Gem Co. map
Reading & References
Sharon McConnel,
Gem County Coordinator

Emma Ruby Petersen Cox (1920- 2011)

Emma, the last survivor of her Danish emigrant family, began another journey on July 9, 2011.

A daughter of James and Gertrude Petersen, Emma was born minutes before twin brother, Elmer, on June 2, 1920. They grew up in a loving happy family of nine children.

This wonderful woman lived a life that few women have or ever will experience. Her legacy is being a historian, humanitarian and supporter of youth. She attended schools in Emmett, Idaho, graduating from high school in 1938. Many classmate friendships lasted over the years.

March 14, 1939, as a young bride of 18, she wed her true love, Lafe Cox. She left her small community to brave a new life in the primitive area. They traveled over 80 miles by dog team, horse and sleigh or horseback to their new home at Mile High on Big Creek (now Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness). Her first winter there she never saw another woman for five months, yet she did not think of being "lonely." The second spring she almost died of rocky mountain tick fever.

A true lady, she was always treated as one by the many bachelors, miners and hunters that she was surrounded by. Many worried about her as she delivered the mail and supplies; driving 24 miles over a dangerously narrow "road" from Big Creek to the Snowshoe Mine, with her baby daughter beside her. She was steadfast in her beliefs "do not show fear" and "work never hurt anyone."

She and Lafe operated two Dude Ranches for over 35 years in Idaho's central mountains, catering to guests from all over the world. Many guests returned 20 to 30 years. She could cook a scrumptious meal over a camp fire or wood cook stove. No one ever left her table hungry. Most of their employees were young people and they as well as the guests became part of their family.

As a historian, she kept diaries from her earliest years to recently. She collected school records, photos and old newspapers from mining towns that are long gone. At the age of 70, she and Lafe began writing their story and in 1997 published their book "Idaho Mountains Our Home."

She had a great love for her wilderness environment and strove to protect all living things; yet, she was capable of using a gun or club (and did so) to protect her family or self. She became an EMT and used her skills and natural ability to help others. She served on the Yellow Pine school board 10 years, reported the weather of the back country to the weather bureau for over 25 years and was an election judge over 50 years, member of Eastern Stars over 50 years and charter member of the Out-fitters and Guides Association. She was named the Idaho Statesman Distinguished Citizen in 1992.

She is survived by daughters and husbands, Janet and Larry Harshfield and Roxie and Vernon Himes. Grandchildren and spouses, Steven Harshfield, Latina Pressley (Paul), Greg (Denise) Himes, Brian (Jodi) Himes and Cyndi (David) Hockett; 11 great-grandchildren; and numerous nieces and nephews also survive her.

Her beloved husband of 63 years, her parents, four brothers, four sisters and all of their spouses preceded her in death.

Disappointed to leave her earthly life, she so looked forward to being reunited with those she missed and loved so much.

Services will be held at 10:30 a.m. Thursday July 14, 2011, at Potter Funeral Chapel Emmett, Idaho. Burial will follow at the Emmett Cemetery. A viewing will be on Wednesday July 13, from 2 to 8 p.m. and the family will receive friends from 6 until 8 p.m. at the chapel.

Being a historian and a member of the Gem County Historical Museum 501 E. First St Emmett, Idaho 83617, you may donate in her name, give to a charity of your choice or give flowers.

Copyright © 2009 - Sharon McConnel. All Rights Reserved.

The IDGenWeb Project is a genealogical and resource collection for the state of Idaho and its counties. The state and counties has many volunteers who are dedicated to promoting free genealogical and research resources from the state's rich ancestral history.