I am sure that everyone is getting bored with Herman’s letters, so I thought I would change things up again. The Hamm Family letters, that I had professionally transcribed and translated, about 15-20 years ago, are a good choice. These letters were shared with the family many years ago, but I feel they deserve a re-visit.
These letters are correspondence to George and Amelia Hamm who lived in Medford, Wisconsin. They are from: siblings of George’s who lived in Germany, a friend of his from the old stomping grounds, and his Godfather, both of the latter from Schwabsburg, Germany.
Schwabsburg, 21 January, 1893
I have owed you a letter for a long time. But I wanted to wait until our new church was dedicated. The enclosed sheet shows you our church [this sheet was lost]. The tower is in the exact spot where our spray house [?] used to stand. The other little tower is precisely at the corner of our old church. The gable and entry are directly facing your father’s house.
I have several other news items to tell you about. The mason Franz Horn died on January 4, 1895. He was the first person to be buried in the new cemetery. He was also the first one for whom the new bell was tolled, the first one buried by the new pastor, and the first one to have his funeral held in the new church.
Your brothers and sisters are all still well and happy. Especially your sister Mari and her husband are doing very well. I would consider it a pleasure if you would come to see us some time soon. It is now wintertime. We’ve slaughtered our pigs and the cellar is full of wine. If you were at our house, you could enjoy yourself and it would be a pleasure for us as well.
Kaspar Franke Andreas and I are pals. He is present even as I write and sends you his best regards. His wife also died five years ago. My father died on the first day of Pentecost. He was 87 years old.
You promised to send me a picture of your family, and I’m going to hold you to your word.
I’ll close now. Our warm regards to you and your entire family.
NOTE: Peter is an old friend of George’s. By 1893 George had been in America for 20 years, having arrived in 1873.He never went back to Germany, and no one else in his family emigrated to America. He had 11 brothers and sisters.
I recently found this letter that my mother transcribe years ago. I believe that the original is in the possession of one of our cousins, but don’t bet me on that. James, one of my great Uncles, is writing to a brother, (whom is not named), less than a year after the American Civil War ended. The letter also has him using the language of the time in reference to African Americans. I have left the gist of the word where it is found, because I am not going to ‘rewrite’ his words, but I will not spell them out.
I have included my own commentary, and snarky comments because I was in a mood.
Austin Texas Feb 21 1866
Our Texas State Convention met here on the 7th inst. I am a delegate from the counties of Burleson and Robertson. I have been absent at home a week and have just returned. Nancy came very near dying and sent after me but her symptoms change for the better before I got home. I staid[sp] a week and left her improving. The balance of my family and ____ are all well at our _____ _____. Our convention has as yet done but little except the Introduction of Resolutions which have generally been refered[sp] to the appropriate Standing Committees on the different functions of our State Constitution most of which will respond in a day or two. A great majority of our delegates are in favor of giving up all issues which have been decided by the late disastrous war and standing on the reconstruction policy of Andy Johnson as our last and only hope.
The poor n**** is in a worse fix than he was before the war, but that is a matter, not for us now to grieve over [he is grieving that he can no longer legally own slaves], but I hope the extremists [those who were against slavery, and didn’t like traitors who attack their fellow citizens] of both sections who are responsible for his nominal freedom will have his future comforts and happiness attended to. [James was not a big fan of people of color and their rights as human beings, see Slave Schedule below. In this letter he almost appears to show compassion for their plight after the war, he must have been drinking, or out late and was tired when he wrote this.]
There is now a great opening for industrious white men here who can be depended on to labor as but few people here have any confidence in free n***** labor. [You mean you miss slavery? Yeah great Uncle, you and your ilk started a ‘disastrous’ war over slavery. Remember? And now it’s over. You lost. No more slavery.]
Travis & Trump [really hated typing that word!] have hired 8 or 10 at from five to eight dollars per month and are going to try to make considerable cotton, as well as, corn on my place this year. How they will succeed under the new system of n**** labor time alone can determine. [Yeah, that must really suck that you have to pay your laborers now and they have rights.]
So far they are doing admirable, but I fear when hot weather sets in the n**** will fag [tire]. [No shit Uncle, no one likes working long hours in the hot effin’ sun. Not even industrious white men.]
Our Convention is a compound of different elements, Secessionists, Unionists, Confederate and Federal Generals in the late war. I think however they will harmonize as well as could be expected under the current circumstance.
