With Best Wishes

Floral postcard “With Best Wishes”. (Author’s Collection)
Verso of postcard. (Author’s Collection)

Mrs. Gerig

April 28, 1911

Dear Grandma, I am going to send you a card to tell about my big boy. he was born the 25 of april and he weighed 10 pounds. we haven’t named him yet. Yours Truly,

Mrs. Rohena Conklin

I feared not being able to find any information on the recipient of this postcard — the last card in the series initially gifted to me ten years ago. A last name (and a married one, at that), a town, and state. A quick search revealed that there was no shortage of Gerig’s in Beiber, California. It wasn’t a lot to go on. But there was a silver lining: for the first time, I could tell the story of the sender.

Rohena Lee (Leona) Harris was born on May 2, 1888 or 1889 in Oregon to Jacob and Nancy Harris, (both from Missouri). The United States Census of 1900 shows Rohena, age 12, living with her parents, two brothers, and two sisters (she was the second youngest) in Adin & Lookout Townships, Modoc, California. If you examine the postcard closely, you can just make out that it was postmarked in Adin 11 years later. Her father owned his farm and older brother James helped to work it; the other children were still in school.

“United States Census, 1900”, database with images, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:M9PR-3ZJ : 23 January 2022), Rohena Harris in entry for Jacob A Harris, 1900.
Adin, California, ca. 1907. Northeastern California Historical Photograph Collection, Meriam Library, California State University, Chico. Identifier: sc14113. http://archives.csuchico.edu/digital/collection/coll11/id/23175

Five years after the Census, on September 30, 1905, Rohena married Robert Roscoe Conklin in Alturas, Modoc, California. She was 17 years old. Together they had several children: Charles Roscoe (1906), Mina Emma (1907), Marshall Edward (1908), Joseph Geno (April 25, 1910 — the year on the postcard is 1911, but the birthday matches), Leonard Jacob (1914), Betty Ellen (1916), and Robert Clarence (1925).

Adin Township, Modoc was home to the Conklin family in 1910. Robert was a general farm worker at the time and Rohena looked after the home and cared for Charlie, Mina, and Marshall. Geno had not yet arrived when this Census was taken.

In 1920, Robert and Rohena were living at 22 Grant Avenue, “Precinct 11”, Napa, California with Mina (12) and Geno (8). None of the family members’ estimated birth years on the U.S. Census index seem to match with those on other sources. Robert’s occupation is difficult to read, but appears to be laborer at a tannery.

Robert Conklin’s occupation. “United States Census, 1920”, database with images, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MH7G-Q3Y : 31 January 2021), Rohena Conklin in entry for Robert Conklin, 1920.

Rohena’s youngest child, Robert, was born on February 6, 1925; on November 2 of that year, she died in Napa, California at the age of 37. She is buried at Tulocay Cemetery.

Grave marker for Rohena Lee Conklin. Source: findagrave.com.

In the end, I did not find a connection between Rohena Conklin and a Mrs. Gerig. Then there’s the matter of the discrepancy in birth year for Rohena’s son, Joseph Geno. There’s a chance that I don’t have the correct woman at all, of course — and if that’s the case, please correct me.

There are photos of Rohena and members of her family on the FamilySearch website; these are not included here because I did not secure permission to do so.

Despite the many questions remaining, and the confusing information in this particular search, I’m glad to be able to share part of Rohena’s story. Maybe one day I’ll learn the rest.

Are you a descendant of Rohena Harris Conklin? Do you know who Mrs. Gerig might be? If you have any information or photos — or even corrections — to share, I would love to hear from you. Please reach out via my Contact page.

Published by Sonia Nicholson

Sonia Nicholson is an archivist, executive assistant, and writer. She was born and raised in Osoyoos, British Columbia, Canada and studied French and Spanish at the University of Victoria. She lives in Victoria, British Columbia with her husband, two children, and two rescue dogs. Follow her on Twitter @nicholsonsonia_

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