Saturday, March 12, 2011

Fearless Females, March12, 2011:Those Sigford Twins

Thank you to Lisa Alzo, of The Accidental Genealogist , for this always interesting and evocative month long series about the Fearless Females of our past.  The instructions for this day are as follows:
March 12 — Working girl: Did your mother or grandmother work outside the home? What did she do? Describe her occupation.

As usual, following instructions is not my long suite.  However, when I think of women of my family working outside of their homes, my twin aunts, Loise and Joyce Sigford, come to mind.  The twins were born in 1907, and of course, by the time they were in their twenties, the girls were the epitome of the flapper girls.  They were very bright and quick with numbers, so both found employment as bookkeepers.

1947, Joyce Sigford Williams working
 at the Baranof Hotel,Juneau, Alaska
In the early 1930s, Joyce got a job as a bookkeeper in a Seattle Hotel, and Joyce soon followed her.  The sisters worked in Seattle for a couple of years before Joyce was hired as the head accountant of the elegant Baranof Hotel in Juneau, Alaska.  Barely out of her twenties, Joyce, alone and without her twin sister, boarded a steamship and headed north to Alaska. I think this was perhaps the most exciting decade of her life; she met her husband, bought a boat, traveled along the Alaskan shore, and had a job that she loved.  She worked at the Baronof Hotel throughout WWII and a few years after, and then returned to the lower 48 where she and her husband bought and operated a berry farm near Puyallup, Washington.

1949, Loise Sigford Stradtman
working at Hinch & Kaye, San Franciso

Loise, left Seattle and returned to Klamath County to work for a year or so, before heading south to San Francisco, where she worked as an accountant for a couple of major trucking firms.  San Francisco was her town with its sophistication and energy.  She also met and married the love of her life -- though the marriage ended in divorce.  Loise worked in San Francisco until she retired  --- and although she was alone in the city, she hated to leave.  But finally Joyce convinced her sister to moved to Washington where they lived until Joyce's death.

When I was growing up,  my aunts would visit us a couple of times a year and it was always the same.  We would meet Joyce at the airport from her flight from Alaska and she would spend  an hour or so telling us all about her important work, and the people she met in Juneau.  Then when the plane was met from San Francisco, we would hear the same words and stories, just set in Loise's city by the bay.  I was enthalled as a little girl and teenager with their stories of the big cities and the elegant (at least to me)suits, hats and gloves; my mother was less impressed.

In their retirement years, Loise and Joyce were still very active  and were the spark plugs of thelocal Senior Center.  They ramrodded crafts and classes with the same attention to detail as they gave to their work.  Their friends at the Senior Center always gave them a birthday party and, in the picture below, they looked pretty darn good for their 80th birthday bash!
Joyce Sigford Williams and Loise Sigford Stradtman
80th Birthday Party


  1. I love the pictures. Thanks for writing this history as I didn't realize the extent of their "modern" independence until you did. I wish I had talked to them more.

  2. Fab photos of an emancipated pair of girls :-) Love the red jackets and the corsages on their birthday! Jo