I am boarding at my brother-in-law’s at 6 Raymond they are all well. Write me a long letter and direct to my usual place Texington, Burleson Co[unty] as I expect we will adjourn in two or three weeks. Your note on my letter to John telling him that “if he had looked ahead of him on Sunday or behind him on Monday evening he might have seen his brother George in the 5th Ohio Cavalry” plagues him considerably. He say he’ll be damned if he _____on Monday evening.
Give my best love to all especially to my good old mother. [His mother is Nancy Morin Shaw, wife of John Shaw.]
Old Uncle Jeminy Shaw [possibly James Joseph Shaw] is still living and as wicked as ever. He was very much opposed to the late war and says that the _____ _____ or their descendants of the Old Revolution brought it on.
Yours affection James Shaw
As promised here are the US Federal Slave Schedule entries for James.
James in the 1850 Slave Schedule for Texas. Here he owns 11 slaves. The information has been water damaged, so I can’t read the details, just his name.
Here he is in the 1860 Texas Slave Schedule. He owns 4 slaves: 2 males 1-36 years old and 1-12 years old 2 females 1-36 years old and 1-25 years old (she is Mulatto) 1 slave house.
James was a Confederate sympathizer, and one of his sons died as a Confederate soldier during the war. To be honest I am not a fan of James. I believe in none of the thing that he did, and do not respect his decision to back the Confederate traitors’ cause.
I guess that this makes the point that folks in the same family can have totally different beliefs from each other. No one in my Shaw family ever owned slaves. Of course, it doesn’t mean that they weren’t racists, but at least they didn’t own people.
First a note to say that I have been a lot busier now that I am back at work everyday. I didn’t realize how busy I would be. In fact, after being gone for 5 1/2 months (officially my last day at work was March 16), it took me until the end of last week to finally get everything all caught up. That was a crazy 4 weeks that left me with no energy for blogging. But, things have calmed down and I am all caught up, so I should be able to focus more on some genealogy. Back to the family letters.
Worthington Ohio Oct. 5, 1961
Dear Dick and Dad:-
We received your card today and was glad to hear you had a safe trip home. As I read your card I couldn’t help but think how happy you must have been when your friends started coming in the minute they knew you were home. It makes Ruth and I very happy to know that they care and we are very grateful to them for adopting you. I feel they are doing something for us that we can not do for ourselves, you being there and us being here. We know you are in good hands.
I just got back from Grand Chapter R.A.M. held in Toledo, Al Maddox, Bill Henry and myself left yesterday morning (Wed) at 4AM and arrived back
[page 2] home 6:10PM this evening. I thought the meetings were very interesting and I learned a lot about R.A.M. I’m sorry I’ve never taken the time to attend one of their meetings before because I believe any pearson going through the line should get this inspiration early n the line. It would help so much to improve your knowledge and prepare for you year in the East.
I can say one thing with all due respect to the men, I think they could take a page out of the Eastern Star Book as far a knowing and being able to conduct a grand Chapter session, it doesn’t have the beauty and dignity that is associated with an Eastern Star meeting.
Ruth is attending her “Rebecka” meeting tonight, their inspection and I believe election of officers.
[page 3] The weather here has been fair and warmer since you went home, I hope we will still have some summer weather. We had a heavy frost the next morning after you left so maybe you call it Indian Summer.
We took Lydia and Aunt Elsie to the lake with us last weekend, we had a good time and I know they did too because they acted like a couple of High School girls. I know it was good for both of them. Although we didn’t get to go fishing because of the high winds we did get to take them a nice ride in the boat late Sunday afternoon when the winds died down.
[page 4 We took them out and around Kelley’s Island. I think Ralph and Lucille are going this week end, and I expect we’ll be pulling the boat out of the water about the next week end. I sure hate to lay it up as I’ve just begin to get the “feel’ of it. Be nice if we could just load it on a trailer and haul it down to your place. Well I’ve run off at the head enough for tonight, be well close for now.
We were surprised to hear you guys were leaving Cummins Lake so soon. It just doesn’t seem like the summer has passed. In fact we’ve had very little summer weather, not over 2 weeks of real summer weather all season. I don’t imagine yours has been any better. We had a nice week end at the lake over Labor Day the first in over a month. Ralph and Lucile were up with us, we had a real good time. Caught 20 perch Sunday and 30 Monday. They didn’t go any place for vacation, on account of her father being in Hospital so long. He is doing real good now but still has another operation to face in the very near future.
