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Bereman Family History

By Beth Searle Alexander
amended slightly by Garth Hagerman

Samuel E. Bereman was born in 1803. He was descended from a long line of Beremans, one of whom, Thomas Bereman, was an aide to the governor of New York in 1690. Samuel E. Bereman married Eleanor Hampton Ellis in 1825. Eleanor was born June 24, 1804, the daughter of Mildred Slaughter and Augustine Ellis. Her maternal grandparents were Cadwallader Crabtree Slaughter and Sallie Hampton. Cadwallader was a Sergeant in the Revolutionary War, from Virginia.

Samuel E. Bereman and Eleanor Hampton Ellis had nine children, 6 boys and 3 girls. The first three were born in Kentucky (one of whom is recorded as having been born in Mercer County) and then, in 1832, the family moved to Hendricks County, Indiana. The other six children were born there, and then the family moved to Henry County, Iowa in 1845.

During the Civil War Samuel joined what was called the "grey beard" regiment from Iowa and Eleanor became an army nurse. All six of their sons and two sons-in-law were in the Northern Army. The oldest son, Jonothan, was killed "in service". He held the rank of Major at the time of his death. The second son, Alva, was commissioned a Captain in 1861 in the 18th U. S. Infantry and served two years. He was with General Buell's army in the march to join General Grant at the battle of Shiloh. He received a gunshot wound in the leg, resigned his commission and went home. In 1864, when the 45th Iowa Infantry was organized, he was appointed by the Governor to be its Colonel. Thomas was a Major and William was a Captain. Samuel Oliver Bereman was a Sergeant with Company K., 4th Iowa Cavalry. He kept a journal of his life during the war and a copy of his Civil War journal is online. The first daughter, third child, of Samuel and Eleanor was Emeline Ramsey Bereman. She married Jacob Ritner, whose grandfather was Joseph Ritner, the Governor of Pennsylvania from 1835 to 1839. Jacob Ritner's war time correspondence with Emeline is published as Love and Valor, edited by Charles F. Larimer.

A fair amount of history concerning the children of the Samuel E. Bereman exists in our files, much of it very speculative. But the primary line of descent for our family comes from the eighth child, Samuel Oliver Bereman.

Samuel Oliver Bereman was born in Hendricks County, near Belleville, Indiana on February 22, 1842. He was three years old when the family moved to Henry County, Iowa in 1845. He would have been about nineteen years old when the Civil War started in 1861. He survived the war and kept a journal of his war experiences, as noted above, then returned to Iowa. On November 1, 1869, at the age of twenty seven, Samuel married Damaris Ross, age twenty three. They were married in Mt. Pleasant, Iowa by the Rev. J. C. McClintock. Damaris Ross was born October 29, 1846 in Piqua, Ohio. A fair amount of speculative ancestral family history exists for Damaris Ross and it deserves to be treated separately, elsewhere.

Samuel and Damaris had four children. Theona Ellis was born September 16, 1870 in Henry County, Mt. Pleasant, Iowa; Jessie Knox was also born in Mt. Pleasant, on September 6, 1872. In July 1873 the family moved to Atchison, Kansas and the other two children were born there. Samuel Roy Bereman was born November 20, 1876 and Fay Milton Bereman was born June 7, 1881.

Samuel Oliver Bereman and Damaris stayed in Atchison, Kansas the rest of their lives. Samuel was a "druggist" and operated a drugstore in partnership with his nephew Thomas Joseph Ritner. Samuel died March 28, 1904 and is buried in the Mt. Vernon cemetery in Atchison, Kansas. Damaris died August 24, 1937 in St. Louis, Missouri. Two of her children, Samuel Roy and Fay Milton Bereman were living in St. Louis and Damaris apparently spent her later years there. She is buried in the Mt. Vernon cemetery in Atchison, Kansas.

Jessie Knox Bereman, the third child of Samuel Oliver and Damaris, married Burton Leonard Searle September 6, 1899.


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