Brain Freeze

Clipart from,

It hits you right between the eyes, smack in the middle of your forehead. At our house we call it brain freeze. I am not referring to the inability to think clearly or about having a senior moment. I am talking about the dreaded ice cream headache.

This malady even has a scientific name, sphenopalatine ganglioneuralgia, or nerve pain of the sphenopalatine ganglion. Studies have been done on brain freeze and the condition has even been the subject of research articles published in the British Medical Journal and Scientific American.

According to Wikipedia, brain freeze is a brief headache associated with the consumption—most often the quick consumption—of very cold beverages or foods such as ice cream or ice pops. There are several theories as to the cause of brain freeze. There is the anterior cerebral artery theory, the nerve response theory, and the sinus capillary theory.

It doesn’t matter which theory you subscribe to, it still hurts! Brain freeze usually lasts about 20 seconds and sometimes as long as a minute. It lasts long enough to keep you from eating ice cream for a few moments.

I think some people are more susceptible to brain freeze than others. Joe rarely gets brain freeze. I usually get it when I eat ice cream. So did my dad. I suppose it has a lot to do with the speed at which the ice cream is consumed. Guilty!

Ice cream was my dad’s favorite dessert. It didn’t matter what flavor ice cream was in the freezer, he would put a scoop on the side of any piece of pie or cake. Many times I saw him eating vanilla-chocolate swirl ice cream on blueberry pie. The flavor didn’t matter as long as it was ice cream.

My dad once told me that he got his love of ice cream when he was serving in the Army during WWII. He volunteered for the draft when he was only 18 years old, not old enough to drink beer. Instead he ate ice cream. He had a real fondness for ice cream after that.

I have come up with a several unconventional toppings to enhance my ice cream eating experience.  Dry Cocoa Puffs cereal folded into soft vanilla ice cream is delicious. Another is to spread peanut butter over vanilla ice cream and top that with orange marmalade. My dad often poured chocolate syrup over that. This was our personal favorite snack. Instant coffee granules sprinkled on and mixed with vanilla or chocolate ice cream is quite tasty. My favorite ice cream treat this hot summer is a chocolate ice cream sundae with marshmallow topping. The Tastee Treat at Rockford makes the best!

Free image courtesy of,

We had an electric ice cream maker at home when I was young, although we didn’t use it often. I know I was an impatient child but it seemed to take forever to make ice cream. It must have taken an eternity to hand crank ice cream in the pre-electric days.

There was also quite a bit of preparation on my mom’s part. There was a recipe to follow and special ingredients to purchase. Junket tablets were involved, whatever they were for. I remember my parents putting lots of rock salt in with the ice as the machine churned. They experimented a little with flavors back then. We made butter pecan flavor once but vanilla was always the best. The ice cream right out of that freezer was very cold and was my first experience of brain freeze.

A neighbor or ours had a novel method of making ice cream at car shows. He jacked up the rear end of his Austin and took one of the lug nuts off a rear wheel. Then he connected the crank of his ice cream freezer to the wheel and turned on the car motor. What a clever way to make and share ice cream.

I will probably continue to eat my ice cream too quickly and continue to get brain freeze. If you have the same problem, here are some tips to help relieve the pain of brain freeze. Press your tongue against the roof of the mouth to warm the area. Tilt your head back for about 10 seconds. Drink a liquid that is warmer than what caused the ice cream headache. Slowly breathe in warm air through your nose. Eventually the pain will subside and you can resume eating ice cream.

And that is just what we want to do.


Tombstone Tuesday–John and Anna C. Brandt

John & Anna C. Brandt, Duck Creek Cemetery, Blackcreek Township, Mercer County, Ohio.

This is the tombstone of John and Anna C. Brandt, located in row 8 of Duck Creek Cemetery, Blackcreek Township, Mercer County, Ohio. The marker is inscribed [south side]: John Brandt Died Mar. 12, 1868, Aged  57 ys, 9 mo, 13 ds. [north side]: Anna C., Wife of John Brandt Died Apr. 22, 1878, Aged 66 ys, 3mo, 10 ds.

Anna’s death is recorded in records of Zion Lutheran, Chattanooga, but John’s death is not.

According to the Familienbuch portion of the records of Zion, Johannes Brandt was born to [father’s name not entered] and Maria Brandt on 19 May 1810 in Dietzhausen by Suhl, District Schleusingen, Kingdom of Prussia, Europe. He was baptized and confirmed there. When he was 22 years old he married Anna Catharina Geisenhoner, the daughter of Matthaus and Sophia Geisenhoner.  She was born 12 January 1812 in Schmeheim, County Court Roenfeld, Dukedom Meiningen. She was baptized and confirmed there. The couple traveled to North America in 1855 and settled down in Blackcreek Township, Mercer County, Ohio.

