- "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
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.
Polly was born on November 5, 1858 in England. 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. 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. 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.
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.
|(1) Mary Rodgers|
|(2) Emily Chant|
|Orson Hempstead||Gladstone Rodgers|
|Chester Dane||Elsie Hempstead||Four others||Daughter||Five children||Daughter|
|Marion Dane||One other|
Behind the scenes
- Polly is the main character of the Dear America book, Land of the Buffalo Bones.
- She is based on a real person, the great-aunt of the book's author, Marion Dane Bauer.