Grandma's picture

Grandma's picture
Grandma's Passport photo

Friday, October 23, 2015

36 - Letter From Grandma to Grandpa - 17 June 1936

Click here to read story from beginning

Story so far: Grandma Cecile made on her way to visit her relatives back in her home village of Nieder-Mohrau, Czechoslavkia. 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.

Grandma Cecile had arrived at her sister's house in Nieder-Mohrau and had written a letter home. A couple of days later, she sat down and wrote a letter to Grandpa, this one written in German. 

When I first started organizing these bits of memorabilia, I found the letters between Grandma and Grandpa, but they were written in German. Of course, that made me curious since I could only read English. This old couple - I barely knew them since I was so young when they died - they were typical for their time, stoic, quiet. What did they say to each other when separated by such a time and distance?

Here is Grandma's letter, translated by my friend Al:   
Envelope - with stamp removed

Top of first page

June 17, 1936
Dear Alois,     
Johann is at the Mims[name?]* and thus I am staying with Gustie. I think I am sleeping in my own bed, the remainder after the fire years ago.  It is really as we pictured it, and with all that, I have not yet seen Joseph and Hermann, otherwise I would be ready to go,  we discussed everything,  and I have seen quite a lot,  I went to the field with Gustie, we thinned the fodder beets that are growing there.  Yesterday we went to the funeral of Schipke Alexander, this sound so strange to me ….
Page 2:    …... that I would see him being lowered into the grave, he supposedly has often spoken about me and always asked questions.  He was the neighbor of Bernts  and he was a very prosperous farmer.  The older Bernts are doing quite well, that is the general opinion around here.  Yesterday I tried out the scythe at the old lady Berntin [name ?]** ,  it felt like a sickle.  I am happy that so many people are inviting me to their houses but I am not all that much interested in that.  Yesterday I also went to see the [name?]** Marie and our parent’s house.  I think today that I would like to go to our meadow near the forest but the Mimi  [name ??]***  cannot come along because of her asthma  and the Gusti is working from 4 in the morning until late at night.  I am feeling quite well and I hope to see you all again in good health and I am  yours   [name]****
*- Al wasn't sure of the name here, I think she was saying “Mina's”. Her brother Johann must have been staying at Mina's, so there was no room for her, she had to stay with Gustie.

** - Not sure who she was referring to here, Al could not make out the names.

*** - Again, I think she is talking about “Mina” or “Minni”, her sister. Grandma in her diary sometimes called her Minnie. Later I remember her being called Mina, all short for Hermina. 

**** - A scribble, could be “Zilly” or "Ma" ED]
Bottom of letter, including signature

There are some interesting things to glean from this letter. We learn that first of all, Grandma Cecile obviously had saved some stationery from her train ride across the United States. The letterhead was clearly Northern Pacific. The envelope was matching paper, a gray color.

It must have taken about 3 weeks 
dates written on the front of the envelope
for her letter to make its way back around the world to Grandpa. Someone wrote the dates " "17 June"
and "6 July" on the front of the envelope. 17 June was the date Grandma wrote the letter. July 6 must have been the date that it arrived in Stayton, Oregon.

Grandma's reference to sleeping in her old bed because of a fire might be referring to a bad housefire that occurred in the house that was Gustie and her first husband, Alois Schrott's home. (It is mentioned in Hermann Schiebel's memoirs. He said they lost everything that night. Perhaps Grandma's old bed was a replacement for a bed that was lost in that fire.)

Most of the people mentioned are her relatives, Mina, Gustie, Hermann, Joseph and Johann are her siblings. Grandma's mother was a Bernt, so the Bernts she mentions are probably cousins or aunts and uncles. A few others must simply have been friends or neighbors.

Alexander Schipke, seems like there could have been a story there. A wealthy farmer who often asked after Grandma, but had recently died. Hmmm, sounds like Grandma may have left a broken heart or two behind when she left for America! He came close to getting to see her one more time, but instead she arrived in time to attend his funeral.

Grandma mentions that if she had seen her two brothers already, she would be ready to leave. She's only been there a few days. She must still have been homesick and wanting to leave. It's a familiar feeling, to go off on a big trip and then after arriving, wonder why you went. Then after you are there for a while longer, it becomes a great adventure. Grandma is still in the early stages of that feeling and a long ways from her long-time home in Oregon.

