LIBERTY TOWNSHIP TIOGA COUNTY, PA.
The following letters were submitted by Kelly Townsend of San Antonio, Texas in December 1997.
July 13, 1848
Will you, Johannas Klink, please be so kind and send this letter to Michael Frey, the blacksmith helper? He came with your brother, Jacob, to Albany and found a job for you. The contents of this letter concerns Michael Frey.
Dear Friend, Michael Frey:
Since I haven't received an answer to my letter from Mrs. Katherine Pete (or Pote ) who loaned me the money, nor has she sent me my suitcase, I herewith inform you to come at your earliest convenience as I have a job lined up for you as a blacksmith helper. My boss has his horse shod and the blacksmith told him he could use a good helper and will pay well. He is also German. My boss thought as you were a good friend of mine, it would make me happy to have you near me. I hope you will take my advice as you will not be sorry.
Will you please go to Johannas Maurer and tell her I have written, but I have not received an answer. If she, as I believe, has not received my letter, would she go to Schadell and if it isn't there, maybe it is in the Post Office. When she finds it, then they can do what I told them in the letter.
Johan Maurer should also come and when you do come, please bring my suitcase along. Please tell the landlady to trust me, as I will pay her as soon as I get her correct address. Will you try to get it for me so I can be sure she will receive her money.
I greet you hearty and remain your friend.
PS One more thing I would like to remark. Should you come, I would suggest you take the route I will mark down as follows: Go from Albany by railroad to Geneva (but it is pronounced prettier than we would); then from Geneva by steamboat to Diefesen (fare $3.08); from there by stagecoach or omnibus (as we call it in Germany) to Corning (fare $1.00); go from Corning to Blossburg (fare $1.00); then from there to Blockhouse (fare $1.00).
The address where I live is:
Tioga County, PA
I live with Phillip Messner
June 11, 1854
As I have a chance to send this letter through brother Gottleib, who is leaving June 18th heading for New York, I am writing in request of our parents.
Please write to us, especially your parents. Your father was here last Sunday and left your address and asked me to write. He is very anxious to hear from you.
Everyone here is fine, only the cost of living is very high, earnings comparatively low. Many people are suffering hardships and diseases. many people have died in Sielburg. The schoolteacher and two children died. Thank God we have been lucky so far. I have been sick, but have recovered well. Thank God I have my income from the factory.
Dear Brother-in-law, your sister, Anna Maria, has given birth to a death baby not long ago. She has three children living. Your brother, J. Frederick, has four children living. Your parents are doing all right, they have plenty to eat. Times have changed a lot. Simon Wurster's children are being cared for by Ramon since his wife died late last year. He is just running around.
Please write to your parents as soon as you can.
I will close now.
Because there is more room on the paper, I will write a few words. I like it better in Sielburg now that I have a house to myself, and am doing all right otherwise too, for which I am thankful to God. When I observe other men at my age, see how they look, low and weather beaten, I am thankful.
Mother and Aunt from Ebhausen have been here to visit me.
Many greetings from all of us, your Father, Mother, Sisters, and I.
Your Father, Mother, Yours truly,
Gottleib Frederick Nickel
PS A special hearty greetings from our little girl, Margareta. She often speaks of you. She remembers how she used to jump around on your knee. She is our only child.
The family Raspus has also immigrated to America last year and they
are doing all right. I purchased the other half of the house and garden
for 400 Gulden. You can imagine how nice a home I have now, but taxes are
high. I would like to go to America, but Rosina can't make up her mind
January 8, 1854
My Dear Parents, Brothers, and Sisters:
It's been about 1-1/2 years since I've received a letter from you. Simon Wurster has written answers in his last winter's letters to Johan George Schmelzle and has said you would write to me soon. However, I am still waiting, therefore, I'll write you about myself and hope you will write me soon and tell me how everyone is getting along. It seems as though everybody has already forgotten about me, but I am still thinking of you a lot and am very interested in your problems and worries, especially those of you who are living in hardships. I'd like to have you all near me in America, particularly my parents whom I miss very much.
I am nearly established by now and have the great desire to take care of my parents in their old age. Due to the stormy (war) times in Germany, at present you may be suffering hardships and I want you to know that you are always welcome here in our wonderful, blessed country of America. Just as long as you can get the traveling expenses somehow, once you are here I will provide for you. maybe my brothers and sisters could sell out and also come to America.
I assure you I have given it a lot of thought, and I've even thought you may not be able to save a lot of money after the traveling expenses are paid, still I am sure you will make out all right. I believe the trip is somewhat difficult, but millions have made it all right and so would you, and I believe the future in America would make it worthwhile for you.
My family and myself are pretty well. God has tested us with deep sorrow, surely with goodness in mind, as on October 28 our boy was born seemingly healthy, but three days later became ill and died one half day later. My tow girls are four years old on August 18th and one two years old on October 20. They are healthy and well grown, but they are getting much better care here than the children in Germany could ever have, yes, even the richest ones.
We in America have had a prosperous summer. This year's finances are good. I've had a lot of wheat to sell and prices were good - 4 acres of wheat and corn, 74 bushels harvest, 6 bushels corn. last year I raised 38 bushels of buckwheat, sold it for 62 cents a bushel. Wheat is at a value of $1.20 per bushel. I also harvested 12 bushels of oats which also sell for 40 and 1/2 cents a bushel and rye sells for 75 cents. Threshing all this grain would have been a lot of hard work, but with a threshing machine powered by 4 horses and 6 men, it only took us three days to get all the treshing done.
I have at present 7 animals - 2 oxen, 5 years old - 2 bulls, 3 years old - 2 cows - one calf, one year old. I've raised all the feed needed for those animals on my own land. I also have 3-year old hogs from which I've butchered one, have 6 pigs which I'll raise for next year. The other 2 hogs I will butcher later this winter. One hog weighed 200 lbs. The other two hogs are smaller. These hogs cost me practically nothing this year. In summer they are out in the woods, and because there are a lot of acorn trees in the woods, they are fat enough to butcher.
All of this will make you realize the change that has taken place since I first started on this land. Naturally, you can see how it all came about. In the first years, I started to clear away the woods and build a house. I had enough logs, but still lacked boards. Nails and roofing had to be paid for, partly by money and by working for it, and last but not least, I had to have bread to eat. As you can see, I have had to work very hard until I finally got this far, but work is good for one's health and it paid off well.
From here on I can raise a good crop on that land every year which is cleared from trees and brush. By now I have 20 acres of land, 6 of them I cleared last summer, which is sowed with wheat and I will have the first crop next summer.
Well, now that I have described my situation, I will let you decide whether or not you want to come to America or to stay in Germany. Should one or the other desire to come, will you please inform me and write very soon. Please also write me about Mathias Weick who is in America. He wrote me once, I answered his letter and haven't heard from him since. Please write me about everything else that may have happened since I left home.
I am coming to the closing of my letter and hope it will find you all in the best of health. I hope the next letter from you will bring me good news about the European situation. From Missionaries Link and Nikolai, I've heard a lot of sad things about my old homeland in the last few years. Link is stationed in Stuttgart and Nikolai in Plahingen, both sent there by America.
I remain your true son and brother,
January 8, 1854
Once more I have to write and explain. I certainly am concerned about your well being. I went over to _______ Johanes and suggested that he do something for you too. He replied that he had enough to do taking care of himself and he had helped enough when he was in Germany. As one of the oldest, he had to help provide for us.
Besides, last summer he lost two sheep oxen in a thunderstorm. He paid $50.00 for them just a short time before they were killed. All they could use were the hides.
Now you will think it strange that I am not writing myself, but every time we write we get together, and Jacob is better at it than I am.
We are all well at present, and I hope this letter will find you in the best of health.
I greet all my brothers, sisters, brother-in-laws, and sister-in-laws, and remain your
Johan George Schmelzle
Answer to letter of November 30, 1856 December 24, 1856
I received your letter with great joy and pleasure. It indicates that you are well and happy, and that love for your parents is still burning in your heart. As far as we are concerned, we are all well.
Our sister, Anna Marie, will inherit the house - sister-in-law in Eberhart (Regina Keck). Its value is 3 to 3 hundred Gulden. You are probably wondering about the inheritance. Six years ago Christian Keck died. The house had been sold and officially settled, and she had been named the beneficiary. Christian Keck's widow died. About 4 weeks after the widow's death, the property valued at 3 to 4 hundred Gulden, fell to Anna Marie's husband.
