Unsolved Mysteries – Green Lake’s Sidewalk Grave

October 27, 2014 6:05am

Twilight. Crunching leaves as your theme song, you’re walking back from the lake and have turned up Ashworth Ave. to zig zag back up to Tangletown. In a planting strip you see a clump of purple coneflowers, petals shed, whose spiky seed heads look like medieval weapons. Moving in closer, what you see next stops you, well, dead.


So, is there a BODY under there?

Not likely, for several reasons.

First, the one person we could find sharing those initials and dates is a Collin Miles Elliott, buried in Washelli Cemetery on Aurora (thank you FindAGrave.com), and a Washelli staffer says he has been there (as far as they know) since 1943. He was married to Nora Parker Elliott, who died in 1925, and they had a son, Wellington Minor Elliott, who died soon after in 1926.

Collin Miles Elliott findagrave

Second, this is not the marker’s original location, here in the planting strip near 57th and Ashworth. Rather than being a remnant from WWII-era Greenlake, it was actually placed by the home’s current owners,  Jeff Mosier and Tamra Chandler, who bought the property in 2002.  Amid a major remodel, a contractor unearthed the marker from the backyard in 2004, and the couple stowed it away until, when redoing their sidewalk strip, Jeff was inspired to incorporate this piece of local history.

Jeff’s theory is that the marker may have been part of one of the original stone walls in the yard.  “I obviously know nobody’s buried there,” he says, but he adds, “I don’t know how it ended up here.” That remains the big question.  Jeff was curious himself, but his research at the time came up dry.

"Looking toward Greenlake in 1890" Judge McDonald and his daughter are pictured. Seattle P-I archives

“Looking toward Greenlake” c. 1891. Judge McDonald’s residence.  Seattle P-I archives

As far as the home’s history, Jeff says it is one of three on the street built by prominent developer Judge Frederick A. McDonald, including his ow home, shown above to the south shown above. (Note how far the lake edge extends!)

Who are the Elliotts? Did they live here?

If these are the right Elliotts, it would be great if they lived at this house. That would make a tidy closing, but that’s not apparently the case.  Join us down the Ancestry.com rabbit hole. According to Census and City Directories, Collin and Nora lived in at least five different places in West Seattle and downtown – none of them anywhere near Greenlake. Collin describes his occupation variously as a window decorator, treasurer for a shirt company, and a salesman for “men’s furnishings”.

Census and directory records from 1922-1958 show  the home’s residents as patriarch Lulu Sander and siblings Carlton A. and Dorothy L. Sander, with no apparent connection in their family trees to the Elliotts.  (A Sander-McDonald connection is that the Judge’s daughter Hellen McDonald married William Sander, Carlton’s brother, and many grandkids lived in the other McDonald-built homes.)

A neat tidbit is that in 1930, Carlton was working as a chief clerk for – wait for it –  the “cement works” (brief moment of excitement – maybe  it was a demo he brought home from work?).  By 1940, however, he was chief clerk for the Washington Athletic Club.  He was still living there in 1942 -according to  his draft card – but what happened in 1943 – the year Collin Elliott died – is a mystery.

Lots of red herrings, no closure. Any local history buffs out there? Can you help us solve these mysteries?