Grandma's picture

Grandma's picture
Grandma's Passport photo

Sunday, January 17, 2021

47 - Val. J. Peter Travel Bureau Letter to Grandma - 31 May 1936

Click here to read story from beginning.

A note to readers of this story, my apologies but we have to do a backtrack here. It's been a while again since I posted, but I had to stop and reorganize my materials so that I could find  my way through them all. I now have a spreadsheet of all that I have, so hopefully that will help. With this exercise I discovered a few things that I had completely missed. One is this letter  that Grandma received.


A letter, dated May 31, 1936, was sent to Grandma from the travel agency that had made the reservations for her globe trotting trip. The date must have been a typing error considering that she had left on the train on June 1, 1936. Perhaps the letter was written on May 1 or 3? There would not have been time for a letter to travel by mail from Omaha, Nebraska, to Stayton, Oregon, plus have time for her to reply with her final application and down payment in less than one day. She must have received the letter before May 31, because it asks for a down payment. She went on the trip, so obviously she fulfilled all the requirements.

Whatever the case, I had to turn to my friend Al Haunold again for a translation of the letter.  Al translated it as follows:

the letter

31. May 1936

Dear Mrs. Beitel:

Nothing has definitively been settled regarding the 2 cent mileage rate that you read about in the papers. The Eastern railroads resist to implement the 2 cent rate. Regardless, it would not have any measurable effect on the fare, because the longest stretch of your trip is from Oregon to Chicago on the Western railroads where the 2 cent fare already is in force. Besides that, you could also travel by bus from Omaha or from Chicago to New York which would be about half as expensive.

If you would want to wait until after June 1, it might be difficult to get space on any steamer because many steamers are already booked, as you can see from the enclosed brochure. Our suggestion, therefore, is that you might join our traveling group, go by rail to Omaha and from here, if you like, take the bus and thus the trip would not be too expensive. Several other customers are also planning to take the bus. The fare by bus from here to New York is only $ 21.85, or 37.85 for the round trip and the connections are very good.

Please send us your down-payment so that we can proceed with the reservations as long as cabins are available and we can continue to take care of all the other things for your trip.

With German greetings


sig. [hand-written signature] Val J. Peter

Grandma must have been checking to see if there was any way that she could get a better rate for her travel. They suggested a bus route for part of the journey, but apparently Grandma Cecile chose to go by rail all the way across the country.

Included with the letter is a clipping with some markings in red pencil:

attached clipping, note paper clip mark

Circled in red on the left edge is "HEAVY BOOKINGS FOR SEASON SAILINGS". The rest is:

Advance bookings for the Summer sailings have been heavy. For June outward and late August and September returning we have many applications for the preferred spaces that we have been unable to satisfy. Requests for berths that we cannot assign at the moment are placed on the waiting list for attention when vacancies occur through cancellation. The waiting list receives careful attention and we do not fail to use every effort.....

At that point the clipping is cut off and there is nothing else. The message is quite clear. If you want to get on the ship, you'd best hurry and make your reservations!

For a closer view of the letter and/or the clipping simply click on either.
If you have not read the other forty-some posts to the blog, the story would normally continue with Blog Post "14 -
Suggested Itinerary - Around May 31, 1936". To read that post, Click Here

Story to be continued...... 


Sunday, November 1, 2020

46 - Grandma's Postcard to Betty - 23 June 1936

 Click here to read story from beginning.

Story so far: Grandma Cecile had reached her relatives back in her home village of Nieder-Mohrau, Czechoslovakia, after a trip across the continental USA and the Atlantic Ocean.  Settling in, she had written some letters back home.


One of the notes Grandma Cecile wrote was a postcard sent to her daughter Betty. The notes that Betty and her cousin Stella Lulay wrote on June 9, 1936, had arrived in Europe, and she was responding. While Grandma did not date the card, the postmark indicates she mailed it on June 23, 1936.

Here is the postcard and its message:

front of postcard
message side
The message said:

Dear Betty: -


I have received yours and Stellas letter yesterday & was certainly tickled, I had to translate it and read it to both my Sisters & children. They were all interested how american girls write. Keep yourself well & happy till I return. 


To see the letters that Betty  and Stella wrote, check blogpost 26.

