Grandma Ethel Ema – A Mystery

by Elouise

Ethel Eckel Renich

Ethel Ema Eckel, Feb 1889 – Jan 1918

This elegant woman has been frozen in my mind most of my life. Hanging on the wall just like this. I don’t know when this picture was taken.

I’ve seen only two other photos of her. One was taken a year after she married Grandpa Renich, my Dad’s father. She went with Grandpa to Korea as a missionary. Here it is.

Korean Missionaries after 1 year

Ethel Eckel Renich in Korea, 1911

It was this photo, in fact, that got me more than a little interested in knowing more about her. The contrast between before and after is stark.

The other was taken of her in a TB sanatorium, surrounded by others visiting her, I assume, on her death-bed. A formal, somber photo. If I find it, I’ll post it, too.

When I was growing up, I rarely heard about Grandma Ethel—except that she died of TB. The year she died, Dad was 4 1/2 years old. He didn’t remember much about her.

Ethel Ema Eckel married my grandfather in May 1910. She died in January 1918, only 28 years old. She’d given birth to five children; my father was the third-born.

I love mystery stories. Grandma Ethel’s life is a mystery. I have hunches and ideas, but not much data, and precious few stories about her.

During the last few weeks I’ve begun poring through old family records, looking for anything that might help me find a link from her to my father and to me. I know of two: My grandfather, and TB. Perhaps there are more? I’m certain there are.

Why is it so important? Without it, my story has gaping holes. I can speculate, but I’d really like more to go on than a beautiful portrait and a few bleak photos.

I also care about women’s history. We’re far more than sometimes sparse records seem to indicate. I’m not on a major research project here. Just a woman wanting to know more about her ancestress.

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 28 July 2015
Family Photos from formal portrait and photo album