Schweitzer family letter, August 18, 1869

English Text

Lexington, August 18, 1869 Dear brother-in-law, sister-in-law, and children! We are ungrateful, dear loved ones, aren’t we? We have let you wait for so long for an answer to your letter and photo. You should not attribute it to indifference. It is only a delay that I do from day-to-day and week-to-week and I tell my dear husband that I have to write to brother Hirschle and family. We have always said that we wanted to take our photos first and then also surprise you with them. There were always many obstacles and new ones are coming up so that we have not taken them until today. Since we are at the end of the old year and the new one approaches I will send our congratulations immediately. Likewise I want to congratulate as to your dear Berthe’s engagement. I hope that it is a happy choice. I sincerely hope that she chose a loving, good husband and that she will have a happy marriage, and that dear God will give his blessings and provides his help. [I hope] that you will have only good and pleasant experiences with her. With regard to us we are currently all well, thank God, which is rarely the case in our family, at one time this child complains, at other times the next one so that one has neither the patience nor the plan to write a letter. When you have indeed a household with 10 people much of the business resides with the woman. Isn’t it true, dear sister-in-law, you will still remember when your children were small that a mother has always a lot to do. The major heat waves that we experienced this summer also contributed to the impatience, it is often unbearable. Therefore business is very weak, we must accept it as it comes along. We had little rain this spring and summer so that the gardens and fields are all burned and lot of damage was done, especially to the leaves and vegetables that we normally have in abundance. We have a beautiful garden and are pleased that we don’t need to buy much but the dry weather burned everything. We hear complaints from all sides. Last Sunday there were prayers for rain in all the churches. Many say that it has never been so hot. How is business, dear brother-in-law, hopefully good, I am delighted to hear about uncle Leiser’s letter that you have been visiting with him and that he still looks as good as they write, your picture still looks as young as 20 years ago, my husband was very surprised. Also your likeness, dear sister-in-law, and Luise’s is very good. I look at you quite often, and wish to be able to talk to you. If Erstine [sic] and Bertha have an opportunity to take photos we would be happy to get their pictures since we have an album. All 3 brothers and sisters-in-law and the children are in it, as well as your dear Isaak. A few weeks ago I visited our people in Fincastle. We were very happy with each other and we conversed that well that I stayed there for a whole week instead of just 3 days as I had intended. I took my 3 small children with me as well as my brother Henry who visited his Kalle [= betrothed] and who had wanted us to meet for a long time. Sophie, Lydia, and Henry stayed at home with their father and time hung heavy on his hands until I was back. Brother-in-law Salomon and his son Jesse visited here last week. I liked it quite well in Fincastle and people got to know me. Sister-in-law Sophie still looks as good as 11 years ago when I saw her last, although she has been through a lot with her child that was sick for so long and died one week before we [illegible] came, the shivah [Hebrew] [first week after death] was just over, and now the שלושים [sheloshim, first 30 days after death]. They take it very hard. Sister-in-law Sophie cannot tell you enough about how courteous the people are there. She likes it as much as in Phila or in Harrisburg. It is a mazel [Hebrew, good luck] if you have good friends and neighbors in the countryside, the people are not half as proud as here. Your dear Isaac looks very good, he was very delighted with the dear children since my dear Flora and Charlie have always had a high opinion of him. You don’t need to worry about him, he has a good home with the Guggenheimer family. These people live every day as well as we on a Yontif. They are rich and powerful people [Hebrew] but they do a lot of good things to poor people. Concerning brother Henry you might have been quite surprised that he became a חותען [chassen, betrothed man] so quickly still in a friendship. Bertha is a very beautiful girl, she also knows how to run a household, which fits better than an American girl who is only used to little except for sitting in a rocking chair. We hope that she will be a good wife for him. She will stay with her aunt until the חתונה [wedding, chattunah / chasseneh] which will be held maybe this winter or in early spring. Bertha is still young and can still learn much from her aunt. We heard that she was sick last week, but thank God she is better again. She likes being in Fincastle, people are very nice and courteous and you will get immediately in contact there. Now for the New Year, dear brother- and sister-in-law, I wish you much luck, blessings, and a long life, and that you will have the z’kee-ah [Hebrew, merit] to lead all your children under theופה ח [chuppah, marriage canopy] and experience many joys with them. The dear God should let all your wishes come true and that we will be able to only hear and report good and pleasant news from each other. Also for you, dear Luise and Erstine [sic], I sincerely wish you to get a beautiful, nice, and rich חותען [chassen, groom] and to get all the things that you wish for. I always think that we could hold a dear רש השנה [Rosh Hashanah] and יום כיפור [Yom Kippur] in a shul [Hebrew, synagogue] since we live long among Gentiles [Hebrew], but God knows when it will happen. My dear children are indeed growing up fast, I wished that you could only see them, my little David Lee is pretty wild, he jumps out of the door as soon as you open it. He is everybody’s favorite. Although he cannot talk yet, we do understand him when he wants something. My Charlie is big and strong, only four years old. Sophie and Lydia already help me a lot since they left school a few weeks ago. They passed their exams quite well and earned a lot of honors. I will leave the remaining space to my dear husband and brother who is a lazy writer, however, and who writes to nobody instead of practicing. We get letters from brother Joseph once in a while, they are well. We received a letter from cousin Moses & Babette recently. I want to write a letter to Uncle, since I get rarely to it. Farewell, keep a good יום טובים [holidays] and delight us soon with a speedy response which is the wish of your faithful sister Babett. My dear children also wish you a חתימה טויבים [good inscription (in the book of life)] Dear cousin Herschle and wife and family: [I want] to add my best regards to you and report about my good well being and I hope to hear the same from you all. My congratulations to the upcoming ראש האשאנה [Rosh Hashanah] and I hope that you are all healthy and will experience the best of all luck. I hope that if everything should go according to my wish that I also [illegible ] to you since I promised my bride [incomprehensible ?] [incomprehensible ?] to go on a [illegible] journey to Germany because I came as a [illegible] boy to America. I have no doubt that I could converse very well. For a few months [illegible ] I would feel unfamiliar. I hope that you will all come to my חתענים [wedding], you are all cordially invited by me. I often [meet?] with Isaac, he is very well acclimated in America. You have to excuse my many mistakes writing in German since I never went to a [illegible ] school to learn German. Many greetings to your dear daughters, I hope that they will all write in [your] next letter. Dear Herschle, I hope that you will visit your dear Uncle Leser often since you are the only nephew that he has in Germany. I close with the wish that you are all well and remain your faithful cousin Heinrich Heilbronner. [In English] I wish you all a Happy New Year Henry Heilbroner Dear brother and family! We should have answered your letter long time ago, but many things prevented me to do it, especially the great heat, everything is like bleached this summer. You know, dear brother, when you get old you become impatient, especially when it does not go according to plan, especially when you have to take care of a large family. In America there are more expenses than in Germany. My congratulations for the New Year to all of you and I wish that dear God will give you happiness and blessings and a lot of joy with your dear children. For the rest I refer to my wife’s letter. I will write more next time. I also wish you a good holiday, this is the wish of your faithful brother and brother-in-law, best regards to you all Abraham Schweitzer

Original text