Grandma's picture

Grandma's picture
Grandma's Passport photo

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?

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......

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

Sunday, October 30, 2016

40 - Grandma's Letter Home - 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.

A few more days had passed, Grandma Cecile had not had time to sit and write in her diary, but she did sit down to write another letter home.

Start of Grandma's letter

June 22. 1936.

My dear children & grandchildren:

I want you to know I am here at my sisters, and am feeling quite good again; only first I was shaken up to some extent.

This country looks very good, the fields are certainly a fiest [feast] for the eye, everything is green and the people are making hay. The barns are build a lot bigger as they were at the time I was working around here. There are so many new houses  and how swell they look; there is rarely a place to be found that is the same as when I left. I do have fun to hunt up something that is the old way yet.
Nider-Mohrau, postcard format photo[1]
And when I came to the graveyard my parents grave looked so forlorn towards all the monuments, my sister Mina has one too already for the girl that died last Jan.[2], their father in law had it all fixed up.

Grandma Cecile, Gustie & Wihelm Weiss
 My sisters are both hard workers but Mina has it a little better than Gustie in spite that Gustie is a pretty rich one. They get up at 1/4 to four in the morning & work like cr. fools all day long. I don't see how they can stand it; but Gustie is just about once more as heavy as I am so I guess it must not hurt her. At Schallner ["Hedwigs" is written in above the name "Schallner"] it is supposed to be worse.

Hermann[3] is here he came to see me rightaway and he helped in the hay there yesterday he said he didn't want to go over today he doesn't like it.

When I see an old acquaintens [acquaintence] (yesterday I've seen Tost Anna) they look so worn out I just can't get over it. One of their sons got married (I was told) they gave him about 100 tousend [thousand] cronen as a wedding gift. I am invited to come to many places but how in the world could this be done, they are always in the fields and on Sun. I want to go with my Sisters to see some wonders of nature.

Last Sun. we went to Karlsdorf to see Papa's birthplace, when we got there we have not found Aschers anymore they are both dead also the son that was feebleminded. That house was so clean inside and out they are expecting sommerfrischlers from some city to move in and as I was told they make good money by renting houses out like that. That village is so build up too Papa would not know it anymore.

They have no priest at present here in Mohrau just early Mass on Sun. and if I am not mistaken I believe I would not like to be a priest here.

And now how are you all at home, I hope everybody is well I received Betty & Stella's letter yesterday, how tickled I am & thank you very much. I don't think I will stay here very long and I'll be very glad to get home, tell Papa he can expect me in a short time. I like it in a way, but it is a tousent [thousand] times nicer at home. People got so money hungry here my dollars wouldn't go very far. The autos are running by here every once in a while and make a terrible dust to Karlsbrunn. So take care of yourself & write once more, before I lieve [leave].
[1] - Not sure if this postcard is from this trip, but it was included with Grandma's materials. It was not mailed but has writing on the back, it looks like Hermann Schiebel's handwriting.
Back of the postcard
Translation by my friend Al Haunold:

What is indicated here is our parent’s house. Since the village street has been reconstructed, there are some changes, as well as the hill, we always called it the “bishop’s hangout” and added to the house of the hired servants is a stable for the animals 
In the background you can see a new house, it is a “Konsum” or grocery store
I assume you can figure that out for yourself

If you click on the photo to get an enlarged version of it, you will see a house in the center, to the right, with a line drawn under it. This must have been the Schiebel family home, where Cecile, Gustie, Mina, and their brothers all grew up.

The blue scribbles on the back of the postcard below the writing were added by "some mischievous children with crayons" many years later.

 [2] - Elfrieda Bernt, Mina's daughter who died earlier

 [3] - Hermann Schiebel, Grandma's youngest brother

 So Grandma Cecile had started to feel less anxious and enjoy herself, but was still ready to head for home. The photograph shows her with her sister Gustie, and Gustie's husband Wihelm Weiss. Grandma wrote in German on the back of the photo. My friend Al translated that as "Gustie, the brother-in-law and I myself". The building in the back is probably Gustie & Wilhem's house (house #39 in the village).

As before, I inserted the paragraph breaks just to make it easier to read. Grandma wrote it in one block of text.

Again, to see the pictures up close, click on any one of them and you will be able to scroll through them. And check out the linked words to read more about what a "sommerfrischler" is and what Karlsdorf looks like today. 

Story to be continued......

To read Post "41 - Letter From Betty to Grandma - 22 June 1936" Click here

Sunday, July 17, 2016

39 - Who was Alexander Schipka?

Before I return to the story of Grandma's Trip, I have to tell of an amazing connection that happened for one reader, Margit Pohl, who recognized a name in one of Grandma's letters. 

Here are excerpts from what she wrote to me:

For us a real surprise was contained in Chapter 36 Cecilia's letter home on June 17, 1936. She writes about having attended the funeral of Alexander Schipke on June 16.
Alexander Schipka
Alexander Schipka born 22 Feb 1874 married to Hedwig Tschöp born 15 Oct 1878 is my (Margit's) Grandfather on my mother's side.

  Here is a picture we have fortunately got from one of his daughters. It shows Alexander in uniform which seems to be from the Austrian-Hungarian period.

