Eidse / Eidsen Family

Eidse / Eidsen Family

The Eidse story has always seemed remarkable to me because the Eidses are storytellers by nature. Long on oral tradition. Rumors abound about a connection to the monarchy in the smallest country in the world: Lichtenstein. We have heard of the royal baron who fell in love with a simple peasant woman who was a Mennonite and how he left his riches for her. Another story implies that someone in the Eidse ancestry married a Gypsy and that is why so many of the Eidse family have dark eyes, naturally olive skin and black hair. We'll never know for sure but hot-tempers and passion abound. What follows is not fiction but fact...the passage of time will cloak the mysteries of the rest...

Worldconnect Eidse/Eidsen Genealogy

Rev. Abraham Enns Eidse (1857-1930)


G. Grandfathers:Abram Eds -(Neiteicherwald, Prussia) Flemish laborer, employee, poor Gerhard Spenst

Grandfather: Cornelius Eidse (1770) m. 1799 Helena Spenst (1776) by 1804 in Fischau

Father: Abraham S. Eidse (1811-1893) m. 1836


G. Grandfather: Cornelius Ens (1743)and Catrina Friesen (1761) (Lakendorf.Prussia) Flemish laborer, employee, poor, 1804.

Grandfather: Cornelius F. Enns (1782-1834) Maria Wiebe (1784-1845) m. 1805

Mother: Anna W. Enns (1817-1864)

Siblings: Cornelius Eidse (1840-1914) m. Cath.Klassen,Helena Loewen,Susann Koehn Kansas

Anna Eidse (1843-1922) m. A.F.Reimer Janzen, Nebraska

Helena Eidse (1846-1918) m. Peter Friesen, Peter Wohlgemuth -later Gnadenau Kansas

Maria Eidse (1848-1934) m. Johan P. Friesen, Blumenort, MB

Justina Eidse (1851-?) m. Gerhard Warkentin Rosenhoff, Neb, Rosenhoff

Heinrich (1853.), Abraham (1854.) Abraham (1855)all 3 died within days of birth.

Heinrich Eidse (1859-?) m. Susan Niessen, Helena Niessen Rosenhoff and Texas ?

Youth and Family

On April 10, 1857 in the Mennonite village of Fischau, Molotchna Colony of South Russia, Abraham and Anna Eidse were blessed with the arrival of a healthy little baby boy whom they named Abraham. He was the 10th of 11 children. Three brother's named Heinrich, Abraham and Abraham respectively died in infancy. His family consisted of one older brother, five older sisters and one younger brother. His mother died on Dec. 24, 1864 when he was only six years old. Abraham's family continued to live in Fischau until 1874 when he (17) along with his father (63), brother Heinrich (15) and sister Justine (23) emigrated to Manitoba on the S.S. Austrian No. 65 on August 31, 1874.


The Eidses settled in Rosenhoff on the Scratching River Reserve joining son and brother Cornelius Eidse. Heinrich Enns, Abraham E. Eidse's uncle, also settled there with his family in 1875. Within a few years Abraham became ill with typhoid fever but due to the assistance of other families recuperated. Brother Heinrich and father Abraham moved to Abilene, Texas later in life where his father passed away.

Abraham E. Eidse was a dark-haired, blue-eyed young man, who attended the Rosenhoff Church. He was baptized on Dec. 18, 1875 - part of the first official baptism of the Rosenhoff-Rosenort congregation. He helped with the family farm and was employed by the government to build up a railroad bed through Riverside for several summers. The pay for this job was $2.25 a day. To his great disappointment the railroad was established through Morris instead. Eidse honeymoon cabin.1880.

Abraham was married to Helena B. Klassen, daughter of delegate David Klassen, on April 6, 1879. She had been serving the community as a midwife since 1875, at age 13. They established their own home and began farming on the NW 1/4 16-5-1E in Rosenhoff. They lived in a small cabin with a lean-to attached. Abraham was a successful farmer and supplemented his income with a blacksmith shop. Later he also owned and operated one of the first steam threshing machines. Community members said of Abraham that whatever he touched turned to gold. The saying went that where he walked the wheat grew higher and the yields were better. It seemed the land he farmed grew bountiful crops.


