The Ryther Family

Olive Ryther

Olive Hannah Spore (more often known as Ollie) was born in Iowa to Scottish immigrants on March 15, 1849. At the age of eighteen, in 1867, she married Noble Ryther (1842-1914), a carpenter and Civil War veteran. The couple soon had three daughters: Amy, Ella and Mae Bird. Despite this, Noble, a devout Methodist, left his young family in 1874 to serve as a missionary in Washington Territory. He worked at the City Mission in Seattle while building a cabin and doing land clearing and carpentry. It was nine years before he sent for his family, who finally arrived in Seattle in 1883. Although Noble's original cabin was on the east side of Lake Washington, property records show that he purchased land in today's Central Area (19th Avenue and E. Fir Street) in 1884, where the family is more likely to have lived.

Shortly after Ollie's arrival in Seattle, in 1884, their son, Allen was born. She continued to work with her husband at the mission, cooking for the homeless men. Ollie found her life-long vocation, however, when a dying mother pleaded with her to take in her four children. These children were the first of thousands that she cared for over five decades.