Ferdinand Eichoff

Ferdinand Eichoff, also known as “Eikhoff”, was born 1830 in Prussia, possibly the son of John and Catharine.

Sometime before 1855 Ferdinand left Prussia and immigrated to the United States.

He was married to Prussian-born Ann Catharine Winterhalter (1835-1870) and they had at least four children: Joseph (b. 1855), Ann or Anna (b. 1857), Louisa (b. 1861) and Lizzie (b. 1864). His wife Ann was possibly the sister of Stephen Winterhalter who would also enlist in Company C.

By 1855 they had settled in western Michigan, and in 1859-60 Ferdinand was working as a grocer living on the west side of Front between Second and Third Streets, on the west side of the Grand River in Grand Rapids, Kent County. On July 19, 1859, Ferdinand joined the newly organized Grand Rapids Rifles (or “German Rifles”), commanded by Captain Chris. Kusterer. (The GRR would serve as the nucleus for Company C of the Third Michigan infantry.)

In 1860 Ferdinand was working as a grocer and living with his wife and two children in the Fourth Ward; also living with them was one Mary Ann Eickhoff, probably a younger sister. His father John was also living in the Fourth Ward and working as a harness-maker, probably for the blacksmith Anton Thiele. In 1860 John Eichoff, age 69, was working as a harness-maker in Grand Rapids Fourth Ward.

Ferdinand stood 5’11” with blue eyes, brown hair and a light complexion, and was 31 years old and probably living in Grand Rapids when he enlisted in the Band on June 10, 1861. He was discharged for a “broken down constitution” on July 17, 1862, at Harrison’s Landing, Virginia.

After his discharge from the army Ferdinand returned to Grand Rapids and from 1865-68 he was employed in harness-making (possibly with his father), and living at 25 First Street (on the south side) between Broadway and Turner Streets on the west side of the Grand River. By 1868-69 Ferdinand was working as a harness-maker for Willibald Voss & Co., at 123 Canal Street, and living on the northwest corner of Turner and Elizabeth Streets, west side. He was working as a harness-maker and living with his four children (his son Joseph was working as a clerk in store) in Grand Rapids’ Fourth Ward in 1870. He continued to work for Voss until his death in 1878.

He and his wife were both members of St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Grand Rapids.

Ferdinand remarried German native Catharine Koenig (b. 1840) on May 2, 1871, in Grand Rapids, and they had at least three children: Mary Catharine (b. 1875), Mary Matilda (b. 1877) and Ferdinand Stephen (b. 1879).

Ferdinand died of heart disease on Friday, July 5, 1878 at his home at 19 Broadway in Grand Rapids. According to one report, on July 4, Eichoff worked a short time in the morning, which “was passed very pleasantly by him.” When he woke up on the morning of July 5, “feeling as though a glass of lemonade would taste good he went a short distance after it and returning to his house complained of not feeling well, and in a few minutes and almost unknown to those around he was a corpse.”

Ferdinand “was an old and much respected German resident and his sudden ‘taking off’ will be deeply mourned by his distressed family and a large circle of friends and acquaintances.”

The funeral service was held at his home at 8:00 p.m. on Saturday, July 6 and he was buried by local undertaker William Koch (who had served in the Third Michigan during the war) in Mt. Calvary cemetery: section 5 lot no. 8. (The death certificate erroneously lists St. Andrews cemetery as his place of interment.)

His widow Catharine applied for and received a pension (no. 361588).