Today’s post was inspired by my second cousin once removed, David Richard Askew. We’re both descendants of Wilfred L. Askew and his first wife Hattie S. (Eddy) Askew. He reached out last week to let me know how much he appreciates the work I share on this blog, especially with respect to our shared ancestors. We talked for nearly three hours about all things Askew, and he gave me several new leads (in the form of inherited family stories that I hadn’t heard), and made me realize that I’ve only scratched the surface of Joseph and Jane Askew’s story.
In today’s post, I’ll do a bit more scratching to see if I can reveal more information about Joseph and Jane and their family in the two decades prior to their migration to the United States.
Today’s post highlights a photo that my second cousin once removed Ruth Rogers recently scanned last fall from the collection of family photos she received from her mother Ruth (Manfred and Hope Askew’s daughter).
Col. Joseph Askew was the first distant ancestor I researched as a boy, and I’m always delighted when I find a new photo of him. Until this photo, I knew of only eight different photos of the Colonel (dozens and dozens of prints and illustrations derived from these, but only eight distinct photos). Today’s photo is number nine.
This is definitely the latest photo taken of Joseph and his wife Jane—he’s clearly much aged beyond the photos I have of him from 1909 and 1910. Since he died on September 21, 1911, I’d estimate that this photo was taken in the year of his death—1911. Given the outdoor setting and the warm weather clothes being worn, especially by the children, I’d guess that this dates to either summer or early fall, 1911. It may well be the last photo taken of Joseph before he died.
The Commercial Hotel (on the National Register of Historic Places, now repurposed as the Commercial Apartments), is a three-story Queen Anne Style, late Victorian brick building on South Jefferson St. in Wadena, Minnesota, that served as an anchor for the Askew family, especially the women of the Askew family, for decades. I’m still trying to understand this aspect of the Askew family, so this post will serve as a place to gather my notes and sources about the Askews at the Commercial Hotel. I have a lot to learn about this subject, so please do leave comments if you can further illuminate the subject.
In the Spring of 1901, Joseph Askew and his wife Jane leased a three-story brick hotel called the Wadena Hotel. They soon renamed the hotel the Commercial Hotel, as their target customers were travelling salesmen who came by train and needed a place to eat, sleep, and display their goods. After a time, Joseph purchased the Hotel for an estimated $10,000 (the equivalent of about $275,000 in today’s dollars).
The death of my great-great-grandmother Harriet S. “Hattie” (Eddy) Askew, young wife of Wilfred L. Askew, was a bit of a mystery at the time she died, and it’s been a big mystery to me for years, given that the evidence I had (mainly family stories until recently) was scant and often contradictory. I had reported in previous posts (here and here) that Hattie died of pneumonia while on a trip to Cripple Creek, Colorado, and that she was buried in Cripple Creek. I had also heard that she died on a train while travelling between Cripple Creek and Wadena, Minnesota. More recently, I heard another version, that “Hattie’s death was in childbirth, the baby died too. It was in a snowstorm and they could not get the doctor there in time.” Continue reading →
This is the second of two Thanksgiving-themed posts for today. I’ve transcribed an article from the 1938 Wadena Pioneer Journal that documents interactions between Col. Joseph Askew’s children and the local Native Americans who passed by his homestead while Isabelle (born 1868) and Wilfred (born 1873) were still in their school years (approximately 1875–1886).
Native Americans in that area travelled on the Otter Tail trail—part of the Red River trail system of old ox cart trails and trading routes winding from Winnipeg, Canada, to the Mississippi river at St. Paul, MN—which passed through the old Joseph Askew homestead, just yards from the front door of their house. Joseph Askew’s daughter Isabelle “Belle” Askew (later Belle Spencer) told about her encounters with Native Americans in the article (the Askew-related portions are in blue).