On March 22, 1882, in part due to the Holdeman split, Abraham was elected to serve as a deacon in the Rosenhoff KG church. At the same time his nephew Johann K. Friesen was ordained as a minister. In 1902 the church chose him to be a minister. Johan R. Dueck was elected to serve as a deacon in his stead. Both Abraham and Helena were kept busy preaching, farming, raising their children and caring for the sick. Rev. Eidse often preached his sermons from memory rather than in the traditional reading style. Because he suffered from hardening of the arteries and anemia he sometimes delivered his messages sititing in a chair. Thirty perfectly preserved sermons handwritten, dated and preached by Abraham are extant and in care of Nettie Bartel of Riverside. Abraham ministered in his home church, on the East Reserve, and also travelled to Nebraska to participate in several conferences there. He signed an important Kleine Gemeinde document in 1901.

Partly due to the fact that his wife was an experienced midwife, Abraham lead discussions on sexuality at a few brotherhood meetings. He emphasized maturity, graciousness, patience and restraint on the part of men toward their wives. He attempted personal family counselling where abuses were noted. He mentioned Mosaic laws regarding menstrual cycles, cleanliness and abstinence shortly after childbirth. He and his wife did their best to alleviate ignorance in the community.

One of his best friends through the years was Rev. Johan K. Friesen. They were companions in baptism, ministry, shared children in marriage, and travel. Abraham shared the devotional at the Friesen's 50th anniversary July 20, 1926.

An interesting fact of Abraham's life was that he supported mission outreach at a time when preservation rather than the propagation of the gospel was stressed in the Kleine Gemeinde churches. As early as 1910 Abraham and Helena were financially supporting a missionary couple (Penners) in India. In the 1920's Abraham actively encouraged the beginnings of the Mennonite Central Committee. He developed lifelong friendships with his German-Lutheran laborers and is credited by the Brunkild congregation as the minister who helped organize the original Brunkild Lutheran congregation. He is noted as having lead their first brotherhood meeting. He was well known as a financial advisor and also acted as a banker for a number of new immigrants.

An Immigrant's Testimony

According to Abram J. Berg, a Russlaender Mennonite immigrant, his experiences with Rev. Eidse were very positive. Excerpts from his book are as follows, "There was a kind old gentleman on the train with white hair, a long white beard and friendly eyes...He said he had looked at the families with the most children and he like us. He had an empty house and barn on one of his farms where we could live by ourselves and Peter and I would always have work on the farms of one of his three sons...We didn't realize how luck we were at that moment but we soon found out. When we arrived at the railway station in Morris all the families were lined up on the platform of the railway station and examined as to their potential usefulness to our hosts, much like the negro slaves in their time. And you heard remarks like: "They have too many kids, we have enough of our own," or "I don't like that woman" etc. We, the Peter Berg family, had already been selected and were spared all those humiliating remarks. How fortunate!

" The house was fully furnished, a stove, a rough table, some beds, cooking utensils, plates, cups, etc. right to a box of matches, not a thing was missing. And there was a cow in the barn. There was also some food, bread, potatoes, coffee and milk. Who expected that?.. Mary had, by that time, organized her household under the supervision of old Mrs Eidse, who was a very friendly and efficient old lady. She was also the doctor and midwife of the district....Old Mr. and Mrs. Eidse were definitely one of the more intelligent families of the Mennonite settlement at Morris and they stood out from many others. They had four children, Abram, David, Cornelius and a daughter, Mrs. Bartel. The family was well off, and if I'm correct, old Mr. Eidse owned two sections of land. I would hesitate to call the Eidses rebellious, but they definitely had a a mind of their own and managed to get away with it in the generally narrow-minded congregational structure and its rules.

As I have said, old Mrs. Eidse was a minister of their Kleinegemeinde Church. He had a beard which was against the regulations of their church. "A beard is the pride of man, and the Bible condemns pride", was one of their rules. He was the first to by a steam engine and threshing machine. When he did that the congregation tried to excommunicate him. He invited them to the field and gave them a demonstration, showing them how well it all worked and persuaded them to delete that regulation from the list of sins."

