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Father Sylvester O.S.B. Eisenman  

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Collection Summary

Title Father Sylvester O.S.B. Eisenman
Span Dates 1916-1962
Bulk Dates (bulk dates, 1920-1948)
Quantity .75 linear ft.
Printed Material Printed Materials are located in Box 2.
Location     Archives and Special Collections, University Libraries, University of South Dakota.
Summary

Fr. Sylvester Eisenman was born Norbert Eisenman to Edward Landelin Eisenman and Elizabeth Mary Hulsman on January 10, 1891 in New Albany, Indiana.  Eisenman had five brothers, two who also became priests and one who died in infancy.  In May of 1895, Edward Eisenman went Montana to work for the Kentucky-Montana Mining Company.  He was killed in a freak accident in July of 1895. 

Norbert Eisenman had a great desire to become a Jesuit and in 1906 he attended St. Meinrad College.  On Aug. 15, 1911 he took vows and received the name Sylvester.  He was ordained as a priest on May 25, 1916 at St. Meinrad Abbey, Indiana.  Eisenman became a member of the Order of Saint Benedict.

Eisenman had contracted tuberculosis and his superiors felt that if he was sent as a missionary to North Dakota he could recover.  He was sent to the Seven Dollors Mission at Forth Totten, ND in 1916.  In the fall of 1918, he was transferred to Stephen, South Dakota and he spent the majority of his time on the road traveling to ten different missions.  This constant travel earned him the name of Ti-kdi-sni or Never at Home.  In 1921, three chiefs, Yellow Bird, Thunder Horse and Dave Zephier, personally petitioned Eisenman’s abbot to have him permanently assigned to St. Paul’s Mission in Marty, South Dakota.  The petition was successful and Eisenman began his lifelong career at St. Paul’s.

In 1920 Eisenman tried to establish a day school at Marty but it was unsuccessful.  He realized that a boarding school would be a better option and in 1922 he opened the school with the help of from Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament in Philadelphia.  For the next twenty years, Eisenman worked tirelessly for the Mission and the school by expanding the campus and raising funds.  The publication The Little Bronzed Angel was created to help solicit funds for the school and inform the donors of the mission’s activities.  Eisenman received much assistance and support from Mother Katherine Drexel.  With her help, Eisenman founded the Oblate Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament, which began on October 6, 1935 with the admittance of its first postulants.  The Order is located at St. Sylvester Convent in Marty, SD.

Eisenman died on September 14, 1948.  The Marty Indian School is still in operation under the direction of the Yankton Sioux Tribe.

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