A Look Back in Time: Lost and Wounded Chehalis Boy Survives Journey Through Lewis County Woods

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In July 1942, a Chehalis boy survived over 24 hours in the “wilds of western Lewis County,” treating himself for a severed artery. Chehalis resident Dick Mitchell, 17, was the son of Mr. and Mrs. C.R. Mitchell. He had been working with a crew to cut fire trails on Weyerhaeuser Company land when he became separated from the group. Mitchell had only a cross-cut saw and a first aid kid with him when he walked down the wrong trail, an error he didn’t realize he had made until it was too late.

Mitchell had sought to protect the saw, but while wandering through the brush he cut his hand, severing an artery.

“Blood, he said, spurted nearly a foot from his hand, and he was nearly an hour and a half getting the bleeding stopped. Using a tourniquet, he finally halted it and dressed the wound from the first aid kit he was carrying,” The Chronicle reported.

While he worked to stop the bleeding, he could hear the rest of the crew calling for him. But due to adverse winds, they couldn’t hear his responses. After he stopped the bleeding, Mitchell tried to figure out his location but it was already becoming dark and he went to sleep.

The next morning, he climbed a hill to view the surrounding area. While observing the landscape, Mitchell decided to look for a stream and follow it until he reached a community. He eventually found a stream that turned out to be the headwaters of the Chehalis River.

After reaching the stream, Mitchell was exhausted from his wandering, lack of food and loss of blood. He decided to push a log into the stream and ride it downstream.

As he floated downstream, Mitchell passed under a bridge where a man leaned over and asked him if he was going swimming.

“No, I’m going to Pe Ell,” Mitchell replied.

The man asked Mitchell if he was the missing boy.

“That must be me, because I’ve been lost,” Mitchell is reported to have replied.

The man, who was a part of a group of 30 who were searching for Mitchell, took him to a Weyerhaeuser camp. He was given food and returned home. The Chronicle did not say whether Mitchell had received medical attention, though it did report he had lost weight over the course of his journey.

 

July 5, 1932

• The Centralia City Commission opened bids during its July 5 meeting for 1,500 feet of 18-inch wood pipe for replacements in Centralia’s gravity water system as well as 1,788 feet of 8-inch and 4,608 feet of 6-inch cast iron pipe for replacements in the city's distribution system. Bids were made by companies from Seattle, Tacoma and Portland.

• Russell Neuert, 25, was injured in an accident late on the night of July 4 when his car “left the highway at Grand Mound and overturned.” The Chronicle reported the Onalaska man had not yet regained consciousness and hospital staff had given him “an even chance of recovery.” A young woman had been in Neuert’s car but was unharmed in the accident.

• Ray Conrad took office as president of the Centralia Rotary Club on July 5, succeeding Sidney Plummer. After Conrad took office, Ned Moran, a former Centralia Rotary Club president, presented Plummer with a past president’s pin. Conrad’s election to the Rotary Club presidency meant that members of the Conrad family were the heads of both of Centralia’s service clubs, with Conrad's brother, Reid Conrad, having been installed as Kiwanis Club president on Jan. 1, 1932.

• A fire “of incendiary origin” caused damage to a house on South Tower Avenue on the morning of July 5. Damage to the house, owned by Carrie Smith, was estimated to be around $300. A second fire, on a lot that is now part of the Centralia College Campus, was started on Walnut Street by what was believed to be a firecracker.

• Two Centralia natives drowned on Sunday, July 3, off the coast of Oregon. Frank, 29, and Hobert, 35, were among nine individuals who were aboard a fishing boat when it was “capsized by heavy seas off the Oregon coast,” The Chronicle reported. As of July 5, no bodies had been recovered.

• Early on July 4, Elmer Jones, of Portland, and William Williams, of Toledo, were arrested after attempting to break into a store on Chehalis Avenue. Police officer Joe Hatfield captured the pair who were then taken to the city jail. Jones and Williams were waiting to be transferred to county jail.

