These days when we want to dispose of documents we use a paper shredder. In my grandparents day, on the farm, they made a fire and burnt what they didn't want to keep. I shudder to think of all the things destroyed in this way; they would have been so wonderful to have now. One of the items that we think ended it's time in this way is a scrapbook of cards and mementos. My mum and her sister, as children remember having it to look at when they were sick. Why would this end up in the fire? My grandparents didn't want others reading about their business when they were gone. This was the time period when the older folk didn't talk much about family history. Sometimes I do wonder what they would think about all the information we do manage to uncover. Some things they wouldn't like I'm sure but hopefully they would be pleased with our efforts to keep loved ones memories live.
Without naming names a few, now very precious items didn't make it to that fire. These items were hidden away and kept safe all these years. (It wasn't me by the way; way before my time.)
A Letter from Bertha Becker (nee Rietschel) in America.
The first letter, written in German, is from Bertha Becker (nee Rietschel) a cousin of Ernst Lebrecht Kirchner (my great grandfather). Bertha at the time was living in Cheney, Spokane, Washington, USA and the letter is dated 23 September 1897.
The contents of the letter was unknown for many years. Then two friends had a go at translating it for me. It still needs quite a bit of work for a proper translation, but below is a rough outline of the letter from Bertha Becker. It is enough to give you an idea of what was written in the letter.
Cheney, Sept 23 1897
Knowing that Bertha was Ernst's cousin I was able to research her parents and come up with more possibilities of Kirchner family members from Sorau, Brandenburg, Germany. I still need a few more records though to ensure that I am on the right track, but without this letter I certainly wouldn't have as much knowledge as I do now.
The letter from Ernst Lebrecht Kirchner's niece, Helene.
This letter, also written in German, comes from Sorau, Brandenburg, Germany. It is written by Ernst's niece Helene and dated 24 February, 1911. It brings the sad news of the death of Ernst's sister. The names mentioned are two nieces, Helene and Frieda. Unfortunately no last names are mentioned.
I have included the transcription of the beginning and end of the letter, below. The middle is about the poor lady's last days and her death so I have not included that.
Sorau, the 24 February 1911
My husband and children, as well as my brother and his wife traveled home yesterday. I will drive tomorrow morning, because I still need to help to put 'things' into order.
I enjoy researching history and families, it's an all encompassing hobby that takes over a lot of my spare time.