This time we cannot give you any good news about our sister, Rosina, in Sielburg. She was in pretty bad shape as I told you in my previous letter of April 6, 1856. She was in childbirth and could not bear it. They got the doctor and with a great deal of pain, she bore the child alive. Five hours before her death, she had been checked by two doctors, but were unable to help her. Our sister was very sick and died on the 21st with fever. She had blisters as large as your hand. The baby died on the 27th. Both were buried in one grave. There is a daughter left by Rosina named Margareta. Margareta was 12 years old at this time.
Dear Brother, you say you would like to come back home and are asking for advice. We are all very touched and sure wish we could tell you to pack your things and come back, but there are many things to be considered. Six or seven years ago, one could buy land at a reasonable price. At the present time, however, the prices are very high and land is hard to get. Of course, this may change in a year or so. As you remember, there are taxes to be paid, only they are much higher.
The old Keck's Homestead, without the ship, animals, and dishes, has been sold to a man from Stuttgart for 1400 Gulden and put up for sale for 1800 Gulden. Because no one would pay this price, they gave it out for management at 600 per year.
The possibilities of getting a job in almost any professional field have greatly improved and the pay is better than it has been in a long time.
Now that you know all the facts, make your own decision. If you decide to return, let us know. We will then keep looking around to see if we can find some suitable land for you.
Brother-in-law, Johan George Keck, and I brought the Schreinerhauer's house, the field house, and I divided it between us.
News about the home town: Christian Keck (the old school master's son is still single. Johan Mauer, who went to Ames, has been cheated out of his parental estate which amounted to about 700-800 Gulden. He received the right from America. About 12 to 15 more men went to America since you left.
Greetings from your parents and relatives.
Brother, Johan Frederick Schmelzle
Johan Frederick Schmelzle
With crying eyes I must write you this sad letter. Our Father died May 3rd, Friday evening, at 7:00. He was 70 years and 4 months old. Last winter he complained about his legs, but still looked and felt pretty good. He took care of his chores and the field as well as the house, and still found pleasure working at his profession up until six days before his death. He died of pneumonia and was conscious to the end, except when he got delirious from his fever. I had two doctors , but they could not help him.
He was looking for a doctor who could make his soul well for ever and eternity. All he asked for was that we should pray for him, and he enjoyed Holy Communion to the fullest. I was with him almost all of the time of his illness, especially on the last day. Before he died, he mumbled about you. You haven't written in such a long time and he was very sore about it. He's been waiting for a letter from you so very much. If you had seen him suffer as I have, you could never forget it.
About one year ago, he chose a chapter out of the Bible for his funeral, John, Chapter 14, Verse 13.
I am getting along fine. My wife and children are well. I have two girls and four boys. First, Anna Maria, second, Christina, third, Johan Frederick, fourth, Andreas, fifth, Jacob, now 4 years old, sixth, Yohonnas, now 1 year old.
In Mother's request, I am informing you she is old and weak. We would have expected her to die before Father as she has been ill and weak. Father's death is about killing her. He has always been healthy and strong. She is very sad about not getting any mail from you. We have informed you about the death of our Rosina. A year later I wrote you again, still no answer came. Will you please write and inform us about your real address and let us know how you are getting along.
Our Grandfather in Cologne died in 1847, September 17, at the age of 87.
Heartiest greetings to you, your wife and kids from your true friends.
Mother, Christina, and
Brother, Johan , Jr. Schmelzle
Once again I have to write you sad news. ever since Dad died, Mother's illness increased. Stomach pain was almost unbearable. She hardly looked like a human anymore. She wanted to be sure that I would write and tell you how much she suffered. She was conscious to the end which was October 29, 1862. She was 70 years, 8 months and 20 days of age. Her Bible text was Hebrews 12, Ghapter 11.
Dear brother, I received your last two letters. I am very much concerned about you with the war going$on in the United States of America. Mother received one of your letters, and waited to write and send you some money. She felt there would be some change very soon and so there was. I haven't written sooner you any sooner about Mother's$death because I wanted to wait until the finances were settled. Your share is 386 Gulden plus what you already had. My advice is to leave the money here until the situation in America changes. Chances are the money may get lost, but if you decide you want it now, you will have to send us a signed statement that will give up all your German rights, and it will be here officially published. All this is necessary as you have left this country legally.
