1834 Rachel Brown – Cephas Ellis
1804 William A. Brown-Dorcus Summa
1771 Peter Summa – Dorcus Kindley
1748 Peter Summy, Sr. – Elizabeth Briles
1721 – Alsace France Hans Michael Summy- Barbara Merkle
1675 – Bern, Switzerland Hans Peter Summi – Maria Haldy
1641 Casper Sumi – Marie Clausr
1607 Peter Summi – Ann Gehret
1576 Casper Sumi – Margaretta Rychenback
Rachel Brown Ellis’s premonitions frequently came true. Contrary to dissenters doubting her accounts of voices talking to her, she remained convinced. Many people in Pilger, Nebraska, believed her, especially on one cold night in January. The year was 1888.
Settlers traveling from Iowa into Nebraska often chose the wintertime because they chanced their wagons would make it across the frozen Missouri River. Their fall crops were in and the root vegetables from their gardens harvested. Besides, they argued, they’d be settled before spring planting. Everyone knew finding fording areas in the spring on the raging river was nearly impossible.
Cephas and Rachel Ellis had moved from Pottawattamie County, Iowa, to Pilger a few years previously and it was time their oldest son and his wife--Henry and Isola--move to join them. So far, it had been a hard, early-freeze winter. Grampa (Cephas) decided to take a team of horses and a wagon to Iowa to help them move.
Wary, as always, Rachel began worrying the moment Cephas’s wagon pulled out of the frozen-over lane. Two days went by with Rachel sleeping very little. The third day passed, then the fourth. Rachel heard nothing. Tossing and turning on the fifth night, the voices began telling of a horrible accident where three loaded wagons crossing the Missouri had broken through the ice and plunged into the icy water. Sure that the voices were talking about Cephas, she feared all was lost.
Beside herself, Rachel summoned her neighbors insisting they go to the Missouri River to bring back the bodies and whatever may have washed ashore. The neighbors tried to console her and told her to wait a few more days . . . surely Cephas, Henry and Isola would be coming. It would be unheard of if Cephas, a cautious man, had ventured onto unsafe ice.
Rachel remained insistent. She described clearly the wagons in the water and the men struggling to reach their horses. She couldn’t be sure of Cephas as she awoke abruptly not knowing if anyone survived.
On the next morning as the sun broke over the horizon, she heard a call from the lane and saw an ice-covered man pulling his horse. It was Cephas. He hadn’t made it across the Missouri River from Nebraska to Iowa, but had rescued himself on the Nebraska shore, leaving Henry and Isola stranded on the Iowa side to wait until the blizzard of 1888 passed to cross safely.
Rachel loved to tell the story, the embellishment of the details growing with each time it was told. Married at age 15, she and Cephas lived to celebrate their 61st wedding anniversary in 1910.
**Pilger, Nebraska Century Edition. 1887-1987