Tuesday, April 2, 2013

BIRTHDAY BIO - Emma Grimm Egli - Emma's Life

Emma and CB Egli
Yesterday’s "Matrilineal Monday" tells you about my research into Emma Grimm and in the process, some of Emma’s life. But there is more to her story and since today would be her birthday, what better day to tell it. Her daughter, Maude, wrote more about her:

[Emma] was born on April 2, 1877. . . . near Tremont, Illinois, in a small cabin surrounded by dense timber or woods.  She was born prematurely. I recall her describing herself, as told by her relatives. Her head was small enough to fit inside a teacup and her hand was small enough to fit through her mother’s wedding ring. Her little body was wrapped with cotton and placed inside a shoe box. Her incubator was the kitchen range oven. . . . .

When mom was 12 or 13 years old the stepmother sent her out to the woods to see why her father was not coming home. As mom told the story, she remembers her father had come into the house that day and ate a bowl of bread and milk before going out to the timber to chop down some trees to supply the cows with leaves to eat. It was getting dark so she was too frightened to go to the woods alone. She was fearful of what she might find. So she ran to the neighbor and asked him to go along. He lit the lantern and together they walked to the timber where he was working. They found her father lying under a large branch of the tree. They figured he had already been dead several hours.

After her father’s funeral, mother’s stepmother told her she would have to make her own way now as she could not afford to keep her, plus her four little children." 

From what her children recall her telling them, she lived with various families in the community, helping them as a domestic servant.  She may also have lived with her half-sister, Anna and Anna’s husband, John Egli. It was through that family that she met Christian (CB) Egli. She married CB on the 19th of December, 1895, although she told her daughters that if she’d had a place to call home, she would not have gotten married so young. She was 18.

CB and Emma settled in Tazewell County, Illinois and started a family.  Their first four children were boys: Amon, Joe, Lou and Emery (my grandfather). Then they had a daughter, Maude, followed by three more boys: John, Sam, and Lawrence (known as Ted). Then they decided to move to Iowa. Emma was very pregnant when they moved to Iowa by train, the first of March. Her second daughter, Elsie, was born on the 30th of March.

The family settled in a place called Blanden. It was near Manson, Calhoun County, Iowa. There, CB and Emma had five more children – the above mentioned Elsie, then Jesse, Ida, Rosetta, and Stan. Thirteen children in all.
CB Egli Family
They lived on a 640 acre farm in Iowa. The life of CB and Emma is detailed in a book entitled, “Family Memoirs” written by Maude with input from her siblings. The book gives wonderful descriptions of the places they lived, the chores they did, the animals they owned  --  all the day to day details of family life for a large family living on large farm in the early 1900s.

Emma, I’m sure, felt blessed to have such a large and loving family after her difficult years as a young child. But her adult life was not without sorrow. She saw two of her children die. Young Rosetta died at only a few months from pneumonia and her son, John, died at 15 of a ruptured appendix.
CB, Emma and their grandchildren
Then a few years later, she too suffered a ruptured appendix, and, although they did surgery, she had a blood clot and died. She was 57.

Swartzendruber, Maude Egli.  Family Memoirs of Christian Benjamin and Emma Grimm Egli ...1895-1930...to June 1983. Hesston, Kansas; privately printed, 1983.

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