Thelma Bernadine Stillwagon
Birth: 21 Aug 1893 - Colorado Springs, El Paso, Colorado Christening: Death: 19 Feb 1970 - Grand Junction, Mesa, Colorado Burial:
Father: Charles Newton Stillwagon Mother: Anna Elizabeth Hanna
Spouses and Children
1. *Wilbur Spaulding Rowell Marriage: 31 Jul 1912 - Coalby, CO Children: 1. Dolores Dellamay Rowell 2. June Wilba Rowell 3. Benjamin Albert "Ben" Rowell 1 4. Adolee Virginia "Susie" Rowell 5. Kathleen Belle "Nubbie" Rowell 6. Anna Laura Rowell
Thelma Stillwagon Rowell
notes by Kathleen Belle Rowell Hawkins
These notes and attached family listing are prepared for the Stillwagon family reunion at Chapman, Kansas, 1989. Some notes are from memory of what Thelma Stillwagon Rowell told me (her daughter, Kathleen) about Thelma's early life, and then notes of all our lives together.
After her mother's death, Thelma spent some time in what I take to be a foster home, with a Mrs. Bixler, who treated her very kindly and whom she spoke of with great love and affection. "Mother" Bixler fixed her hair in long ringlets (it was naturally curly); Mrs. Bixler had a little dog and a pet magpie - Thelma remembered how the magpie teased the little dog, calling him by name. When the dog came running, the magpie "laughed". When she was about 8 years old, as near as I can tell, Thelma was taken from Mrs. Bixler (which broke her little girl heart) and was placed with a different family, some people by the name of Nye ( or Nigh - I don't know the spelling.) She helped with housekeeping chores for the mother of the family. There were eight boys. She did go to school, and stopped at the eighth grade. She was very unhappy with the Nyes, and in her early teens she left. A doctor and his wife befriended her and taught her the rudiments of practical home nursing. She later used this training and knowledge to help earn a living for herself and her children. During those early years, I believe she lived part of the time with relatives.
In her later teens, she came to Colorado with a cousin, Daisy (Stillwagon) Pratt, and Daisy's husband, Roy. She helped Daisy with the children: Vernice (now a widow, Vernice Dixon, who lives at Cory, Colorado); Nan Rule, who also still lives in the Delta County area; and Phil Pratt, who became the superintendent of schools in Montrose, Colorado. Phil died a few years ago. Thelma got a job clerking in the little Coalby Store, several miles north of Cedaredge. There she met Wilbur ("Will" or "Bill") Rowell. They were married in 1912. Bill was sort of a wanderer, a "jack of all trades", as he sometimes said. The Rowell family were early pioneers in the Coalby area, a large family. But, as it sometimes happens, the descendants of the Rowells left in Delta County are Thelma's son Ben, and her daughter, Kathleen, and of course, their descendants.
Bill and Thelma moved into the eastern Utah area, where he mined, was a carpenter, a blacksmith, a prospector. They eventually landed in Greenbrier, Utah and later moved across the Green River to the east side to a tiny village called "Elgin". The children all started school in a 2-room schoolhouse in Elgin; they attended high school in Greenbrier. At one time during the Elgin years, Bill and his brother Bert Rowell operated a gold mine in the LaSal Mountains. I guess the vein played out - nobody got rich, anyway! But the family spent a beautiful summer in the tiny mining settlement high in the mountains, a place called "Miners Basin". At one time Bill served as a guide for dinosaur hunters from universities and museums in the eastern US; the children met many of the professors and "doctors". It was during the Green River and Elgin years that Thelma put her knowledge of practical nursing to good use. There were no nursing homes in those days - at least not in that area. She was in demand to help care for the sick and dying in the people's homes, and I can remember many times when she was grief stricken at the inevitable loss of a patient. She also was the "registrar" for elections in Elgin, a job she was proud of and felt honored to perform. People came to the house to register; the voting took place at the little school, and Thelma was involved in that, too. She also did laundry at home - she was a real little worker. And even in the barren environment of Elgin, she had flowers and vines around the house. Bill acquired a coal mine (perhaps in a card game). It was located in sandstone cliffs many miles eat of Elgin. He tried to operate it alone; Ben was often pressed into duty to help at the mine, until Ben decided to strike out on his own when he was 16 or 17. Kathleen