As far as we are concerned, we are doing fine. My nine year old boy, the fourth of my children, broke his hip in 1861, but it is healed up and as good as new. W have six altogether and everyone is okay, Thank the Lord.
I am well respected in my community. In 1861, my 6 year term as High Official expired. Now I have been re-elected as Head of Body. Three others have been voted for. We have celebrated my election with a glass of wine. I sure wish you could be here. I would like to have you near me in some good position so then we could share our happiness and sorrows.
As far as my finances are concerned, I'm doing all right. As you may know, I have taken over my parent's property, and there was a debt of 5-6 hundred Gulden. Now after 19 years, I have sold the property for 4100 Gulden. There was the debt of 600Gulden to pay, so you can see I am doing quite well.
Johan, George Keck, Anna Maria (our sister) are well. There is nothing special I can write you about them. Rosina's daughter is fine, honest, and ambitious, but her father married after Rosina's death. His present wife is from Eschelbron and they have four children. They are all well. Lately, we haven't been the best of friends. Father loaned him 100 Gulden and when Rosina died, he was supposed to pay it back. He insisted it was only 70 Gulden and he behaved very badly about the whole thing. After a lot of anger, Dad told him to keep his money. He wouldn't commit an oath in his old age.
The aunt in Ebhausen isn't very well. She is complaining of short breath, but she is still able to look after her chores. Her daughter, Anna Maria, got married about 3 years ago to Jacob Kauser. They live in Ebhausen. Aunt and her daughter had a lot of trouble with her husband, but it is better now.
Jacob Rubber is Battalion Commander in Gerabrau and married to a rich girl. Gottlieb Gabel, whom you were asking about, died seven years ago. The teacher in Ebhausen died 10 years ago. Greetings from Joel Molz. He is married here and well. Frederick Weik and his wife also send their love. Their children are still single and all well.
Our community as well as the whole country is in good shape. The earnings are almost as good as years ago, even the farmer makes out all right. The livestock has been high for several years, but grain is not as high. Meat is at a very good price. All in all, we are able to live very nicely. No one even thinks of a revolution or war.
Dear Brother, I think you should have stayed where you were born and raised. It would be so much easier for you now. I am sending you the address Schultheis Werner's two children who live in Ohio. They would like you to write them. his oldest daughter, Magdalena, married there in Ohio, and his son, Jacob, too. Should you receive an answer, please send us their correct address.
Please write my brother-in-law, Christian Weick, in Philadelphia. when you write, ask him if he ever received the money, 380 Gulden, his father sent him half a year ago. Ask him to send his father a receipt. Tell him my wife and I send many greetings.
Once more I have to ask if you wish to have your money now. Be sure and sign a statement that will not demand anymore inheritance money.
Greetings from Johan George Keck and Anna Maria, their oldest daughter, Christina, Auntie in Ebhausen and her daughter. Heartiest greetings from my wife, children and I to all of you.
Your loving Brother,
Johan Frederick Schmelzle
PS Christian and Frederick Kubler also immigrated and I have been informed
that Frederick died several years ago. I, as an official, have sent Christian
his inheritance, but Frederick's share is still in the safe.
January 8, 1876
Once more I will write to you and hope this time to receive an answer, if you are still alive. I have written you several times since I sent you your estate (money). The result is always the same, no answer. I have finally, after a lot of trouble, received a receipt from the bank in Stuttgart which proves, by your own signature, that you received the money. Now, dear brother, what should I think? Do you think I have cheated you? You have received the exact portion as the rest of us. If you write me, please tell me your honest opinion, brother to brother.
I am terribly worried about you and your family. My family and I are fine. We have 8 children, 5 boys and 3 girls. Anna Maria, Christina, (who is married to John Rothfurs and living on his father's place. They have 11 to 12 head of cattle, and their finances are in good condition.) Johan Frederick is now 25 years old. He is single and lives with me and helps with my business. The fourth is Andreas. He is 22, and working as a blacksmith employed by Feuerlder in Ebhausen. He gets 3 Gulden per week. The fifth is Jacob, full of life and pep. I've been fortunate with my two older sons as they haven't been drafted yet. They are a head taller than I am, and they are nice young men. The sixth is Johnes. He is learning the brewery trade. The seventh, Margretta, is 12. She is very busy and ambitious, especially in school. Eighth is Willhelm. He is 9, and big and strong for his age. He learns well.
