Biscuits, Molasses, and Bacon

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.


Augusta Roth Eigenmann with her daughter, Eleanor Eiegnmann DuPre, and Eleanor’s children, (front, from left) Margaret, Eleanor, William, Sarah, and Bettye in Augusta’s arms. ca. 1920

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.


Lines of markers


Friedreich’s marker


The marker memorial


7 thoughts on “Biscuits, Molasses, and Bacon

  1. Kathie Medlock says:

    A few calls and trips to Milledgeville and the hospital brought the family search finally to records of Frederick. The records gave when he arrived, when he died, the general area of the site where he was buried and the stake number he was given at his death. (Regular tombstones were not placed for the residents for fear of retaliation to the families.).

    We were driven to the well kept, wooded site at Cedar Lane Cemetery in which Frederick was buried; then to the memorial to look for his numbered stake. These stakes were not in numerical order so it took a bit of hunting to find Frederick’s stake. It was a very touching and heartbreaking experience.

    Thank you, Julie, for paying homage to Frederick’s life.


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