Sunday is Mother’s Day. I have been blessed with a devoted mother, wonderful grandmothers, and many other kind and strong women that have influenced my life. Family History, in part, is about finding our mothers’ mothers and their mothers, and their mothers, and so on. I love being able to get to know some of these mothers through my research.
This week’s prompt for 52 ancestors is Mother’s Day and I chose to write about my great-grandmother Eleanor Frieda Charlotte (Eigenmann) DuPre. Doesn’t she have a beautiful name?
Eleanor was born the 19th of January in 1889 in Saint Louis, Missouri to Friedreich Andrew Eigenmann and Augusta Wilhelmina Roth. Her father was a German immigrant and her mother was the daughter of German immigrants. Friedreich was a cooper and Augusta was a nurse. The family moved according to the work that Augusta could get.
Eleanor was the second of four children. The family included Eleanor’s older brother, Bertholde Martin Friedreich Eigenmann, and younger siblings, Bertha Marie Elizabeth Eigenmann and Warren Ervin Eigenmann. Bertholde died when Eleanor was 6 months old.
The family moved frequently for Augusta’s work. In 1897, the family is in Memphis, Tennessee, in Savannah, Georgia in 1902, in St. Louis in 1904 and in 1906, the family is in Atlanta, Georgia. By 1909, the family was in Abbeville, South Carolina. In the 1906 directory, Eleanor is listed as a clerk at HG Hastings & Co.
In Abbeville, Eleanor was a town beauty. She had many boyfriends. In 1909, Eleanor married William Shillito DuPre in Abbeville, South Carolina. They would have 6 children: Eleanor (1910), Sarah (1912), Margaret (1914), William (1916), Bertha (1919), and Frederick (1921).
Eleanor had her share of heartache. In 1910, her father suffered a head injury at work and became violent towards the family. He was committed to a mental institution. She would never see him again.
In July 1926, Eleanor’s daughter, Sarah, fell from a tree. The fall revealed that she had bone cancer in her leg, which led to surgery to amputate the leg later that year. The doctors and family were optimistic about the surgery. However, the following July, Sarah passed away. Her cause of death is listed as osteosarcoma of the tibia (bone cancer of the leg).
Eleanor’s husband passed away at the age of 60 in 1948. He had a heart attack in the cellar, falling on his grandson, Michael, during the attack, pinning the child between him and the ground. Michael began screaming and was able to get himself free, just in time to see Eleanor, or Nanny, as the grandkids called her, and the cook come running across the porch with a butcher knife and a rolling pin.
With the death of her husband came the end of his railroad pension. She kept boarders and went to work part-time in a floral shop.
But she had much happiness, too.
She was a woman of faith. She attended the Main Street Methodist Church in Abbeville. She passed her faith on to her children. She gave at least one of her daughters a Bible as a present.
According to the local newspaper, she often hosted the local sewing club.
She was also quite frugal. My father says that when they would stay there in the winter, even with the stove warming the house, one needed several layers of blankets to stay warm at night.
My father remembers her always being well dressed and quite proper in her manners. Her beautiful china cabinet stands in my home.
She passed away 6 January 1965 in Abbeville, South Carolina, after several weeks of illness. Her obituary states that she is survived by three daughters, two sons, a sister, a brother, 16 grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren. Her posterity continues to grow with many more great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren.