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RG5323.AM:  Eis Family

Papers:  1913-1993; mostly 1930s-1956

Humboldt, Richardson County, Neb.; California; Chicago, Ill.:  

Size:  0.75 cu.ft.; 2 boxes


Rudolph and Bessie Klossner Eis, along with their five children, David, Mary, Betty, Annabelle, and Ruth Ellen, lived and farmed near Humboldt, Richardson County, Nebraska. The family was active in the community and the children were educated locally. They were a creative and close-knit family.

In 1945 David enlisted in the United States Navy to serve his country in World War II. He was still in training when the war ended, but remained in the service to fulfill his enlistment. In June of 1946 while on guard duty at the Fallbrook Naval Ammunition Depot in California, he was accidentally shot in the spine and lung by another Marine during a gun inspection. He was six months away from his discharge at the time. His family was informed by telegram that his condition was critical. Bessie, along with eldest daughter, Mary, took a train to California, reaching David’s side as soon as they could. The two women stayed in California for several weeks until his condition was stabilized. The accident left David paraplegic for the rest of his life. He received care at three different military hospitals: initial treatment at Oceanside Naval Hospital, then more treatment and rehabilitation at Corona Naval Hospital and San Diego Naval Hospital. Shortly before his discharge date, David was transferred to Hines Veterans Hospital near Chicago, Illinois, where he remained a patient until his death in 1954 at the age of 31.


This collection relates to the military service of David John Eis, and documents the effects of his accidental shooting on both his own life and the lives of his family. It also contains personal and educational materials relating to other Eis Family members, especially Mary Frances Eis, as well as the related Klossner, Hon and Petracek families. The collection is arranged in seven Subgroups: 1) Correspondence, 1945-1954; 2) David John Eis, 1923-1954; 3) Mary Frances Eis; 4) Ruth Ellen Eis; 5) Bessie Klossner Eis; 6) Miscellaneous Educational Materials; and 7) Family History.

The story of David’s military service is told through his letters home to his family, which his sister, Mary, later copied out in notebooks, longhand. The notebooks, along with photocopies of correspondence by other family members comprise the contents of Subgroup 1. Letters before and after the accident help tell the Eis Family story until David’s death in 1954. Subgroup 2 contains photocopies of David’s service documents and an extensive typescript, compiled and transcribed by Stanley K. Flentje, titled “David John Eis United States Marine.” This manuscript contains transcripts of David’s letters and Mary’s diary of the weeks right after the accident, along with photocopies of documents and photographs. Together these materials provide insight into military medical care, and the history of a remarkable family as it dealt with a terrible tragedy and its long-term effects.

Subgroup 3, Mary Frances Eis, is subdivided into three Series: Series 1 contains a photocopy of the diary of Mary Frances Eis, June 27 – July 25, 1946. It was written on USO stationary and documents her trip to California with her Mother, Bessie Eis. Mary was an excellent observer and writer. The diary entries include a wealth of details about the train trip, conditions in the hospital for both visitors and patients, the care provided, meals, and entertainment. Series 2 consists of materials relating to Mary’s Humboldt High School experiences and classmates. Of special note are her school writing assignments, including one titled “My Autobiography,” in which she describes her life, family, and community. Also of interest is a volume of full-length letters from her classmates, 1940, which are much more personalized than the usual Autograph Book style offerings, and documents relating to her time at the Lincoln School of Commerce. Series 3, Miscellaneous, is comprised of poems written for Mary by Corpsman William James Kenmore at the Oceanside Naval Hospital during the first few weeks after David was wounded. It is clear from this poetry, the correspondence notebooks of Subgroup 1, and Mary’s diary that she and her mother were well cared for by the hospital staff. Material from a 1993 “Older But Wiser” project in which Mary was interviewed by Pyrtle Elementary School students is also included.