[page 2] Lucile started to work at the School, helping in the Cafeteria. she applied for the job about 5 years ago and just now got the job. She gets $125.00 per month for five days 8AM till 2P.M. its much better than working at Shadwicks General Store, gives her week ends at home, etc.
We haven’t called Burch about going down to Parkersburg with you as yet, but we will call him in the next day or two & know he will be glad to go along as he has been talking about going all summer.
We had a card from Lydia last week, says she is getting along. O.K. and would like to see us. Said she had only heard from you once this summer.
[page 3] I’ll bet she’ll be glad to go along too. Charlie Hoff and June were over one night last week and we talked about Canada and what a good time we all had. Charles came to work today and told me he and June were going to go up to Jacks for a week but when I told him you were leaving Sept. 13th. I think he changed his mind. Ruth says to tell you we are being entertained by the dog next door barking and Jean across the street going through one of her tantrums if you know what I mean.
[page 4] You guys should go into the building business if you got that “Guest House” finished already did you have some help?
How would you like to bring us a couple of qt. bottles of that good “Maple Leaf Maple Syrup” I sure would appreciate it if you could. We’ll pay you for it when you get here.
I also think you better let me take your car down to the shop and have the power glide trans. overhauld before you head for home. Well Im about out of new so will close for now See you soon H.O. & Ruth
Well, today I am finally back at work after a summer long furlough. I have to admit the vacation was great. The reason not so much. But I accomplished two major projects I had in mind to get done while I had the time. The first was a photo project of clearing out all the digital images I had in my photos apps of documents from my trips to Salt Lake City. Renaming them, deleting, etc. They went all the way back to 2014 up to 2018. Yay! All done
The second was my beaded loom purse. And after 18 years on the loom-done! Already have the beads for my next project all lined up. Can’t wait to start.
Almyra (Myra) Brooks was born the 9th of June in 18491. Her family was most likely living in Albany, New York at the time, although we do not know that for sure as they do not show up in directories, or the census, in 1850. But they are listed in the directory in 1849 and 1852, at 162 and 152 Patroon St. respectively. She was the 6th child and the fourth girl born to her parents, so she was pretty much one of several middle children. Her mother’s ancestry is pretty much a mystery, as we know only the names of her mother’s parents, and that they were both born in New York, that is it. Her father’s ancestry is a lot of Dutch, with some English thrown in, on both his father’s and mother’s side.
Now, while Myra might have been born in Albany, she did most of her growing up in Burlington, Chittenden County, Vermont. Which is where her parents moved sometime about 1854-’55, when the family last appeared in directory in Albany. She was about 7 years old.
Her father supported the family as a cigar manufacturer / tobacconist in Albany, and when they moved to Burlington, Vermont he continued at this occupation. I wonder if the children learned how to roll cigars to help out with the business. It is unclear if they had a shop in the bottom of the house and sold wares there, or if he just manufactured the cigars and then sold them to local grocers, cigar shops, or dry goods stores.
The image just below is the earliest image found for the property, (taken in 1933 when they were fixing the streets of Burlington). It appears from early maps that they lived earliest on the property on the right side of picture, then they moved to the left side by the 1870s or so.
Almyra probably attended school, but for how long I just don’t know. I will guess that at a minimum she went until the 8th grade. Although it is possible that she went through high school.
Almyra was another ancestress who was a city girl. In fact it appears that for at least a few generations back her family were all city folk, who ran businesses or worked in trades. Her parents had some money and were, if not well to do, then at least comfortable. They lived in a decent house and owned several properties.
After she would have been done with school Almyra most likely helped her mother around the house, and possibly even helped her father make the cigars he sold to support his family.
Then one day in about 1872 she met a man by the name of Dillon Franklin Hatch. Dillon was going places, he had a nicely established moneyed background, not rich, but well to do. He was a sober man with strong values and good work ethic. All-in-all a pretty good catch.
Shortly after their marriage Almyra’s new husband and her brother-in-law, David Walker, started their own business, the Walker & Hatch Lumber Company. A business which kept the Hatch family in silks for at least 10 years. Until the day everything went “tits up”.
This major set-back did not keep her husband down for long though, he found a job running a furniture factory in Ohio. So the family packed up their household and moved west to make a new beginning for themselves. And it was here they stayed.
D. F. Hatch and family left town last week for their new home in Cleveland, O. Mr. Hatch is to be mill superintendent of the Sturtevant Lumber Company there.