recalls that she and Susie spent one summer there, too; one summer it was just Kathleen and the younger brother, Dan. Thelma had become very ill. She had major surgery three times in as many years for the removal of extremely large, fast-growing tumors of some rare variety. She spent months in the Moab hospital, and her seemingly boundless energy of past years was gone. But she was a fighter and gradually began regaining her strength. At that time Bill traded off the coal mine for a beautiful little ranch located in Castle Valley, 30 miles east of Moab, up the Colorado River. The ranch was at the foot of the La Sal Mountains. Thelma loved it there, and grew vegetables, fruit, grapes, berries and flowers, of course! It was paradise to her after the lean years in the desert at Elgin, and her good health came bouncing back. The biggest problem in those years was in getting the children to school in Moab; Thelma had to move to town each fall, find a place to live, and find work. She worked as a cook in restaurants. The year before little Dan was to go to school, Kathleen attended school in Dickinson County High School in Kansas for one semester, due to the kindness of Anna and Harry Stillwagon and their family. She got homesick for her family and for the mountains; she did finish high school the next two years in Moab. Dan had grown up, gone into the Army, gone to college. Thelma continued with her boarding and rooming house. Bill fell ill with "Lou Gehrig" disease, as it is called now. He spent some time with Kathleen in Colorado when he was confined to a wheelchair. He went back to Moab, and his health improved for some years. He died in 1959. Thelma continued with her boarding and rooming house until her health failed. For a time, June stayed with her and helped her. Ruth and Ben Rowell also stayed with her for quite some time, and Ruth took care of her until it was no longer possible for her to be taken care of at home. The last months of her life she was in a nursing home in Grand Junction, and in St. Mary's hospital there. Well! They were not all sad times, not all hard times. While her health was good, Thelma was able to create a happy life for herself. In Moab, she had a vegetable garden and a few fruit trees. And of course, LOTS of flowers! Bill was an old-time "fiddler". Thelma had acquired the knack of playing chords on the piano to provide rhythm and harmony for his fiddling, and they played for square dances in the neighborhood. One of this writer's earliest memories is of being wrapped up in a quilt and established on the landing of somebody's stairway and watching the people dance to Thelma and Bill's music. Thelma also had a set of quilting frames that Bill had constructed; she made dozens of "Sheepherders'quilts" as she called them - outing flannel stuffed with batting, and tied. She sold those. She and the neighbor ladies had quilting bees at her house; this writer can also recall being under the frame, guiding the ladies' needles upon request. Eventually they would forget about the little four-year-old under the quilt, and the good gossip came forth!
When Thelma died, the newspaper in Moab printed a very lengthy obituary, praising her as she was very well liked in the area, and certainly remembered not only for her wonderful meals, her beautiful flowers, but also her generosity and good nature. I doubt she ever turned anybody away who was hungry. I can remember people down on their luck (hoboes, I suppose some would say) coming to the house in Elgin; she never turned them away hungry. Undoubtedly, the moment she went to Heaven, her clear soprano voice was at last used in the way it was intended, to soothe hungry souls; I'm sure she supplies the hunger of the angels. With her sweet, forgiving nature; her Irish with and good humor; her irrepressible optimism, I'm certain that if anybody has her as a "guardian angel" he/she is the luckiest person on earth. Those qualities helped Thelma through a sometimes very harsh life. Yet she never quit being a loving person.
If anybody ever deserved to be an Angel, it is Thelma
How fortunate we were to have her for our mother!
Verle Elaine Stillwagon
Birth: Christening: Death: Burial:
Father: Charles Edward Stillwagon Mother: Blanche Augusta Myers
Spouses and Children
1. *Steven Thomas Ogburn Marriage:Wildie Dingle Stillwagon
Birth: 4 Feb 1891 - On Homestead Near Jacqua, Kit Carson County, CO Christening: Death: 20 Nov 1891 - On Homestead Near Jacqua, Kit Carson County, CO Burial:
Father: Charles Newton Stillwagon Mother: Anna Elizabeth Hanna
MacKendrick, Ronald and Judith Genealogy.