Notice that the card is titled "Grusse Aus Karlsdorf", or "Greetings from Karlsdorf". Grandma must have already visited Grandpa Alois's hometown of Karlsdorf by the time she sent this card. It would not have been hard as it is not far away from Nieder-Mohrau, only a few miles.

A little more about the pictures on the card -

the top picture has the word "Bodega" in the corner, according to the internet, that is a Czech word for tavern

The second scene is labeled as "Villa Olbrich" - Joseph Olbrich (1867-1908) was a famous architect in  then Silesia. My guess is this was a building in Karlsdorf that Olbrich designed.

the third picture is labeled "Schule" - must have been the school in Karlsdorf

For a closer view of the postcard, front or back, simply click on it.
Story to be continued......

 To read Post "47 - Val. J. Peter Travel Bureau Letter to Grandma - 31 May 1936 Click Here

Sunday, October 25, 2020

45 - Postcard From Johann Schiebel to Grandma 18 June 1936

 Click here to read story from beginning.

Story so far: Grandma Cecile had reached her relatives back in her home village of Nieder-Mohrau, Czechoslovakia, after a trip across the continental USA and the Atlantic Ocean.  Settling in, she had written some letters back home but was still a little homesick.


Not all of her siblings lived in Nieder-Mohrau anymore, just her sisters Mina and Gustie. Grandma Cecile had three brothers who lived in the general area at the time. Johann and Hermann lived in Czechoslavakia and Joseph/Josef - in Poland, all within traveling distance.

Her brother Johann, who had met with Cecile some time shortly after she arrived, had gone back home to work. A few days later, he sent her this postcard:


Address side of Johann's postcard




Message from Johann


Translation of the letter in Gothic German, courtesy of my friend Al Haunold:

Dear Sister, June 18, 1936

I want you to know that I arrived well and am working now since Monday, thus I could have stayed for a few more days if I had known it. I also wrote to Josef, perhaps we can get together again in case you would not come to Teschen. As I see it you would only have the opportunity to cross the border for one day and that would probably not be worth it. However, that is not my business. It could also be different. Let’s hope that you could stay here for a few months so that we can see each other again once more. It is also now very warm here. So, take care and enjoy yourself. If you have a chance, write again.

Auf Wiedersehn (see you again) Br. (brother) Johann

Translation of the address side, also by Al Haunold:

left side: Sender: Joh. Schiebel

Wireworks military installation 130 in Pudland

(Silesia) near Oderberg

right side: postage cancellation stamp: 18. VI. (June) 36-19 

To Mrs. Caezilia Beitel

per address Wilhelm Weiss Nr. 39 

in Nieder Mohrau

Post office Klein Mohrau near 

Freudenthal (Silesia)

From his note, Johann was hoping to get another chance to see her before she left for home.  It's interesting that she was already thinking of leaving and Johann was hoping she will actually stay for several months

An interesting side note - the postmark says  "Bohumin", Johann's written address is Oderberg. It turns out that these are the same town, Oderberg is the German name for the town, Bohumin is the Czech name.

The return address also tells us something of what Johann does for work. I'm not sure exactly what they did  there or Johann specifically, except it must have had something to do with making wire. That is interesting for family history because Grandpa Alois's father, August, worked in a wire factory in the region before he immigrated to America.

For a closer view of a photo, simply click on it. Also, if you come across different color text in a block, it signifies a link. Those links will take you to more information I have discovered on the internet.
Story to be continued.....

To read Post "46 - Grandma's Postcard to Betty - 23 June 1936",  Click Here

Saturday, October 17, 2020

44 - Return and Updates to Story Along with a Photo to Identify

Click here to read story from beginning

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 and even had time for a diary entry.


To quote my Grandmother, "What a pause I left unwritten." (From her diary entry of June 23) It seems that I have done the same thing, except for a much longer period of time! My last post was in June of 2017! Unfortunately, life sometimes interrupts the best of plans, but then sometimes leaves time to return to those plans. My thanks to cousin Linda Koenig, who has gently been reminding me that there are a few people out there who would really like to see the story continue.

So, hopefully, I will be able to pick up the story and keep it going this time. Going through my notebooks, I did find a couple of ticket stubs that I missed in the earlier part of the story.

I have added scans of a Passenger's Check that Grandma had for her travel from Portland, Oregon, to Chicago, Illinois. It shows that she had a lower berth in a Pullman car and was stamped on the back with a date of June 1, 1936. You can see that ticket in Post #16.

