When Jane O’Brien Squires sings, even the birds stop to listen enviously, whether she is soloing or singing with the Sweet Adelines chorus, an organization of which she is an officer. Besides being a much sought-after vocalist, Jane, who lives in Clinton with her husband, Thomas Squires, is an attractive and extremely youthful appearing grandmother, and a third generation South Whidbey Island native, having been born in the Maxwelton area, as was her mother, Edna Clark O’Brien.
Jane’s maternal grandparents, Stephanas and Viola Mae Clark, came from Warsaw, Illinois to South Whidbey around 1900, bringing with them two sons, Earl, who was six years old, and Raymond, who was four. Stephanas brought the family with him to Portland to visit a brother who lived there. Both Stephanas and Viola May liked the west and wanted to stay so Stephanas tried to find work in Portland. But there was no work to be had. Then they learned that they could apply for a homestead in Washington. Stephanas applied and received a homestead of 160 acres close to Maxwelton. They moved to Whidbey Island.
At first they lived in an old house on Maxwelton Road and Stephanas began to clear the land. He built a one-room house of cedar shakes and later built a somewhat larger log house. Four children were added to the family; Minnie May, Allan, Ethel, and Edna.
Edna, who still lives at Maxwelton, was born in 1904 in what is now the Albert Luhn house on Maxwelton Road. Mrs. McLeod of Langley was the midwife who was brought to the house where the baby was on the way.
Edna’s first school years were spent at Island School which was located at the corner of Bailey and French Roads across from the present fire station. Her first teacher there was Henry Thorsen. Later, a school was built on Maxwelton Road (now known as Woodland Hall) and Edna continued there through the eighth grade with Grace Craw as her teacher.
The Clark’s neighbors were the Lyons, the Burneys (Mr. Burney was a retired dentist), the Arvidsons, the Nourse family, and the Parsons. In 1926, Edna Clark married Raymond O’Brien and they had five children—Allan Gray, Raymond Phane, Jane, Terrence, and Michael.