Finally, I am well. I brought lots of land and forest. I could not store half of my grain. Over the winter I had 10 head of cattle and 10 sheep. Because my house wasn't big enough, I brought the whole house from my brother-in-law, Keck. I also bought the shanty that belonged to Father and carpenter Buerle, plus all of the ground, 5 acres, behind the house. Now once more it all belongs to Schmelz's. I have a beautiful orchard full of fruit trees. It cost me 1,700 Gulden. I have been serving this town as a Genilnderth, now due to my large family, I have resigned the position.
I will close now hoping to hear from you very soon. My wife and children send their heartiest greetings. Greetings also from your brother-in-law, John George Keck, and your sister Anna Maria. They are well, and have 5 children. Their second oldest daughter, Philippi, is now married and living in America. The first, Christianna, got married in Warth. Their second son married in Ebhausen. The fourth is Anna Marie, and the fifth is Johana Frederick. Which house the parents are going to move into, I don't know yet.
I remain your honest and good friend, and brother even in long distance.
Johan Frederick Schmelzle
A special hearty greeting to your wife and children, and I hope to meet
them personally some day.
I'll inform you very briefly that I am well. My husband and children are also well. I hope the same of you.
Dearest Uncle, I am very happy that you think of me even though you are far away. I am forgotten by those in my homeland. I don't get to Eberhart and they don't come to me. even my father and Stepmother have forgotten about me. I have taken half of their things. Naturally, if Mother was still living, it would be different.
I trust in the Lord, and no relatives or friends. The Lord is everlasting and gives me comfort.
When you come to Germany, I would be happy to see you. We can talk then.
Niece Marguarita (Rosina's Sister)
As I've a chance to write, I'll drop a few lines. My children and I, Thanks to the Lord, are well, however, we have had great sorrow. Not long ago, my husband went to the market (July 30), and on the 31st they brought him home dead. He had a stomach ailment (in the lower part of his body) which took his life. You can imagine what a shock it was to all of us.
Dear Brother, I live in severe hardships. My three older children are married. Christiana is expecting, my oldest son, Yakob, is in Ebhausen, and my daughter is in America. My two youngest children, daughter Maria, 24 years old, and son, 19 years old, are with me. We are always on our brother's land. My Johan George sold our house to our brother, Frederick. His oldest son married and settled down in it. It was bitter for me to move at my old age into another house. However, now I am in this house and have a field in which I keep my three animals. I would have sold this after my husband's death, but didn't want to move again. The expense is great and the income very small.
Dear Brother, I am often very disheartened about the little help I am getting. Brother Frederick is a very hard man. I can't go to him for advice or help at all. Two weeks ago, his wife was buried. She was ill for one and a half years. I would written only Frederick lost your address.
Dear Brother, we thought you might come to Germany. We would be very happy to see you.
Sister, Anna Keck
Your sister's daughter's address is: Frederick Groshan, Greenville,
February 28, 1879
I want to write a few lines while I have time and tell you how everything is. I am getting along fair financially, but have had great difficulties due to my first marriage. It had been on the verge of breaking up for 6 years and I finally got a divorce January 17, 1865. I then got married to Jacob Frederick Schmelzle, the son of my Uncle who taught your trade. We had a nice, but short life together. He was always sick and one and a half years after our marriage, in 1872, he died. I remained a widow ever since and live with my two children out of my first marriage. My daughter, Katherina, is 19 years old, and my son, Johan, is 17 years old. He is finishing his trade as a shoemaker in May, 1879.
My daughter and I have a lot of work to do, but the income is very bad. Johan is helping us as much as he can when his Master permits him some time off. We have two cows and three heifers which we use to work the land with, as we are not financially able to hire someone to do it. No one would help me around here even if I choke to death in debt.
We had hoped last year that you would visit us and perhaps take us back to America with you. We were bitterly disappointed when you didn't come. We don't' have anyone around here who cares about us. We trust in the Lord. I have no one to turn to, and even though I can't see you, I still believe in you.
