Emma Trueblood Anderson

Sometimes, you come across a person whose story is so tragic that it seems almost unbelievable.  In Ephraim’s history, one such figure is a woman named Emma Alfredette Trueblood Anderson.

July 18, 1908, Door County Advocate

Emma was born on February 14, 1878, to Ingeborg “Emma” Goodletson Trueblood and Silas Trueblood.  Her mother was a daughter of Thomas and Kjesten Goodletson (of the Goodletson Cabin).  Six months after the birth of Emma and her twin brother, Thomas Alfred, their mother died of a stroke complicated by sunstroke and diabetes.  Emma, Thomas, and her two older siblings, George and Louisa, were all sent to live with other Ephraim families: Thomas and George lived with their maternal grandparents, Louisa moved in with a maternal aunt, and Emma was sent to live with Andrew and Mattie (Mary) Johnson.

When Emma was 19 years old, she had an affair with Frank Valentine (who was around 42 years old).  At one time, Frank and his wife lived in the Iverson House with Rev. Anders Petterson and his family, and Frank confessed to the affair as a parishioner of the Ephraim Moravian Church.  Emma and Frank’s son, Andrew, was born in 1898 and adopted by the Johnsons (Emma’s adoptive parents).

In 1900, Emma married Nel Anderson and the couple had five children.  Tragedy struck her life again in 1908, when her son with Frank Valentine, Andrew Johnson, drowned off the Anderson Dock at the age of ten.  He is buried in the Ephraim Moravian Cemetery and is one of a number of young boys who drowned off the Anderson Dock (including a son of Thomas and Kjesten Goodletson, Emma’s maternal grandparents).  A year later, Emma’s father, Silas Trueblood, drowned off a dock in Mackinac, MI.

In 1918, at the age of forty, Emma contracted Spanish influenza and died, leaving behind her husband and five remaining children.  She was one of the estimated 50 million people killed worldwide during this epidemic.  Like her son, Andrew, Emma is buried in the Ephraim Moravian Cemetery.

Emma is just one of countless Ephraim residents with a fascinating story to tell, though sadly, hers is full of unfortunate events.  Visit the Svalhus Research Library to learn more about Emma’s life.

-Guest Blogger Emily Irwin

5 thoughts on “Emma Trueblood Anderson”

  1. Gail Arciniega (Anderson)

    Thank you for writing about my grandmother.
    I am the daughter of her youngest son Alfred who was just 10 months old at the time of her death. I learned something new about my descendents from your post too!

  2. This is beyond sad. I have often wondered why the past history is referred to as “the good old days”. It seems more likely that they were the really difficult old days. I love to read about Ephraim’s history, but I am glad I live now! Poor Emma.

  3. Thank you for sharing stories like this one. It adds to my understanding what life was about in the early days of Ephraim. Jim Reeve

  4. Emily,
    Thank you for writing about my great grandmother Emma. Her daughter Ella was my grandmother.
    There are so many tragic stories, including of many young people who never had a chance to grow up and have families of their own. It is a comfort when their stories are made known and a part of them lives on.

  5. Fascinating stories. Life was hard back in the “good” old days. No wonder the median age of death was so low.

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