• A steer escaped from a rodeo in Tacoma on the night of July 4, injuring two women. “The steer ran amuck into the crowd, but its horns injured only Miss Lucille Vail and Miss Inez Stone,” The Chronicle reported. Ultimately a man got control of the steer. Vail and Stone were both reported as “recovering satisfactorily.”

 

July 4, 1942

• Centralia resident Glen Conrad, 24, died in a traffic accident on Thursday, July 2. Conrad was riding on a motorcycle when it collided with a car. The Chronicle reported he was expected to be buried in Centralia.

• Since the Pearl Harbor attack nearly seven months before, Centralia had raised $355,158 in war bonds and savings stamps to support the war effort. The total was calculated based on sales of bonds and stamps at the Centralia post office, the National Bank of Commerce and the Centralia Federal Savings and Loan Association. January had set the record for most money raised with over $66,000 raised by Centralians to support the war.



• Centralian James W. Logan, 32, was promoted from the rank of second lieutenant to the rank of major in just 18 months. Logan had been a reserve officer who was activated in early 1941. He was the son of Chehalis residents Mr. and Mrs. J.W. Logan. Logan’s military branch was not specified.

• The Twin Cities had experienced three days of 100-degree heat by July 4 and it wasn’t just the people who were affected. Sidewalks and streets became mis-shapen as the heat caused the concrete to expand. On Wednesday, July 1, the temperature reached 103 degrees, a record for the year. City Commissioner John Raught told The Chronicle some of the damage had already been repaired and the rest would be fixed soon.

• Centralia taxi driver John Holle, 34, was arrested on July 2 by state liquor board inspectors and Centralia police. The exact charges against Holle were not stated but were related to the sale and possession of alcohol. He posted his $250 bail and was released.

• The body of Lewis County “recluse” Ralph Rockwell, “about 75,” was discovered on July 2 in a shack near Pe Ell. Rockwell’s death “apparently occurred several months ago,” The Chronicle reported. Lewis County Coroner Dr. W.D. Turner determined Rockwell’s death was due to natural causes. A funeral service was held at Greenwood Memorial Park on the morning of July 3.

• A six-room modern house in Chehalis was listed for $1,800. Among the features listed was the house’s location on a “paved street.”

 

July 5, 1952

• The Twin Cities and Lewis County experienced “one of the quietest Fourths of July in years” in 1952, The Chronicle reported. The highlight of the July 4 celebration was the annual fireworks show at the Southwest Washington Fairgrounds put on by the Chehalis and Centralia Active Clubs. Despite heavy traffic, law enforcement agencies reported not a single traffic accident had occurred in Lewis County, though one Centralia family was in a car accident outside the county. Almost 3,500 people viewed the Active Clubs’ fireworks show from the Southwest Washington Fairgrounds grandstands, which “went off without a hitch” compared to the 1951 show that was apparently dampened by rain.

• Multiple large advertisements were placed by television salesmen inviting the public to come view the Republican National Convention on the TVs at their stores on July 7, 8, 9 and 10. “You will see a crystal clear, perfect reception picture,” one ad boasted. The ads emphasized the viewings would be free.

• In The Chronicle’s “Lost and Found” section, an entry requesting a thief to “please return” a girl’s bicycle was placed. “She is very unhappy, it was her birthday present in May,” The Chronicle’s entry read.

• Elizabeth Johnson, 65, passed away on Thursday, July 3, in Elma. Johnson was reported as having been born in February 1887 in Lewis County. Funeral services were set for 1 p.m. on Monday, July 7, in Elma, with her burial to take place at the Grand Mound Cemetery.

• Silver Creek resident Susie Baker, 93, passed away on Wednesday, July 2. Baker was born on Nov. 8, 1858. She was survived by two sons, eight grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. Services were to take place at Fissell Chapel in Chehalis.