By this time, 1887, Almyra and Dillon had had three children together. However, they had lost their eldest child Harry in 1883, when he was 9, to croup, an “inflammation of the larynx and trachea in children, associated with infection and causing breathing difficulties.” There is about a 9 year gap between the birth of their first child, Harry, and the second, Florence, who had been born a few month before Harry died. It’s possible that Almyra had a few miscarriages during that time, or, they just couldn’t get pregnant. Census records confirm that she had 4 children, only 3 of whom survived to adulthood.
Details of 1900 federal census Sandusky, Erie County, Ohio: HATCH, Almira, wife, white, female, born Jun 1849, age 51, married 27 years, had 4 children, 3 living, born NY, parents born NY, can read write, speak english
page 11A [83 written], 3rd Ward; ED 42[?]; SD 12[3?]1; series T623 roll 1264 p25; 1 June; lines 45-50; 235 Deadend[?] Decker[?]; 243/258
Their last child, Charlotte, would be born in Ohio in 1888.
When they first moved to Cleveland the family lived at 101 Sibley, in downtown area (see map below).
The photograph, just above, of Almyra’s children, was taken probably at the Sibley St. property in Cleveland, and probably in the 1890s. We know the family was living at 101/74 Sibley St. using directories. However, these Cleveland directories skip 1893-1895, so we can’t confirm that they were here at that time, and they are not in the directories from 1896 to 1900. (By 1900 the family was living in Sandusky, Erie County, Ohio.) My belief that the photograph was taken in Cleveland seems to matches the Sanborn map showing the property. The large bit of land to the left, the driveway to Sibley street in front of the house, the house is off to the right, out of view of the photo. (In other words, this photo appears to be taken looking down the property to Sibley Street.) This also is a lovely historical image of downtown residential areas in Cleveland at this time. Unfortunately the property is now part of a business and parking lot by the Freeway system.
Dillon and Almyra don’t appear to have ever purchased their own home, always renting instead. They moved around town a bit, but not excessively. Except for the short time they lived in Sandusky, Ohio, they were usually found around the Cleveland area.
Almyra raised her children and kept a home for her husband. She probably entertained socially due to her husbands position as a factory manager. They had money and were financially well off.
I know pretty much nothing else about my great grandmother. She hasn’t shown up in many newspaper articles. So far.
As Dillon was a follower of temperance, I would imagine that Almyra was probably of the same inclination, her sister having been a member of temperance groups in Vermont. Maybe they celebrated with a cold glass of lemonade when prohibition was passed in 1920. She most likely was a member of several ladies organizations or charities in town. The type of activities that occupied many a middle class ladies time. As of yet I do not know what those actives might have been.
The family was musically inclined. The photo below of the piano in the parlor shows Almyra playing. Dillon participated in several local musical entertainments back in Vermont, and was part of the Glee Club before he married Almyra. He possibly continued these same activities in Ohio, and might have encouraged his children to study music. Although, I don’t believe that their daughter Charlotte continued any interest in music after she married and left home (I am sure that someone will let me know if I am wrong). Her sister Florence, however, taught piano to make money.2
Almyra did go back to Vermont for visits as seen in this 1922 article (they got her ‘of’ wrong).
LOCAL NEWS—CAMBRIDGE NEWS Mrs. Schweig, Mrs. Sinclair and Mrs. Humphrey of Underhill and Mrs. D. F. Hatch of Boston[?] were guests of Mrs. Mary Wallace and Mrs. James Watson Friday and Saturday
She was also back in Vermont for her sister Charlotte’s funeral in 1906.
No doubt there were other trips back east when needed. And there was even a trip out West to Washington State, where Dillon also bought property. Maybe they were investing in lumber. After all Dillon was part of the building trade back home in Ohio.
While I might not know much about Almyra’s life specifically, I can imagine what living in Cleveland might have been like. It was a bustling growing city, full of interesting possibilities.
For example–Almyra probably shopped downtown at the Arcade, which was built in 1888:
Cleveland made history in the year 1914 when they installed the first electric traffic lights to be put in anywhere in the world. Maybe Almyra went through these lights when she headed with family to the beach to enjoy a little relaxation.
By 1910 all the children had left the nest. Now is was just Dillon and her. Although, neither of her two eldest actually went too far, they both stayed in the Cleveland area. Charlotte, the youngest, is the one who moved farther away.