Rev. Eidse managed to keep Abram and his brother employed well after the regular work season was over so that they'd be able to pay of their travelling debt. He went the extra mile arranging a work trip out to cousins in Saskatchewan and then later pulling some "strings" with Baptist friends of his from Morris.

Travels Abroad

In 1910, Abraham, Helena and daughter Lena travelled to Kansas and Nebraska together. They presumably visited family in both states. Abraham travelled to Nebraska a number of times to minister in the KG church there and told many hilarious stories of his adventures in America. Once he was left standing at the church doors with no place to go for dinner. Everyone had assumed he had somewhere else to go. So he simply walked to the nearest neighbour and was welcomed in for dinner with them.

At another dinner adventure, he ate a number of pieces of chicken and was encouraged by his hostess to eat more. Soon his plate was full of bones. The tablecloth was beautiful and he didn't know where to leave them. Just then the lady of the home spilled gravy all over the table. To allay her embarrassment, he grabbed the empty gravy dish and threw in his chicken bones saying that now at least he had a place to put them. Laughter ensued and dinner continued.

Flu Epidemic

During the winter of 1918-1919 Spanish influenza hit virtually every family in the Rosenort-Rosenhoff area. Dr. Ross gave out a serum to protect people from it but it didn't seem to take proper effect. Abraham and P.U. Brandt seemed to have high immunity and worked alongside Helena changing bed sheets and bathing foreheads to battle the bug. Abraham and Mr. Brandt also made rounds at all the farms and tended to the daily chores such as milking and feeding the livestock when the other men were all sick in their beds. It was a tragic time since many lives were lost and made especially difficult because bodies of loved ones were put out in sheds to freeze until the rest of the family was well enough to hold a funeral.

Personal Life

Abraham Eidse is remembered for his striking blue-eyes set off by his white hair, high, large cheekbones, mustache and white full beard. He stood about 5'10''. During the 1900's he wore dark three piece woolen suits brightened with a golden pocketwatch and chain and when outside covered his hair with a grey cap. He enjoyed story-telling and practiced and honed this art on Sunday afternoons when he and his wife received company. He loved little children and spent time with his grandchildren teasing them and swinging with them. Abraham enjoyed his devotional life. He read the Bible before breakfast, sang some songs with Helena and then would pray aloud in German, though silent prayer was the norm. Table grace was also verbalized. This left a deep impression on their children and grandchildren.

Retirement and Death

In 1929 Helena and Abraham celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary together with many friends and family at the Rosenhoff South School. It was a rare occasion since very few couples spent that many years together at that time. The grandchildren recited poems nervously and then the large gathering of people shared faspa together.

Abraham suffered from a blood disorder (anemia or leukemia) for many years and in spring of 1930 was beginning to become very ill. Even on a very warm day he would be all bundled up in a wool cap with ear flaps, a heavy coat and overshoes because he felt so cold. His sons Dave and Cornie took him by car to seek treatment for his illness at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota but his illness was too advanced and he returned home with his sons. He died later that summer on July 16, 1930 in his home reaching the age of 73 years.


Abram K. Eidse was born July 7, 1882 to Reverend Abraham and Helena Eidse in Rosenhoff, Manitoba. He was their second child but the oldest to survive.

Abram began attending school in fall of 1889 at the Rosenort School #61. He enjoyed school tremendously but had some frustrations with his studies because his long-term memory and his depth perception had been damaged because of an accident when he was seven. He was struck by a heavy timber in a swinging accident and this caused a blood clot to form within his brain. He enjoyed his childhood despite his handicap.

Abram was the oldest and only son in the family for a number of years and he was given a lot of responsibility. His parents owned between thirty and forty horses and he was often up early breaking, plowing and harrowing their land. He also worked on his father's threshing crew and eventually became the engineer.