Gr"Joe Schmidt's half sister, Mom's second cousin".andma also had a ticket stub for a Coupon Transfer for the Parmelee Transportation Company in Chicago. She used that coupon to transfer herself and her luggage to her train to New York. The Parmelee Company moved people and baggage between the different train terminals in Chicago. That coupon was added to Post #17. There is something stamped on the back of that ticket, but I cannot make out what it says, or what it meant.

Now, before continuing on with the story, this seems like a good spot to enter a photograph that I have added to this collection simply because I hope that maybe someone reading this may know who these people are.  It was not included with Grandma's materials, but it has the look and feel of others in her bag of souvenirs. 

Unknown couple working on a farm

The photo is in a postcard format. there are no markings on the reverse side. On the back is written in what appears to be Sr Agnes Beitel's handwriting, "Joe Schmidt's half sister, Mom's second cousin".

Since they are using a cow (or perhaps an ox?) rather than a horse, it seemed possibly to be more likely to be in Europe. The background does resemble the Nieder-Mohrau region. The Schmidt's and Froemel's (Grandma's cousins) also came from that general area. Of course, it could also be in the Silverton Hills, as well. The regions look very similar, which is probably what drew my relatives to this area.

If the people were in Europe, it is possible that they were among the family that Grandma Cecile visited back in 1936.

If anyone has any idea who these people are, please contact me! Thank you.

For a closer view of the photo, simply click on it.
Story to be continued......

To read Post "45 -  Postcard From Johann Schiebel to Grandma - 18 June 1936"  Click here

Sunday, June 11, 2017

43 - Bank Transaction For Traveler's Checks - 23 June 1936

Click here to read story from beginning

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 and even had time for a diary entry.


Some time on the day she got around to writing in her diary, Grandma Cecile had time to run to the bank. She had this receipt among her mementos:

The bank receipt

I had to turn to my friend Al Haunold for help with what this document was. Al sent this translation for the receipt from the Deutsche Bank.  

German Bank for Industry, Trade, Business, and Agriculture

Mrs. Cecile Beitel,

Roemerstadt 23 June 1936

We are booking on your account,

travelers checks 714.-

Fees 3.50


Total: 703. -

Stamp imprint: Sincerely

German Bank

Branch Office Roemerstadt

After the fees of 3.50 and 7.50, she had 703.00 left to spend. Not sure what the currency was or how that would have translated to US dollars.

Included in Grandma's souvenirs was another bank receipt, this one has no date, so I will simply add it here.

Bank receipt - no date

Again, thanks go to Al Haunold for the translation.

German Business-Credit Bank,

branch office Hannover,  1 M Sophienstrasse 6

Exchange Office Bremen, main railroad station

Purchase: America (USA) 10.—

illegible signature and various numbers

including exchange rate (Kurs) 219.10

 While this receipt has no date, the address of the bank is the main rail road station. Perhaps this was for money Grandma received when she first arrived, but that is just a guess. Again, no way of knowing what this would have been in US dollars.
For a closer view of the receipts, simply click on either of the images.
Story to be continued......   

To read Post "44 - Return and Updates to Story Along With a Photo to Identify"  Click here

Sunday, May 28, 2017

42 - Diary Entry - 23 June 1936

Click here to read story from beginning

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.


Finally, she must have had a little extra time. On the 23rd of June, 1936, Grandma Cecile sat down and wrote in her diary. Her last entry before that had been June 8! Here is what she had to say:

This is JUNE 23 What a pause I left unwritten. It was just the same till our arrival in Bremen, except for the loss of my glasses. My, how I missed them.

Diary page

I was sitting in the writing saloon by a writing table, when some Ladies called me to come along, they were going on deck. I had just written a letter to Weisers[1] and was taken up with a book in the library, the stewart wanted me to read. I jumped up and of course I couldn’t see unless I took the glasses off, and ran towards those that called me. I thought I had everything but noticed soon my glasses were missing. I went back but they were no place to be found. As a rule, if somebody finds something, it is brought to the chief steward and so I went there and told them. They had several glasses there, but none were mine, and they never were brought there either. They thought maybe somebody had some alike and thought they were theirs, but I don’t believe it now anymore, because by this time, they should have found out. They wanted to send them after me, if they would be found.

