12-Mile Ferryman receives headstone worthy of his importance

The beautiful headstone depicting Ada Domke Jarvis’ drawing of the old cable ferry and Mulvehill falls. Laura Stovel photo

By Laura Stovel

To Ada Domke Jarvis it didn’t seem right. Ed Mulvehill, the first ferryman who, from 1923 to the late 1930s, plied the Columbia River between 12-Mile and the west shore, did not have a headstone on his grave.

Mr. Mulvehill, a quiet, pipe-smoking man, was a central part of life on the river at a time when transport was difficult, farms were spread out and ferries formed an important part of the road network – even as the Galena Bay ferry does today. Yet the British-born bachelor, who was without immediate family around, died without the money for a fitting marker above his grave.

Ada resolved to do something about the situation so she raised funds to pay for a beautiful and worthy headstone which she designed herself.  The headstone, produced by Brandon Bowers Funeral Service, features drawings of Mulvehill Creek and the cable ferry itself.

The headstone was unveiled at a gathering at Mountain View cemetery on Thursday, attended by many former 12-Mile residents who shared stories about life around the ferry, including Walter Kozek, Eugene Domke and Ada herself. Although Eugene Domke did not know Ed Mulvehill, he reminisced about the many ferrymen he knew as a child.

“The ferry was a big part of our lives.” As children living on the West side of the river, they had to use the ferry to go to school every day. When the river froze and the ice had not yet been broken by workers to release the ferry, one ferryman even guided the children over the ice himself using a pole and a rope.

While most of the headstone has been paid for, Ada is still seeking donations to help cover the cost of this monument to Ed Mulvehill. She can be reached at adacanada@yahoo.com.

And now, for your viewing pleasure, here are some photos from today’s headstone unveiling:

Ada Domke Jarvis watches as Eugene Domke (center) and Bill Jarvis unveil the headstone. Gary Sulz of Brandon Bowers Funeral Home is in the background. Laura Stovel photo
Former 12-Mile residents: From left to right, Marilee Planden, Diane Lang, Ada Domke Jarvis, Florence Johnson, Della Johnson, Olympe Astra, Walter Kozek, Eugene Domke. Laura Stovel photo
Jim Sharp (left) and Walter Kozek discuss the ferry engine. Laura Stovel photo
Jim Sharp displayed and ran an engine the once ran the 12-Mile ferry. Laura Stovel photo