John Eisman and His Wife’s Dying Request

From the Lorberg Scrapbook, a photo of Eisman & Brothers store in Portsmouth.1

John Eisman was born January 20, 1839, in the city of Forcheim, Kingdom of Bavaria, the son of Smile Eismann2 and Eva Friedman. He spent his boyhood in Forcheim and received his education in the public schools of that place. After leaving school at the age of eighteen, he learned the trade of a baker and followed this vocation at Frankfurt and at Mainz until he was twenty.

He left his native land in the spring of 1861, and landed in the United States March 22nd. He proceeded at once to New Brunswick, New Jersey, where he worked at this trade for about a year; then, going to New York, he was employed on Bleeker street, at the same occupation for eight or nine months.

John EIsman’s Declaration of Naturalization.3

From there he went to Scranton, Pennsylvania, where he remained about six months. His brother Leopold Eisman had come to America in 1859 and had established a clothing and dry goods business in Portsmouth, Ohio. At his request, his brother, our subject, came to Portsmouth in March 1864., where he has since resided with the exception of a few months in 1865 when he resided in St. Louis, Missouri.

The February 7, 1873 United States Passport application for John Eisman.4

In 1865, the brothers formed a partnership branch store. Leopold still conducted his main store and John managed the branch store, which was located in the basement of the Taylor House which stood where the present Biggs House stands, but was destroyed by fire in 1871. The business was temporarily removed to the Spry block after the fire. Leopold then erected a three story brick building just below the Timmonds baker shop on Front street, and the entire business was removed to the new building, the brothers becoming equal partners in the business. The dry goods line was soon dropped and they carried on a clothing and merchant tailoring business exclusively. The sales were mostly retail, though a local wholesale business was done. The business flourished and the partnership continued until the death of the senior partner, Leopold, September 6, 1886, when our subject bought out the interest of the widow5 and assumed exclusive control of the establishment.

A Leopold Eisman & Brother bill head showing the business location at 155 Front Street in 1880.

The business has since been run in the name of J Eisman & Company, though Mr. Eisman is the sole owner. In 1895, he removed to the Brushart building on west Second street. The business continued to grow and wholesale was given more attention. In 1900, the quarters becoming too small a removal was made to Chillicothe street between Fourth and Fifth streets, where an extensive wholesale and retail clothing and gents furnishing business is carried on. It is one of the largest and most substantial business houses in Portsmouth.

Mr. Eisman has always been a republican in politics, but has never sought publicity in this line preferring to give his whole time and attention to his business. He is a member of the Jewish church congregation of Portsmouth and has always been one of its most liberal contributors. He held the presidency of the church for two years.

He was united in marriage, January, 1869, with Fanny Meyer, daughter of Jacob Meyer, of Portsmouth. She died December 1869.

Fannie Eisman’s Dying Request6

One short brief year, one happy year
Has gone to come no more,
Since I, a joyful bride, went forth
From my loving parent’s door.

An now my time has come to die,
But shed no tears for me,
I leave a world so full of care
I’m thankful to be free.

Visions bright have filled my soul
Of realms of present joy,
Still, husband, it is hard to go
And leave my baby boy.

He ne’er can know a mother’s love,
Or a mother’s waterful fears.
Tho’ I shall watch him from above
And see his smiles and tears.

So, husband dear, take care of him
With a kind and tender care,
That he may play where I have played
And learn the self-same prayer.

And sometimes when his tender thought
Has come with boyhood’s years,
You’ll tell him of his mother’s love,
Who smiled on him through tears.

The Hebrew text of Fannie Meyer Eisman notes that she was the wife of Rabbi Eisman.
The December 1870 Obituary for Fanny Eisman

Eisman -In this city, on Friday evening, December 23rd, Fanny, wife of John Eisman, in the 21st year of her age.7

The Birth of Moritz Eisman

Record of Birth for Moritz “Morris” Eisman8

The grave marker and obituary differ in their facts as to the date of death for Fannie Eisman; her grave marker states that she died on Christmas Eve, December 24, 1870 and her obituary states that she died on December 23, 1870. What is definite is that they newborn son, mentioned in her above poem, was Moritz Eisman who was born December 16, 1870, merely a week before her death. Interestingly as well, Moritz was born six days before his grandmother Rebecca Meyer’s birthday. Sadly Rebecca Meyer, Fannie’s mother, wife of Jacob Meyer, died on December 24, 1874, on the 4th anniversary of her daughter’s death.

To compound the tragedy Mortiz, not yet six months old, died on June 6, 1871. Below is the gravemarker of Mortiz Eisman who rests in the childrens’ lot of the Hebrew Section of Greenlawn Cemetery in Portsmouth, Ohio. Nearby also rest the children of several employees of the Eisman & Brother tailor company; their markers being nearly identical.

L Eisman & Brother advertisement from June 10, 18719

In April 1874, he was re-married to Eliza Dryfus, daughter of Wolf and Eva Dryfus, of Zanesville, Ohio. She died February 24, 1892, leaving four children, two sons and two daughters, all of whom are living, and have reached maturity. They all reside with their father on on west Fourth street. Carrie E, and Eda E, manage the home and the sons, Leon M. and Sidney J, are associated with their father in business. The sons show remarkable business ability and have a promising future.10

The marriage record of John Eisman and Eliza Dryfus.11
  1. Henry A. Lorberg , “Eisman & Bro.
    Charles Leicharer and Charles Soule,” Local History Digital Collection, accessed November 20, 2021, https://www.yourppl.org/history/items/show/21590.
  2. Schmey Eisman
  3. “Ohio, County Naturalization Records, 1800-1977,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-8996-39SD-T?cc=1987615&wc=46VB-YCK%3A265562801%2C265562802 : 13 February 2020), Scioto > Declarations of intention 1859-1872 vol A > image 120 of 237; county courthouses, Ohio.
  4. “United States Passport Applications, 1795-1925,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-99DC-XZ79?cc=2185145&wc=3XCR-PTG%3A1056306401%2C1056361001 : 13 June 2017), (M1372) Passport Applications, 1795-1905 > Roll 190, vol 409-410, 1873 Feb-Mar > image 178 of 1479; citing NARA microfilm publications M1490 and M1372 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.)
  5. Fanny Roushein
  6. Mrs. Eisman’s Dying Request. (1870, December 31). Portsmouth Times, p. 2.
  7. Died. (1870, December 31). Portsmouth Times, p. 2.
  8. “Ohio, County Births, 1841-2003,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HT-69HS-Y5W?cc=1932106&wc=Q633-9DJ%3A227674301%2C227675101 : 22 December 2016), Scioto > Birth registers 1867-1876 vol 1 > image 107 of 220; county courthouses, Ohio.
  9. L Eisman & Brother Advertisement. (1871, June 10). Portsmouth Times.
  10. Evans, N. W. (1975). A history of Scioto County, Ohio: Together with a pioneer record of Southern ohio. Unigraphic. Pages 967-968
  11. “Ohio, County Marriages, 1789-2016,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:939K-BJ9T-HW?cc=1614804&wc=ZTLN-T38%3A121350901%2C122564201 : 15 July 2014), Muskingum > Marriage records 1873-1875 vol 7 > image 111 of 158; county courthouses, Ohio.