Skip to main content

1943: Cora Mitchell shares life story with Diamond Club

Bits By Betty
Lead Summary
Betty Mann, Rock County Historian

The following article is part of the Diamond Club Member group that began in the January 7, 1943, issue of the Rock County Star Herald. Members of this group consist of persons of age 75 and older.
The following appeared in The Rock County Herald on Aug. 19, 1943.
“When the Kiebach family moved from Iowa to Rock county,” declared Mrs. William Mitchell, Luverne, I thought they were going to clear out of the world. Then as fate would have it, I moved here too, and found that it was a civilized place after all.”
Distances, she explained, were much greater then than they are now, and when someone went as far away from Benton county, Iowa, to Rock County, Minnesota, it seemed as if they were going into an altogether different world.
Mrs. Mitchell was born Cora Maude Brode, the daughter of David D. and Mary Brode, in Homer township, Benton county, on June 1 1867. The Kiebach family, the Strassburg family, and several other families who now live in Rock county were neighbors of the Brodes before they came to Minnesota to live. The Brode family, however, did not leave Iowa, and it was not until after Mrs. Mitchell was married that her husband just by chance was assigned the position of depot agent here. Thus it was that after a period of 25 years, she and the people she knew during her childhood, were brought together again in a new and different community.
Mrs. Mitchell was born on a farm and attended country school. She and a twin sister finished school at the same time, and when her sister decided to continue her studies and become a school teacher, Mrs. Mitchell went to Van Horn, Iowa, to learn the dressmaker’s trade.
Living on the farm as she did, she learned to so many of the common farm tasks. She states that she helped milk cows until she was 22 years old, and she believes that she can still bind grain the old fashioned way. Although it was not necessary for her to bind grain when she was a girl, she often did it because the other girls in the community did, and she wanted to be able to do the same as they did.
When she was a girl attending country schools, she often saw Indians from the Tama reservation when they would go to attend their regular “pow-wows” at Shellsburg. “Lots of times,” Mrs. Mitchell states, “the Indians with their horses and equipment would be strung out over a distance of a mile. The old chieftain would be riding the lead pony, and he always had a gun lying across his saddle. Following behind, some on foot, and some on ponies, were the squaws, braves and the papooses. Although they were civilized, Mrs. Mitchell states she’d always try to get as far away from them as she could. They knew she was frightened, and would joke about it amongst themselves. “People said they were on their way to have their annual dog feast,” Mrs. Mitchell states. “After being gone for some time, they’d all come back the same way as they went.”
There were considerable movements of immigrants at that time, too, she states, and she recalls seeing covered wagons going by their home on their way to Nebraska where there was still free land for those who wanted to homestead.
She was about 17 or 18 when she went to Van Horn to learn dress making. Her mother was an excellent seamstress, and from her she acquired the desire to learn how to sew. She sewed by the day for a long time, earning 50 cents a day. Although that sounds very meager in this day and age, Mrs. Mitchell explained that in those days, 50 cents went a long ways. Living costs were very low; eggs for instance, being only six cents per dozen. Corn was only 20 cents a bushel, and many of the people burned it as fuel as they had more corn than wood, and more heat could be obtained out of a dollar’s worth of coal.
After working by the day some time she went to Dysart, Iowa, where she worked in a dress-making shop for 75 cents a day. This job didn’t appeal to her, so she finally quit and married William Mitchell, then a telegraph operator, who boarded at the same place as she did.
They were married Dec. 23, 1891, in the house in which Mrs. Mitchell was born, and after that, they moved from one point to another in Iowa, wherever Mr. Mitchell was assigned by the railroad company. Their first home in Minnesota was at Ellsworth in 1906, when Mr. Mitchell was assigned as yardmaster there. Ellsworth was then a booming railroad town.
The Mitchell children were small then, and during the years she lived there, Mrs. Mitchell states that she worked the hardest she has ever worked. Baking and sewing for several children never gave her time to get into mischief, she states.
From Ellsworth, they moved to Watertown, and in 1918, they came to Luverne, which has since been their home.
Mr. and Mrs. Mitchell had seven children, six of whom are living now. They are Lawrence, of Minneapolis; Gertrude, of of Napa, Calif.; Harold, of Luverne, Dorothy (Mrs. Sam Bly) of Valley Springs; James, who is serving somewhere in the China-Burma-India war theater and Delmar, who lives in Luverne.
Mrs. Mitchell also has 10 grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren. One grandson, Edwin, makes his home with the Mitchells.
Of a family of five, Mrs. Mitchell, and one brother, Daniel Brode, of Myrtle Point, Ore. are the only ones living.
During the time she has lived in Luverne, Mrs. Mitchell has been an active member of the Methodist church, and at present is a member of the Fireside Circle, a women’s organization of the church. She is also a member of the Eastern Star.
Her hobby is doing fancy work of all kinds. At one time, she raised canary birds as a hobby, but has discontinued that during latter years.
         Donations to the Rock County Historical Society can be sent to the Rock County Historical Society, 312 E. Main Street, Luverne, MN 56156.
Mann welcomes correspondence sent to

You must log in to continue reading. Log in or subscribe today.