Anna Roesiger, wife of Richard Roesiger, near the lakefront cabins her husband built, taken around 1945. Courtesy of Granite Falls History Museum

Anna Roesiger, wife of Richard Roesiger, near the lakefront cabins her husband built, taken around 1945. Courtesy of Granite Falls History Museum

‘Immortalized’: Lake Roesiger pioneer’s journals published

LAKE ROESIGER — Richard Roesiger’s grandson once said his grandfather’s journals would make a good movie script.

There were deadly property disputes, brutal winters and romantic tangles. Fires blazed in dense undergrowth, and settlers toppled behemoth trees for log cabins. A once-remote lake transformed into a fishing hub with the arrival of electricity, telephones and roads.

One man was there to see it all, taking pivotal roles in the evolution of the lake that bears his name.

Roesiger’s life story is a Wild West adventure and a tale of changing times. It’s chronicled in neat script in the German immigrant’s journals and letters.

One hundred and thirty years after Roesiger homesteaded in the unforgiving wilderness of Snohomish County, his great niece, Monika Teuscher-Schramm, has compiled his story into a 500-page book.

The author grew up in Germany and now lives in Switzerland. She plans to visit Granite Falls on July 15 and 16 for signings of her book, “On the Trail of Richard Roesiger: A pioneer’s life in the Pacific Northwest.”

She visited Lake Roesiger in 1999, 2002 and 2005. Lake Roesiger Park used to be part of the homestead and, later, a resort he ran into his 80s. Her great uncle picked a beautiful home, Teuscher-Schramm said in an email.

She spent more than a year researching and another two-plus years writing. She’s grateful for help she received.

Elsie Sorgenfrei, of Lake Roesiger, preserved the journals. When Sorgenfrei died in 2013, she left them to the Granite Falls Historical Society. Fred Cruger, with the society, helped Teuscher-Schramm publish the English translation of her originally German book. A portion of sales support the Granite Falls museum.

Roesiger kept detailed journals for decades. His writings offer a glimpse into early Snohomish County. He sold milk and butter in Snohomish, boated on Lake Stevens, mined at Monte Cristo, bought piglets in Monroe, and traded produce for medicine with Dr. Chappell in Granite Falls.

“It’s amazing that someone had the patience to write everything down,” Cruger said. “We’re so lucky there are people like that. People who record what seems like their mundane, daily life become informational treasures.”

Roesiger was born in Ortrand, Germany, in 1862. He moved to the U.S. at age 20. Around 1887, he homesteaded on a lake not far from Snohomish. He grew produce and fished, and cursed the mosquitoes and mice. Roesiger battled loneliness, illness and injuries.

He dedicated much ink to lamenting the weather. Storms would swell “Pill Chuck Creek” so it washed out trails, and felling massive trees was a daunting task when rain came down in gray sheets.

“To be sure building with these materials is very inconvenient, like Nature delivers it,” he wrote in a letter home. “But that’s the way it goes in the West.”

Roesiger meticulously tracked expenses: five pounds of coffee for $1.25; 10 pounds of ham for $1.75; five pounds of lard for 65 cents.

He trekked to Snohomish for provisions. His trails became wagon routes, then roads still used today. The pioneer dreamed the railroad would come to his lake, but that never happened.

When times were tough, Roesiger worked in timber and mining. The stubborn man was respected around the lake, if not always liked. He helped build a 12-desk school and served as clerk and postmaster.

As more people arrived, he asked surveyors to draw property lines. There was debate about the lake’s name. Surveyors chose Lake Roesiger over Chain Lake.

“My name is immortalized,” Roesiger wrote. “Hip, hip, hurrah.” His friends and relatives would be thrilled, he noted, while his enemies would be “fuming green and blue.”

Anna, a maid in his grandfather’s manor, moved to the U.S. to be his wife. They had four children: Bruno, Liska, Solon and Hilda. Hilda had one son, and no other descendants are known, according to Teuscher-Schramm.

Roesiger stayed when neighbors sold to logging companies. After the logging boom, the lake became popular for fishing and summer homes.

Around 1912, Roesiger began removing stumps and hauling in dirt to expand his waterfront. He built a boathouse and guest cabins. It became a tourist destination. Selling hard cider to fishermen got him into trouble with the law.

Roesiger didn’t want electric lights or a phone. He reportedly told a guest that his home would not be “spoiled by civilization.”

He died in 1946 at age 84.

At least one of his journals is missing, leaving gaps in information.

Today, Roesiger’s homestead is a busy, beloved park. People swim, boat and sunbathe there with no knowledge of the history. Teuscher-Schramm said she wants them to know where the lake got its name, and the hard life her great uncle and his neighbors lived. Their courage and willpower laid the foundation for what the lake, and the region, have become, she said.

Kari Bray: 425-339-3439; kbray@heraldnet.com

Meet the author

“On the Trail of Richard Roesiger” book signing and meet-the-author event 2-6 p.m. July 15 and noon-5 p.m. July 16 at Granite Falls Museum, 109 E. Union Street. No cost to attend. Copies of the book can be reserved by calling 360-691-2603.

Talk to us

More in Local News

A driver struck a woman in a motorized wheelchair Saturday in Lynnwood. (Lynnwood police)
Woman on wheelchair hit by car in Lynnwood, seriously hurt

The woman was on a sidewalk, passing by a drive-thru in Lynnwood, when a driver pulled out and hit her.

A barge worker hauls in an oil boom before heading off with the remains of the Mukilteo Ferry Dock ramp and pier on Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021 in Mukilteo, Washington. With the new dock in operation, all that is left is to tear down the old ticket building. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
Old Mukilteo ferry dock afloat on the barge of ‘Lincoln Logs’

The haul included 213 wood pilings, 15 concrete pilings, 47 steel pilings and a “Speed Limit 15” sign.

State Patrol worker from Everett charged with attempted child rape

Trevor Smith worked as a commercial vehicle enforcement officer assigned inspecting school buses.

FILE - In this Jan. 7, 2021, file photo, the Legislative Building is shown partially shrouded in fog at the Capitol in Olympia, Wash. Washington state's richest residents, including Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos, would pay a wealth tax on certain financial assets worth more than $1 billion under a proposed bill whose sponsor says she is seeking a fair and equitable tax code. Under the bill, starting Jan. 1, 2022, for taxes due in 2023, a 1% tax would be levied not on income, but on "extraordinary" assets ranging from cash, publicly traded options, futures contracts, and stocks and bonds. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)
Federal package could drive more than $10B to Washington

The state would get $7.6B for COVID response, schools and child care. Snohomish County is in line for $160M.

Samantha Lake
Missing girl, 12, found safely

Seattle FBI located Samantha Lake on Friday.

Everett man identified after being found dead in creek

The cause of death for Renee Baltazar Romero remained under investigation Thursday.

Jeanette Ho Shin Weddell, 96, died of COVID-19 on Dec. 29, 2020. (Contributed photo)
Marysville grandmother, 96, was one in half a million lost

In a week when the president took time to mourn COVID deaths, local families were grieving, too.

An access road leads into plot of land located in north Darrington that could potentially be used to build a 30-acre Wood Innovation Center, which will house CLT manufacturing and modular building companies on Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021 in Darrington, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
$6 million grant is green light for Darrington timber center

The Darrington Wood Innovation Center is set to become a reality — bringing roughly 150 jobs with it.

Report shows vaccine inequities in Snohomish County

The county’s Hispanic population is getting doses at a third of the rate of white residents.

Most Read