His name is Schipka, which in Czech means "Arrow". The picture looks like being taken by a professional photographer of that time.
When I wrote back to Margit, I asked when Alexander got married to Hedwig. I was curious because of the way Grandma mentioned that he had "often spoken about me and always asked questions"... It made me wonder if perhaps Grandma Cecile had left behind an admirer when she set sail for America the first time.  Here is Margit's reply to that question:

Elizabeth, your comments on Alexander and Cecilia makes us wonder, indeed, if Cecilia had left a "broken" heart in Nieder-Mohrau. Who knows. Returning after 35 years to come to his funeral ...  

Alexander Schipka, born 22 feb 1874, died June 1936 got married in 1903 to Hedwig Tschöp, born 15 Oct 1876, died 01 Aug 1954.

Alexander's widow Hedwig, my Grandma, lived in Nieder-Mohrau until we had to leave the country and died in Staufenberg / Hessen.

That's where my cousin Erni lives, a daughter of my mum's sister. Erni was 6 years old, when Alexander died and she remembers the funeral that your Grandma attended. 

Quite interesting! Grandma immigrated in 1901. Alexander did not get married until 1903. My Grandparents did not meet and get married until 1905. So it is possible that there were some broken hearts involved, but that is all just speculation at this point. It does add a little more dimension to the story!

I guess we will never know, but I thank Margit for sharing this information with me!

Another interesting twist, Margit started reading this blog because she heard about it from a cousin, who also happens to be a distant cousin of mine. The relations, though, are not on Grandma's side, but rather on Grandpa's side! It is indeed a small world! 

In fact, in the letter in entry #36, Grandma mentions that Alexander lived next to the Bernts. But which Bernts? There were Bernt relatives on both sides of the family tree......

I could go on, but it is time to get back to Grandma's travels. 


Story to be continued......

To read Post "40 - Grandma's Letter Home - 22 June 1936" Click here

Sunday, March 20, 2016

38 - Marie Lulay's Letter 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. 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.

The same day that Grandpa Alois had written, so had my Aunt Marie.
Marie in 1942
Marie, or Mary as was her real name, was Grandma
's step-daughter and oldest child.
We can get an idea of what life was like on the farm back then by the contents of the letter. It was all written in one block of text. I added paragraphs to make it easier to read. Here is what she wrote:

Beginning of Marie's letter

Stayton, Ore
June 18 - 1936

My Dear Mamma.

Always wanted to write always am busy. I hope you got there alright and are having a good time. My pen won't write [the ink fades in and out on the paper and here she switches to pencil] We are all well. Betty Papa & boys[1] are all well. They are getting along fine. 

Gus got announced[2] in church Sun. So will get to go to a wedding dinner soon.[3] 

we canned 38 jars and later 11 more jars Papa says thats enough strawberries I want to make some jam yet for myself and you folks. we sure are busy now with the kids picking berries. It sure does rain every day & how it pours today is the first day of Sun-shine again. How long it will last I don't know. 

Betty wants me to say Hello & for you to not worry & Have a good time and then she said (You could come home again) ha ha But you should have a real good time. first. I sure hope you feel good

the children were at Betty's Sun. Stella Ruth & Margaret.[4] they said Papa was real jolly they went to the other place & said Gus had that house scrubbed good.[5] Conrad Spenners[6] were there to[o]. Mr. Soope was at Dad Tues. so you see with all the work no-body has time to think much

I must close & get busy will try and write again next week So don't worry write soon
With love - from all to all
How is your Sister did she know you Did you see all your Bro. already
By By
Me & all
Give these Pictures to your Sis. I'll send those that Clara took next time.[7]
End of Marie's letter, note torn bottom edge

Apparently Marie did not take time to worry about things like punctuation or spelling. Sometimes words are spelled wrong, sentences end with no punctuation or paragraphs, as mentioned before. Not all sentences start with capital letters. 

Nor does she use fancy stationery. She wrote on what looks like a sheet of tablet paper, and the bottom was torn off. She must have been using scraps. This was in the days of the Depression, and people made do with what they had.

[1] "boys" - meant John, Tony, Gus and FB Beitel, Grandma's sons

[2]  "announced" meant that they had read the banns of marriage in church that Sunday. It was then the custom to both read aloud the banns and publish them in the church bulletin for three weeks in a row before the wedding took place. That way if anyone knew any reason why those people should not be married, they could bring it up.

[3] Gus Beitel would marry Anna Krantz on June 30, 1936.

[4] "the children" refers to Marie's older daughters, Stella, Ruth & Margaret; when she says they were at "Betty's", she means they had gone to Grandpa's house down the road on the farm, Betty and Stella were the same age and they all played together 

[5] By saying "the other place" and "that house", I believe she is referring to the property and house where Uncle Gus and Auntie Ann would first live.That was the house across Thomas Creek, next to the Jordan Bridge in Linn County, Oregon. Betty's letter of June 9, 1936 indicated that Gus was starting on the house on Fern Ridge Road, but it would not be done before they were married.

[6] Conrad Spenner was a friend and neighbor of the Beitel's. He & his family must have been there helping with the house preparation.

[7] Apparently Marie enclosed photos. Grandma must have given them away, they were not with the letter. Not sure who Clara was. If I remember correctly Clara Lulay lived in Sublimity and would have been an in-law of Marie's, it could have been her.

To see the images larger, click on any and you will be able to scroll through them all.

Story to be continued......

To read Post "39 - Who Was Alexander Schipka?" Click here