• The July 5 weather forecast for the Twin Cities was a high of 75 degrees, surpassing Los Angeles’ 68 and Portland’s 73. No precipitation was projected for the Twin Cities that day.

• A Vacation Bible School was set to be held daily at the Chehalis First Baptist Church for two weeks starting Monday, July 7. The classes would be held from 9 a.m. to noon five days a week. The classes would be taught by two students from Linfield College. All interested children were urged to register. According to The Chronicle, the theme for that year's Vacation Bible School was “The Bible.”

 

July 5, 1962

• Seven minors were arrested on July 3 and 4 for illegal possession and consumption of alcohol. John R. Hatfield, 15, of Winlock, and John Buchholtz, 15, of Chehalis, were remanded to Napavine Justice Court for their trials. Hatfield and Buchholtz were arrested on July 4 at a dance hall west of Chehalis. Two Chehalis residents, Lonnie R. Elder, 18, and John L. Anderson, 18, were arrested at the same dance hall on July 3 for the same reasons. Both Elder and Anderson were still in county jail as of July 5 due to an inability to pay their $50 bail. Jack A. Dupertius, 18, of Doty, and Ruel H. Tiemeyer, 18, of Pe Ell, were arrested on July 4 by the Pe Ell town marshall. Like Elder and Anderson, Dupertius and Tiemeyer were still in jail due to inability to pay their $50 bail. Donald E. Perigo, 20, of Morton, was also arrested on July 4 by Lewis County because of alcohol charges as well as an invalid license. Perigo was able to pay his $85 bail and was awaiting trial at the Morton Justice Court.

• A campaign to secure a port district for Lewis County was scheduled to launch during a meeting in the Mossyrock High School auditorium on July 12 at 8 p.m. William Ray, president of the Washington State Public Ports Association, was to be the keynote speaker. The meeting was to be open to the public and people were encouraged to attend. A port district proposal was set to be on an election ballot in September for Lewis County voters.

• Centralia’s new “get tough” policy was enforced for the first time after being passed during the Centralia City Commission’s July 3 meeting. The policy was passed in response to climbers attempting to scale “the space tower” in northwest Centralia. “We’re going to have to drop the hammer on these guys before someone gets hurt,” Centralia Mayor Ray Davis said. James P. Miltmore, 21, of Centralia, and Gary L. Fagergren, 18, of Shelton, were both arrested and charged with disorderly conduct for trying to climb the tower.

• Florence D. Kennicott, of Chehalis, the incumbent Lewis County school superintendent, filed to run for re-election with the Lewis County Auditor’s office. Kennicott was the 26th person to file for office, with Harry A. Siler, R-Randle, and Morrill F. Folsom, R-Centralia, both filing for re-election as state representatives.

• Former Lewis County Clerk Maurice C. MacDonald, 54, died on July 3 in a Seattle hospital after undergoing major surgery two weeks prior. MacDonald served as clerk from 1935 to 1942 before moving to Seattle during World War II. He had served several terms as chairman of the Lewis County Democratic Central Committee. MacDonald was born in Napavine, the child of “pioneer parents Mr. and Mrs. Henry D. MacDonald.” He is reported as having graduated from the then named Chehalis High School and Centralia College.

• A 3-month-old infant died of an apparent heart attack while camping near Packwood on July 4. The boy, Timothy Ritchie Waite, was the son of “Mr. and Mrs. Thomas R. Waite” of Tacoma. He was put to bed in the back seat of the family car while his parents and 3-year-old sister slept outside. The next morning the family discovered the child had passed away. Firemen attempted to save the infant at the Packwood Ranger Station, performing mouth-to-mouth resuscitation for “two to three hours.” The baby was then taken to Morton where a doctor said the boy had died of an apparent heart attack.

• “Mrs. Julian Boivet,” a 42-year resident of Centralia, died at the age of 85 on July 4. Boivet was born in Poland on Sept. 10, 1876. She was the mother of Eugenia Allan and foster mother of Izadore Czarnecki. She was survived by eight grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.