By Ashley Lodato
The Boesel family placed a memorial bench in Confluence Park in downtown Winthrop over the weekend, in memory of the two people at the roots of the 93-person Boesel family tree — Albert and Clara Boesel — as well as their children and their spouses.
Albert and Clara were from pioneer families in the Methow Valley. Born in 1885, Albert grew up on a home that his father had acquired through the Homestead Act. As a boy, Albert and his sister Emma herded horses for crews building roads into the Harts Pass mining area. Albert later worked at the Eureka Mine (later renamed the Benita Mine), where workers were snowbound from November to July each year.
In 1910, Albert married Clara Belle Dibble, who was born in Ellensburg in early 1889, 11 months before Washington earned statehood. Clara’s mother died when she was 14, so she and her older sister Laura learned how to keep house and take care of their father and five brothers. Clara did, however, manage to attend some school beyond eighth grade by helping the teacher with the younger children in exchange for receiving special instruction in high school courses.
After they were married, Albert and Clara lived briefly at Patterson Lake before applying for homestead rights at Falls Creek, where the road ended at that time. Six of their seven children were born on this Falls Creek homestead. The Boesels lived there for 21 years before moving to Bear Creek, where their youngest son was born. The Boesels’ Falls Creek ranch eventually reverted back to the U.S. government and is now a game preserve and campground. The only piece remaining of the original homestead is a rock foundation and a rock-lined cellar hole.
Boesel family members say that Albert was known for his “crooked stem pipe and quiet, cheerful spirit.” His granddaughter Sue says her grandfather used to “enjoy participating in the ’49er Day parades. He‘d grow a beard (he already had the mustache), put on an old plaid shirt, strap his little board pack on his back with his gold pan on top. Then he’d borrow a mule, put a little pack on it, and away they’d go. He looked like the real McCoy.”
Clara was known for her “hospitality and outgoing nature,” and was the family member who initiated the biennial Boesel family reunion. In retirement, Albert helped his son Victor with orchard and ranch work, while Clara opened her home to 10 ladies for a textile painting group. Albert and Clara were, according to family members, “true pioneers of the Methow Valley and their legacy of love, honesty and hard work lives on in their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.”