German Letter
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Stearns/Schumacher Family Letter

Many years ago I found an old letter, written in German, in my grandmother’s family collection. I tried to translate it myself a bit but found it very hard to read the German script. At one point, my dad knew someone who said they could translate it and copies were given to them, but they did not translate it and the copies were returned.

Many years later, I checked into the WikiTree Translators groups and asked if anyone had some spare time to translate it. Not too long after asking, someone responded with a wonderful translation of the letter.

It is dated 11 Apr 1923, not long after Germany lost World War I. It’s a fascinating view into history on how things were in the area in the early 1920s, how tough it is dealing with French occupation in certain areas, and how expensive everything was after the war.

It is assumed the letter is written from what is now Haßfelden, which looks to be near Wolpertshausen and part of Schwäbisch Hall in Baden-Württemberg, Germany. She mentions the area and also nearby area of “Forst” which is probably Großforst, where some of the family is from. At the time, it was technically the Free People’s State of Württemberg.

We don’t exactly know who wrote the letter, though it was probably written to my great-great grandmother, Margaret (Stearns) Braatz. At this point, her parents had passed away, so this may be from an aunt or cousin still living in Germany.

Here is the English translation. You can find the German transcription and images of the letter on WikiTree.

Dearest Margarete and your whole
family, we thanks to God received your valuable
letter with unspeakable joy yesterday 10 April
and have read that with you dears everything
is hale and hearty which I can also
truly say of mine, which is the greatest
richness. You all dears, Fritz and
Fritz and grandfather have preceded
us into eternity which has torn
a big gap for us, but God be thanked
thousandfold that the children of
Fritz are all grown and can work.
The oldest of the children is named Fritz
the other one Hans the third Wily and Clara.
And Rosine lives in Eschenthal [Eschental near Kupferzell], has also
[married] a smith and also has 4 children the
oldest of them is also named Fritz and
the other is named Hans he is a teacher and
the third is named Hermann and a girl
Lina and Rosa died at age 18
that was a big todo for Rosina, the oldest
of the boys is a smith he is
at home and works in the smithy and the
third works the field they have
24 Morgen [1 Morgen is roughly 0.6 acres] Lina is still at home
and helps her mother work, her father-
in-law was brother to old Mrs. Neubäuer in
Kleinforst.

Dearest Margret
about Forst I don’t know any more, nobody
comes to Haßfelden from there Ludwig
has died and Eberte [female] has also died
and nobody likes her husband, Berute’s
Johann has given off [??] his Son, Schuster’s Katharina
and Maria with their daughters have moved to Kirchberg
of the Weisenbauern nobody is
left [on the farm] from the family, Enders’s Johann
his son married a woman vom Braisbach whose
dower cost 2 million [this was the time of hyperinflation in Germany] . . .

Dear Margreth, you can imagine that everything
is so expensive that you can’t
pay for it anymore. What do you think how
hard this year will be. It is almost impossible
to find money. If grandfather
would have died 14 days later, then
his coffin would have cost 70 thousand marks
instead of 50 thousand now. Think how
expensive that is. Where take the people who have contributions
from the war the money. They are all poor, they have
nothing. We only thank God that you
Dear ones are no longer in Germany. What
a big dream for old people
who can no longer work. How
should you pay for everything.

Dear Margreth now
I am 83 years old, grandfather was 84. You can
imagine, my dear, how it is with me now. I can
still do my work and
still sit at the spinning wheel, but I see and
hear poorly. I am mostly in my room,
you know, just to the right when you come up the stairs.
Oh, dear, we had it good
before the war, but now we have a lot of
worries. If only we could be a
moment together, that
would be a joy, it would hardly be
expressible. But since it will not be
we will be patient until we can
embrace each other in eternity.
Then it will be beautiful when we and our predecessors
see each other and embrace each other

Dear Margreth, you would also like
to know what is happening with your house.
It is still in the old place,
but I don’t know what it looks like inside. There will not be much
changed. The Ludwig girl got married.
Her husband died many
years ago. Years ago I heard say
she leaves everything fallow and the estates are
all overgrown with Behwaasen (???). It must be
a lazy person. How
it really is, I do not know.

Dear Margreth,
If you are well, live happily,
because time flies fast and when
your dear children are in a good mood, that’s a
[right across the lines]
great gift of God. I mean, I wrote that to you most of the time.
I will tell my Rosine that you have written
She will be very happy, because
she will write to you right away. My dear, on the 8th
April we had with our Willy
Confirmation, there were also my son-in law
and his daughter with us. I could have told him
immediately, but your
letter arrived on the 10th.
And my dear, it is hard for me
to write a letter, because it costs too much.
We have to pay 100 M when the distance is only
10 minutes, to
America 300 marks. But for the
sake of great joy and love
everything goes. I think she will come to me
in a few weeks and look after me.
Dear ones, I want to let you know,
that the eldest son of our Fritz
has gone through the better school; first of all
the elementary school, then the continuation school
extra with the priest and the
agricultural school. Now he is an administrator
on a princely farm. But because it
really so bad in Germany,
he has sometimes said he would go
to America, too. Where he has been,
the French have invaded
and have occupied everything; they mistreat
us Germans so badly. We are
badly off. In the Rhineland everything is
occupied by the French and they go on
and on. We have to
accept everything. We can
do nothing against it. We are simply
powerless.
Warm greetings from all of us.

The address of Rosine is:
Johan Härterich
Eschental
Post office Kupferzell O/A. Öhringen
Württemberg Deutschland
Germany.

Published by Brian Zalewski

I started genealogy research about mid-1999. My grandfather had passed away in April of that year. Since then I’ve done a lot of research not only for myself, but for friends and other relatives. In 2006, I married the love of my life, Darcy, and welcomed the birth of our daughter, Aerissa Jean, in 2010 and our son, Xander Lee, in 2012. I can’t wait to tell them stories about all of their ancestors.

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