Grandma's picture

Grandma's picture
Grandma's Passport photo

Sunday, July 13, 2014

1 - Minna's Letter - 10 January 1936

A youthful Minna Schiebel
The story begins with this letter to my Grandma Cecile in Stayton, Oregon, from her sister Minna - living back in Nieder-Mohrau. It was not with Grandma's other letters, but my aunt, Sr Agnes, had a copy and had translated most of it. I got a copy of the letter from Sr. Agnes. Reading the ending shows that Grandma has already brought up the subject of a visit but it is not decided. Perhaps the idea of her sister's illness cemented her resolve to go.

I added the two photos for reference. They were not included with the letter. Both are from an earlier time. The one of Minna and five of her children was probably taken about 5 or 6 years before. Mr Schallner, Hedwig's father-in-law was still alive at the time the Schallner family photo was taken. Minna adds a last note about "pictures" being "for Betty". Those photos were not with this letter, or at least not with the copy that Sr Agnes had. I'm not sure who has/had the original letter, or what the subject of the photos was.

One other item, I've spelled "Minna" with two "n"'s. Growing up, I always saw "Mina's" name spelled with only one "n". However, she clearly signs her name to these letters as "Minna", so that is the way I shall spell it. Her full name was Hermina.

Sr Agnes translated the main body of the letter. The messages from the children at the end were translated by Al Haunold.
Beginning of Minna's letter
January 10, 1936

Dear Sister and family,

With thanks I received your last letter. I wanted to write back right away but didn't get around, instead we did send the calendar. I hope you received it, it's not much but a remembrance of your homeland. I also felt glad that you  enjoyed my card from Maria Hilf. I really liked this place so much and wish to be [t]here again soon. I went with a large group by bus,we did not have much time to see all the places. Lots of chapels - about almost one hundred in the beautiful landscape invite [one] to pray at this place of grace. Johann[1] told me that he was here together with you when he was a schoolboy - you went there walking. I wish it could come true that we both might be here together. Lots of chapels are gifts of Americans as thanksgiving to see their homeland again.

But now I have to write you the reason of my pilgrimage of last year to Maria Hilf. I've been very sick last summer and had to stay in hospital at Roemerstadt for about 7 weeks, the Sisters of Charity (Barmherzige Schwestern) told me that I should make a pilgrimage to Maria Hilf when being well again. I had the flu and pneumonia and the doctors didn't think I would overcome it, was prepared to die but our Dear Lord did not want me yet.... I'm almost healthy again and hope not to get sick like that once more. Franz[2] knows myt situation because he's more sick than healthy, too. He worries over me and I'm worrying about him. I had a good treatment in hospital, the doctors and sisters did all they could do for me getting me healthy soon. Since June 15, Hermi[3] is at home again, she took good care of everything - I was really surprised when I came home. I also had a real surprise during my illness when I had to stay in bed all the time - once I heard the doctor speaking with somebody; then he came in together with brother Joseph[4], I still recognized him after 13 years. He stayed with me for two hours then he went back. After a few weeks he visited me again with his wife and family - maybe he wrote you about that, too. I was still in hospital when he was visiting me for the second time.

In your last letter you wrote me that Betty's[5] condition didn't change but she grew up and seems to feel good. The main thing is that she has no pain. The doctors are very good, why couldn't they help her? Our kids talk about Betty and wonder how she is. I hope that they stay healthy and will be able to earn their own living.[6] is as tall as her but skinny, little Gisela[7] is a real nice girl, she talks and is grandmother's darling. Hermi is supposed to go to Schallner's
Minna & children, about 5 years earlier
Hermi will be 13 next month. She also works very hard if it's necessary and even when washing laundry she is a good help for me. During fall she took care of the cows in our neighborhood and earned a pair of shoes. Anna
before and after school hours but I don't want to let her go except in the summer holidays, it's too hard for the children to listen to the teachers or to those whom they are supposed to work for. Business was very slow last year, we have to be simple in lifestyle.  Last year we had lots of fruit, this helped a lot, we've had honey, too. But we don't know how this year will be, it doesn't look nice, no snow, only fog and rain all the days.

Schallner family
I don't let the kids go outside except for school and then they have to dry their shoes. 8 days before Christmas Mr. Schallner, Hedwig[8]'s father-in-law,  and Mr. Schinzel, our former neighbor, died. Aunt Bernt died last summer, too. The funeral was the same day when I came home from the hospital. I couldn't see her anymore. Her son Karl is a real lazy guy, his kids don't have enough to eat almost all the time. How did you spend the Christmas days? How many children does Mary[9] have and how are they? Our kids have been looking forward to Christmas, but they only got useful gifts. I also received a big parcel with good and useful things from the teacher's family, they stay in Mohrau during summertime.

So life is going on. I hope I'll get some news from you soon. Best wishes also to Agnes, how far away is she? If you would come to Germany, it would be a great pleasure for all of us but it seems almost unbelievable. Lots of people are asking about you and send their greetings. Some young people would emigrate now if the world wouldn't have been closed by wooden walls in spite of trains and ships. Now farewell, hopefully we'll see you sometimes.

Your sister Minna" 
Postscripts by the children and Minna

"Dear aunt!
I also would be very happy if you and Betty could come and visit us. Thus I am sending my greetings to you and to your relatives and also to the uncle and remain your niece

"From us also my best greetings, your niece

"Dear Betty, come and visit us this summer, we would be very happy.
Best greetings to all, your cousin

"The pictures are for Betty. Franz was here with the children in Proehling (?? unclear) on a very nice day. Again greetings,

[1] - Johann Schiebel, one of Minna & Grandma's brothers
[2] - Franz Bernt, Minna's husband
[3] - Hermi Bernt, one of Franz & Minna's daughters
[4] - Joseph Schiebel, another brother of Minna & Grandma
[5] - Betty Beitel Silbernagel, 12 years old at the time, youngest of the Beitel children, Aunt Betty to many of us, the "condition" was the doctors suspected she had polio when she was little, but it was never confirmed
[6] - Anna Bernt, another of Franz & Minna's girls
[7] - Gisela Bernt Schulig, "...."......", Gisela & her husband Walter visited the Beitel's in Oregon at least once, in the 1980's, if I remember correctly
Tony Beitel & Gisela Bernt Schulig in Oregon

[8] - Schallners - Hedwig Schrott Schallner, Grandma's sister Gustie's daughter & her husband Josef Schallner
 The photo I added must have been taken before this letter was written, Grandpa Schallner is still in the scene, while Minna says he recently died. Hedwig & Josef are 3rd & 1st from right side of photo, and their little daughter Hedwig is between them. I do not know the other two.
[9] - Mary, Marie Beitel Lulay, oldest of the Beitel children, Aunt Marie to many of us
[10] - Hedi Bernt Ramolla, Hedi lives in Canada and visited the Beitels in Oregon several times

Story to be continued....
To read "Acknowledgements" click here
To read Post "2 - Newspaper Clipping About Travel" click here

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