From the Seneca (Kansas) Courier-Tribune, October 23, 1947:
"A CENTURY OF BIRTHDAYS
FOR MRS. EMMA ROOTS
Central Figure Soon One Hundred
Family Will Celebrate The Occasion with Dinner and Possibly Open House
Seneca feels honored to have as one of its citizens a woman who will observe her one-hundredth birthday, November 9, 1947.Mrs. Emma Roots, mother of Frank Roots, Seneca, is that woman and she is looking forward to the celebration of her birthday with joy and happiness.
It is expected that members of the immediate family will gather at the home in Seneca, which Mrs. Roots shares with her son, Frank and wife, for a dinner at noon two weeks from this Sunday.If Mrs. Roots' health permits, there will be [an] open house in the afternoon when friends may call to extend their best wishes.An annoucement will be made later as to the hour for the open house.
Mrs. Roots has a most remarkable memory.She recalls accurately the dates of many happenings in her life.One of the highlights of her 100 years of living came early in life.She was present in Galesburg, Ill., at the time Abraham Lincoln and Stephen A. Douglas made their campaign debate.She told a reporter of Lincoln's friendliness, of how he stepped down from the platform to shake hands with the people, young and old, who gathered to hear the speakers.She was about eight years old at that time.Douglas, said Mrs. Roots, was a different type of man.She remembers him as being very handsome, however, he remained on the platform after his speech and talked to the politicians.
To go back farther in Mrs. Roots' life, she was born at Syracuse, New York, the youngest of ten children of Mr. and Mrs. Eliphelet Ensign.At the age of four she came with her parents to Galesburg.The family came west to benefit Mr. Ensign's health, however he passed away in Galesburg shortly after arriving there.Sometime later Mrs. Ensign married Myron Pangburn and when Mrs. Roots was about 11 years old, the family came farther west, to Kansas, and settled at "Old Centralia" which was located a mile north of the present town.Mr. Pangburn and one of the older boys came ahead of the family and constructed a small one-room house of cottonwood timber.Glass for the windows and doors was brought from Atchison.Mrs. Roots remembers the menu for supper the first evening included prairie chicken and cornbread.There were no wells, however, within a short time members of the family had located a spring about one and a quarter miles from the house which supplied plenty of water.
Mrs. Roots had very little formal 'schooling,' she said.Her education extended through 'decimal fractions' in the school at Old Centralia.She liked reading and history but cared little for grammar.This statement from Mrs. Roots is a surprise, as she uses very good English, especially for one her years, and her choice of words and manner of expressing herself are very fine.
Mrs. Roots remembers the severe snow storm which occurred in March following the year her family moved to Centralia; the happy days she spent riding her pony after the cattle; her mother cooking for negro slaves who escaped from the south and were headed for Canada; her mother making coffee from burned molasses and cracked corn or wheat; the 'dry year' in 1859 or 1860 when the community had practically no moisture for 18 months; the open prairie, no roads and of having to go by ox team to Atchison, St. Joseph or Leavenworth for supplies, the round trip taking about four days; the sod ditch constructed around Old Centralia to protect the town from the Indians and abandoned when the workers found the rains washed the soil into the ditch.
Emma Ensign was married May 22, 1867, in a frame house in Illinois township to George F. Roots.The wedding supper was served in a log house near the family home.George Roots was born in England, came to the United States and Illinois when he was 16, and to the Centralia neighborhood in 1858.Mr. Roots served three and one-half years in the Civil War before his marriage and on his return from war proved a claim on more than 200 acres of land he had preempted earlier.This farm was located about two miles west of Kelly and was the family home until 1907 when Mr. and Mrs. Roots moved to Manhattan in order to be near their youngest son, Harvey, who was attending college.They returned to the farm in 1911, then in 1912 came to Seneca which has been the home.Of six children born to Mr. and Mrs. Roots, three will be present on November 9 to assist her in celebrating her birthday.The two sons, Frank of Seneca and Harvey of Manhattan, with their wives and other members of their family will be here, also the only daughter, Genta, Mrs. Hampton of Seneca.Thomas, Creta [Lucretia] and Ralph passed away a number of years ago and Mr. Roots in December, 1927, just seven months after he and his wife had celebrated their golden wedding.
