Emmaville Store, circa 1969

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

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