His boyhood chums were Gustav Schellenberg, Peter Siemens and George and P.U. Brandt. During his teen years he enjoyed playing on a local soccer team that competed against various villages. His grandfather, David Klassen, taught him to skate on the Scratching River. This was a winter past-time he loved. The river also provided other entertainment for Abram such as his passion for fishing. The river was teaming with fish and he caught a variety of fish including rainbow and speckled trout, perch, pickerel, catfish and suckers. He and his mother had a fondness for fish fries and often ate them twice a week.

His teen years were somewhat frustrating with his mother busy with midwifery and his father being a minister and a full-time farmer as well. Often it was his Grandpa Klassen who took time to talk with him. He didn't appreciate the pressures of being a minister's son at all although he did adore his father and claimed that his father had been born with both feet in heaven. Abram rebelled against the church in his youth and learned to play the piano accordion and went to dances. When Abram was eighteen, his beloved grandfather David Klassen passed away and a year later his crippled younger sister Aganetha died at the age of five and a half. These must have been difficult times for him. He did not surrender his life to the Lord at an early age but finally in June of 1911, at the age of 29, he gave his heart to Christ and was baptized by Bishop Peter R. Dueck.

After several years of courting a dear girl by the name of Annie they finally were able to be married. They made their home with his parents for the first year and a half until they were able to establish their own farmyard on the South-east 1/4 of Section 29-5-1E. This quarter of land had been originally purchased by his father A.E. Eidse from Crown School Lands in 1900. Perhaps this land was a wedding gift from his father. They built their barn in 1913 and then their farmhouse in 1914.

Abram worked hard to build up his farm. In the winters there was always wood to haul from Marchand and coal from McTavish for heating. Ice always had to be cut and hauled as well for drinking water for both the livestock and the family. Since he and Annie had up to 20 cows and eight horses in their barn, he had to clean out the manure at least twice a day. The pigs also had to be fed their chop and it had to be hammer-milled every two weeks. He also readied and repaired all the farm machinery and fixed the harnesses for the coming seeding time. At farrowing time he took care of the piglets, rubbing them down carefully to keep them alive and he also kept watch through the early cold spring nights during calving season. During harvest he would ride the binder and set stooks with the other farmhands as well. These were only a few of the many farming duties that he performed to keep the farm running smoothly. At the height of their farming lives they owned more than 700 acres of land. Both Abram and Annie were very proud of their registered dairy herd of Jersey's. Each cow had three names and the bull had five. Each cow had to be individually hand-drawn when it was registered. Abram was also a salesman of Jersey cream and butter and advertised and sold it personally to the ladies in the Town of Morris. His pitch always included the fact that Jersey butter didn't turn sour when it was hot outside and it didn't turn rancid easily.

Abram also worked hard in his hobby of gardening. He was very talented at growing and grafting fruit trees. His grafts never failed once and he grew mulberries and plums and pear trees with great success. These he had ordered from Russia as seedlings. Both the Morden Experimental Farm and Stevenson's nursery kept a close eye on his developments. His pride and joy in the flowering shrubs were his long row of peonies. They were supported by a specially invented low steel fence that kept the peonies supported even when it rained heavily. He often won first prize at the Morris Agricultural Fair for his flower arrangements and also won many blue ribbons for his cattle. He loved to compete.

Abram was a good-looking man who usually wore dress pants and a vest accented with a gold pocketwatch. On Sundays he always wore a tie. He had water-blue eyes and dark brown hair. He was only about 5'6 but very wiry in strength. He always wore wire-rimmed glasses except when he was reading because he had almost lost his eyesight due to trachoma in his youth. He had a great rapport with people and was very hospitable and easy-going. Children gravitated toward him and enjoyed the opportunity to sit on his lap.

bram was a perfectionist in all that he did and yet because of his poor memory he often felt frustrated with himself. His greatest disappointments in life involved the deaths of his young children and especially the little son who died of burns. He had put out the fire with his bare hands and carried scars for the rest of his life. It was not something he discussed at length with anyone. He cried most when there was rebellion in the family although he also wept openly when his mother died.