And now I want to mark down the most important happenings, that I can remember. At about 8:00 o’clock on the 12th of JUNE we seen BREMEN in the distance. Everybody got excited, and about 8:30 we were there. At CHERBOURG FRANCE we landed just 24 hours before, and in SOUTH HAMPTON ENGLAND we didn’t go in, but a boat came out and got the English passengers. We seen the English coast and some buildings in the distance.

And now Gustie called me for 10:00 o’clock lunch. We had liverwurst and ryebread.[Grandma Cecile must have started writing before lunch then made note of the interruption when she returned to her writing.]

When we arrived in BREMEN, all passengers were called in groups. We were left off into the revision dock, but they never bothered my luggage. I was through in a hurry. I was so dry [thirsty] and drank a glass of bier[beer?], and at 10:30 we left Bremerhaven in the train.

 I guess by this time everybody realized they were no more in America. I was in second class but there was nothing fancy. In my little coupe was a woman from near Prague. She had been visiting her parents in MISSOURI, a thing that was turned around for once. I believe most of the time, rather the children are in America. When we neared Prague, she showed me her place, which was on a hill. She showed me the Wilson bahnhof [train station] and there was her husband dressed in black. He must have been some kind of an officer. She told me her husband was no farmer, she was playing with the farm. I didn’t especially like her because she smoked cigarettes.

I took a little dinner at PRAGUE, which was a big dumpling, vealsteak, and a glass of bier[beer?], with a roll. I figured it out in American money, it was about 75¢, and up to now, I know we can live a lot cheaper in America.

We certainly made good time from PRAGUE to Olmitz then I had to transfer again to the Trappaner Zug [Troppen? Train]. We had a bunch of “Checkish” German soldiers in our car, they were singing because they were going home.

Arriving finally at end station, Grosstohl, it was getting dark. Nobody but I got off and even the little depot was locked already. I was feeling kind of blue, went to a little house next to there and asked if they knew if somebody had a car to bring me up to MOHRAU. They knew of none except one little truck-car and they told me which house I would find the owner. So I went to ask, but left the suitcase by the people I was asking. There was no satisfaction. I was told they couldn’t haul people with their car, it was just for freight, so I left, and went back to the first house, begged them to keep the suitcase overnight and started out to walk.

About 10:30, just 24 hours after we landed, I was by my sister’s house. How tickled my sister was I could see that, and for that matter even the brother-in-law was nothing but gladness. It certainly is more to see a sister after 35 years than when you can see them oftener. I was pretty tired and went to bed just as soon as we could depart again.

When I got up to this room, and that is where I am writing now, I saw some of my mother’s things and felt quite at home. The next day was Sunday and they had a big celebration in the village, so I met some of my school chums and what is the sad thing about half of them are resting on the cemetery already. My sister MINA and brother JOHN I met together and it is a favor from heaven, that I could see them again.

Paragraph breaks were added to the letter to make it easier to read. Grandma Cecile always seemed to write in one giant block of text. Her writing is shown in the diary page included above. The high-lighting in green was probably added years later by Sr Agnes when she was doing the transcription to make the dates more apparent. To view the image, simply click on it.

[1] - Weisers - Grandpa Alois's sister Bertha and her husband Dan Weiser. They lived in Nebraska.


Story to be continued...... 

To read Post "43 - Bank Transaction for Traveler's Checks - 23 June 1936 Click here

Thursday, December 8, 2016

41 - Letter From Betty to Grandma - 22 June 1936

Click here to read story from beginning

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:

Stayton, Ore
June, 22, 1936

You can see the excitement in Betty's greeting

Dear Mama!

Papa wanted me to write you a letter. To tell you about what happened to [F]ather Scherbering Friday two men a roman[1] 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[2] 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

Your Housekeeper


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[3] had a stroke,  he cannot talk, and the arm is dead, and is starting to decay, and the Bruer[4] 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

[1] - by "roman", Betty must have meant "Italian" 

[2] - 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.

[3] - 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.

[4] - Bruer, perhaps the Doctor's name? Possibly Dr. Brewer, who was a local physician; Grandpa could have been spelling phonetically

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.  

To view any of the images up close, simply click on any of them.


Story to be continued......

To read Post "42 - Diary Entry 23 June 1936" Click Here