John and Anna Brandt had the following children:

Johann Casper, born 26 August 1833 in Dietzhausen (the birthplace of his father), where he was baptized and confirmed.

Maria Catharina, born 5 March 1836 in Dietzhausen, where she was baptized and confirmed.

Ludwig, born 30 November 1839 in Dietzhausen, where he was baptized and confirmed.

Maria Louisa, born 10 April 1843 in Dietzhausen, where she was baptized. She was confirmed in St. Marys, Auglaize County, Ohio, by J. Bundenthal, the Evangelical Lutheral pastor.

John and Anna’s daughter Maria Catherina married Wilhelm August. Son Ludwig Brandt married Margaretha Haffner on 10 June 1866 at Zion. Ludwig & Margaretha’s son Romeo Brandt was featured in last week’s Tombstone Tuesday. Daughter Louisa Brandt married William Wirwille on 30 November 1865 at Zion.

John Brandt (1810-1868). South side of marker.

Anna C. Brandt (1812-1878). North side of marker.


Theodore C. Ellis, Son of Albert G. & Eliza (Breuninger) Ellis

Sadly, one of the all too common realities of family life in the 19th century was dealing with the illness and impending death of a family member. Too often that family member was a child or sibling.

The letter that follows gives us a glimpse of the feelings of the family at such a time–the worry, the sadness, and the hope and faith that sustained them through their time of sorrow.

This letter is from The Breuninger Collection and was written by Lora Ellis, a daughter of Albert G. and Eliza (Breuninger) Ellis, to her aunt Charlotte Kitchen, her mother’s sister. The letter gives the condition of Lora’s brother Theodore and tells of his final days. Theodore passed away five days after the letter was written.

Stevens Point, Wisconsin
January 18th 1871

My Dear Aunt Charlotte,

You will undoubtedly be very much grieved to learn that Theodore is no better. I would have told you sooner the true state of his illness, had I not been looking for a change for the better. I have always been very much pained about writing to you or anyone else about him, dreading to be obliged to think of him in so alarming a condition. I had been thinking his health better and improving until yesterday and last night. He did not leave his bed at all yesterday and today he is worse. He was in the parlor this morning, but now he is in bed again. 

Mother told me to write and tell you about him. She says she does not think he will live many days longer. He is so weak and his breath is so very short, but none “God” his “maker” can tell and He willing Theodore will get better. There is a time set for us all, we cannot tell when we will be summoned to go. I think Theodore has suffered a great deal in his sickness. We are all very much afflicted[?], but I think father and mother are more than the rest. 

Theodore is a true believer in his redeemer.  A week ago last Sunday he received the Lord’s supper and often since he has asked father if he would let him have a class in Sunday School. Yesterday, when mother was lifting him and he saw the tears which she could not keep back, he said, “Mother why do you cry? Why don’t you let me die?” He does not desire life in this world any longer, only to help his dear old father, mother and take care of us girls, he says. 

We must all folly and we hope through our blessed savior “Jesus Christ” to meet again in the better world where there is no pain, no sin, no trouble and no parting. [???]  realize his sickness and the way his form has changed and that my playmate and only brother will not be with us long, but the will of God is mysterious and just. He knows best. Perhaps it is not best for Theodore to stay any longer. God only knows what is best for us.

Truly it is said, “Man proposes and God disposes. But be of good cheer fiends! We must do the will of God and do the work he has intended us to do and he will give us rest. We shall meet again when all our trials are ended, our work faithfully performed.” Then will he say “Well done thou good and faithful servant. Enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.”

We are all as well as can be expected in our circumstances. Father and Mother are not so well. Write soon and I hope you are all well by this time.

Love to all from your affectionate niece
Lora R. Ellis
(Original letter in possession of blog author, part of The Breuninger Collection.)

Theodore’s obituary is on Rootsweb, (unnamed newspaper, accessed 27 Jun 2012):

Theodore Conkey Ellis
Died, in this city, on Monday the 23d inst., Theodore Conkey, son of A. G. & E. C. J. Ellis, aged 21 years.—He bore a lingering and painful disease with christian fortitude, and may truly be said to have “fallen asleep in Jesus.” His funeral will be attended from the Episcopal Church, on Wednesday morning at 10 1-2 o’clock.

[31 Jan] Died, in this city, Jan’y 23d, 1871, of consumption, Theodore C. Ellis, aged 21 years, son of Gen’l A. G. Ellis

The deceased was a member of one of the oldest and most respected families in our city. He was an estimable and accomplished young man and a Christian gentleman. A long and painful illness he bore with Christian resignation and fortitude; and when death came it found him prepared. His premature death has made a void in the family circle that can never be filled, and has taken from the community a valuable and honored member. His demise created a profound sensation in our midst—for Theodore was universally esteemed and loved. His modesty and dignity of demeanor, his kindness of heart and faithfulness won all with whom he had intercourse. “None knew him but to love him.” Possessed of talents of a high order, and a liberal education, a bright future was before him and a noble success within his grasp. Although but a youth, his musical performances and compositions were excellent; and had he been spared would have won high encomiums on account of his fine abilities in that direction. Positions of honor and trust he had most acceptably filled in our midst. In social and in business life he was ever obliging and deferential and the true gentleman. His genial presence will be long and painfully missed by those who knew him. Had he been spared his would have been a life of much greater usefulness and honor. The remembrance of Theodore will ever be freshest in the hearts of those who knew him most.