Your sister, Maria Keck, would have written to you sooner, only most of the time they didn't speak to each other (brother and sister). She never knew when he wrote or received an answer from you.
I would be very happy if you would stay with us on your next visit here. Please let me know ahead of time.
Let us know how everything is in America as people around here are saying it is hard.
Love to you and your wife and children.
Anna Maria Schmelzle, Widow
Since I haven't received an answer to my letter of March 3, I will write again and tell you our troubles. Please write and tell us about yourself. We are very curious.
I am having it very hard as a widow with two orphans. There is a lot of hard work on the few pieces of land I have and it takes more than it brings in. The taxes are getting higher by the year and no one cares about a widow and orphans.
If it hadn't been for the Bible, I would have been out of my mind with worry and hardships. I am in great financial need at present. I hope and pray that God Almighty will open a heart which will help me.
Please let us know if there is a chance for us to get to America. My 19 year daughter and 17 year old son, who is a shoemaker, can work very hard. The unemployment is rising constantly, therefore if you think it would be possible for us to come to America, write very soon. Of course, we would like it very much if you were to come and take us back with you.
Hope to hear from you soon. Love to you, your wife and children.
Your loving Niece,
Anna Marie Schmelzle
March 12, 1880
I have received your dear letter and learned quite a lot from it. It makes us all very happy that you are doing well. We still have to drag out our wagon to sow the crops, and it is difficult for me to work with the wagon (for money). My son, with his trade as a shoemaker, is in Altensteig. Therefore, all of the business falls on me, and my doing them and this is too much. My children would like to go to America and I wouldn't want to stay here myself, so naturally I would go too. We wish that you could come and take care of the sale of the house and land, and help us to decide what would be necessary for us to take along. We trust you would take care of us. Only then could I decide to do it as the circumstances here are of that which makes one work very hard for every penny. Then, of course, there is always the worry of old age. If I would sell, it would bring in quite a nice sum of money. We hope, therefore, you can come. We can all work very hard. We are all very happy and can hardly wait to see you. Please inform us before you come.
In Eberhart, I was asked to hold the letter so we could all send you letters at the same time and in the same envelope, otherwise, I would have written sooner. However, when I went to see them, they had already sent their letters to you. So, Dear Uncle, do with us as you think best. We know one cannot foresee the future. We hear that life in America is easier than in Germany. We also know, of course, one cannot sit down with folded hands and be lazy, but we aren't like that anyhow. Therefore, we have decided to sell out and make our home in America to which our Dear Father in Heaven may give us his blessings. Perhaps it is the Will of God. Due to this hard labor we get worn out and aged before our times.
Heartiest greetings to you and your wife.
Anna Marie Schmelzle
January 6, 1881
It came to my attention that the relatives in Eberhart misinformed you about my financial status. Even though we work very hard, we still don't have a penny to our name. I would have sold my possessions and moved to the USA if you had answered my mail. Please be good enough to write me and since you are having it so good, it would be appreciated if you would send me a greeting once in awhile. I would do the same for you, if I could. work and money is very scarce around here and it is getting worse all the time, therefore, my children and I would like to go to America. There it is worthwhile to work.
Anna Maria Schmelzle
NO DATE GIVEN
I will try to answer your letter and fulfill your desire to ell you about myself. I am feeling as good as can be expected at my age. Many of my friends are already dead, so I guess I am pretty well off. As far as my children and I are concerned, we have our earthly needs, through the blessings of God. Five of my children are married and live in Eberhart, three are still single. My oldest daughter and the two younger ones live with me and have jobs. My daughter, Anna Maria, is helping me with the household chores. My son, Johnes, is a soldier.
I live in our old homestead. My son, Johan Frederick, lives in Johan George's (brother-in-law) house. The land around the house, about 5 acres, we own together. Indeed we have very nice fruit trees on the land. In the last 5 years, I purchased land and other property for about 40,000 Mark.
It is my deepest and sincere hope that we might meet again. Please let me know if you are able to come, and when we should expect you. If it is God's will, we will see each other in your old homeland.
Heartiest greetings from my children and I to all of you.
Johan Frederick Schmelzle
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