When Agnes Scannell received Gifford Pinchot's request for narratives, she responded with great enthusiasm, writing to her Old Chief that his letter was "like a thought-wave on the ether." For the past year she had been wondering how she might have an opportunity to "put in writing some facts about the Forest Service of the United States," she wrote, "because I felt a written record should be made of the efforts of Gifford Pinchot in establishing this important branch of the Government."
Agnes Scannell hailed from Worcester, Massachusetts where she graduated from Worcester High School. Like many of the Old Timers, she grabbed the rungs of opportunity, noting that she "was eager to go beyond the confines of her little city." In October 1906 she took the Civil Service examination in Boston and was assigned to the Washington Office on F Street where she assumed her post as "clerk, stenographer, typewriter," at six hundred dollars per year. Shortly thereafter, she was assigned to Region 6 in Portland, Oregon's Beck Building where she served from 1907-1917.
One of the exceptional aspects of Agnes Scannell's narrative is her dramatic description of her solo cross-country train trip during which she loses her pocket book on the train. She writes: "As I sat waiting in the station for results, I began to think that it all happened for the best, and if the pocketbook was not returned, then I should take that for a sign that I was to turn back. In fact, I had about made up my mind to turn back, when in walked a trainman, swinging my little pocketbook; then I knew that was the signal for me to go on."
Forth she went, describing her train voyage as if it were yesterday. "On, on I went, however, and the trip over the Northern Pacific Lines I enjoyed very much. I was eager to see the Rockies. In Montana they are magnificent; so young; so bold; so high. They seemed to give me courage, and I began to feel bolder and bigger, too under their spell. Once I crossed the Great Divide, I realized I was standing alone in the vastness of the west; hence I must not waver as the die was cast."
From the personal narrative of Agnes V. Scannell dated December 27, 1939. Old Timers Collection. Gifford Pinchot Collection. Library of Congress. Manuscript Division.