Thursday, March 6, 2014

Cephas A. Eisenman 1874-1946, Lifelong Minnesotan (52 Ancestors #9)

This is another article for the series in which I'm participating, "52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks", a challenge by Amy Johnson Crow on No Story Too Small.

Imagine a clear blue sky and a temperature outside barely above zero[1] on Thursday, 17 December 1874[2].  Inside the farmhouse, a nervous father-to-be only hears the crackles from the fire in the hearth – and then the cry of a newborn baby in the next room.  His first child, my great-grandfather, Cephas Adolph Eisenman was born on this day.  I don’t really know what the day was like or what time he was born but I can pretend.

Fillmore County, Minnesota
Source: FamilySearch Wiki
Cephas was born in Sumner Township (Twp), Fillmore County, Minnesota.   His father, John Robert Eisenman, was born in Pennsylvania.  His mother, Frances Sarah Schananche, was born in Alsace-Lorraine, France.  His parents came to Minnesota from Pennsylvania possibly just before Cephas made his appearance.  Cephas was the oldest of his siblings: Clara L., John C.[3], Frank, Charles, Laura, Rosa, Lilly and William.[4]

By 1895, Cephas was about 20 years old.  He must have been on his own since he wasn't listed in his father’s household in the 1895 Minnesota State Census for Sumner Twp.  So where was he?  I found “? A Eiseman” in the 1895 Wisconsin State Census for Bellevue, Brown County.  This town is about 270 miles from Fillmore County, MN according to Google maps.  Seems quite a distance from home so why would he be there?  The first letter in the name was obscured by the fold in spine of the digitized census book so I can’t be certain it’s a “C” for Cephas.  There were three household members (1 male, 2 female) recorded.  Who were they?  I just don’t have a lot of confidence that this “Eiseman” was my ancestor.

I picked up his trail again on June 1, 1900 in the U.S. Federal Census for Sumner Twp, Fillmore, MN.  “Sephas Eisenmann” was working for Charlie Hale, a farmer with five employees.  His relationship to Mr. Hale was servant and his occupation was farm laborer.  The other four employees were described the same way.  Finding a dual relationship/occupation was a first for me.  Servant and farm laborer conjure up different roles but perhaps the enumerator’s instructions required specific terminology for describing “relationship to head of household” and “occupation”.

22 March 1905
Cephas A. Eisenman & Lillie Schunke
Source: Prgrage Family Tree
The love bug bit this tall, black-haired[5] 30 year old in 1905 when he married 17 year old Lillie C. Schunke on March 22nd in Wykoff, Fillmore, Minnesota.   Lillie (nee Lillian) was born in Minnesota in 1888.  They lived in Sumner Twp on a farm located on Rural Route 4, Spring Valley.[6]  Their first child, Bernice Irene Helen Eisenman, was born the following year on 15 Dec 1906.  My grandmother!  She was the oldest of her four full siblings:  Ruth, Frances, Sadie and Howard.  In April 1910[7], Cephas and Lillie had moved to a rented farm in Frankford Twp, Mower County, Minnesota.  Cephas had one hired hand from Russia to help him on the farm. 

Tragedy Then Happiness
Sadly, Lillie died of acute nephritis in February 1914 at age 26.  They had been married for nine years.  Cephas, now 39, was left alone to care for his five children 7 to 13 years of age.  I imagine he relied heavily on my Grandma Bernice since she was the oldest child.  I don’t recall her ever talking about this period in her life and too bad it never occurred to me to ask about her girlhood days.  Cephas was married again in December 1915 to Margaret Ann McNaughton Marks.  Looks like they became a “his, hers and ours” family.  She already had three children and a couple years later, the new family welcomed twins Ralph and Alice.

Source: Find A Grave
Memorial #11839422
Minnesotan Through and Through
This hard-working farmer seemed to have lived his entire life in Minnesota and nearly all of it in Sumner Twp.  He even lived on the same farm at Rural Route 4 for decades.  Cephas had a heart attack and died on 24 Jun 1946 in Sumner Twp.  He was 72 years old.  He moved again to Mower County next to Fillmore County  - that's where he was buried - at the Frankford Cemetery. 

I’d like to know more about the life of Cephas Adolph Eisenman.  What kind of man was he?  What type of farming did he do?  Why did he live in Mower County for awhile?  And so on.  Descendants are out there -- we just need to connect.

[1] Predicted weather based on Saint Paul, MN report 17 Dec 1874, about 120 miles north of Sumner, MN.  Daily Bulletin of Simultaneous Weather Reports: Signal Service, United States Army, with the Synopses, Indications, and Facts [with Maps].  Page 103.
[2] SSDI and 1918 WW I Draft Registration Card
[3] "United States Census, 1880," index and images, FamilySearch , Cephas A. Eisenmann in household of John Eisenmann, Sumner, Fillmore, Minnesota, United States; citing sheet 424D, family 2, NARA microfilm publication T9-0619
[4] Cephas’s mother may have died between 1892 and 1895.  William was born in March 1892.  The 1895 Minnesota State Census recorded Ann as John Robert Eisenman’s wife.
[5] 1918 WW I Draft Registration Card
[6] 1905 Minnesota State Census 26 Jun 1905 recorded Ceppas and Lila C. Minnesota, Territorial and State Censuses, 1849-1905 [database on-line].
[7] 1910 U.S. Federal Census 1910Frankford, Mower, Minnesota; Roll: T624_712; Page: 2A; Enumeration District: 0085; FHL microfilm: 1374725.

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