The burial services were had on Wednesday morning last at the Church of the Intercession (Episcopal) of which the deceased was a member. A very large concourse were in attendance.—The funeral sermon was preached on Sunday evening, by Rev. Mr. Davenport, Pastor of the deceased, from the text “For to me to live is Christ, to die is gain.” No services were had in the evening in the several other churches in the city, the members thereof all attending at the Church of the Intercession to testify their high regard for the deceased and for the family.

A photograph of Theodore’s tombstone is on Find A

The History of Northern Wisconsin has a short biography about Theodore: THEODORE C. ELLIS, son of Gen. A.G. Ellis. Was a promising and genial young man who had been well educated and had a special talent for music. He died Jan. 23, 1871, aged twenty-one years. (source: [Anonymous], History of Northern Wisconsin (Chicago: Western Historical Co., 1881) 748. On-line digital book, Heritage Quest Online via Columbus Metropolitan Library,, accessed 27 June 2012.)



Tombstone Tuesday–Romeo Brandt

Romeo Brandt, Zion Lutheran Cemetery, Chattanooga, Mercer County, Ohio.

This is the tombstone of Heinrich Romeo Brandt, located in row 3 of Zion Lutheran Cemetery, Chattanooga, Mercer County, Ohio. The marker is inscribed ROMEO, Son of L. & M. Brant, Born Apr 10, 1876, Died Mar. 31, 1894, Aged 17 y. 11 m. 21 d. His tombstone is next to that of his parents.

According to the church records of Zion Lutheran, Chattanooga, Heinrich Romeo Brandt was born in Mercer County on 10 April 1876, the son of Ludwig and Margaretha (Haffner) Brandt. He was baptized by Rev. Hugo Willert on 25 June 1876 with Georg Haffner and Carolina Haffner as sponsors. He was the 5th child of Ludwig and Margaretha.

Romeo’s mother passed away in 1889. He was confirmed the next year, on Palm Sunday, 30 March 1890, by Rev. Christian Reichert. He went by the name of “Romey” at that time.

Romeo died of consumption on 31 March 1894 at 3:30 in the morning at the age of 17 years, 11 months and 21 days. He was buried on 2 April in the parish cemetery, services by Rev. J. F. C. Soller. Survivors included his father, 5 brothers and 2 sisters.

His surviving siblings would have been Mathilda Henrietta, Gustav Adolph, Otto Arthur, Benjamin Franklin, Anna Maria Louisa, Samuel Clarence and Carl Rudolph Walter.

Eliza C. J. Breuninger and Albert G. Ellis

Marriage of Albert G. Ellis to Eliza C.J.L. Breuninger, 19 August 1847, Brown County, Wisconsin, Marriages, Vol. 1:22, Wisconsin Historical Society..

Eliza Breuninger, my great-great-grandaunt, was the second wife of the well-known Green Bay, Wisconsin, pioneer Albert Gallatin Ellis. She was also the sister of my great-great-grandfather, Louis Breuninger (1819-1890).

Had it not been for the letters and documents saved by my ancestor Louis Breuninger (which I refer to as “The Breuninger Collection”) I may never have discovered the Breuninger/Ellis connection.

In The Collection is Louis’ baptismal record which names his parents, Johann Martin Friedrich and Sophia Carolina (Pfaff) Breuninger, and that Louis was born in Bachlingen, Kingdom of Württemberg.

After I learned where the Breuningers lived I ordered a roll of the microfilmed church records of the Evangelische Kirche at Bachlingen from the local Family History Center. The Johann Martin Friedrich Breuninger family was entered in the Familienbuch section of their church records.

The Familienbuch, “family book”, is a section of the church records that gives the names of the family members and vital information about them. There can be a lot of good information in these records. From these records I learned who Louis’ siblings were:

Johann Martin Friedrich Breuninger married Sophie Karoline Pfaff on 3 February 1818. Five children were born to the couple when the information was written:
Carl Ludwig, born 23 November 1818
Ludwig Friedrich Peter, born 15 December 1819
Eliza Charlotte Juliana Louise, born 2 June 1821
Johann Friedrich Ernest, born 2 November 1822
Charlotte Eliza Magdalena, born 25 August 1824
(Source: Familienbuch, Evangelishce Kirche at Bachlingen, Württemberg, 1529-1938, microfilm #1340113, Family History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah.)

