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.

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