When Almyra died the 20th of June in 1927 (just over a year after Dillon’s death), the only surviving member of her family was her eldest brother John Brooks, jr. He died about three years later at 92 years of age. They had a total of 7 grandchildren to indulge while they were around, two more were born after they had both died.
Hatch-Almira Brooks, wife of the late Dillon, mother of Herbert Hatch, Mrs. Florence Hart and Mrs. Charlotte Shaw, 1632 Elberon Avenue, on Monday, June 20. Remains at Charles Melbourne & Son’s 12737 Euclid avenue, where services will be held on Wednesday, June 22, at 3 p. m.
Almira Brooks Hatch entry Id#: 0137853; database gathered by the staff of the Cleveland Public Library.
In the parlor picture above you can see a silver tea pot in the room beyond, that silver tea pot is now in my sister’s home. I love having this picture of items that have been passed down in our family, and seeing them being used by our ancestors.
Sources: 1. John Henry Brooks file, cert. no. SC955 486, pension file can no. 19689, bundle no. 20, (Washington: National Archives) ordered online so do not know what microfilm was searched. Dec 6, 2006. Pension file contained transcribed births from bible that had been given to Almira and John Brooks when they married, by John’s mother.
2. 1930 Federal Census; Census Place: East Cleveland, Cuyahoga, Ohio; Page: 10A; Enumeration District: 0585; FHL microfilm: 2341518
NOTE: In an effort to shake things up a bit some more, here is a letter written by my great grandmother to my grandmother. I have to say I am a bit surprised by the poor writing style and grammar, (I have transcribed as written – no commas, spelling errors etc.), as I thought Charlotte was better educated than that. But, maybe it was just her brother who was given the opportunity to be smartened up.
July 13, 65
Dear Lois & Evelyn –
I expect you are visiting ____ this week- & that you are all having a good time.
We’ve been pretty good — your dad complains about being short of breath & had been going to the doctor for several week. The doctor thinks hes better & so do I. But he still is short of breath and I tell him it won’t bother if he’d stop smoking- but he don’t listen The big trouble is his catarrh and that is cronic – He’s had it for years
Virginia & her family have been over at Johns for several weeks looking for a
[page 2] house. The place was sold where they are and they thot they had a place to move to but it was a service man & he was held here for 4-5 days more- so they have to look some where else.
Last Sunday we went to see Evelyn Masons new home. Cathey has been staying with her she lost her baby.
They have a real cute home & in a very nice neighborhood. Its in Colonial hills on ParkOver look Dr The back yard slopes down to a ravine
I have not heard from Mary for over three weeks. She has not written or anything I just wrote her and enclosed an envelop-hope she uses it-
[page 3] Charlotte was up over the 4th with her family & the new baby is a darling Prettier than Janice was [ouch grandma!]
Gertrude was here Sun with Laurie Wilbur Jr’s girl. They had just taken Anna May back to Walhonding Camp- Its near Loudenville in the Mohican Forest. Anna May is a counselor. Trudy said Nancy has a job at National Cash register I dont know if its temporary or not.
Im trying to write between tubs and I get off track.
Yesterday I picked shelled & froze 7 pts of peas and had enough for dinner so we have a fair garden. The corn is the worst it was so dry lots of it
[page 4] did not get up & all around the field corn is so spotted we had a good rain last Fri & ones to night or tomorrow Hope we get it the crops sure need it. John combined wheat yesterday had about 40 bn to the acre-
Aunt Vie is pretty good. Mil had her in there 2 weeks ago. Got Sun & Norm brot her back Tues morning-she goes up to the corner everyday its nice & had me hunting all over Mt Vernon to get an eye shade for her-She can’t see well enough with glasses.
John & Pat went to New Mexico 2 weeks ago & just came back Sat night late They drove their new Mustang & also visited Grand Canyon before coming home-
Transcriber’s notes: I was getting bored with Herman Shepard’s letters to his parents, so decided to see if I could find other letters from and to other folks. Well I actually found some 1940s letter William/Bill sent to his brother Herman that are not dated, but I know they are from the ’40s because of the paper he used, the same he was using for letters to his parents during the time.
So now for something slightly different.
