True pioneers

Adelia Ahlforth & David Stussi

  Mathilda ”Tillie” Adelia ”Adele” Karlsdotter Ahlforth (11/8 1865 – Jan. 1902)
  D3 branch []
  Daughter of Vilhelmina Ahlfort & Carl Andersson
  Häggarp, Torpa, Östergötland, Sweden
icon-globe  Emigrated to North America in 1880

  David Stussi/Stusse (Apr. 1862 – after 1917) (m. 25/3 1893 in Spokane, Washington)
  New Glarus, Wisconsin
  Gold mine manager, mining agent; railroad contractor; postmaster, grocer; broker
icon-stop  No children

  Primary sources

This may well be Adelia, but the identification is as yet unconfirmed. Photo kindly provided by Margareta Sigbladh.

Adele is born at Häggarp, but in April 1880 she emigrates to Illinois along with her much older brother Carl. They settle with their sister Hannah and her family in Moline, Illinois, and take on the americanized names Adelia and Charles Ahlforth, the surname being an americanized form of their mother’s maiden name.

In 1893 Adelia finds herself in Spokane, Washington, where she marries a baker’s son, David Stussi from Icicle, Co. Okonogan.

Adele and David’s marriage 1893 in Spokane.

The photo attached to the passport application 1917. His hair and his eyes were brown.

David’s signature 1917.

David’s parents, John Rudolphe Stüssi and his wife Annie, had come from Switzerland in 1854, and at first seem to have settled at New Glarusicon-map-marker, a Swiss colony in Wisconsin where David was born in 1862, but the family moved to Mantorville, Minnesota when he was 3 years old, and within a few years went on to Stillwatericon-map-marker on the Minnesota-Wisconsin border, where he grew up. He was probably named for what was likely a cousin of his, David Stuessy/Steussy, born in New Glarus a few months before him. They were a quite important local family in New Glarus icon-external-link.

David and Adelia’s marriage certificate with their signatures.

David and Adelia were true pioneers. In October 1894, David and his older brother John followed a gold rush to Rossland, British Colombia, which by then was only a miners’ camp. Presumably, his wife went with him, although no mention of her appears. His log cabin at the end of Columbia Avenue was the first lumber building in the town, and perhaps the second building after the founding miner Ross Thompson’s home. There was a growing number of mining prospectors and miners coming to the site, many of them from the States, and David quickly saw the opportunity of earning his living by providing services to them rather than take part in the actual mining for gold, which was both exhausting and uncertain. He first opened a small grocery store at the site of what is now The Garage Restauranticon-map-marker, but at the same time he also provided the the town’s first postal service, leaving the mail in a cheese box behind the door and letting people sort their own mail. Within a few months the population had grown to a thousand, and the cabin became much too small for the purpose, so the following spring he built the Stussi Block across the street, on the south side of the Avenue, in which a portion of the main floor was set aside for Postmaster Stussi and his mail. He resigned from his duty as postmaster in July, when a successor took over. Within a couple of years, Rossland had grown to one of the largest cities in western Canada, due to the gold rush. David is still remembered as the founder of the town’s first post office.

The couple eventually settled in the gold mining village of Dixieicon-map-marker in Idaho, where David is by 1900 a gold mine manager. Dixie is still extremely remote today, and must have felt even more so at the time, but they were probably used to that kind of environment already at this stage.

Adele appears to have died in January 1902, or at least that is when the news of the considerable inheritance left by her reaches her family back in Moline, Illinois. In the words of The Rock Island Argus January 28 1902:

The Spokesman-Review at Spokane, Wash., of recent date tells of two Moline residents who have fallen heir to a snug sum in the following article: ”The will of Adelia Stussi was yesterday admitted to probate. The testatrix leaves her estate in trust for her husband, David Stussi, during his life. At his death one half of the estate is to go to his collateral heirs and the other half to collateral heirs of testatrix, Mrs. August Nelson and Carl Ahlforth of Moline, Ill.; Alex Carlsen, Peter Carlsen and David Ohlforth and a married sister, Marie, all residing in Sweden. Her estate consists of real estate in Spokane, Rossland, B. C., and Hump, Idaho, valued at $13,500, one fourth interest in Lake View, Hottentot and Uno claims, one third interest in Bunker Hill, one-sixteenth interest in Baby and one-sixth interest in Coos Bay claims, a promissory note for $850 and following shares of mining sticks. Nine hundred and twenty-one shares Arlington, 1,000 shares Evening Star, 10,000 shares Sullivan group, 100,000 shares Spokane & Buffalo Hump Gold Mining company, 100,000 shares Gold King, 300,000 shares Forest Bell.”

In this way, the youngest sister supplied unexpected prosperity to all her older siblings and their families.

David married the young woman Marion Emma Savage (b. 1880) on 20 August that same year in Union Co., Oregon. She was of British descent. For some reason he is then said to be from New York.

In 1909 they emigrate back to Canada, and the year after that he seems to work as a mining agent in the Resurrection River Valley at Kenai in Alaska. The area has just received its first short railroad. His wife is not with him, but he is recorded as being a married man.

In 1911 they live in Prince Rupert on an island off the coast of British Colombia, once more together with brother John Stussi. Religionwise David is recorded as being a free thinker. He now works as a railroad contractor, helping The Grand Trunk company build the Pacific Railway that is to connect Prince Rupert to the mainland.

Emma dies 3 March 1912, only 32 years old, and the following year David moves back to the States to settle permanently in Seattle, where he establishes himself as a broker. His nationality is by now given as Canadian. However, in 1917 he decides to emigrate to Tahiti via San Francisco, in order ”if I like Tahiti, to make it my home”, as he states in his passport application. We never hear word of him again, so presumably Tahiti did agree with him. He probably enjoyed a comfortable old age with his winnings of a life-time of risk-taking and hard work in the true spirit of a pioneer.

Research data

  • icon-female signatures: Adelia Stusse (1893)
  •  name (others’ spellings): Mathilda Adele (1865-1866); Mathilda Adèle (1866-1875); Matilda Adêle (1876-1880); Tillie Alford (1880); Adelia Ahlforth (1893); Matilda Adelia (1898); Adellie Stussi (1900)
  •  signatures: David Stusse (1893); David Stussi (1917)
  •  name (others’ spellings): D. Stussy (1865); David Stusse (1870-1893); David Stussi (1875-1917); D. Stussi (1898)
  •  b. Torpa 1865: v41304.b24.s39
  • icon-user m. Spokane 1893; 1893; 1893
  • icon-user m. Oregon 1902: 1902
  •  hous.ex. 1865-1880 Torpa: v29528.b147.s137(1865); v29529.b118.s107(1866); v29529.b116.s105(1866-1871); v29530.b130.s120(1871-1875); v29531.b125.s116(1876-1880); Blåvik: v25060.b123.s117(1880)
  •  cens. 1880;1900 Moline: 1880; Dixie: 1900
  •  cens. 1865-1885;1900;1910 Mantorville: 1865; Stillwater: 1870; 1870; 1875; 1875; 1880; New Glarus: 1880; 1885; 1885; Dixie: 1900; Kenai: 1910
  •  inher. v76722.b150.s293(1898)
  •  inher. v76722.b150.s293(1898)
  •  passport applications: 19131917
  • icon-male postmaster: 1895; 1895