Emma (Bowe) Kirkpatrick. In her beautiful face I see my grandfather's, along with some of my aunties' faces.
My great grandmother Emma’s marriage to James Douglas Kirkpatrick was the point where the Kirkpatrick line first merged with the Bowe line, back in the day. Great grandma was quite the extraordinary woman.
Born 8 March 1872, Emma was the daughter of Herman Otto Bowe, a German, and Quilinick “Caroline” Pasho, a Shushwap girl and the daughter of Chief Pasho. She had three brothers – Henry, Fritzee and John – and one sister, Charlotte.
From what I’ve read about Emma, she was legendary – a woman full of energy and fire. Here are a couple of quotes I found about her:
“She was a promising child and her parents expected great things of her. She completed all of her schooling in New Westminster and then went to Chicago with her father to see the World’s Fair and to complete her music studies. She was a gifted musician and artist. She was also a keen horsewoman and could shoot a rifle with great accuracy. She had only been home a year or so when a group of musical Kirkpatricks came to surprise the Bowes with a visit… They danced until day light and breakfast was announced by the voluntary cooks.
“The second night Emma Bowe went to the Indian Village which was less than a mile from the ranch house. She invited the young folks to come down and take in the dance. They were all good dancers, as they had been dancing for years in their own hall, so they came eagerly and had an enjoyable time. There was no discrimination, they mixed and danced and had more fun than the previous night.”
~ Kirkpatrick Gold, June 15, 1992 edition
Somehow I came to possess a medal that Emma got at the Chicago World Fair when she was there. It is on a worn little ribbon and is one of my most cherished possessions.
And this quote from one of Great Uncle Sam’s writings:
“[Emma was a] remarkable ranch girl of a bygone period… she was more than a remarkable woman, she was a rare specimen of humanity. She was a planner, a manager.”
Source: A Short History of James Douglas Kirkpatrick, by S. D. Kirkpatrick, 1963
Jim and Emma had 11 children, some of whom I have written about in this blog: Anna Christine “Nana,” Alice Isobel (“Aunt Alice” in this post), James Douglas II, Francis Ludwig “Lud,” Charlotte May, John Gillham, Elsabe Violet, Jean Caroline, George Theodore (my grandfather), Olivine Emma “Ollie,” and Samuel Thomas.
All went on to have children, except Jimmy, who “died for freedom and honour” at Vimy Ridge, France, in World War I. Great grandma Emma saw his death in a waking dream as she was dozing one day. She was not surprised when she received official word, but she was deeply grieved.
Great Uncle Sam’s writings are a great blessing for we researchers. He was gifted with being able to paint wonderful pictures with his words and the following tale illustrates Emma’s pluck, determination, and horsemanship.
“The following year, I came to town and Jim was there. He said that he had taken a job at the livery stable and was, at present, breaking horses to the harness, to be used on the stage lines to the Cariboo. He said the family was with him and Emma was running a restaurant in town, so I paid them a visit and stayed with them a few days.
“That evening Jim said to Emma, ‘I have a job for you.’ Some society group in Victoria wanted 6 saddle horses for ladies’ use, gentle and well broken to the side saddle with a lady rider. Jim said the manager had left it up to him, now he said I am leaving it up to you.
“Apparently, this appealed to Emma. She smiled and said, ‘I’ll be there at 8 tomorrow morning.’
“Now, it may be as well to mention that it had been said those that knew the facts, that Emma had broken many wild horses with a stock saddle, and had ridden bucking horses on a side saddle.
“Anyway, I was loafing around the barn at 8 a.m. when Emma came along wearing a long riding skirt that she had to hold up off the ground. Jim had saddled a well broken horse that they had on hand for hire. Jim led him to the middle of the street and boosted Emma up on the saddle. The horse paid no attention to her till Jim let go of the halter and walked away. Then he noticed something strange; his ears pointed back and the whites of his eyes showed. She let him stand while she patted his neck and gave him horse talk. Then she shortened up on the left bridle rein and pulled his head around towards the skirt. He glared at it but made no move. Emma took her time. She allowed him to straighten out, then the performance was repeated.
“This time, he was not afraid of the skirt. When she got him back to normal position, his ears were pointing to the front. It was then she tightened up on the bridle reins and chirped to the horse to move ahead, which he did, with a spring to his step, as if he was prepared to go into action, but he soon quieted down to a natural walk. Two blocks down and back, a rest period, another trip… this time she came back at a trot. The third trip she walked him to the turning point, then suddenly she let out a ‘Yippee!’ and hauled him roughly to the left, then slapped his right shoulder with her riding whip and used the English spur on her left foot.
“The horse whirled and broke into a gallop. She increased it to a dead run. When they came to the starting point, she hollered ‘Whoa!’ and hauled roughly on the bridle, stopping him in two jumps. She slid down without help, went to his head and made herself acquainted by rubbing his face. Scratching his ears, she talked to him. She lifted his upper lip and looked at his teeth. Then she drew a laugh from the spectators when she pulled the horse’s head down and whispered in his ear, then winked at the crowd. She stroked his neck, his front leg to the hoof, she picked up his foot, tapped his shoe with a rock. She didn’t only put on a show – she put the horse entirely at ease.
“Then she said, ‘Come on, Buster. That will be all for now.’ She headed for the stable. Buster followed her on a slack rope.”
Source: A Short History of James Douglas Kirkpatrick, by S. D. Kirkpatrick, 1963 (I have tidied up the spelling and punctuation a little to make the reading of the tale flow more smoothly.)
James and Emma and their family. My Grandpa George is sitting on Jim's lap. (Click to view a larger image.)