Dona McPhillips

Dona McPhillips
Puyallup, WA
Generations, Homemade, In memoriam, Moving west, Sisters, Tacoma stories

The Cantrell Sisters were born in Licking, Texas County, Missouri; but after their mother had died when the oldest, Martha, was sixteen, their father, in 1903, moved the family to Lester, Skagit County, Washington where his eldest son Sherman worked as a logger and father E.H. was a teamster. The eldest two girls, Martha and Rose, worked as cooks for the loggers.

Each sister eventually moved to Pierce County and married.

Martha married the first dentist in South Tacoma. Rose married twice. Her last husband worked at the Fuller Paint Company until retirement. Next eldest, Verda, married a Battalion Fire Chief, who served at Engine House #9. Clara married twice. Her first husband, who was a logger in the woods with her brother, died by falling off a pile of logs. Her second husband was a navy man in WWII and later was a house painter. Florence, the youngest, married a butcher, who she worked alongside in their own business.

These sisters had gardens, canned food together, raised children (except Verda), camped out, traveled, kept clean homes, and sewed. Two were very active in their respective churches. They had come from poor beginnings with only one dress and one pair of shoes as children. They lived through two wars and knew how to save a penny, along with string, and anything useful. As family they always supported each other and got together for holidays. They were the Cantrell Sisters.


This blanket could have belonged to Martha, or Rose, or Verda, but they probably all worked on it. It is donated by Martha’s granddaughter.