Old Letters and Other Artifacts

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Hello, dears!

I’m super excited to finally show you guys this post! I must warn you, though, it’s quite lengthy. I recommend getting something tasty to eat or drink, finding a comfortable spot, and reading on. 🙂

Ahem. Our new farm was founded in approximately 1777 (so it’s not exactly new, ha), and we’ve found some really neat old things while exploring it. These include but are not limited to a very old graveyard, a fairly old house + schoolhouse/cabin, and approximately 100-year-old postcards, books, and handwritten letters, one of which was written in Germany in 1922, and which I laboriously (and not so skillfully) translated. ARE YOU EXCITED? I AM.

First, the graveyard. As I’ve mentioned before, it’s not far from the big house, as you can see. And no, that doesn’t really creep me out, in case you wondered. XD I hope you guys don’t mind it… 😉

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This one is from 1777, approximately when this farm (and country) was founded! :O At the bottom it says “Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his.”

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Wow, a soldier that fought in the Civil War… O.o (Those blurred out spots are place names. 😉 )

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This one is so sad. 😦

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Is it weird that I like this picture?

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And this one too…

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Some gravestones aren’t even marked, which is also sad.

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Let’s move on to a… nicer topic, perhaps. 😉 I don’t know how old this tree is, but it’s huge and GORGEOUS.

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I love this picture, maybe because it looks estate-ly to me. XD

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Next we have an old broken down log cabin. So exciting. XD But this was most likely the original house! After that it may have been the kitchen, then it was a school, then a garage, and that’s where it fell down – the guy that made it into a garage a long time ago just chopped a large door in the side of the wall, which weakened it so that it finally fell down completely about the time we bought the farm. I can’t wait to clear it away because it’s kind of an eyesore. :[] We’re hoping to clean off and keep the chimney and make a patio with a pagoda there!

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One day Mom and I went inside the rubble and found a dilapidated cardboard box full of old letters and pamphlets and envelopes and such! It was SO neat! Here are a few of the more interesting things we found.

A vintage postcard from 1922…

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And one from 1940…

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Look at that little typewritten note at the top… XD XD IT WOULD BE GOOD TO KNOW YOUR RETURN ADDRESS FOR SURE, AHEM. 😛 Also oh my goodness, I just now noticed something – the stamp is a one cent stamp! And now it costs 50 times that… for a letter, at least.

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And look, some neat old pictures! This was had “Dan, Walter, and Myself” written on the back.

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BAHAHA I don’t think this guy liked to have his picture taken, do you? XD

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The last sentence… 😦 Still so true.

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Sickness and suffering seems to be a common theme in these letters, actually.

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Okay, this is tragic. It’s some school paper or other but I don’t know if the student wrote it or just copied it. Nevertheless…

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What?! They used triple exclamation points back in 1897? I thought it was a modern thing…

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We also found some later typewritten letters. Read the second line up from the horizontal crease in this picture. O.o

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The typewritten letter was addressed to “My Dear Darling Sweetheart” or something like that. I thought it was a love letter at first too, but look how it’s addressed:

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We even found some old checks! Too bad we can’t cash them in. XD

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I believe this is a bank statement. The writing is so pretty, isn’t it? We’re hoping to frame some of the nicer-looking letters. 🙂

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And now… *drum roll* I’m proud to present the old German letter! It was SO much harder to translate than I thought, because some letters like the r’s and s’s looked practically the same, there were ink blots and faded parts, etc. I’m sure I made tons of mistakes, but at least you can get the gist of what it says.

Since this post is long already, I took out a few of the most boring/badly-translated/unnecessary parts, re-formatted it just a bit to make it easier to read, and added notes in brackets. Ahem.

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Dear Aunt!                                        Wednesday, March 16th, 1922 // Marburg/Lahn, Germany

We have received your letter from February. Brother Heinrich is now quite healthy; he has already gained 12 pounds and is very rosy in the face. [HA HA. XD] We have cared for him well, even in winter, and every evening we warm the bed because he gets very cold. His things are all in good condition – I have washed and mended everything. […]

It was a nice sight when Heinrich arrived here. Crooked, half-tied shoes, old blankets over his arm, frozen through and through, and then the dirty rags of a poor soldier. [Goodness gracious! Also I don’t know if I translated “soldier” right, but isn’t that intriguing? Maybe he fought in WWI!] […]

Before the brother came, I had a family of tailors do the work. But when they saw him, they said, “No, no, we don’t need that, we must take care that nothing happens to him, and we have no time for that.” [I think the writer means she used to have tailors make new clothes, but for some mysterious reason, they didn’t want to work for Brother Heinrich. Do you think maybe his being an American soldier had something to do with it?] […]

