My mother describes her Aunt Emmie as someone who loved to talk and who was often stubborn. Emmie was the third oldest sister in the Neumann family and was eight years older than Granny. Emmie was a “Christmas baby,” having been born on December 26, 1904, to Theodore and Mary Neumann. She was baptized and confirmed at St. Paul Lutheran Church in Shelby. Emmie was 19 when both her mother and sister Alice died. She was married at the age of 29 to Milford Smith and they had two children, Milford Jr (“Junior”) and Doris. Sadly, her husband passed away in 1981 from brain cancer.
Emmie loved her children and depended on their help and support after losing her husband. Her memory began to decline, and she became increasingly reliant on them. And they were happy to help. Junior was especially devoted to his mother.
As Emmie’s dementia progressed, she began visiting her husband’s grave with greater frequency. She made the nearly six mile walk from her home to the Nassau Cemetery, narrowly missing cars driving down the gravel road. Doris and Junior, and even her extended family, warned her of the dangers of stepping out into the road. Still, Emmie was determined to visit her husband’s grave.
On the evening of December 10, 1988, Junior was unable to visit his mother as planned. Emmie was upset by this, as she did not like her plans interrupted.
The next morning was very cold, with temperatures dropping down to 31 degrees Fahrenheit. Junior arrived at the house, but there was no sign of his mother. Junior called Uncle Larry to help out. The sheriff arrived shortly afterwards to assist in the search. They searched every inch of the house with no luck. They checked the cemetery but did not find her.
Sadly, Emmie was found dead near a grove of trees on her property. The thin nightgown she was wearing offered no protection from the cold and she appeared to have succumbed quickly to hypothermia.
Emmie’s funeral was held two days later at St. Paul’s. Popo’s records contain a copy of her obituary as well as the leaflet from her funeral. Pastor Bob Braun officiated, and her grandsons and nephews served as pall bearers.
We will never know what Emmie’s plan was when she stepped out of her home that cold morning and walked out into the fields. Who or what was she looking for? Emmie lived on the land for decades. She watched her children grow up there. She knew its terrain well. What we do know is that she was loved and cherished by her family. Emmie is buried next to her husband Milford in the Nassau Cemetery in Round Top, Texas.