Rosemary Aebi was born in Delta on February 5, 1885. She was born in the first frame house in Delta on the east side of the 500 block of Palmer in the middle of the block. Her parents were born in Switzerland and came to this country as young adults. They met and married in Ohio and came west. Lisette Zangg Aebi divorced Lucas Aebi in 1898 and then opened Delmonico’s Restaurant. Lucas Aebi became a recluse and was the night watchman at the Sunnyside Mine at Gladstone, near Silverton, Colorado, until his death many years later.
Rose Aebi grew up in Delta and attended St. Mary’s Academy in Denver for one year. She then falsified her age and went to Leadville as a milliner’s apprentice. Mining was going full blast and Leadville was in its heyday. Money was plentiful so the gowns and hats were magnificent. She returned to work in Delta as a milliner and met Fred Bennett who was managing the Golden Rule store. They married and moved to Granit Falls, Washington. He died there at a young age – the victim of TB. Rose and her two young children returned to Delta, and Rose resumed the milliner’s trade.
She met and married Joe Harrington in 1920. He was the owner of the Delta House. He sold the Delta House and bought the Victoria Hotel in Alamosa, Colorado. After the death of his mother several years later, they returned to Delta, and he and his brother went into the ranching business. They made their home at 655 Meeker Street.
As the great depression worsened, Rose went back to work at Holland’s store. She worked for P.H. Hawkins and Oscar Swanson for many years. She was the manager of the ready-go-wear department and always kept her customers in mind when she went to market week several times a year. She loved Holland’s store and the public.
While at market, Rose bought hat shells, made by “Gage”. She also would buy a variety of trims which would include flowers, lace, feathers, ribbon, etc. Upon returning to Holland’s she would design special creations for her customers. The last thing she would do was sew in the Holland’s label.
Even during the darkest days of the depression, couples married and old people died. If the bride could afford a piece of cheap netting, Rose would fashion her a wedding veil. She had made her own pattern, and she was often seen at night, after work, hand-sewing fine wedding veils under a lone light globe dangling on a cord from the ceiling. These were not made on “store time” because these people could not pay. Similarly, when death struck unexpectedly within the community, Rose would open Holland’s store at night or on Sunday to help the family of the deceased put together what they could for a proper burial.
Rose Harrigton did not live to see women in pants. She was the end of a era when if you wore a Gage hat e and a Carlye dress you could do not better—you had mde it in fashion! Rose was a walking advertisement for what she sold and made; a perfect lady.
Director, Delta County Historical Society and Museum