Eliza’s death notice is in The Breuninger Collection:

From the Wisconsin Pinery, Nov. 15th 1872.
On Sunday the 10th inst., Mrs. Eliza C. J. the wife of Gen’l Ellis, aged 51 years, at peace with God and in communion with His Church.

Retiring in her disposition, and unobtrusive in her deportment, though invariably courteous and king to all, she seemed to feel that her sphere of usefulness was especially the home circle, and there her worth was duly appreciated, and this bereavement is justly esteemed in irreparable misfortune. Her simple memorial—a devoted wife and affectionate Mother, is inscribed on the hears of those who the very last were objects of her tender solicitude and untiring care.

Eliza (Breuninger) Ellis death notice, private collection of the author.

The following letter from General Albert G. Ellis is also in The Collection:

Stevens Point
Nov. 14, 1872

Louis Breuninger Esq

My Dear Sir,
I grieve to write you such a letter as this. Two weeks ago last Tuesday, your dear sister Eliza was taken down very suddenly with violent [?], pain, & [?] dibiliy. Everything that [?] & good medical aid could do, was done, but all to no [?]. She continued to sink till last Sunday when she died. Sister Charlotte was with her the last two days. She had been unconscious for two days but on Saturday she revived so as to know us all–recognized aunt Charlotte Kitchen [????] of whom she took a most affecting [?] leave knowing that she was soon going [?] to the/be

My heart is too full to write: five [?] children are sick with whooping cough: one at least not expected to live.

You[?]  much affection
A. G. Ellis

Letter and envelope from Albert G. Ellis to Louis Breuninger, informing Louis of the death of his sister, Eliza. 1872. In private collection of author.

Albert G. Ellis married Eliza C. J. L. Breuninger on 19 August 1847 in Brown County, Wisconsin. (Brown County Marriage Record, Vol. 1:22, Wisconsin Historical Society.) This was Albert’s second marriage.

Census enumerations for Albert and Eliza’s family:

Albert G Ellis, 49, land surveyor; Eliza, 29, born in Germany; Richard RC, 18, musician; Eugene, 15; Orange R, 9; Parmelia, 2; Theodore C, 0; Candice, 76, Connecticut; Lora Braninger, 20, Germany; Alexander Lami, 52, millwright; John Mathews, 22, laborer; Aaron M Palmer, millwright. All the children were born in Wisconsin. [Source: 1850 US Census, Green Bay, Brown County, Wisconsin, p. 46B; digital image by ( :  accessed 21 June 2012); from National Archives microfilm M432_994.]

Albert G Ellis, 59, receiver US Land Office; Eliza CJ, 39, Germany; Orange R, 17; Pamala, 13; Theodore, 11; Lora, 9; Candace, 6; Verlena, 4; Charlotte, 8/12; Lora Breuninger, 29, Germany. [Source: 1860 US Census, Stevens Point, Portage County, Wisconsin, p. 353; digital image by ( : accessed 21 June 2012); Family History Library Film no. 805426, from National Archives microfilm M653_1426.]

Albert Ellis, 69, mill owner; Eliza, 49, Germany; Pamila, 22, teacher of music; Theodore, 20, teacher of music; Laura d, 18; Candas, 15; Verbena, 14; May, 12; Eliza, 10; Soprona, 6; Albertina, 2; Edwin Danahus, 17, mill hand. [Source: 1870 US Census, Stevens Point, Portage County, Wisconsin, Ward 2, p. 172B; digital image by ( : accessed 21 June 2012); Family History Library Film no. 553231, from National Archives microfilm M593_1732.]

Albert G Ellis, 79, printer, widowed; Candace, 25, music teacher; May, 20, teacher; Eliza, 18; Sophronia, 15; Albertina, 12. [Source: 1880 US Census, Stevens Point, Portage County, Wisconsin, Enumeration District 146, p. 177A; digital image by ( : accessed 21 June 2012); Family History Film no. 1255442, from National Archives microfilm Roll 1442.]

It is interesting to note that Eliza and Louis Breuninger’s father was a school teacher in Germany and that the teaching tradition was carried on in the Ellis family. There was evidently some musical talent in the family, too, since a couple of Eliza’s children were music teachers. Imagine music teachers in the mid-1800s. There is a reference to an instrument that Louis made in one of the letters. In addition, one of the Ellis daughters was an artist who painted the oil portrait of her father. I wonder which daughter painted that portrait?

And as usual, other questions arise: When did Eliza and her sister Charlotte immigrate and how did Eliza meet Albert Ellis, who was 20 years older than she? What about Eliza’s sister, Charlotte Kitchen? Who was Lora Breuninger? Another sister?

More from The Breuninger Collection in upcoming blogs.