In the fall of 1881, Ida Belle Westover received word that if she wanted to see her mother, Christina Minor Martin, alive again, she’d better return to Modale, Iowa. She was pregnant at the time, and the trip from Ord, Nebraska was difficult.
Her mother died as predicted, but winter had set in and Ida couldn’t make the return trip until after the birth of the baby. Florence Christina Westover was born Christmas Day, 1881 in Modale, Iowa.
As soon as she was able, Ida Belle started back to Ord with little Florence. On the way back, the stagecoach was snowed in a few miles from Ord. Led by her husband, William Ambrose Westover and an uncle, Robert Nichols, a deputy U.S. Marshall, a rescue party came to get them.
When she was one year old, Florence’s father moved the family to Seattle by immigrant train. For a time he was deputy state land commissioner, and while in Olympia, Florence endured the first tragedy of her young life, witnessing the drowning of her brother Guy. The family eventually moved to Chehalis where her father opened a law office, and, in later years, served as mayor. There she graduated from high school at sixteen, and two days after her 17th birthday she married the high school principal, Elias A. Bond.
They had five children, one of whom, Margaret, died in adolescence of pneumonia. The other four each served in the U.S. Navy during World War II, attaining the rank of Lieutenant Commander, each earning Ph.D. degrees in education. Florence ran a good size chicken ranch, and, as one of the first female licensed building contractors in the state, built a number of houses.
It was during her early childhood, however, that Florence had experiences, which would influence her interest in Native American cultures and early pioneer days. She developed a relationship with a number of Indians, among them, Princess Angeline, daughter of Chief Seattle. Florence’s father, being an educated man and an attorney, had contact with many persons of note, both Indian and white. In her late teens she was quite an elocutionist, winning several medals in competition.
All of her other accomplishments and experiences notwithstanding, Florence Westover Bond was a marvelous storyteller, first enchanting her children and grandchildren by the hour. These two books, The Charm String Stories, and Chief Seattle, Man of Vision are her legacy.