The prompt for 52 Ancestors this week is “Misfortune.”
Friedreich Andrew Eigenmann was born 27 March 1846 in Flehingen, Baden-Württemberg, Germany to Jacob and Joanna Eigenmann. He immigrated to New York City in 1881. By 1883, he was in St. Louis, Missouri and married to Augusta Roth, a daughter of German immigrants. Three of their 5 children were born in St. Louis, including my great-grandmother Eleanor. Friedreich worked as a cooper. The family was in Abbeville, South Carolina before 1909, the year Eleanor married William Shillito DuPre in Abbeville.
Sometime in 1910, Friedreich sustained a head injury at work. He survived but the effects of the injury were hard on the family. He became violent and homicidal toward his wife and family. She was a nurse and knew what was necessary for everyone’s safety. Augusta had a court commit her husband to Milledgeville State Hospital, a mental asylum, in Milledgeville, Georgia in 1910.
It was one of the best places that he could have gone: the hospital treated its patients’ conditions, quite progressive for the time. However, when the United States entered World War I, the doctors at the hospital were sent overseas, and the hospital became a custodial facility instead of a treatment facility. While treatment may have been top notch, nutrition was not: Friedreich received a diet of biscuits, molasses, and bacon.
His family never saw him again. They were so upset by the experience that they destroyed all photographs of him.
When Friedreich died 10 February 1919, he was buried in Cedar Lane Cemetery on the grounds of the hospital. Iron markers with numbers were used to identify the location of patients buried there and to protect the privacy of the patient. Unfortunately, the markers were all pulled up and tossed in the woods by unknowing prison inmates in the neighboring prison to make their mowing work easier. Today, the markers are arranged in rows and columns near the burial sites in memorial of those that died while residing at the hospital.