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A girl named Rossland

Updated: Jan 30, 2018

Below is a clipping from the Rossland Miner’s special historical edition of Oct. 11, 1938, about the first baby born in Rossland. The caption read: “An item appeared in the Rossland Miner, July 29, 1895, as follows: Born to the wife of E. Lavalley, Sunday, July 28, a daughter. That news item heralded the birth of the first child in the new gold camp of Trail Creek. [Here] is a photo of the Lavalleys’ little girl, taken when she was about three years old.”

The clipping neglected to mention that she was also named Rossland. Her father, Eli Lavalley (or La Valley, or Lavallé, or Lavallee), was a well-known figure in early Rossland (he has popped up a few times as a character in the Gold Fever Follies) and Christina Lake (where Lavalley Point is named after him). His wife was Agnes Coté Lavalley.


When the City of Rossland marked its 50th anniversary in 1947, F.H. White of the Miner wrote a plea in the Vancouver Daily Province seeking the girl’s whereabouts. The following week, Mayor John Corner received a letter from a Mrs. L. LaValley of Princeton who identified the girl as her sister-in-law, Mrs. Stirling of Tacoma.


Her full name, according to her birth registration (seen below), was Mary Blanche Rossland Lavallee. However, the BC Archives vital events index mistakenly lists her birthplace as Nelson. Early birth registrations did not actually include a field for place of birth and in this case, it was inferred to be Nelson because that’s where the justice of the peace was from. However, the registration indicates Dr. Bower of Rossland delivered the baby.

From an online family tree, we learn that Blanche (as she was known) was the youngest of eight Lavalley children. Her eldest brother was 20 years older than her, and her mother was 42 or 43 when she was born. The family moved to Washington state in 1909, when Blanche was 14.


Around 1919, Blanche married Charles Oscar Stirling in Spokane. He was a widower with three children, 12 years her senior. They had three children: Charles Oscar Jr., born in 1921, Maxine Marie, born in 1927, and another whose name and birthdate are not included on the family tree.


Charles Sr. died in Spokane in 1940, age 56. Blanche then moved to Tacoma. On July 26, 1946, she married another man named Charles, at Multnomah, Oregon. This one was Charles Clifton DeShon. By 1960, they had moved to Seattle. Charles DeShon died in Portland in 1972 and Blanche died in Seattle on Aug. 8, 1976, age 81. Her son Charles died in 1999 in Beaverton, Oregon while her daughter Maxine, a registered nurse and artist, died in Las Cruces, New Mexico in 2011.


Blanche was not the only baby born in Rossland given the city’s name:


• The 1901 Canadian census listed a J. Rossland Cross, born May 25, 1897, living in Rossland with his widowed mother Eliza and elder siblings Dalton, William, Floyd, and Leo. The birth was not registered. On the 1911 census, he’s listed as Rossland John Cross, living on 2nd Ave. in Rossland with Eliza and Leo. His father, Elgin W. Cross, died in Rossland in 1899, age 46. As of 1917, when he filed out his registration card for the First World War, Rossland J. Cross was in Brawley, Calif., apparently working for a relative, while his mother was in West Seattle. He was in Los Angeles as of 1920, but nothing more is known of him after that.


• William Rossland Poole was born Jan. 24, 1899 to William and Elizabeth Munro Poole. His birth registration indicated that his father was a printer at 326 West Le Roi Avenue and that a Mrs. Rich was the midwife. He married Margaret Adeline Souder but apparently died in 1920.


• Capitola Rossland Brighton was born Sept. 6, 1899 to James and Mary Ann Benjamin Brighton. Her father was a miner. Her birth was not registered at the time, but when she sought a delayed registration in 1942, she explained: “I cannot give any information in regards to any family which knew me at the time I was born, as I was brought to the United States when I was six weeks old.” She was then living in Los Angeles. Her supporting material included declarations from her parents and older sister, Edith Sarah Martha Brighton Endersby-Luckett. She also had two other siblings. She said she was delivered by Dr. Kenning with help from nurse Martha Brighton, whose relationship is unknown. Capitola married Blaine Montgomery in Seattle in 1917 and had a daughter, May Ann Vaughan, born in 1919. Capitola and Blaine divorced by 1940. Capitola died in Ojai, Calif., on March 30, 1988.


• Rossland Lammadee was born in August 1901 and died April 22, 1902. The infant was buried in Columbia cemetery in an unmarked grave.


• Rossland Francis Young was born April 8, 1902 to Charles and Isabel Lang Young. He married Helen Gladine Martin in Vernon on Dec. 22, 1924 and died in Nelson on Aug. 23, 1981, age 79. He was a CPR agent.


• Jack Rossland Humble was born Jan. 20, 1903 to William George and Ella Hay Humble. His father was a civil servant. Jack was also delivered by Dr. Kenning, but his birth was not registered until 1917. Jack married Hughlene Frost in 1933 at Gila, Arizona. He died in North Hollywood on Feb. 5, 1972, age 69.


• John Rossland Lavoie was born around 1913 and died on March 3, 1989, age 76. He was interred at Beechwood cemetery in Ottawa.


• Rossland Brenton Cleverly was born Oct. 24, 1915. He married Bernice Bartlett and had four children. He died in Kamo, Northland, New Zealand, sometime after 1981.


In addition, Carl Rossland Stroh, who was born in Clifford, Ont. in 1909, died in Haney in 1980. Harold Rossland Henry, born in White Rock in 1916, died in White Rock in 1986. Beulah Rossland Champion, born in Matapédia, Quebec in 1896, married William Ray MacLeod at Marpole in 1921, and died in North Vancouver in 1978 (her death registration, filled out by her nephew, actually gives her name as Beulah Roseline). It’s unknown what connection, if any, these people had to Rossland, BC.

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