Dear Herman and Ruth
Just a line because I don’t have to much time. I like it here fine. The climate is hot and sunny. We go swimming and have sports here. Its like heaven compared to an enlisted mans quarters. We have luxurious hotels and eat at Miami’s famous restaurants. I have been associating with a better class of men than the usual run of army selecties [that doesn’t sound at all snobbish] and that won’t hurt me any. I am young to be here the average age is 30. I think that I’ll go further to school after I get through here. One or more of the following 1. Aviation Meterology – Mass. College 2.. Advance Reremantical[?] Eng. – Dayton O. <–have no idea what this class might be 3. Communications – Fort Monmouth 4. Flight Training – Randlolph Field possibly meteorology and flight training
[page 2] We have just finished our first weeks work and my average is 95. You have to stay on the beam here because 85 is failing, and 20% fail out of here. We have to change uniforms once and most the time twice a day. Enough about me.
How is everything in Westerville? I wish I were back for an hour. Id look over the town, get Lois & K. W. and beat it back to Florida. What a state. Ill never live in Ohio again after seeing the South east coast. Write me the news. So long for now.
I like how he says ‘enough about me’, asks Herman how everything is, and then proceeds to talk about himself again! LOL
My recent genealogy research has consisted of me reviewing specific ancestors and confirming the accuracy of the ‘facts’ that others have provided regarding their location, vitals and other bits of data.
In this case I have been going over the story of James Shaw, my Irish immigrant ancestor who came here at the age of 15 and was bound out to a family in York County, Pennsylvania. That’s the story anyway.
Using tax, land, and court records I have been able to verify the information regarding his moves throughout his life. However, there are a few bits of history that have not been proven or sourced. How do we know he was here at the age of 15? Where is the ship passengers’ list? There is no record of him in the indentured records, so how do we know he was bound out? If he was an indentured servant he would have been contracted for 4-7 years. That was the gold standard. If he was 18 when he joined the revolutionary war then he was an indentured servant when he was 14 in order for him to have served 4 years. Was he Irish? Or was he Scots-Irish? Where are the sources?
Did he come alone as a young boy? Or did he have a brother or two who were also here?
Now that last one is kind of a trick question. You see, I found a very interesting court record when I was going through the York County Archives on line. This record is about a Daniel Shaw who impregnated Rebecca Jolly, and was in court being fined and convicted for the crime of bastardy in 1780 (or ’81 the record has both dates).
Why this document is especially interesting is that my great grandfather James Shaw married my great grandmother Ann Jolly in 1778 in York County. Are these people related to each other? Is Rebecca a sister to Ann? Is Daniel a brother to James? They are all in the same county at the same time and have the same surnames. A very interesting coincidence.
Here’s another interesting bit of information to ponder–names that show up as volunteers in York County’s 6th battalion, 7th company: James Jolly, Archibald Shaw, Daniel Shaw, James Shaw (my James). Are they related? They are the only Shaw and Jolly surnames to appear in the whole of York County company lists.
Unfortunately, I do not actually have the answer to these questions, they are still a work in progress. And I might never have the answers, but it sure is an interesting puzzle. Fingers crossed!
We have a cousin on the John side of the family that has been searching for years for evidence of the death of his great grandfather Jacob Wilhelm (aka Williams). To this date he hasn’t found one. Unfortunately this post will not be able answer that question.
When this cousin and I met years ago he shared with me letters that Frederick William John was sending to Lorig/Lorek, and an unknown William, all in regards to his grandson Alfred’s adoption by the Lorig family. You see, his eldest daughter Clara had died, and she had three boys, ranging in age from 11 to a couple of months old, who were now orphans. He was trying to find them homes. Clara had divorced her first husband, and her second husband had disappeared.
Oconto County Reporter, October 10, 1885 Wilhelm Died In this city, Sunday, October 6th, 1885, of a tumor, Mrs. Clara E. Wilhelm, in the thirty-third year of her age.
The deceased was the eldest daughter of Mr. and Mrs. F. W. John, of Gillett, in this county and was born in the city of Milwaukee, from which city she moved with her parents to this county when she was a mere child and which was her home until her marriage to him who now morns her departure from home circle in the town of Hartland, Shawano County. She had been a great sufferer from the tumor which caused her death for many months, and was brought to this city the Thursday proceeding her demise for the purpose of having the tumor removed, but sank so rapidly no operation could be performed, and death came to her relief. Her remains were taken to the home of her parents at Gillett, Monday, and the funeral services held at that place Tuesday afternoon, being largely attended by the friends of her childhood and matured years.
She was a most excellent woman, and in her death, her husband loses the help of a devoted wife, her three children the care and training of an affectionate mother, her parents the society of a dutiful daughter, and her brothers and sisters the encouragement and advice of an older sister. All have the sympathy of their neighbors and friends in their great bereavement.
