The drowning death of Rose Prettyman

I’ve returned from Minnesota with a pile of scans and documents that’ll take me months to pore through. Before I get started with that, I want to satisfy a request my uncle made a couple of months ago—to learn more about the death of his father’s mother. Dan, this one’s for you.

The drowning death of my great-grandmother, Rosa “Rose” Cecilia (Gores) Prettyman, in 1945 on the St. Croix River is an event that has been shrouded in mystery in my family for decades. In the absence of specifics, stories have arisen. As with other family stories obscured by time and the lack of retelling of first-hand accounts (see these earlier posts), imagined details have evolved to fill the vacuum of understanding. I have heard at least three versions of the story of Rose’s death: Continue reading

Bill Prettyman and his dog-powered cart

Today’s post is about an artifact that tells a charming story about another artifact—one made by my great-grandfather, C. A. Prettyman, for his son (my grandfather), William Prettyman.

This will be a story about a business card. Rather, it’ll be about the stories that the business card tells. The business card is that of my great grandfather Charles Austin Prettyman (who went by the initials “C. A.”). The first story is about the life my great grandfather was leading during the time he was actively using this kind of business card. The second story is about a magical moment that happened about 15–20 years earlier. Continue reading

The drunk-driving triple homicide

While my grandfather, William Eugene Prettyman, was alive, he alluded on a few occasions to an accident he was in in which three people were killed.  To the best of my knowledge, he didn’t tell the full story to any of his family members, but he conveyed enough overlapping pieces to several family members that the skeleton of a confusing story slowly came into focus. Continue reading