Sunday, January 2, 2011

Clara Rohrer Mossman

Clara Mo-ko-maun-e-quay (Little Knife) Rohrer was born near Fort Snelling, Minnesota. Her mother was a full blood Ojibway (Chippewa) Indian named Mary Otauntug (or O-don-duck) born about 1830 and was a member of the White Earth Mississippi Band of the Ojibway tribe. Her mother died when she was young in a wigwam fire, possibly during a raid by the Sioux. Clara's father was Daniel Rohrer who was in the army serving as a clerk. After her mother's death, Clara was boarded with Episcopal missionaries, the Reverend James Lloyd Breck and his wife Jane.
Photo in Valerie Elkins' possession. Obtained by the Minnesota Historical Society.
This is a picture of Clara sitting on the Rev. Breck's lap. The Reverend use to take Clara around the country to raise money for his mission. Clara was tutored by highly educated teachers along with the Reverend's children. Clara was said to be very bright, she played the organ in church, lead the childrens choir and taught children to read. When the Rev. Breck's wife died, Clara was taken in by his wife's sister, Mary and her husband George Whipple. After the Sioux uprising, life became difficult for Clara as the hatred against all Indians - Sioux or not became severe. Mary and George took Clara with them when she was about 13 to Maui as they were Episcopal missionaries. Despite family legend, Clara was not an Indian Princess - as her tribe had no such hierarchy, though as a young girl I loved the story (and frankly still do!). One source has her father as a Great Medicine Man and her uncle as a chief. Clara's father Daniel was young and adventurous when he met Clara's mother, he later remarried, settled down and became a lawyer like his father Judge David Rorer of Burlington, Iowa. Daniel was head of the Republican party in Minnesota and once corresponded with Abraham Lincoln. Daniel's father, Judge Rorer was the first man to build a brick house west of the Mississippi and gave Iowa the nickname "The Hawkeye State".

The Rohrer's may have had some French blood in them, but they hailed from Switzerland. They were Anabaptist (Mennonites) who settled in the Lancaster area of Pennsylvania. David Rorer's father Abraham later immigrated to the Virginia area. David after becoming a lawyer, moved to Arkansas and helped found the city of Little Rock, Arkansas. Seeing that Civil War was avoidable, David moved his family to Burlington, Iowa where he became one of the town's founding fathers.
Clara was almost 17 when she became the second wife of William Frederick Mossman. They were married in the Church of the Good Shepherd in Maui, where William had donated the land for the church that the Whipples help found. Clara and William's son, William Lloyd Mossman is believed to have been named for both his father William and Rev. James Lloyd Breck. Clara and William's daughter Mary Georgina is believed to be named in honor of Mary and George Whipple. Clara and William F. Mossman had a total of 9 children born to them: Ethel Carno Mossman, William Lloyd Mossman, Mary Georgina Mossman, Elizabeth Emma Mossman, Henry Clarence Mossman, Clara Mokomanie Mossman, Mabel Alice Mossman and Ysabel Palmer Mossman and Katherine or Kate Otuntug.
Clara Mokomanie Mossman married Harald Christian Halvorsen, a Norwegian ship captain and had 8 children. Harald once served as a deputy sheriff on Kauai. Clara and Harald's second daughter, Helene Francis Halvorsen married Farmer Greenwade and had 7 children (she had 2 from a previous marriage to Carlton Cassidy). Helene and Farmer's daughters Faye (Fowler) and Sandra (Brown) were at the recent Mossman Ohana reunion along with Faye's husband Neil, their daughter Diana and their granddaughter Lauren. Sandra came with her daughter Valerie (Elkins), her son-in-law Morris and their daughters Brittany and Jacquelyn Elkins.
Clara Rohrer came a long ways from the White Earth Indian Reservation to Hawaii. She was probably the first Native American to settle in Hawaii. She was a missionary, a mother and friend to many. She made Hawaii her home. 
Would love to hear from other cousins about Clara and William's descendants. by Valerie Elkins