One of Mrs. Roots' most charming characteristics is her good humor.She is cheerful and happy, grateful for her many years of living.Her only regret is that she cannot see well enough to read or do handwork.She never had much time for doing handwork until later years, except for the piecing of quilts and doing her own sewing.She learned to embroider after she had passed her 80th milestone and to crochet a few years before that time.Mrs. Roots said her time on the farm was spent in assisting Mr. Roots in the fields when necessary, and caring for her home.She made her own soap, making first the lye from ashes, did all her own sewing, much canning and preserving of food.She frequently cooked meals for Indians in the old days but never recalls them harming any members of her family.She said there were a good many horse and cattle thieves in this part of the country in the early days.
Mrs. Roots, in addition to rearing her own family, took into her home two granddaughters, Alice and Henrietta Skinner, the daughters of Mrs. Hampton.Alice is now Mrs. Charles Rice of Manhattan, and Henrietta, Mrs. Robert McIntire of Fairmont, Neb.Both women plan to be here for the birthday celebration.
In 1932 Mrs. Roots fractured her hip in a fall at her home.She was bedfast and under a nurse's care for six months.Aside from that injury and a siege of pneumonia 30 years ago, she has enjoyed fairly good health.She stays indoors most of the time, walks about the house holding to pieces of furniture and says she gets her daily exercise by walking around the dining table several times during the day.
Among her cherished possessions are a mirror and a cherry wood kitchen table which her mother obtained for her own home soon after her marriage.These articles, believed to be at least 120 years old, are still in use.
[caption under photograph] In the above picture appears Seneca's Centenarian, Mrs. Emma Roots, with her daughter, Mrs. Genta Hampton, Seneca, on the right; her granddaughter, Mrs. Charles Rice, Manhattan, on the left; her great-grandson, Charles Rice, Jr., standing directly behind Mrs. Roots and a great-great-grandchild on either side.The children are Alice Ann and Jimmy Rice of Bakersfield, daughter and son of Charles Rice Jr.The picture was taken by E. H. Eiter in June this year."
From an undated newspaper clipping:
"Sunday A Happy Day For Mrs. Emma Roots
Sunday, November 9, was a memorable day for Mrs. Emma Roots and members of her family who gathered at the home here to celebrate Mrs. Roots' one-hundredth birthday.Mrs. Roots was in excellent health and in her usual happy mood.She was overjoyed with the many lovely gifts she received which included beautiful bouquets of fall flowers, four birthday cakes and an orchid, direct from Tom Breneman, director of the Breakfast in Hollywood radio show.
At noon, 60 relatives and their families enjoyed a basket dinner at the home.From three to four open house was held and Mrs. Roots greeted many old friends and neighbors during that hour.One hundred and ten guests registered.Refreshments of birthday cake and strawberry ice cream were served.
Among the relatives and friends who came from a distance were: Mrs. Mary Molander, Eureka, California; Mrs. Helen Campbell, Carlotta, Calif.; Mrs. Mary Barrett, Mrs. Lena Gorrell, Josephine Gilbert, Mr. and Mrs. Walter Startup, Topeka, Kan.; Mr. and Mrs. Fred Beindorf, Benjamin and Fred Andrews, Eileen Morgan, Atchison; Mr. and Mrs. Raymond H. Janke, Mr. and Mrs. William H. Amos, Mrs. Ward E. Brown, Mr. and Mrs. Harvey Roots, Mr. and Mrs. George Roots and Russel, Martha and Donna Roots, Mr. and Mrs. Oren Buell and daughters, Manhattan; Mr. and Mrs. C. H. King, Mr. and Mrs. Bud Keister and Sandra, Mrs. George Coe and sons Jed and George, Jr., Kansas City, Kan,; Mr. and Mrs. Sam Bingham [Bigham?], Beattie; Mr. and Mrs. F. F. Winsor and Elva, Hiawatha; Mrs. O. M. Doty, Hastings, Neb.; Mr. and Mrs. Bide Allen, Mr. and Mrs. Willis Dabner, Mr. and Mrs. Chas. Jorden, Sr., Mr. and Mrs. Clark Hilbert, Mr. and Mrs. Bryan Clemens, Mrs. Clara Savago, Mrs. Lawrence Savago and children, Corning; Mrs. Tom Carleton and Mr. and Mrs. Fred Nightengale, Centralia.
