Rose Anna Ireland Miller VanAlstine 1853 – 1936

Rose is not related – at least that I know.  She is buried at the Missoula City Cemetery, and I will be telling her story at the next “Stones and Stories” event at the end of October.  Some of her story had been researched, and I filled in a few of the blanks. 

Rose Anna Ireland was born 16 September 1853 in New Bedford, Bureau, Illinois, the second of four daughters of Thomas Ireland and Sophia Walters.  Like many other families of the time, her parents moved farther west, looking for better land and more opportunities.  The family eventually reached Lake Shetek, in Murray County, Minnesota.  They lived in a cabin near the southeast corner of Owanka Bay. 

Unfortunately, a clash of cultures resulted between the settlers, and the Sioux who were trying to maintain their own ways.  As a result of this conflict, a band of Indians determined to attack settlers and push them eastward.  In mid August, 1862, when Rose Anna was 9, attacks began at several locations in the area.  The Irelands left their cabin to seek safety with others at a nearby home.  One group of Indians in the area told the settlers that they would not be harmed if they left immediately.  The women and children were put in a wagon and started away, but the Indians pursued, shooting at them.  The settlers sought refuge in a slough that contained high grass.  Rose’s parents were shot and injured, as were many other adults and children.  The Indians said that if the women and children would come out, they would not be harmed.  The women came out with their children.  Along with other women and children, Rose’s mother was shot and killed, as were her sisters Sarah Jane, 11, and Julianne, 3.   The slough got the name Slaughter Slough.

Rose Anna, her 7-year-old sister Ellen, four other girls, and two women were taken captive.  The group travelled about 800 miles in three months, trying to stay away from pursuers.  The captives had only the clothes they were wearing, and worn out moccasins.  When food was scarce, they were not fed.  Rose was the most favored above all the other captives, and she was given some blue trading beads, which she kept wrapped around her waist under her petticoat so that she would not lose them.  She was given the name “Ondee” meaning “Rain”. 

In November, a group of about ten Teton Lakota Indians negotiated with the captors for the release of the girls and women.  They risked their lives, and traded their own horses, guns, and other goods for the release of the prisoners.  Once freed, the captives were taken about 100 miles, in wintery November weather to Fort Pierre in South Dakota, then by stagecoach back to their homes.  These Indians were referred to as “Fool Soldiers” because of their efforts for peace with settlers.  

When Rose Anna and Ellen returned home, they found that their father had survived being shot 8 times.  He lived another 35 years. 

By the time she was 16, Rose Anna had moved away from Lake Shetek to Mankato, Minnesota.   In 1875, she lived with her father, step-mother Sally, and sister, in Mankato.  In 1880, she was a servant in the household of the Presbyterian minister.  In 1885, she was a servant for a Prussian couple.  Her step-mother had died earlier in the year, and her father lived with her.  Thomas died in 1897 in Mankato. 

Rose Anna moved to Butte, Montana by 1898, and was a live-in domestic for the family of Thomas Buzzo, a mine superintendant in Walkerville. 

In 1903, at age 50, Rose Anna married a widower, Joseph R Miller, in Butte.  Joseph was a carpenter from Missoula, and Rose Anna moved there.  Only 17 months later, Joseph died suddenly of heart failure at Orchard Homes. 

In 1906, Rose Anna married Samuel VanAlstine.  He had worked as a teamster in Lincoln.  In 1909, they owned a farm in Orchard Homes.  By 1915, they were living in town at 1117 Grand Avenue, and this was Rose Anna’s home for the rest of her life.

Family lore is that Rose Anna filed for divorce from Samuel for non-support.  However, the 1917 city directory lists Rose Anna as the widow of Samuel. A trip to the courthouse might result in finding a divorce record and/or death record for Samuel, as he is not in the Missoula cemetery. In 1920, Rose Anna worked as a cook at the YMCA.  In later years, the jobs were described as waitress, and helper, at the YW and YMCA. 

Rose Anna died 16 April 1936 in Missoula, of heart disease.  Her only surviving immediate relative named was her sister Ellen.  Rose Anna had no children of her own.  


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: