Saturday, 5 February 2011

Really Old Paperwork

If you love old things, that is, old things relating to my ancestral past, then you'll love this letter. David Loewen, my great grandfather, wrote this to his sister shortly after my Grandma was born.

David and his family had just emigrated to Canada from Russia 3 years earlier, on the Empress of France. Here's my great grandma's passenger declaration (click for a close up):

But now, on to the letter. It's really too bad you have to see it in type instead of in it's original, beautiful Gothic script:


Letter written by David Loewen

Translated from German by Erna Heinrichs

Transcribed to the computer and edited by Carla Heinrichs

Words in italics are notes by Erna Heinrichs.

Footnotes by Carla Heinrichs are numbered.


Beechy, October 2, 1927

Dear Sister and Brother-in-law!

We wish you peace and joy. Tuesday on the 27th of September, we had the pleasure of receiving your such appreciated letter. I have been busy with feeding children, laundry, and putting them to bed, keeping the rooms in order and taking care of Lena, and that has to be done while the neighbourhood has the threshing machine humming and each teamster collects his $7.00 daily.

But we also received a gift. On Sept. 25, 9 o'clock in the morning we were presented with a healthy, pudgy daughter. She has the name which you, Neta, liked so much: Erna. We are happy our children are healthy and growing. You should see how little Lena runs and makes fun. She doesn't only make the children laugh but adults as well.

We have started to teach the children High German. Henry can speak quite correctly already. Susie said “Aunt Neta should come to Grandma's house and we will visit her.” Come and see how our children play ring-around-the-rosy. Little Lena enjoys it too, although she lags behind in the falling down. It is a joy to have the children, but also much work and cost to keep them nourished and a big responsibility toward our Creator who has given them to us.

Lena is much improved (1). She is often out of bed. (When I was working on the obstetrical ward, the doctors had some women in bed for ten days) Henry and Grandma were here visiting today. (Henry was dad's adopted brother who was only six or seven years older than his son Henry.) (2) She is quite well now. She and Henry have been digging potatoes for three days. Papa had ridden to the church. Elder H. Neufeld, Hiebert and leader Martens from Main Centre were there on visit and to bring glory to the Lord.

Wish you were here. The parents have harvested the summer fallow wheat that was close to the house. It netted circa 1300 bushels. Both we and the Enns have nothing threshed. Our crop had suffered little from the frost, but instead we had rust. The last seeded will hardly pay the cost of threshing. Abr Dyck at the river had averaged 20 bushels on his light land: The Wiens have harvested about 130 acres and from that received 2900 bushels and they still have 70 acres to do. Corn Wiebe (Wiens' son-in-law) also has a good crop. Bernard Nickel will not get much. The grain also has various grades. Fitz Morris had wheat in the wagon and had to cover it so the wind wouldn't blow it away. Of potatoes we expect to get 25 bushels. Carrots will probably amount to 8 bushels. The children and I put them in the cellar. Pigs we haven't any. One cow we have for which I paid $45.00. The other (3)----


notes by C. Heinrichs:

  1. His wife, recovering from childbirth. Both David's wife and daughter were called Lena.

  2. That is, the Henry with Grandma is only six or seven years older than Erna's brother Henry.

  3. Unfortunately, the rest of the letter is lost.


"We may have all come on different ships, but we're in the same boat now." Martin Luther King Jr.

1 comment:

art said...

It is interesting when you consider that the events of our ancestor's life seem so remote to us and unimportant yet to them, this was their life. I suspect things that we feel are of utmost importance to us will be viewed by others as mere trivia.