13 comments:

  1. What a great history and fabulous pictures! Loved reading this.

    ReplyDelete
  2. thanks for stopping by. Mossman is a fairly well-known family in Hawaii. I mean I knew of the Mossman name long before I started genealogy. I'm so glad more and more people are blogging, putting up web pages about their Hawaiian ancestors.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I have a William Waihoikaia "Manny" Mossman, who married my half 2C2R, sisters, Martha and Rose Newalu. He was the son of Henry Clarence Mossman and Leilani Holt.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Charlieman: My name is William Henry Waihoikaia Mossman (most know me as Bill) and I am the youngest son of "Manny" and Rose Newalu Puhihale. I just happened upon this wonderful site filled with eye-opening insights about my great-grandmother, Clara Rohrer Mossman, and saw your post mentioning my parents by name. We've probably never met before although you may know my older siblings Rosemary and John. Do their names ring a bell?

      Delete
  4. Not sure of your time frame, [ I read but don't pay close attention] but here is link to an event that affected so many Minnesotans. They certainly heard about the mass hangings at Mankato. The mass hanging.http://www.unitednativeamerica.com/hanging.html
    There are many from just a simple google of Mankato hanging.

    It was good to learn so much from your post. I had wondered about black hawk area.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I found your blog by accident. I'm researching a Snelling family that had ties to Hawaii. (No luck there since your post was about "Fort Snelling! Darn!) But I'm glad I found it, and I'll be following along to see what other families you write about in Hawaii.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Fun to read through this. Great work! Great photos!

    My grandmother Vivian Pauline Halvorsen (who I only met twice during the 70s & 80s) was also a daughter of Clara Mokomanie Mossman & Harald Christian Halvorsen. I have some family documents written as "Mokomanic" with a "c", but I don't really know which is correct. I have some old documents copied by Fred E. Penny Jr. about a newspaper article in Maui 1925 stating William L. Mossman was to take over the the Chippewa tribe as Chief.. But the bottom of the document also states there was no proof that he followed through with it... and another copied document mentioning a medicine man.. fun stuff..

    ReplyDelete
  7. So lucky to have found your posting!

    I am digging into the general story of the pre-Statehood Ojibwe area, esp. the Indian traders, missionaries, and Agency employees. Would love to correspond.

    I have at least one reference to Daniel Rohrer, in connection to Republican politics and to land deals in 1860 and had wondered about him.

    Would especially like to know if there's any evidence that a Rohrer child attended the Belle Prairie Seminary in 1850s. It was run by former Ojibwe missionaries Frederic and Elisabeth Ayer.

    Linda Bryan
    1752 Gulden Place
    Maplewood MN 55109
    651 777-7037

    ReplyDelete
  8. I just happened upon your blog while researching my own family ties. Thomas Mossman and Mary Anne Lewis were my great-great-grandparents. Thanks for this - looking forward to reading more of your blog.

    ReplyDelete
  9. My mother in law was Piilani Rosalie Mossman. She said her dad was Thomas Mossman but her mom was Sarah Boyd. Dad was supposed to own shops in Honolulu with a huge family. Piilani was born in 1904 and moved to Calif. where she stayed with Mr. and mrs. Gen. Duval while going to a nursing college near Stanford. She met and married a law student Robert Morris Clunie a twin to Dick Clunie and I married their son Robert Richard Clunie. I took care of her in her old age until she died.

    ReplyDelete
  10. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  11. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  12. My name is Frank Penney. My grandmother is Alice Kauilani Halvorsen, born in Hamoa Maui in 1899 and the daughter of Clara Mokomanie Mossman. I have been to the Church of the Good Shepherd in Maui where my GG grandmother Clara Mokomanic Rohrer Mossman played the organ. I always feel like I am coming home when I visit Hawaii.

    ReplyDelete