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.
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