DEEMER Genealogy
DEEMER Genealogy

 Last Updated:
2 Feb 2021 

© Henry Deemer, 2021

Ephraim Jacob DEEMER

Ephraim Jacob DEEMER first appears at the age of 9 in the 1860 census in West Hanover P.O., East Hanover Twp., Dauphin Co., PA.  He’s listed with his parents John and Catherine, and siblings William and Catherine.  They appear under the name DEMY.

In 1883 his mother applied for a Civil War a mother’s pension.  Ephraim’s and Aaron’s brother, John, died of wounds during the war.  In her sworn affidavit she wrote, “In 1864 I lived near Linglestown Dauphin County, PA…   The names of my family were as follows…  Ephraim aged 11 years who after the close of the War of the Rebellion enlisted on the 5th U.S. Cavalry and has never been heard from to the present time.”  This is the only known family reference to Ephraim.

The Register of Enlistments for the United State Army reveal that Ephraim Deemer enlisted at Carlisle, PA on 22 October 1867 for a 5 year term.  He was assigned to Company B of the 5th Cavalry.  He is described as 5 feet 6 inches tall, hazel eyes, age 21.  The record also indicates his discharge 22 October 1872 at Camp Hualpai in the Arizona Territory.

These records show inconsistencies about Ephraim’s birth year.  The 1860 census would indicate he was born around 1851.  His mother’s sworn statement would suggest the year 1853.  His enlistment implies his birth year to be 1846.  It’s rather apparent that he lied about his age in order to enlist, just as his older brother, Aaron had done at the beginning of the Civil War.  Ephraim was probably 14 - 16 when he enlisted.

The history of the 5th Cavalry is well documented.  A detailed account of the service of Company B during Ephraim’s tenure, Across the Continent with the Fifth Cavalry, was compiled by Capt. George F. Price and published in 1883.  The full text is available online at, Google Books or in print from Amazon.

Shortly after the end of the Civil War the 5th Cavalry was called to serve in the Indian Wars on the American Great Plains.  When Ephraim joined Company B they were at Nashville, Tennessee, preparing for the trip west.  Ephraim, and Company B, left Nashville for St. Louis by riverboat.  There they transferred to trains for Fort Harker, Kansas, where they arrived in September, 1868. 

In the years near the end of the Civil War railways had been constructed through the lands of the Sioux, Arapahoe, and Cheyennes in Kansas and Nebraska.  This led to conflict.  The 5th Cavalry was assigned to duty in the area of the Republican River in Kansas and Nebraska.  During October they were engaged in a running battle with the Sioux and Cheyennes. 

After there success against the Indians around Fort Harker they marched to Fort Wallace, Kansas, then on to Fort Lyon, Colorado, where they arrived in late November.   From there they marched south in severe winter weather into New Mexico, east into the Texas panhandle and northward through the Oklahoma panhandle arriving back at Fort Lyon in mid-February, 1869.  On this arduous trek they encountered no hostile Indians.

Fort Harker

Fort Wallace

Fort Lyon

In May the 5th left Fort Lyons for Fort McPherson, Nebraska, by way of Cheyenne Wells and Sheridan, Colorado.  At Beaver Creek, Kansas, they encountered a Sioux and Cheyenne hunting party.  A battle ensued.  Led by their scout, William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody they forced the Indians back, and continued on to the Platte River and arrived at Fort McPherson in late May.

In mid-June Company B repelled an attack on the Fort by a band of Cheyennes who attempted to stampede the Army’s teams.  Throughout June and July, while at Fort McPherson they were led into field service by Buffalo Bill. 

In mid-July they captured the village of the Sioux, Cheyenne and Arapahoe at Summit Springs, Colorado.  This was a decisive battle that led to an end of hostilities and peace in Kansas and Nebraska, and resulted in numerous commendations for the 5th Cavalry.

In October they were ordered to Fort D.A. Russell, Wyoming, for winter quarters.  They remained there through 1871 serving usual garrison duties with occasional tours of field service.

On 1 November 1871 they were relieved of duty on the Plains and ordered to field service against the Apaches in Arizona.

Fort D.A. Russell

The 5th traveled from the Plains to Oakland, CA by rail and horseback.  At Oakland they boarded the steamship Idaho and sailed south around Cape St. Lucas and up the Gulf of California to the mouth of the Colorado River landing at Port Isabel.  There they took the steamboats Mojave and Colorado to Fort Yuma, arriving in January, 1872.  By the fall they were remounted and dispatched to various stations around the Arizona Territory to deal with the Apaches.  By October Company B was stationed at Camp Haulpai.

Oakland Wharf (c.1870)

S.S. Idaho

Mojave at Yuma

Colorado in drydock at Port Isabel

While at Camp Haulpai Company B patrolled the region.  In September, 1872 they conducted a night march through a region cut with deep canyons.  Near the edge of Muchos Canyon along the Big Sandy River they discovered and destroyed Apache rancherias

After serving in Arizona for less than a year Ephraim’s 5 year enlistment ended and was discharged from the Army at Camp Hualpai, AZ, 22 October 1872.

After his military service Ephraim evidently returned to California as he next appears in records in the Oakland area.  In 1876 voter registration records for Brooklyn No. 1, Alameda County (now Oakland) list him as a laborer. 

On 25 November 1878, Alameda County, California. Ephraim married Christine R. Sanders, born about 1856 in Scotland.

In the 1880 census for Oakland includes Ephraim, a wife, Christine R. born in Scotland, and a son, William, born in 1879.

In the 1884 voter registrations he is a teamster.  In the 1889 voter registration he appears in Stockton, San Joaquin Co.  He’s described as being 5’8” with a dark complexion, blue eyes, and brown hear. 

In the California Great Register of 1902 he appears under the name DEEMAR at Waterloo, San Joaquin Co.  This is the last record of Ephraim found to date.

Oakland waterfront at the Brooklyn Basin, c. 1890