In addition to the gifts, Mrs. Roots received over 100 birthday cards from relatives and friends who could not be present Sunday."
From the Seneca Courier-Tribune, July 1, 1948:
"SENECA LOSES CENTENARIAN
MRS. GEORGE ROOTS
She was 100 Last Nov. 9; Came to Kansas Nearly 90 Years Ago
Mrs. George Roots, who passed her 100th birthday last November 9th, passed away Monday evening at her home in Seneca, following a short critical illness.The funeral will be this Thursday afternoon at 2:00 at the Methodist church, Seneca, with the body in state at the Thornburg and Cline funeral home until the hour of the service.Burial will be in the Illinois Creek cemetery.Pallbearers are: Harry Lanning, Eugene Moyer, Charles Jermane, Jake McDaniel, Clark Hilbert and Bryan Clemens.
Emma Ensign was born November 9, 1847 to Mr. and Mrs. Eliphelet Ensign at Syracuse, New York.She came with her parents at the age of four to Galesburg, Ill., the family coming west for the benefit of Mr. Ensign's health.He passed away shortly after arriving in Galesburg.Her mother was married some time later to Myron Pangborn and when Emma Ensign was 11 years old she came with her parents further west, settling in Kansas, at 'Old Centralia.'
She was married May 22, 1867 to George F. Roots in a frame house in Illinois township.Mr. Roots served in the Civil War and on his return they proved a claim of more than 200 acres about two miles west of what is now Kelly.This was the family home until 1907 when Mr. and Mrs. Roots moved to Manhattan to be near their younger son, Harvey, who was attending college there.They returned to the farm in 1911, then in 1912 came to Seneca, which has since been their house.
Mrs. Roots was the mother of six children: Frank and Mrs. John Hampton of Seneca; Harvey of Manhattan.Thomas, Lucretia and Ralph passed away a number of years ago.Mr. Roots died in 1927, just seven months after he and Mrs. Roots celebrated their sixtieth wedding anniversary.In addition to rearing their own family, Mr. and Mrs. Roots took into their home two granddaughters, Alice and Henrietta Skinner, daughters of Mrs. Hampton.
In 1932 Mrs. Roots fractured her hip in a fall at her home.She was bedfast six months and under a nurse's care.Aside from that injury and a siege of pneumonia about 30 years ago, Mrs. Roots has enjoyed fairly good health.One of her chief characteristics was her good humor.She was cheerful and happy, grateful for such a long life.In her later years she pieced quilts and did other handwork, also her own sewing.She could recall many interesting events in her lifetime, chiefly among them being her attendance at the famous Lincoln-Douglas debate at Galesburg, Ill.In an interview with her on her 100th birthday last fall, she recalled how her family had to protect themselves against the Indians; of going to Atchison, Leavenworth or St. Joseph by ox team for supplies.Also at the time of her 100th birthday, a picture was taken of five generations: Mrs. Roots, her daughter, Mrs. Hampton; Mrs. Hampton's daughter, Mrs. Charles Rice, son, Charles Rice and his two children.
Mrs. Roots has had the untiring care of her son, Frank and wife, who share her home.
Mrs Roots' acquaintance was wide and many are her Seneca friends who will miss calling and visiting with her."