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Clare Gertrude Weishalla DeRocher Van Essen
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Birth: Sep. 8, 1897
Long Prairie
Todd County
Minnesota, USA
Death: Jul. 11, 1979
Crow Wing County
Minnesota, USA

Clare was born in 1897 to Florence Weishalla, who was unmarried at the time and refused to tell Clare the identity of her biological father, taking that information with her to the grave. If her other family members knew, they weren't talking either, and perhaps the biggest disappointment of my grandmother's life was not knowing who her "real" father was.

In 1902, her mother married Moses DeRocher, who adopted Clare, and they moved to Brainerd. Clare married Clarence Van Essen in 1917. In 1925, they became owners of a restaurant which they renamed to Van's Cafe, a popular restaurant in Brainerd which stayed in the family for over 50 years.

In the 1950s, when Clare was about to embark on her world travels with her daughter Gloria, there was no birth record to be found for a passport, so her mother swore out an affidavit that her child was born in Long Prairie and was a US citizen. Still no father.

During her declining years, Clare made one last visit to Long Prairie to try to find the large stately brick home built and occupied by her brick mason grandfather where she lived as a child, but could not find it. As I learned later, it had been torn down in the early '70s and a rambler now occupied the lot.

If only Clare had thought to check the local Catholic church records, because when I started my genealogy research in the mid-1990s, that is where I found the baptismal record of Claram Weishalla, filia illegitima, child of Florentia Weishalla and patria putativo Thoma Bock!

[Contributed by grandson, John Van Essen]


       “The Luck of Farmer Corntassel,”
             or “Selling a City,” is the
                    Title of the Plot


      Tom Woods as Farmer Corntassel
         Makes a Hit, while Other Local
                 Celebrities are Seen

     The moving pictures which were taken of Brainerd and Crow Wing county are to be shown at the Grand Theatre for two matinees and evenings commencing next Saturday afternoon.
     The first pictures taken after being run, were not all satisfactory and the United Educational and Publicity Bureau, producers of the pictures, retook upwards of four hundred feet of interesting scenes in and about the city.
     Tom Woods, the stellar attraction, who takes the leading role of Farmer Corntassel, in the plot which runs throughout the picture is seen in many side-splitting situations. The plot is entitled “The Luck of Farmer Corn Tassel” or “Selling a City.” The picture starts out with Farmer Corntassel meeting several well-known state officials at the depot including Secretary of State Julius. A. Schmahl, Ex-Congressman Stevens, and Pres. John Henry Worst of the Fargo Agricultural School. He is then seen entering the First National Bank where he meets a stranger who turns out to be a pickpocket. After making a number of purchases about the city, patronizing the different stores, he is taken for an automobile ride about the city by the President and Secretary of the Chamber of Commerce.
     During the time that he trades with the different merchants, many amusing scenes are shown until finally the pickpocket succeeds in “lifting” his roll when Farmer Corntassel becomes very excited and with the aid of a policeman chases the pickpocket, finally capturing and lodging him in the city jail. An automobile chase takes place on one of the boulevards and the policeman is seen shooting at the fleeing pickpocket.
     Scenes at the mines at Ironton and Crosby are shown together with the main business streets of both cities. The hydraulic work at the Hillcrest mine is shown together with the work at Amour Mine No. 2. Beautiful Bay Lake is also seen while the picture ends with a scene at the Echo Dairy Farm where Farmer Corntassel finally arrives and is greeted by his daughter.
     Pictures were taken of the shops at twelve o'clock noon, students leaving the high school, the new 13th Street concrete road while all prominent buildings and business streets are also shown in detail.
     Included in the cast is Geo. M. Anderson, who takes the part of the pickpocket and is known as “Slicker” Flashem. Miss Clare DeRocher is seen in the role of Farmer Cornstassel’s sweetheart, while Clarence Olson and Mose DeRocher act the parts of chauffeur and policeman.
     As soon as the pictures have been shown in all picture houses throughout the county, arrangements will be made to have them run in Duluth and the Twin Cities in several of the prominent theatres. The advent of the moving picture as an advertising medium is being more prominently recognized than ever by the leading advertisers of the country as the best agency that can be used for presenting a lasting impression to the people it is desired to reach. Brainerd is one of the first to take advantage of this medium and it is expected that the publicity gained through these pictures will result in permanently placing the city and county upon the map as a live and progressive community. (Brainerd Daily Dispatch, 09 November 1915, p. 5, c.’s 2 & 3) [Contributed by Ann M. Nelson]


