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
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
Just a line to let you know we are among the living. The weather here has been so cold it seems like fall instead of summer, I imagine your weather has been unusually cold to. How is the guest house progressing? Or is it a “Bomb Shelter”.
Edw. Shepard was down last week for a couple to days, he seem to be O.K. says he is so busy cutting his grass that he hasn’t had time to go anywhere. He drove down in his Chev. Corvair, he bought it from a private owner and still has his Buick which he is trying to sell. He said if he gets it sold he may go up to your place, but don’t hold your breath.
[page 2] cars are hard to sell especially a big car such as a Buick. He’ll probably have to give it away. He likes his Corsair just fine. It seems like I always have to mess him up some how or another when he is here. Last time Ruth had to go away and left “Strogenoff” for me to serve. Well I served it all right but I forgot the rice. I thought it tasted funny but didn’t know what was wrong and Edw. didn’t know any better than I did, so we just ate it as it.
Well this time I took it upon myself to turn his bed down and remove the spred. I didn’t know Ruth had taken the pillow cases off to wash and she didn’t check me so Edw. slept on those
[page 3] plastic pillow cases. Next morning Ruth noticed what had happened and just about flipped her lid. Edw. said he thought she must have had a lot of starch in her pillow cases. Ruth ask him if they didn’t smell funny and Edw. said yes they did but he thought it was some kind of soap that she was using. We all got a big laugh out of it.
While Edw. was here we all went over to Johnie Gates for a grilled steak cook out. Had a good meal and afterward I showed 2 color movie films that I borrowed from
[page 4] the Cols. Library, one was “Waterway Holiday” and the other was “Hawaii The Nw 50th Sate”. I borrowed the company projector, we had color, sound and all, just like downtown. Johnnie & Juanita took the kids and his dad on a cruise down the Ohio River to the Mississippi and then back up the Ohio and up the Tenn. River. It took them 10 days and they traveled a distance of 1700 miles all by water. I guess they had a wonderful time.
We got the siding on the north side of our cottage and the pine paneling up on the north wall inside. Would like to get the siding
[page 5] on the front yet this year. We still haven’t used the new boat very much only got 27 hours on it altogether and I think I had about 18 on it when you and Dad were with us that Sunday. Last weekend was a dandy the wind blowed from the time we got there till we left on Sunday night. I didn’t even take the cover off. Mary Michell invited Ruth and I over for supper Sunday evening, She has the cottage just east of Leobluns[?] “Red Brick” She really had a meal fried chicken, sweet corn, browned potatoes and
[page 6] home made bread just hot out of the oven. I ate till it ran out my ears. I might just add here that her bread was good but not as good as yours. She is a widow, her daughter and two children live with her in Cleveland. You should meet her I know you would like her and have a lot of fun with her. She was born in Scotland and still has some of the Scotch habits. Well I’ve rambled on enough here so guess I’ll have to sign off for now.
We received a letter from Lois the other day saying they had bought an old house 150 years old and on 12 acres of land [this would be Sugar Hill].
[page 7] I would just love to see it. She said Evelyn and her husband were going to go up about the 22 or 23 of August and were going to stop here for the kids liquor. You know the good kind we had a drink of.
We have been real busy at the shop, most of the time I’m so tired when I get home I just crap out, no good for anything and I mean anything.
Hope this letter finds you guys O.K. write and let us know what you’re doing.
Dear Dick & Dad:- Just a line to let you know we’re O.K. We took Burch up to the lake with us Sat. and Ruth and he are staying for the week. I’m batching [as in being a bachelor]. We are having a large window put in the north side of the living room at the cottage, taking out the two small one’s and having aluminum siding put on over that old paint job. We thought Burch would be able to help the carpenter a little besides giving him a change of scenery for awhile. We are only going to put the siding on the one side this year hope to finish the job next year. Ruth bought drapery material and took her sewing machine along so she could make the drapes while she was there. Burch is feeling O.K. but says time passes slow. He said staying at the lake brought back memories to him of the time they lived at Baltimore. Believe it or not Ruth got him in shorts.
[page 2] I received a letter from Lois today, says they are living in a tourist cottage for the time being and that the kids really enjoy the water. Ken went back to Chicago on the 14th and Bill was away in New York State some where. She also said their things from Germany had not arrived yet.
Have you heard anything lately from Rena? I just called Elise to see if she wanted me to write you anything and she said she had a wonderful letter from you and that she tried to answer it, but the words just wouldn’t come. She will try again later and said she and Kate are going to come up as soon as she gets a few detail ironed out. I suppose legal details in regards to his death.
How is the building project coming along and where are you building it? I’m about out of news so will close for now. Love H.O.
P.S. I’ll try to mail you Eastern Star material so be on the look out.
Just a line to let you know we are OK, only getting good and tired of this winter weather. I’m glad you folks don’t have to endure it as we do. If my summary serves me correctly I believe we’ve only had about 5 days above freezing since the first of December. Day before yesterday the temperature got up to a screaming 33º. I thought I was going to have sun stroke. It has really been miserable working at the shop this winter all the snow and ice has made is so wet and sloppy in the shop, it seems like we get a new coat of about 2 or 3 inches of snow a couple of times a week just enough to keep it messy all the time. According to the paper we’ve had 23 inches so far this winter. It even snowing now with 3 to 5 inches predicted.
[page 2] The shop is hard to heat and keep warm one day we weren’t able to get it over 42º in the shop. I have been wearing so many clothes I can’t hardly walk. And just one more grip and that is a lot of these drivers can’t get their cars started on the cold morning so we get blamed for all their troubles. “Enough bitchin'”. We mailed Kens Christmas packages to him on January 23rd so far we haven’t heard if he received them or not.
We got a letter form Bill today saying he was in the States, had been in Washington and Boston, was on his way to Colorado Springs and then back to Chicago. I suppose to see Ken for a day, he also expects to spend a day here either the 5th-6th or 8th of Feb. If he gets here we will call you so you can have
[page 3] a chance to exchange a few words ad hear his voice. We are really thrilled and looking forward to seeing him, it is a surprise to us and I know it will be to you. So we’ll just sit close to the phone waiting his call.
Did Ed Shepard get down there yet. Dick Rodenfels is leaving Sunday for Miami. We would just love to come down believe me.
Burch is O.K. he says I haven’t seem him as we haven’t had him up since Christmas. The weathers been so bad we just don’t go
[page 4] out unless it’s necessary.
Ruth just got in from her Rebecca meeting and said they about froze to death down there tonite I guess the heater isn’t large enough or sumpin. Ruth took an extra sweater but couldn’t keep her feet warm. Well here I go on this stinkin’ weather again so guess I’ll close shop for now.
Love H. O.
P.S. Send me the recipe for making Pawnhouse. I still got the pigs feet and don’t know what to do with them.
Just a note this morning while I’m finishing my breakfast. Ed Sheppard has been down for a couple of days, went home yesterday. He is looking real good and has gained some weight. Says he will be going down to your place some time between now and the first of the month. He and Ruth went down to see Burch while he was here. Burch is O.K. and doing fine. We have gotten rid of some of
[page 2] our snow. The temperature has been up in the forties the last couple of days. Hope we don’t get anymore SNOW
I got some pigs feet down in our freezer, send me the recipe for making P.H. how do you spell it. (Ha Ha).
We are both O.K. and hope you are the same –Time to go too work. Love H.O.