EDWARD F. ERNST

Source: Album of Genealogy and Biography, Cook County, Illinois with Portraits 3rd ed. revised and extended (Chicago: Calumet Book & Engraving Co., 1895), pp. 44-45

EDWARD FREDERICK ERNST, who resides at Wilmette, is one of the characteristic German-American citizens who form an important factor in promoting the commercial interests of Chicago.  He was born at Frankfort-on-the-Main, Germany, October 2, 1848.  His parents, Julius Ernst and Sophia Hartman, lived and died in that city.  Julius Ernst succeeded his father as a wholesale importer of sugar and coffee, and was engaged in mercantile pursuits throughout his life.  John Hartman, the father of Mrs. Sophia Ernst, was a prominent attorney, and for many years served as Secretary of the city of Frankfort.  Besides Edward F., Mr. and Mrs. Ernst had one child, a daughter named Helena, who is now the wife of Hon. Edgar Stanton, of Chicago.

Edward F. Ernst spent his early years in attendance at the public schools of his native city, and afterwards took a four-years course of study in a gymnasium at Oberstein, graduating at the age of fifteen years.  He began his business career in his father’s establishment, but was afterward employed by an uncle, who carried on an extensive shipping business at Rouen, France.  Still later he was connected with a mercantile establishment at Antwerp.

When the Franco-Prussian War broke out, he volunteered in support of the German Emperor, and served throughout the conflict, participating in many of the bloodiest engagements, including Weisenburg, Sedan, and the siege of Paris.  He escaped with no serious injury, and upon the close of hostilities was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant.  He retained this position for only about four weeks, during which time he was stationed in the fortress of Maintz.  He then resigned and went to Bristol, England, where his brother-in-law, Mr. Stanton, then held the position of United States Consul, and from there came to the United States, in the fall of 1871.   After spending six months at Cincinnati, he went to New York City and obtained employment with a large dry-goods importing house, where he remained six years.  At the end of that period he came to Chicago, and has since been connected with the immense wholesale house of Marshall Field & Company, holding a responsible position in the notion department.   He is energetic and progressive, and gives almost his entire time and attention to his business affairs, holding himself aloof from social and political allurements which might be likely to interfere therewith.

Mr. Ernst was married, in 1885, to Miss Bertha Cranch, daughter of Edward P. and Bertha (Wood) Cranch, of Cincinnati, Ohio.,  Mrs. Ernst is descended from some of the most conspicuous families of Massachusetts.  Her great-grandfather, Richard Cranch, came from England at the age of nineteen years and settled in Massachusetts in 1747.  He married Mary Smith, a granddaughter of Col. John Quincy.  Mrs. Cranch’s sister was the wife of John Adams, the second President of the United States, who, with Josiah Quincy, Noah Webster and Samuel Adams, were contemporary with Richard Cranch at the Massachusetts Bar or in public life.  Mr. Cranch was a man of remarkable energy and perseverance, winning his way from poverty and obscurity to the position of Senator, and he also served as Postmaster at Braintree for several years.  His son, Judge William Cranch, the father of Edward P. Cranch, became one of the Justices of the United States Supreme Court, and was the author of “Cranch’s Digest,” a standard authority among attorneys.  Edward P. Cranch was born at Alexandria, then in the District of Columbia, and became one of the pioneer settlers of Cincinnati, where he was a prominent attorney for fifty years.  He died there in December, 1892, at the age of eighty-three years.  His wife was a native of Philadelphia, of English parentage.

Mr. and Mrs. Ernst are the parents of two children, named, respectively, Edward Gerald and Constance Emma.  Mrs. Ernst, who is a lady of noteworthy culture and refinement, is a member of the Chicago and Wilmette Woman’s Clubs.  The family is held in high regard in the social circles of Wilmette, where it has been established since 1889, and their pleasant home on Linden Avenue is one of the most attractive and hospitable which adorn the streets of that delightful suburb.

                                -- Submitted on 9/5/99 by Sherri Hessick ( slhessick@crosswinds.net )