Her mention of wanting to go see "our" meadow near the forest when she mentioned seeing her parents house is intriguing. It must have been important to her, but a fair walk. Her sisters had neither the stamina nor the time to go there with her. Grandma always liked working outside, perhaps this meadow was where she worked or wandered as a child and developed her love of the outdoors.
To see the photos closer, simply click on any of them and you will be able to scroll through them all.


Story to be continued......

To read Post "37 - Letter From Grandpa to Grandma - 18 June 1936 Click here

Saturday, October 3, 2015

35 - Celebration in Nieder-Mohrau - 14 June 1936

Click here to read story from beginning

Story so far: Grandma Cecile made on her way to visit her relatives back in her home village of Nieder-Mohrau, Czechoslavkia. 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.

In her previous letter home, Grandma Cecile mentioned that they had held a celebration in the village for her. Fortunately at least a couple of photographs survived from that party. Two different poses of the same group of people can be seen in these photos. In the first, they are standing in front of trees. In the other, they are standing in front of a building, presumably the restaurant where they gathered.

Thanks to two of the people who were there as little girls - sisters Hedi Bernt Ramolla and Hermi Bernt Kotrc - those people have been identified. 

The first image here is a scan of the photo/postcard of the group. This photo belonged to my aunt Betty Beitel Silbernagel.

The second image is an enlarged, cropped print that Hedi wrote numbers on so that she could identify the people. She was doing this at the request of Sr Agnes, who had told her that my cousin Marilyn Pursley and I were working on family history and wanted to know who the people were. Hedi sent this numbered image to Sr Agnes along with a letter with all the names.

Family & friends gathered around Grandma to welcome her

Hedi's key for identifying people at the celebration

Hedi and Hermi identified them all. Hedi wrote it down; Sr Agnes rewrote it for me, since Hedi's handwriting isn't the easiest to read. I added the descriptions of the people.

Hedi numbered the people, working from left to right, top to bottom, acrossshe the picture:
1.*Rudolph Wehrberger - man at far left back row  (Sr Agnes wrote Wehberger, but it looks to me like Hedi put another "r" in there.)
2.*Amelie Wehrberger - lady, white dress, she & #1 were owners of the restaurant and friends of Grandma
3. Hedi Bernt Ramolla - 2 braids showing
4.*Hilde Schinzel - lady, face partly blocked,  ("all the Schinzel family were good friends of Mom")
5. Anni Bernt Binder - one braid to front,
6. Gisela Bernt Schulig - blonde tot in front of #5, 
7.*Alois Schinzel - man to right of #5,  friend of Grandma
8.*Anna Schober - young woman blocking #7's face, maid for Grandma's sister Gustie Weiss
9.*Hilde Wehrberger Hahn - girl directly in front of #8, with white edged collar, daughter of #1 & 2
10.* directly in front of #9, with white apron, Herti Ott, also daughter of #1 & 2
11. Mina Schiebel Bernt - lady to right of #8, whole face showing, Grandma's sister, Hedi's and all the other little Bernts' mother
12.*Erika Schinzel - blonde girl with bow in her hair, light colored print dress in front row, 
13. Hermi Bernt Kotrc - girl to right of #11, only eyes peering over boy's head, 
14.*Herbert Schinzel - little boy in front of #13, looking to right, 
15. Franz Bernt - tall man, center of back row, Aunt Mina's husband,  father of all the little Bernts
16. Hermann Bernt - tallest boy in front row
17. Cecilia Schiebel Beitel, Grandma! - in front and to right of #15, wearing light colored dress
18. Gustie Schiebel Weiss - to right of Grandma (#17), wearing dark dress with light tiny print,  Grandma's sister
19. Franz Bernt - middle boy in front row, right of #16, Hedi's brother who lived in Canada and visited the Beitels out in Oregon in the 1980's or 90's.
20.*Mr. Schindler - man wearing fedora in back row, a teacher and friend
21. Herbert Schallner - little boy in front row, buttons on his pant legs, wearing vest and dark collar on his suit, son of #22 & #24
22. Hedwig Weiss Schallner - lady to right of #20, big buttons on her dress, "(Gusti's only daughter, daughter of #18)" (Weiss/Schrott? - Sr Agnes wrote Weiss, but I thought she was Gusti's daughter with her first husband Alois Schrott, maybe Mr. Weiss adopted her?)
23.*Luise Ludwig - young woman, face only showing to right of #22, "friend of [Grandma]'s"
24. Joseph Schallner - young man to right of #22 & 23, "husband of #22, Hedi Weiss" - again , Sr Agnes wrote "Weiss" whereas I thought it was Schrott, maybe I'm wrong? Not sure where my idea comes from.
25. Hedi Schallner Fleischhauer - girl in front row, directly in front of #24, dark dress with white belt and buttons, "daughter of #22"
26. Wilhelm Weiss - man on far right, back row, smoking a pipe, watch chain on his vest, Gustie (#18)'s husband
27. Ilse Schallner Reiser - little girl on far right, front row, white dress with ruffles and dark ribbon bow, "daughter of #22 & #24"

