. George
2. Beth
3. Jean
4. Lauder

Jean Ramsay Harcus and William Donald Harcus (whose grandparents were both from Scotland, from the island Papa Westray in the Orkneys) had four children.
1. Beth Ramsay Schumaker married to Cal (a bank executive), living in Spokane.
2. Ross Harcus (wife Pat is deceased -- he was a doctor, graduated from Yale Med School) lived in Spokane until his death about a year ago. (June 22, 2008) His daughter Joan is married to Phil Rostad, Jr. His obituary is at

3. Mary Harcus White married to Paul White(a lawyer graduated from Northwestern Law School), living in Ephrata, WA

They had four children:
1. Katherine graduated from Lewis & Clark, one semester abroad at Charles U in Prague, library degree U of Washington. Married to Don Rouzie, an architect. Two kids: Jade and Devan.
2. Bruce, a lawyer in Portland, managing partner for Mitchell, Lang & Smith. African-American wife, separated. Two grown children: Katy and Mark.
3. Janet married Dick Wallace (son of Rt Rev (retired) Leigh and Pat Wallace, Episcopal Bishop, of Missoula). She is an MSW at a hospital in Olympia. Dick is at State Dept of Ecology. Twin girls working on MA in public health, one at U of Wash and the other at Berkeley.
4. Paul (died 2001) Ski racer, grad of U of Oregon in anthro, worked on drill rigs in Persian Gulf & Syria, contractor. Married.

4. Frances Harcus Ford (married to James, president of Skagit Valley Community College) lived in Anacortes, WA, until her death earlier this year.

Katharine sent me this email notification this morning:

My mother died last night, which was really not much of a surprise as she had been sort of fading for the last couple of months. I am so glad now that I arranged those few summer vacations she had at the beach, and that we made the big effort to go up and have Thanksgiving with her and celebrate Dad's birthday with her in February.

She told me last summer, when her dementia became apparent, "It's a terrible thing to outlive your mind." I know that losing her cognitive abilities and her independence were things that really took the joy out of living for her. Although she spent most of her adult life being very grumpy at having to live in this little town in Central Washington, I always thought there were worse fates and she should have appreciated what she had more, which was a very comfortable life and pretty nice kids. And a lovely husband. But I don't know what she knew or what she thought.

We were so different. Her lifelong best friend, Mary Randlett, is a real artist, a highly regarded photographer of the natural and built worlds and she also took lots of pictures of artists, many of whom were her friends. I always thought Mary was really great and couldn't understand why she and my mom were such great friends. I guess for her era my mother was a little unconventional as well. She was smart, well-educated, read all the time, and had a great sense of humor. She really had quite a bit on the ball and I was always annoyed at how my friends (especially the male ones) loved to come to our house and talk with her. Sometimes they ignored me!

(Do Google Mary Randlett! This is only one of several sites.)

Anyway, she was really sweet to me in her old age. Last time I saw her, she greeted me with great enthusiasm. She said "Oh, look, here's Kathy, my Kathy!" Really sweet.

Her younger sister Frances died earlier this year. My sister went to Anacortes for the service, representing the family east of the mountains (which includes Ross's family and the Rostads).

Mother died late yesterday afternoon. The last time I saw her was in mid-February, when Don and the children and I went up to celebrate Dad's 86th birthday with her. We organized a dinner at the Rama Inn, the Ephrata Best Western motel, which has an accessible multi-purpose room. I cooked at their little house in Ephrata and we brought it down to the hotel and set up a little dining room there, using her tablecloth, napkins and silverware.

She was able to enjoy being there with us, and even joked to all of us "I'm married to an OLD man!". We spent some time with her the following morning as well. That was probably about the last time she was able to have much of a conversation with us.

Dad reported in March that she was becoming less responsive, sleeping more and it seemed she was kind of just fading away. She had some health issues and she really wasn't interested in living on with her cognitive losses, although I know she appreciated her caregiver's kindness and nurturing and enjoyed watching her little daughters running around.

She died in her caregivers' home, in peace and with some privacy, for which I am eternally grateful to these kind people. Dad had been there visiting her every day, and was there with her the day she died.

She had a long and it seems to me rather rewarding life, although she was never in love with living in Ephrata I fear. She had a great sense of humor and she read a lot.

The oldest child of this family, Beth Schumaker, is living in Spokane with her husband, Cal. I am in touch with their youngest son, who is a librarian living in Chicago. He is so much younger than the rest of us that he missed out on knowing his cousins (he was born when my aunt was in her late 40's; I remember her telling my mother she thought she was too old to get pregnant!). So I found him and have been emailing him so he'd know he had a family beyond his much-older sister and brother.

Katherine Rouzie, April 23, 2009

It astounds me that there are so many tiny connections among these descendants as we meet and find out about each other over the years, exclaiming, "I had no idea you were there all along!"

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