Clara’s parents William and Johanna, took care of the children after Clara died and in the letter below you can see that a little over a year later they are looking for homes for at least Arthur. (Although they might have written letters to other family, or family friends, looking for homes for Chester and Truman also. If they did, we have no record of those letters.) As William and Johanna were in their early fifties at this time, it was possibly quite a stressful task taking care of these young three boys.
Gillett May 9, 1887 Friend Lorig, If this letter will reach you in good health we will be very grateful. As far as we are concerned everyone is fine. I have taken care of everything here as far as the children are concerned and what remains to be done is for you to go to the County Judge in Milwaukee and submit a petition for the child and everything will take care if itself. Legal guardian F. W. John the child’s name Alfred Wilhelm born on November 4, 1884. We do not know where the father of the children now resides. Since their mother died the children have not seen him. The mother died October 4 1885. The children are all in my care in the Town of Gillett in Oconto County. I am telling you that so you might be able to answer questions they might put to you. Greeting from all of us to all who ask how we are and write when everything is taken care of. Your friend F. W. John
Gillett June 1, 1887 Friend William, I want to let you know that we are all well here, we also feel better because we have had some rain in the last few days, it was quite dry and nothing would grow, and it did not look to well for us. Now it is better. We had a great forest fire and thousand of acres burned up. I also want to know if P. Lorek received my letter and if he saw the County Judge to give him the application I would like the little poor one get a good place, because at Alfred’s are two kinds of children and you must know how that goes. In the hope that this letter will reach you in good health I remain your good friend F. W. John and Johnna John.
Greetings to all and please answer soon.
Gillett June 7, 1887 Friend Lorek [ing?] Received your letter today and saw that you all are happy and well which makes us very glad, we also are thank God well and the food tastes good to us. Dear friend, the petitions is nothing else but a declaration that you consider the child your own (adopt it?) and that it is recognized by the court as your own and later can demand inheritance rights. I know the child is in good hands at your house, because my wife told me about you and William Donsing I know myself and trust in his children. If you want the child you can get it for some time. All you have to do is decide if you want to get it or if we should bring it. If you want to come we would be delighted. Write as soon as possible and let me know if you are coming or if I should bring the child. Greetings and we remain your friends. F.W. John [P.S.] If I come we will write the letter there and if not we will do it here.
Gillett December 19, 1887 Friend Lorig, I should have written a long time ago but I put it off. When Mrs. Gale came from Milwaukee she told us that you wanted to come for a visit and so I didn’t write, because we really thought that you would come Thanksgiving. But we waited in vain. We are happy to hear that mother father and son are well and we wish you much happiness and health for the future. I believe that you will get a visit from here at Christmas. Your friend F.W. John
Gillett March 21, 1888 Friend Lorig, We received your letter from March 9th and see that you are all well. We were happy to hear from you. As far as we are concerned we are all well and have a good appetite. We had a hard winter, three feet of snow still on the ground and the people are still in the bush. Alfred is still there also and Wille who has my team. As far as the instrument for the potato bags I cannot tell you anything, the man who had it moved to Iowa we were happy about the pictures and I hope that the little [one] remains well and gives you joy. I heard last week that his father froze to death last winter in Dakota. Everything is fine here otherwise and greet our friends from us. I remain your friend F. W. J.
As indicated in the last letter the Wilhelm boys’ father died in a blizzard in the Dakotas after having disappeared on them, I can only imagine the horrible feeling of knowing your father had abandoned you after having lost your mother.
Truman had been put in guardianship to his John grandparents in 1880:
His father had died in 1878 and his mother was married to her second husband at the time, maybe his stepfather didn’t want him around? I think that the eldest William boy, Chester, was adopted by William relatives. Truman Howell and Chester William both moved to Washington state, eventually marrying and having children. Arthur (Wilhelm) Lorig was adopted and raised by the Lorig family, and stayed in Wisconsin, and it is this man whom my John cousin descends from.
A big thank you to my cousin for sharing these letters with our family. Not only are they written in beautiful handwriting, but they show a tragic story in real time as grandparents try to find good homes for their grandchildren, after losing their own child to cancer.
Now I want to see the letters William was writing home to Johanna while he was off fighting in the civil war. I am sure someone in the family has them. They are no doubt sitting in a closet getting musty. Come on folks, share!