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Dear America Wiki
This article is about an English immigrant. For other uses, see Mary.

"I sometimes think that Death may come to all of us in this place, sooner rather than later. And if he comes, will it have been Papa's sin in bringing us here that brings his family–and many others besides us–to such a place?"
—Mary Rodgers[4]

Mary Ann Elizabeth Rodgers (born November 5, 1858), better known as Polly, was the daughter of Rev. Dr. George and Mary Rodgers. She had nine siblings, including four brothers, two half-brothers, and three half-sisters. In 1873, her family immigrated from Yeovil, England to a new settlement, dubbed New Yeovil, in Minnesota.


Early life[]

Polly was born on November 5, 1858 in England.[1] She was the eldest daughter of Reverend Dr. George Rodgers and his first wife Mary. Her mother passed away when Polly was six, just a few months after her brother Calvin was born.[5] Polly had three older brothers, John William, George Newell, and Luther. Her father remarried Emily Chant, with whom he had Laura, Gladstone, Millie, and Percy.

Move to Minnesota[]

After visiting Minnesota the year before, Polly's father gathered a colony to settle there permanently per a deal with the Northern Pacific Railroad. They boarded the City of Bristol and began the long journey across the Atlantic Ocean. The voyage was a hard one for Cal, who was seasick daily. After reaching America in early April 1873, it took several days to reach their final destination of New Yeovil, named after their hometown Yeovil. The colonists were shocked that many of the Railroad's promises misleading and accused Polly's father of not telling them important aspects of the land.

Despite their anger, the townspeople agreed to build the Rodgers' a house, albeit one of sod. Around the same time, the mother of Polly's best friend Jane Thompson committed suicide after losing her son during the voyage. Polly worried often about Jane, whose father soon became an alcoholic. In July, she and Jane met an Ojibwa Indian named Ozawamukwah. Polly later began to suspect that Jane saw Ozawa in secret.

In early September, disaster struck when a plague of locusts descended and ate everything in sight. In late December, Cal and Laura fell ill for several days but were nursed back to health thanks to a remedy from Jane. That spring, Jane asked for Polly's help in getting to Ozawa's reservation, where she planned to stay. Polly and her father returned but Jane could not be entreated to leave. The townspeople later voted for George to no longer be their pastor. The Rodgers' packed up and headed to Glyndon.

Later life[]

In Glyndon, Emily gave birth to Carrie Elva, whom Mary remained close to for the rest of their lives. The Rodgers family made several moves before settling in Money Creek, Minnesota. As an adult, Polly became a nurse and later married, but had no children.

Personality and traits[]

Polly was characterized as headstrong, the opposite of Jane, who was described her as "a quiet girl, [and] a respectful daughter." Her stubbornness was exhibited in her attitude towards her stepmother. She refused to call her anything but "Mother Rodgers," insisting that she was "not [her] mama." After moving to America, she slowly began to warm to her stepmother. Polly was also artistic, particularly enjoying painting landscapes.

Family tree[]

The Rodgers Family Tree
George and
Harriet Chant
(1) Mary Rodgers
(d. 1865)
George Rodgers
(2) Emily Chant
Mary Rodgers
(b. 1858)
Calvin Rodgers
(b. 1865)
Laura Rodgers
(b. 1867)
Orson Hempstead
Gladstone Rodgers
(b. 1869)
Emily Rodgers
(b. 1870)
Percy Rodgers
(b. 1873)
Elva Rodgers
Luther Rodgers
(b. 1857)
Chester Dane
Elsie Hempstead
Four others
Five children
Newell Rodgers
Marion Dane Bauer
One other
William Rodgers

Behind the scenes[]



  1. 1.0 1.1 Land of the Buffalo Bones, Marion Dane Bauer, page 150
  2. Land of the Buffalo Bones, Marion Dane Bauer, Epilogue and Historical Note, pages 202-208
  3. Present-day Hawley, Minnesota
  4. Land of the Buffalo Bones, Marion Dane Bauer, page 162
  5. Land of the Buffalo Bones, Marion Dane Bauer, page 6

See also[]

Dear America characters
Main characters

Remember "Mem" Whipple | Deliverance Trembley | Lozette Moreau | Catharine Logan | Prudence Emerson
Abigail Stewart | Lucinda Lawrence | María Rosalia de Milagros | Hattie Campbell | Mary Driscoll
Florence "Florrie" Mack Ryder | Susanna Fairchild | Clotee Henley | Amelia Martin | Emma Simpson
Sarah Nita | Phillis "Patsy" Frederick | Libby West | Priscilla "Pringle" Rose | Mary "Polly" Rodgers
Nannie Little Rose | Angeline Reddy | Sarah Jane Price | Teresa Viscardi | Anetka Kaminska
Zipporah Feldman | Minette "Minnie" Bonner | Angela Denoto | Margaret Ann Brady | Kathleen Bowen
Simone Spencer | Lydia Pierce | Nell "Nellie Lee" Love | Bess Brennan | Minerva "Minnie" Swift | Grace Edwards
Julie Weiss | Madeline Beck | Amber Billows | Piper Davis | Dawn "Dawnie Rae" Johnson | Molly Flaherty

Supporting characters

Antoinetta Viscardi | Leon Nasevich | Daniel Pierce | Erma Jean Love | Patrick Flaherty

Lists of characters by book

A Journey to the New World | I Walk in Dread | Look to the Hills | Standing in the Light
Love Thy Neighbor | The Winter of Red Snow | Cannons at Dawn | A Line in the Sand
Valley of the Moon | Across the Wide and Lonesome Prairie | So Far from Home | All the Stars in the Sky
Seeds of Hope | A Picture of Freedom | A Light in the Storm | When Will This Cruel War Be Over?
The Girl Who Chased Away Sorrow | I Thought My Soul Would Rise and Fly | The Great Railroad Race
Down the Rabbit Hole | Land of the Buffalo Bones | My Heart Is on the Ground | Behind the Masks
My Face to the Wind | West to a Land of Plenty | A Coal Miner's Bride | Dreams in the Golden Country
A City Tossed and Broken | Hear My Sorrow | Voyage on the Great Titanic | A Time for Courage
When Christmas Comes Again | Like the Willow Tree | Color Me Dark | Mirror, Mirror on the Wall
Christmas After All | Survival in the Storm | One Eye Laughing, the Other Weeping
My Secret War | Early Sunday Morning | The Fences Between Us | With the Might of Angels
Where Have All the Flowers Gone?