The Ruth Ellen Eis materials of Subgroup 4 consist mostly of school projects, undated, but undoubtedly done while she was in Grade School. A poem she wrote and illustrated herself, “Seein’ Things in the Dark” is a charming example of a child’s writing style. Biographical notes were composed by her sister, Mary F. Eis Hessler. Subgroup 5 contains a Humboldt High School Memories book belonging to Bessie Klossner Eis, along with several short essay pieces she wrote, and miscellaneous items. Miscellaneous educational materials comprise Subgroup 6. Of particular note is the Dawson High School Journal, which contains Kindergarten photographs of both David and Mary Eis. Subgroup 7, Family History, includes information about the Eis, Klossner, and Petrashek Families.


Subgroup 1: Correspondence, 1945-1954

Box 1


  1. 1945, May 15 – June 7

    1945, June 8 – Aug. 19

  2. 1945, Aug. 21 – Oct. 1

    1945, Oct 2 – Nov. 16

  3. 1945, Nov. 19 – 1946, Jan. 4

    1946, Jan. 8 – Feb.24

  4. 1946, Feb. 25 – May 26

  5. 1946, June 6 – Sept. 12

  6. 1946, Sept. 14 – Dec. 10

  7. 1946, Dec. 11 – 1947, Feb. 17

  8. 1947, Feb. 20 – Aug. 13

  9. 1947, Aug. 16 – 1948, Mar. 17

  10. 1945-1954 [photocopies only]

Subgroup 2: David John Eis, 1923-1954

  1. “David John Eis United States Marine,” compiled by Stanley K. Flentje, 1999

  2. Service Record [photocopy only]

  3. Writings

  4. Miscellaneous

Subgroup 3: Mary Frances Eis

Series 1 – Diaries

  1. Mary F. Eis Diary, June-July, 1946 [photocopy only]

  2. Mary F. Eis Diary, 1937-1943

Series 2 – Educational Materials

  1. School stories and autobiography [photocopies only]

  2. Autograph book, 1937-1938

  3. Eighth grad diploma

  4. Humboldt High yearbooks, 1939; 1941

  5. Humboldt High diploma, 1941

  6. Humboldt High graduation materials, 1941

  7. Lincoln School of Commerce materials, 1948

  8. Miscellaneous


  1. High School scrapbook (see oversize)

  2. Letters from Humboldt High classmates, 1940 (see oversize)

Series 3 – Miscellaneous

Box 1 (cont.)


  1. Poems written for Mary Eis by William James Kenmore while she was visiting her wounded brother, July 1946 [photocopies only]

  2. “Older But Wiser” project, Pyrtle Elementary School, 1993

  3. Biographical letter written in 1993. Also some Hon Family information

Subgroup 4: Ruth Ellen Eis

  1. Biographical material

Box 2


  1. Poem, “Seein’ Things in the Dark” by Ruth Ellen Eis

  2. County Fair / school projects

  3. County Fair / school projects

  4. Graduation, 1956

Subgroup 5: Bessie Klossner Eis

  1. School Memories book, Humboldt High School, 1913

  2. Writings; miscellaneous

Subgroup 6: Miscellaneous Educational Materials

  1. Dawson High School Journal, 1928-1929 [Kindergarten photos, Mary and David Eis]

  2. Humboldt area school materials

Subgroup 7: Family History

  1. Eis Family

  2. Eis Family corn materials

  3. “King Corn” advertisement (see OB127)

  4. Klossner Family

  5. Petrashek Family



California — Description and travel

Eis family

Eis, Bessie Klossner

Eis, David John, 1923-1954

Eis, Mary Frances

Eis, Ruth Ellen

Hon family

Humboldt High School (Humboldt, Neb.)

Humboldt (Neb.) — History

Klossner family

Lincoln School of Commerce (Lincoln, Neb.)

Military medicine

Petrashek family


KFK   03-25-2003

Revised KFK   04-16-2004

Encoded TMM   03-31-2010