And now he [Heinrich] thinks that if he had enough money, he would buy a greenhouse in Charlottesville and sell flowers. The houses here are so high in price that we can’t buy even one for a few dollars, not to mention the high taxes. […]

We cannot keep the brother, I’m sorry to write to you. […] It is better that he goes back to Charlottesville again, where he is used to, and where they sing to him in his old age, and care for him. Here in Germany that is not possible because only locals are admitted [to nursing homes] and he is an American. He has now had his way and has been to Germany. […]

My people do not want me to take on such a burden again as I bore for 40 years –  I fed my father for 40 years, and the brothers lived freely and didn’t care about him. [she mentioned how hard it was to care for her father several times. It must have been quite a job.] […]

You meant very well, but now you’ll understand we cannot keep him [Heinrich] here. I am always bound to him and cannot go my own way, which I should and must. So, dearest aunt and cousins, I would like to politely and urgently ask you to send Brother H. a ship ticket very soon, […]

[Okay guys, the next part is where things get interesting:]

The cost of living is almost impossibly high here. The meat is reduced by 2 marks each week: it costs 50 marks per pound. [I researched how much this would be in U. S. dollars today, and it would be $240,806. *horrified look*.] Butter costs 42 marks [$202,193] all winter. A feather bed costs 5000 marks [GUYS. THAT’S $1,600,000. :O :O :O]. You can now imagine how trying it is to have the brother in my house, and once again I ask you to release me soon from this burden. I knew in advance how everything would come about and that was why I was against it. […]

The constantly rising inflation has an appalling effect on the minds. You wrote that you wanted to do something for the brother, so I would like to ask you once more to put him in a retirement home, where he has care and company – here he knows no one.

Dear Aunt, I hope you’ll soon help me sort out this matter and send the ship’s ticket to the brother, because our stock of potatoes will only last until August and there are no new ones to be found. […]

In the hope that this letter finds you in good health, […]

Auguste Hoof Schwaner

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So I looked it up, and in the first half of 1922, when this letter was written, the German mark was worth 320 marks per U. S. dollar. O.o In the SECOND half of 1922, the mark went into hyperinflation and plummeted to $7,400 MARKS PER DOLLAR: you had to use 7,400 German dollars to buy something worth ONE American dollar! Oh my goodness.

Auguste, unfortunately you haven’t seen anything yet. I sure hope they got Brother Heinrich out of there before Auguste’s family ran out of money or potatoes, don’t you?

We’re actually planning to take down the log cabin at some indeterminate but hopefully soon date, and I’m sure we’ll find a bunch more fascinating things underneath the floorboards! Did you enjoy this post enough to be interested in another on what we find when we take down the log cabin or is this stuff kinda boring in your opinion? Do tell!

Also. What was your favorite “old thing” in this post? Have you ever found neat artifacts like these? Thanks for reading this long-winded post, my dears, and please have a lovely day!

***Allison***

P. S. GUYS, GUESS WHAT? WE HAVE FAST INTERNET NOW! (*Update* Okay so it’s supposedly unlimited, but after we use up our high-speed data it cuts us back to slower internet. Not as bad as before, but still…) That means I don’t have to drive 10-30 minutes to a library to use their Wi-Fi, and therefore I can make posts more often! *grins hugely*

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144 thoughts on “Old Letters and Other Artifacts

  1. Oh my word! I am just now seeing this through your link in the post “Christmas Wonder.” This is so amazing! How thrilling it must’ve been to find all of that! The Cemetery (I guess that’s a family cemetery?) is so interesting. (and sad. The baby!😩) The letters are fascinating! I love the beautiful handwriting everyone had then.
    If you have anymore awesome finds, please share! this post is SO interesting!
    Merry three days before Christmas!

    ~theJunebugblog | https://thejunebugblog.wordpress.com

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    1. Aww, thanks so much for the great comment! Isn’t it so neat?! YES, same here! I’ll make sure and write another of these posts if we find any more old things like this.
      Hee hee, same to you! 😀 (But EEEP, it’s only two now!)

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  2. This was really cool! The house that used to stand where our house was now was build in the 1700/1800s. We hoped to find some cool stuff but our grandparents had been living there for awhile and never found anything of any interest. When we had to tear the house down, we found a half burned German Bible in the attic and a coin in the soil from the early 1900s. that was cool!

    I love history stuff!

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