Abram and his wife Annie had a very loving relationship. They held hands and even kissed in front of their children sometimes. After short trips away for dairy meetings or threshing he always came home with affectionate hugs and greetings for his darling. He sometimes brought her small gifts such as live flowers to plant in her garden. One time he brought her a plant named hens and chicks. She wasn't impressed with that one because she told him she had never liked to have chickens in the garden in the first place never mind planting them there! One year he also gave her a dinner set for Christmas and it brought tears to her eyes. One contribution he made to the family diet was that of tomatoes. Annie had grown up thinking of them as only being useful as chicken feed and believed they were poisonous for human beings. He taught her to truly enjoy them although she ate them with salt, pepper and vinegar while he ate them with sugar.

For several years after the 1918 War Abram and Annie sponsored more than a dozen families across from Russia and Germany through the organization of the Mennonite Central Committee. These immigrants carried names like Stark, Rabe, Janzen, Letkeman, Braun and Unrau only to mention a few. The Eidses not only paid for their journey but often took the families into their home and supplied them with jobs as well. Many settled permanently in the area and what the Eidses had sacrificed financially was paid many times over with the strong friendships they shared with these families.

Abram and Annie were both very hospitable people and their motto seemed to be there is always room for one more. One summer they hosted up to twenty farm workers that lived in the north-wing room of their farmhouse and in their bunkhouse. They had two couples with one child each staying in another room and six other unmarried children scattered about the house, sleeping in the living room under tables, in day beds or sharing other cramped quarters. At the same time two girls who were relatives were also boarding in their house so that they could be employed in the community. Needless to say there were at least three shifts of dinner guests and one can't imagine the lineup for the outhouse.

Besides providing jobs for area residents, Abram also served the community in several other ways. He was a founding member of the Rosenort Credit Union and helped to canvass for its beginnings. He also helped campaign for all-weather roads to be established in the Riverside-Rosenort area.

Abram had a very gracious and Christlike spirit. He believed that it was better to pay a debt twice than not at all. This was at times difficult for the family to accept because others took full advantage of his poor memory and purposefully charged him two or three times for the same goods or services. He was also completely unselfish and always lent out his farm equipment to anyone who asked for it. The only time he regretted it was when they brought it back in need of repair without so much as an explanation or a thank-you. He took time to teach his children the practical things in life, even his daughters, such as shingling, how to fix harnesses and fences.

Abram and Annie also managed to celebrate their 25th anniversary together in June of 1937. They hosted a garden party for many guests. A highlight was that Abram had supplied the guests with a huge store-bought box of cookies, which was a real change from the usual homemade ones! There were many friends and relatives that came and shared in the program on that beautiful sunny June day. Later that fall they took a short trip with two of their daughters to Dryden, Ontario. They enjoyed a short vacation in a cabin on the lake and he managed to spend some time indulging in his youthful hobby of fishing.

Abram enjoyed fairly good health most of his life although he suffered from a hernia in his later years. Abram went to the States once to seek treatment for the blood clot that he had but was told that it was too close to the brain. He could have had an operation but the chances were extremely high that he would have died or been paralyzed. He and Annie agreed that it was better just to live out his life. He had two vehicle accidents that further complicated his long-term memory however it was the third accident that triggered the illness that would finally take his life.

In March of 1946 Abram was taking eight full cans of milk to the cheese factory with horse and sleigh. Someone passing by with their car tooted their horn at him and the horses were startled. The sleigh jerked suddenly and a full canister of milk rammed into the back of his head. He managed to make it home but he suffered greatly from headaches from that time on. He thought that he would die. He decided to turn management of the farm over to his family because he felt so unhealthy.

A month after the accident he had his first stroke because the blood clot had moved. Throughout the next year he suffered several light strokes. Some made him weak and paralyzed and affected his speech while others seemed to have the opposite effect. His family took care of him at home. For a few months between strokes he was up and around and working on the farm again. Several times when his mind cleared he said his goodbyes to the family. On February 5, 1947, his mind was clear and he asked for the family's forgiveness for any wrongdoing. He died peacefully at home surrounded by his loving family on February 6, 1947.

Page Still Under Construction: JUSTINA BARTEL EIDSE ... life story still to follow

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Last Updated February 18, 2000 by Lorilee Scharfenberg