Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Bernice Irene Helen Eisenman, Always in my Heart (52 Ancestors #17)

Bernice Irene Helen Eisenman Hutson
about 1975;
Source: Collection of Denise Hibsch Richmond
My grandmother, Bernice Irene Helen Eisenman, was the oldest of the five children born to Cephas Adolph Eisenman and Lillian Schunke.  She was born on 15 Dec 1906 in Sumner, Fillmore, Minnesota[1] [2], just two days before her father’s birthday.  Her birth was so special that her parents gave her two middle names.  [Oh, I just made that up.  However, naming patterns may emerge with collateral research and consideration of German cultural naming traditions.]

Unfortunately, I don’t know anything about her early life except that her mother died when she was eight years old.  Even this tremendous loss was unknown to me until I began this research.  Sigh.  Such a sad time for her and her four younger siblings.  I imagine little Bernice helped to look out for them as best as an eight year old could although extended family lived nearby who probably helped too.  Her father married Margaret McNaughton a couple years later, a union that begat twins and included three children from Margaret’s first marriage.  The household was certainly full and hopefully a happy one.

Bernice married Herbert C. Hutson in 1925.  The following year, their only child, Betty Evelyn [my mother], was born on 24 Oct[3]

Trail Leads to California
I was able to track their various residences over the years using censuses, city directories, and voter registration lists.  She, Herbert and little Betty lived with or very close to the Hutson family cluster until the patriarch, Alva Leo Hutson died in 1936.
  • 1925 - 311 6th NW, Rochester, Olmsted, Minnesota.  Bernice and Herbert lived here after getting married and when my mother was born.  Herbert’s parents, Alva Leo Hutson and Ada Boruff, lived here also, as did Herbert’s siblings Florence, Lawrence, Lillian and Lyle (and his wife Pearl).[4]
  • 1930 - 912 South Central Ave., Marshfield, Wood, Wisconsin.  Herbert’s parents and brother Lawrence each lived in a house next to them.[5]
  • 1935 to 1940 – 404½ East Bakerville Street, Marshfield, Wisconsin.  The Hutson family cluster seemed to have scattered after the death of Alva.  From 1935-1940, Lawrence, Harold, Lyle, their wives and mother had relocated to Phoenix, Arizona and Los Angeles, California.
  • 1941 or so – Betty Hutson got her Social Security card in Arizona so my assumption is that Bernice and Herb lived with or near his brothers for awhile.[6]
  • 1948 – 214½ Crickett Lane, Baldwin Park, Los Angeles, California.  This is an address that I wasn’t familiar with.  However, stories abound that Bernice, Herb and Betty came to California during the war years and worked in one of the defense plants.[7]
  • 1949 – 215⅝ N. Maine, Baldwin Park, Los Angeles, California[8]
  • 1950 – 4147¾ N. Maine, Baldwin Park[9]
  • 1956 – 4208 N. Downing Ave., Apt. 1, Baldwin Park.  Bernice lived in a small one-bedroom apartment behind Melvin Hutson’s house which he built a few years earlier.  Melvin was Herb’s youngest brother.[10]

Martin and Denise (me)
outside Herb and Bernice's apartment at
 4147 N. Maine, Baldwin Park, California
Source: Collection of Denise Hibsch Richmond 

Worked All Her Life
I think my grandmother worked from the time she was married until a few years before her death in 1976.   It seems my grandfather did not always have steady employment. In 1940, she was a waitress[11] and earned $470 that year.  She may have been a factory worker during the war in a defense plant.  Thereafter, she worked in retail, mostly at Carr’s Department Store in Baldwin Park.  This was a very good thing for me and my brothers because Carr’s has a toy department.  During the mid-1960s through the early 1970s, she managed a women’s clothing store in Baldwin Park called Jaxson’s.  Her years of employment served her well because she was widowed suddenly.  Grandpa Herb was fatally mugged one night in December 1955. 

She was a life-long Lutheran, Missouri Synod.  She attended Trinity Lutheran Church in Baldwin Park for many years.  Pastor Bauer became her dear friend and after my family moved to northern California, she would frequently dine with him and his family after Sunday services.  While we were still living near her, she would bring us kids home from church (Sunday school) to spend the rest of the day with us.

Cherished Memories
Grandma Bernice and Denise (me)
Source: Collection of
Denise Hibsch Richmond 
I spent a lot of time with Grandma Bernice as a child, teenager and young adult.  While I don’t quite remember all the time she baby-sat us kids, I do recall the summers she spent with my family in northern California.  She was game for going camping with us on many occasions.  Many summers I would go stay with her, just me.  We were buddies.  I opened the shop with her and helped tidy racks and shelves.  She knew many of the customers and was quite well-liked.

She ate oatmeal with honey everyday.  I liked oatmeal but never could do the honey.  Her fried chicken and apple pie were mouth-watering.  She liked coffee with sugar.  Her cigarettes were always Winston.  [mine were always candy.  snicker.]  Avon products were a favorite especially the sachets in those tiny little containers.  She liked roller derby which she usually watched on TV on Sunday afternoons, sometimes with her neighbor.  She and her girlfriend Florence would often go for rides on Sunday afternoon.  She was a Chevy woman – always.  A bone of contention since I came from a Ford family.  She was an avid crocheter and taught me how to make edgings and afghans.  I was never quite skilled enough for doilies though.  Thankfully, I have several that she made.  She taught me how to sew which allowed me to make all my dresses during high school.  I must have spent all my allowance on patterns and fabric.  She taught me how to bead necklaces once summer when we were camping.  I still have a few of those.  I have her rocking chair in my living room.  It has been re-upholstered many times over the years but my memories of her sitting in it with feet propped up on the hassock working on her latest crochet project will never fade.

Grandma Bernice died suddenly of a heart attack at her apartment on 22 Jun 1976 in Baldwin Park.  She was 69 years old.  I still miss her.

Future Research
  1. Find out about her early life from living descendants of the Eisenman and Hutson families
  2. Research naming patterns
  3. Locate church records
  4. Verify her employment in the defense industry

As always, additional information from cousins is welcome.


[1] Minnesota, Births and Christenings, 1840-1980, FamilySearch.com
[2] Fillmore County Recorder’s Office online index.  http://fillmorecountyhistory.wordpress.com/property-records/
[3] Minnesota Historical Society birth record index. http://people.mnhs.org/
[4] Keiter Directory Co’s, Rochester City and Olmstead County, Minnesota Directory 1925, Ancestry.com
Price by Subscription $7.00 Keiter Directory Company Publisher Norfolk Nebraska
[5] Year: 1930; Census Place: Marshfield, Wood, Wisconsin; Roll: 2619; Page: 6B; Enumeration District:  0016;  Image: 84.0; FHL microfilm: 2342353. Ancestry.com.  Herbert’s brother Lawrence lived next door and his father, Alva L. Hutson lived next door to Lawrence.
[6] Number: 527-28-6959; Issue State: Arizona; Issue Date: Before 1951. Ancestry.com.  U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-Current [database on-line] 
[7] 1948 - California, Voter Registrations, 1900-1968 [database on-line].  Ancestry.com.  Original data: State of California, United States. Great Register of Voters. Sacramento, California: California State Library.
[8] U.S. City Directories, 1821-1989 [database on-line]. Ancestry.com
[9] U.S. City Directories, 1821-1989 [database on-line]. Ancestry.com
[10] Personal knowledge
[11]  1940 census

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments only take a moment and mean so much. Thanks!