Story so far: Grandma Cecile had reached her relatives back in her home village of Nieder-Mohrau, Czechoslovakia. She had crossed the United States by train, from Oregon on the Pacific coast to New York on the Atlantic coast. The Europa, a ship with the North German Lloyd ship line, had carried her across the Atlantic Ocean. She had reached her destination of Nieder-Mohrau and had written some letters back home. At the same time, her family back home wrote letters to her. All of those letters would take about three weeks to arrive at their destination.
On the same day that Grandma had written to everyone back home, her young daughter Betty had written to her. The Beitels were parishioners of St Boniface Catholic Church in Sublimity. In the normally sleepy, small town of Sublimity, Oregon, there had been some excitement, and not of the best kind.
Here is what Betty wrote:
June, 22, 1936
June, 22, 1936
|You can see the excitement in Betty's greeting|
Papa wanted me to write you a letter. To tell you about what happened to [F]ather Scherbering Friday two men a roman and an American the roman pretended as if his brother lived in Sub. The A.[American] knew he had died but couldn't tell him because of English - Roman people So father acted as interpreter for them then the roman started to cry like a baby.Then he showed father the diamonds he wanted to give to his brother. They insisted right away that they would sell the diamond to father. they would sell them to father for $1300. and if he would go to the jewler [jeweler] he could get at least $2400. for it father inspected one of them and was supposed to be real (it was too) but the men took the real diamond and give father a piece of glass and father bought it. but when he reached Salem the jewler[jeweler] wouldn't even give him $5. for it The Roman man even went to Confession so that to prove he was honest and everything else That's what hurt father most. He told the Police about it and the[y] had the description of those two men and of doing that before. So now you know what happened to father
Papa got a new spring for my bed ($9.00) and for yours ($20.00) also
No one got sick yet and everything is going all right I guess please watch out don't get hurt we are figuring on you to be home the later part of August
Following the message from Betty, the rest of the sheet of paper is filled with a message in pencil, in German, clearly wiritten by Grandpa. I had to have my friend Al Haunold translate it for me. This is what Grandpa had to say:
the old Braeuner had a stroke, he cannot talk, and the arm is dead, and is starting to decay, and the Bruer now wants to amputate the arm, as soon as he finds (sees) a friend he starts to weep; So you see how quickly bad luck can come your way.
|Last page of Betty's letter with Grandpa's German note|
 - by "roman", Betty must have meant "Italian"
 - Betty wrote "one" above the words "English" and "Roman" in this sentence. It's not clear what she meant by that. She does seem to be saying they couldn't understand each other because of language differences. Maybe she meant that they didn't understand each other because one spoke English and the other Italian.
 - Braeuner - not sure who he is referring to. My first thought was Wendelin Brauner, second husband of Grandpa Alois's sister Anna. However, my family tree data shows that Wendelin died in 1934, so he was already dead if that is correct. It could have been a relative of Wendelin's, or just another acquaintance.
 - Bruer, perhaps the Doctor's name?
Lots going on here! For one - this is a letter that some fans of history in Sublimity will find interesting since it concerns the swindling of the parish priest.
When I first shared this letter (January 18, 2004) with my Aunt Virginia Beitel, she told us that must be how Fr. Joe Scherbring got his nickname "Diamond Joe". Apparently that was what everyone called him back then, but she didn't remember why.
The other part of the story here is that St Boniface parishioners were planning to build a new church. Sr Agnes referred to it in her letter of April 19, 1936. Aunt Virginia told us that back in 1936 they had actually started the work. In fact, she said a hole had been dug near where the present day rectory stands. However, that hole was filled back in and the new church never built. Uncle Florence "Squeak" Beitel (Virginia's husband) had done some of the catwork. Unfortunately, I didn't think to ask if he dug the hole or filled it in, maybe both? Perhaps losing the $1300 to these swindlers took too much of a chunk out of the building fund and it was doomed?!
To learn more about Fr Joe Scherbring, go to this web page of the history of St Boniface Parish. It is a long page. Scroll down until you pass a color photo of Silver Creek Falls, then go a little farther. The second photo below the Falls is a picture of Fr Joe and underneath him is the story of the church building project, including blueprints of the proposed church building.
The new church? No, it never was built. The same building is still in use.
|St Boniface Church & bell tower, in 2015|
Besides the excitement about the diamonds, then there is the matter of the note at the end. Good old "Gloom & Doom" Grandpa Alois. This seems to be another ploy to get her moving towards home. He may have been trying to tell her that something bad might happen to her, or maybe it was that something bad might happen to him before she were to return if she lingered too long with her relatives.
Betty's letter has been slightly edited. I added the paragraph spacing at the end, just to separate the thoughts. Spelling and punctuation didn't seem to be very important. I tried to write it as Betty did, but correct the spelling so it doesn't just look like typos.
I capitalized "Father" the first time, when it appeared as the title in front of Scherbring, the priest's last name. The other times Betty writes "father" she is still referring to the priest, she just didn't capitalize the word.
Betty was only 12, but her method of writing seems to be in line with that of the adults. Don't waste paper and don't waste time with much punctuation.
Words or letters inside brackets - [ ] - are mine. Words inside parentheses - ( ) - are Betty's.
Story to be continued......