Other notes that Sr Agnes made:
1.* friends of Cecilia Schiebel Beitel
2. All the Bernts are children of Nos. 11 and 15. (“Bernts” meaning Hedi Ramolla and all of her siblings)
A further note. Hedi wrote in the letter where she was doing the ID's , " I do remember everybody." She wrote "16 people are related family people, including your Mom, 11 are friends, 15 people are passed away, 9 are alive, 1- Anna Schober we lost contact" Best I can tell Hedi wrote this in early 2004. Where it says "Grandma", that is my addition.

The rest of Hedi Ramolla's letter:
I do wish Elizabeth and Marilyn luck with their family tree projects. I don't have any pictures of my parents with their brothers and sisters in one. When your mom emigrated to America, everyone went away. My father's brother to Berlin, his Sisters to Vienna and Tirol, Uncle Hermann to Schemel, Uncle Josef and Uncle Johann to Teschen. I also know that there are no pictures of our Grandparents. They lived and died in Nieder-Mohrau. I do know where most people lived and died. Like for instance, the Schinzel family, he was a teacher, their son was only 16 when he got killed because of the war. Erika was a nurse, she was married to a Polish man, they emigrated to America and she died very young from cancer.

The second photograph from the celebration in Nieder-Mohrau on June 14, 1936, is the next photo. It appears to be the same group of people, taken on the same day, since they are all wearing the same clothes. The only difference is that they are standing in front of a building, presumably the restaurant where they had all met. 

The children appear to have been having fun, most of them have mischievous looks on their faces.

This photo, which is in postcard format, was in Grandma's collection with her diary. The dark around the edges is from smoke damage.

Grandma Cecile at her Welcome celebration
Using the other photo as a guide for identification, here are the names of people in this photo:

Back row in the top left corner:
Rudolph Wehrberger
Amelie Wehrberger - white buttons on dress
Hilde Schinzel - to right of open window
Alois Schinzel
Anna Schober - face partially hidden by boy in front of her
Grandma Cecile  - white dress
Franz Bernt - tall man behind Grandma
Mina Schiebel Bernt - to right of Grandma
Luise Ludwig - behind Mina
Gustie Schiebel Weiss - print dress
Johann Schindler - wearing hat
Hermi Bernt Kotrc - white collar
Wilhelm Weiss - smoking
Hedwig Schrott Schallner - right of Mr. Weiss
Joseph Schallner - upper far right

Front row, left to right, all children:
Hedi Bernt Ramolla - dark dress, hand over mouth
Hilde Wehrberger Hahn - white apron
Anni Bernt Binder - tall, with long braids
Gisela Bernt Schulig - little blonde girl with white collar in front of Anni
Herbert Schinzel - looking to the side
Erika Schinzel - big bow in hair
Herti Wehrberger Ott - white skirt
Hermann Bernt - tallest boy with white collar
Franz Bernt - shorter boy with big, white collar
Herbert Schallner - jacket & vest
Ilse Schallner Reiser - white dress,dark bow
Hedi Schallner Fleishhauer - dark dress, white belt, white bow & band in hair

  To see the photos closer, simply click on any of them and you will be able to scroll through them all.

Story to be continued......

To read Post "36 - Letter From Grandma to Grandpa - 17 June 1936 Click here