Emmaville Store, circa 1969

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Emma's Legacy, Part 2

In last week's post we posed the question:  what happened to Emma Rockwell's family after she passed away?  Their lives seemed to have been shattered by the loss of their mother and their grandparents in less than two years. Ominously, they all left the area shortly after Emma's death.

Using ancestry.com and other sources, we can learn more about the fate of Emma's family. The children's names and birth dates were as follows:

Ada 1882
Chloe 1883
Mary  1884
Milo 1887
Stella 1889
Lulu 1892
Frank 1894

The 1895 state census lists Charles and the children living in Henrietta Township (today's plat map shows a Rockwell Lake located in sections 16 and 17). In 1900, however, the U.S. census lists the family in Rockwood Township, which is located in the far northern part of the county, west of Lake Plantagenet.  According to General Land Office records, Charles proved up his homestead of 156 acres there in 1905.

One can imagine the older girls in the family were a huge help to Charles, but soon, one by one, they married and started their own families.  The oldest daughter, Ada, married a man named Malterud and settled on a farm in Fern Township, just west of the Rockwell homestead. Malterud appears among the names of landowners there today.

Chloe married Deweese (sp?) Schreckengast and settled with him on a homestead near Becida.  Mary married Oscar Kellner, who was a neighbor in Henrietta Township and farmed near Dorset.

Charles Rockwell appeared to be settled on his own land with his family members nearby in 1905. But surprisingly, he and the four younger children turned up in Saskatchewan in 1906.  According to the provincial census of that year, they were living in or near Humboldt, about 160 miles north of Regina, and over 700 miles from Hubbard County.

What prompted the move? Did Charles have financial troubles? Was there a crop failure? Or was it the lure of new land? When Saskatchewan became a province in 1905, the new provincial government aggressively promoted new homesteading opportunities.  Hundreds of families from the U.S. emigrated to take advantage of Canada's version of the Homestead Act.

In 1911, Charles received a patent for his land, which was located near the small town of Lestock.  His son Milo, then 24 years old, also received a land patent.  A few years later, the youngest son, Frank, patented his land. Their apparent success prompted older sisters Chloe and Mary and their families to move to Saskatchewan, at least for a time. These two families later emigrated back to the U.S., settling in Okanogan County, Washington where they lived out their lives.

As for their siblings, Milo also went further west, had a family, and passed away in British Columbia in 1961. Lulu married, had a child, and died young in 1931. Stella married and moved all the way to Los Angeles where she died in 1971. Frank, the youngest, who passed away in 1964, married and had a family of three boys. Ada, the oldest of Charles and Emma's offspring, passed away in Bemidji in 1957.

We can't really know what their lives were like. Official records can only tell us so much. But sometimes these documents can tell a story. A border crossing notecard from 1944 records a trip by a fifteen-year old named Dorothy Pickett who was traveling from Canada back to her home in Spokane. She was accompanied by her Uncle Oscar. Although Dorothy had lost her mother (Lulu) and no longer lived in Canada, she came to visit her family, and her uncle made sure she made it home safely.  Other border crossing records describe trips made by the Rockwell siblings, across many miles, to visit each other.

Charles Rockwell passed away on December 1, 1915 in Saskatchewan. There are no records to indicate whether he remarried. We don't what kind of man he was, whether he was honest and hard working, or a conniver who ran from problems. But we do know that Charles started over in life at least three times and raised seven children who all survived him and held together as a family. I think Emma would have been proud.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Emma's Legacy

The Emmas keep coming to Emmaville. Since we opened nearly 4 years ago, we've been visited by dozens of Emmas, ranging in age from 9 months to over 90 years. They have come from as far away as Spain, the UK and Italy, to visit their town. We've had a lot of fun welcoming them and taking their photo for our "Emmas of Emmaville" gallery.  While some are bashful and even reluctant to stand for a photo, others are excited and full of joy and hope.

Of course, Emmaville was named after an Emma, but joy and hope aren't what come to mind when hearing her story. The following article appeared in the Park Rapids Enterprise on October 12, 1894:

Emma Rockwell, Wednesday, October 10, 1894, at her home near Elbow Lake, of heart disease, Mrs. Charles Rockwell aged thirty-five years.
It is seldom that a sadder case than the above occurs. The death of this mother leaves seven children motherless, the oldest only thirteen while the youngest is only a few months old. Mr. Rockwell's father also makes his home with him, and he is very old and needs the tender care which only a woman can give. The death occurred very suddenly, the deceased being in her usual good health the day before, and went to bed feeling as well as usual. In the early morning, however the husband was awakened by a noise as of someone choking and at once got up and lighted a lamp, only to find that the last breath of his life partner was gone. She was a native of New York, a daughter of Mr. & Mrs. Petrie who are residents of this village and has been married about fourteen years.
The funeral services were held at the Baptist church yesterday at 2 pm, conducted by Rev. William Carter. The Enterprise joins the many others in sincere sympathy for the bereaved husband in this affliction.

Apparently, Emma's death had a profound impact on the small community of Park Rapids. Soon a lake was named after her (Lake Emma is just north of Big Sand Lake), as was Lake Emma Township and the new little town of Emmaville, located on the north edge of said township.

The Rockwells had moved to Hubbard County from the Rochester, MN area, where they met and married in 1881.  Both their families had emigrated from upstate New York to Minnesota in the 1870s. This area was just starting to be settled when the Rockwells arrived and started their family.  Homesteading and raising seven children could not have been easy; no doubt their pioneer life took its toll on Emma. 

Emma Rockwell is buried in a family plot in Greenwood Cemetery on the west side of Park Rapids.  Also buried there is Martin, her father-in-law, who passed away less than a year after Emma.  Unfortunately, Emma's parents also passed within a year of her death, and are also buried at Greenwood Cemetery.  

It is difficult to fathom the pain and sorrow Charles and his children experienced during this time.  How did they cope? How did they find a way to go on?  And where did they go? The family plot has markers for only Emma and her father-in-law.

Through ancestry.com and other sources, we've learned some things about the fate of Charles and the children in the ensuing years. While we'll never really know them, what we've learned helps tell some of their stories. These stories become part of Emma's legacy.  

We'll share more about the Rockwells in future posts