    Committee of Brainerd Business Men
        Feature the City and Its Indus-
             tries in Moving Pictures


    Mining Industries of the County, In-
         dustrial Life, High School, Etc.,
                Make Interesting Film

     The pictures of Brainerd and Crow Wing county in “movies” will be run at the Grand theatre tonight and they will prove to be interesting. A trial run of the film was made this morning before a committee of prominent citizens and business men who viewed them for the purpose of passing upon the work and the sentiment was that they were worthy of the patronage of the people of Brainerd, and also that when shown in the cities outside of Brainerd that the advertising will be worthwhile.
     The pictures show the principal industries of Brainerd and Crow Wing county, views of the Northern Pacific shops, the principal industry of the city with a payroll of from $60,000 to $75,000 per month, the business section of the city, the high school and the scholars and instructors, the residential section of the city, farm scenes, the open pit mines on the Cuyuna range with the steam shovels at work, the mining villages and the industries.
     Beautiful Bay Lake and the surrounding country is shown, as are also the improvements on 13th street where a long stretch of cement road has been built. Brainerd’s up-to-date fire truck in action, and many other views that the people of this city will be interested in.
     Together with this film is shown Tom Wood as the unsuspecting rube, “Farmer Corntassel,” in a plot that runs through the picture and it presents many laughable situations. The plot puts Corntassel in possession of a sum of money which he draws from the First National bank and of which he is afterward relieved by “Slicker Flashem,” a character represented by Geo. M. Anderson. The sweetheart of Corntassel is characterized by Miss Clare DeRocher, while Clarence Olson and Mose DeRocher are in the roles of chauffeur and policeman. The entire film is replete with situations, persons and places that will please the local theatre goer and one may discover himself in the picture if he scans it carefully. It is well worth seeing and the Grand should be packed during the exhibition of the film which will be shown tonight and twice tomorrow, after which the film will start on its tour of other cities of Minnesota and the northwest. (Brainerd Daily Dispatch, 13 November 1915, p. 5, c. 2) [Contributed by Ann M. Nelson]
Family links: 
  Thomas Edward Bock Back (1876 - 1951)
  Florence C. Weishalla DeRocher (1878 - 1975)
  Clarence Cornelius Van Essen (1891 - 1965)
  Marcella Marie Van Essen Wolsted (1918 - 2014)*
  William Earl Van Essen (1919 - 1994)*
  Gloria Clare Van Essen (1926 - 2016)*
  Clare Gertrude Weishalla DeRocher Van Essen (1897 - 1979)
  David Moses DeRocher (1903 - 1904)**
  Edith Valeria DeRocher (1903 - 2002)**
  Earl John DeRocher (1906 - 1964)**
*Calculated relationship
Evergreen Cemetery
Crow Wing County
Minnesota, USA
Plot: Block 45 Lot 100 NWC S 1/2
Created by: John Van Essen
Record added: Dec 19, 2009
Find A Grave Memorial# 45627244
Clare Gertrude <i>Weishalla DeRocher</i> Van Essen
Added by: John Van Essen
Clare Gertrude <i>Weishalla DeRocher</i> Van Essen
Added by: John Van Essen
Clare Gertrude <i>Weishalla DeRocher</i> Van Essen
Added by: John Van Essen
Photos may be scaled.
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- sniksnak
 Added: Nov. 27, 2013

- chantchick
 Added: Apr. 9, 2011

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