Heritage: My Sister’s Romance

by Annie Coleman (Kerr) Sexton, published in Stanton Stats February 17, 1995

When my sister, Millie, was fifteen, she became engaged. The engagement was finally broken off, mostly because Millie was having a romance. This time it was Ben Topping, who worked for us. When Father found it out, he put his foot down. He sent Ben away, [and] arranged for Millie to go to Uncle Bill Harding’s in Oneida, New York. At my Uncle’s she went to school and helped with the housework. After [a] couple [of] years there, she went to Ontario, visited with relatives there [and] loved them all. She came home in the Fall, a pretty girl with nice clothes, new ideas and many new recipes.

Ben was living on a rented farm four miles away. Their romance hadn’t died; it was just kept under cover. Our teacher was a friend of them both, [so] I carried Millie’s notes to Ben to the teacher and she gave them to Ben. His notes were carried the same way. They decided to marry. We were all going to the Christmas Tree and Millie concealed needed things in her clothes. [She] let me in on the secret — they would steal away from the concert [and] drive to Bottineau, North Dakota to be married. This was necessary as she lacked a few months of being eighteen. After the concert she couldn’t be found. We came home and Mother and Father talked in private. Next morning a neighbour came in and told us what had happened.

Father just put [Millie] out of his life, [but] Mother didn’t hold any spite to her. We were not allowed to visit her, but, a few times when Father was going to be away, somehow Mother got word to Millie and she came home for a couple [of] hours.

[Millie and Ben] bought a farm a mile and a half from us and moved there. They now had two little boys and for some reason we were allowed to visit them. Finally, we brought the boys to our house for brief visits. They must have softened Father’s wrath because one day in Deloraine he met Millie on the street and spoke to her. He bitterly regretted those nine years of silence and now couldn’t do enough for her. He said the rest of us could marry Indians if we wanted to; he would never interfere again.

[Millie] was a grand cook and housekeeper and a devoted mother. Everyone liked her. At the age of thirty-four one June 1, 1915, she died from a miscarriage. My parents felt very bad and always did everything they could for Ben and the two boys.