Family history documents and stories to supplement the genealogical information at

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Tena to Katie, 13 Aug 1893

Canal Dover, Aug 13th

Dearest Sister and Brother,

I received your letter a few weeks ago and was glad to hear from you. How are you all getting along and how do you enjoy married life? Do you get homesick, and how often do you go home?

The weather here has been very warm and dry. We had no good rain for a month.

The furnace has shut down for repairs, but they did not start to repair it yet. Will has not had any work since they shut down; it is over two weeks.

Katharin was sick for a few days. She had some kind of a fever, is better again. She goes to Sabbath school every Sunday and learns a little bible verse and a word each Sunday. The baby is well and growing. He is not such a big child but he seems real spry. He sits alone in his buggy or high chair. For the last month, when his papa comes in the house, he reaches out his little arms and begs for to take him. Not one person I heard say that he looks like his mama. They all say he looks like his papa, only blue eyes like his grandma.

I am making short clothes for the baby.

We had a letter from home, and Rose, when you go home, let them see this letter and I will answer theirs in a few weeks. Give to them our kindest regards.

We had a well dug this summer. I forgot to write it in my last letter home. They dug 14 feet, then they drove an iron pipe. It is 30 feet deep, 8 ft of water. It is nice cold water.

Now I will close writing hoping to hear from you.

I remain, your sister,
Tena Weinsz

Regards to all

This seems to be a short summery type of letter. Not much for the commenter to comment on, except I wonder how they got water before they had their well dug?

And I don't know if I think that Albert looks like his father. Twenty-seven years later this is how they looked in a family snapshot.

William and Albert Weinsz, Christmas 1920

What do you think?

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Tena to Katie, 7 August 1898

Canal Dover, Aug 7, 1898

Dear Sister Katie and family,

Your kind letter was received some time ago and indeed was glad to hear from you all. I wanted to write to your long ago, but it seems though I never get at it and I hardly know what to write.

Will and the children are quite well and I don't seem to improve. Some time I feel some better and then I feel worse again. I have not been feeling good for the last month. I am around as usual, it might be the heart that makes me feel bad. How are you all getting along, are you all well? How is Elnora getting along this summer? I hope well. I would like to come home this summer to see you all but I cannot come, my health does not allow me to come. So far I have not been out home yet. I went down street a number of times.

Will is still working on the railroad yet. It is quite hard work.

Last week our church had there Sunday School picnic. They had it in the fairground. Katie and Albert went, they enjoyed it very much.

Have you been home lately and have you seen Father? I had a letter from Rose some time ago and have not answered it yet, but will answer soon if I can. It is now over six months since our dear mother is dead and at rest.

Now I will close writing, hoping to hear from you soon.

Regards to all.

Your sister,
C. D. Weinsz

Tena's mentioning that the Sunday School Picnic was at the fairground got me thinking about county fairs. The Tuscarawas County Fair dates back to 1850 when "[t]he first fair was held at Dover, in what was then known as Hayden's Grove, now the primary school property, Tuesday and Wednesday, October 15 and 16, 1850. A fine display of horses, cattle, sheep and hogs was made, and in the Dover Schoolhouse the exhibition of flowers, needlework, fruits and grain surpassed the expectation of all, and aroused a deep interest in the mind of all who attended."

I thought the local newspapers might have had some coverage of the fair, but in searching The Ohio Democrat on I found very little. The year previous to this letter, the following item was in the September 23 edition of the paper:

The next edition of the paper on September 30 makes no mention of who won the race between the dog and the bicyclist, but does note that Phil. Feil won a prize with his Bared [sic] Plymouth Rock chickens. I think that was supposed to be Barred Plymouth Rock. Feil is a surname Tena mentions frequently in these letters.

Labels: , , , ,

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Tena to Katie, 5 August 1894

Canal Dover, Aug 5th

Dear Sister, Brother and Parents,

I will endever to answer your letter which we have received some time ago and was glad to hear from you. I had a letter from Sister Rose this morning telling that William has not heard from me yet. I wrote to him twice, the first letter I addressed in care of Geo. Roth to think surely he would get it with Father's mail, and then I wrote another letter to him and addressed it in care of Henry Jacob, and was waiting patiently for an answer.

Dear Katie you have heard that the children had not been very well, but they are better now. Katharin seems to be almost over it and Albert is getting better but he is teething rite along. He has 13 teeth now.

How are you all getting along and will there be any fruit on your farm, apples or peaches? I was out home last Sunday. They say the apples are all falling down, we have such dry weather here, and have you thrashed yet? Out home they did not thrash yet.

Last week there was quite a sad accident happened here in Dover. Two young girls were drowned, aged 13 or 14 years. They went wading in the water and go into a deep hole and were drowned. It was in the crick. One was a minister's daughter.

Dear Sister, you may think I have not much to do, but I find there is more to do than any one thinks. When one is alone and has every little thing to do and the children to look after.

Mrs. Feil's baby was very sick with hooping cough and lung fever, is better again.

How is Anna and Martha Brown getting along? If I understood right, they both live in your neighborhood. I suppose you been to see them.

How is Father and Mother getting along? Give them my regards when you see them.

Now I will close writing, hoping to hear from you soon.

I remain, as ever,
Your sister,

Threshing or "thrash"ing as Tena wrote, is the process of removing grain from stalks. In the 1890s, this was usually done with the help of steam-powered eqiupment. There's a good description of the process at the Library of Congress' American Memory Project.

You don't have to imagine what it was like though, if you can attend a steam show. There's one in Dover in a few days, but when I was growing up in Illinois, we often went to the Sycamore Steam Show. We knew it simply as "the threshing bee" and the main reason for us kids to go was to jump in the straw stack when the threshing was finished. Well, that and the pony rides.

More pictures from the Dover Steam Show are posted on Flickr.

Labels: , , ,

Monday, July 6, 2009

Tena to Katie, 18 June 1895

Canal Dover, June 18th 1895

Dear Sister and Brother,

I will now answer your letter we received some time ago. We were glad to hear from you all.

Well now it is summer again and we are having our longest days. I suppose farmers are very busy from early morning untill night. How is the weather? Here it has been very dry and warm. The rains come so far apart. They say the wheat is very short and hay will be scarce around here.

Will is working every day at the furnace. He says she will be finished soon, ready for to start about next month.

School is out. Katharin is glad, it has been so warm to go to school.

We have not been out to Grandma's house for such a long time. You heard that John has been very sick. He is better now. He is out of bed for a week now and is improving. The rest are all well.

I had a letter from Sister Rose last week. She gave me some of the news around home. Do you get home often? When you get home, give our regards to our parents.

I think fruit will be scarce this summer all but there will be apples around here. The strawberries I got for 25 cts. They may come down.

Mrs. John Feil has a little baby boy of a few weeks old.

The children are well at present and Katharin often speaks of yous and what a nice time she had while she was to her Aunt Katie's house.

News are scarce so I will close writing, hoping to hear from yous soon.

I remain, as always,
Your Sister Tena

Our regards to all, write soon

[the following is a note my great-grandmother wrote on the back of her mother's letter]

Dear Aunt Katie,

I will write you a few lines and tell you that my school is out and I am glad of it for it is to warm to studdy. My mamma made me a new white dress. I am seven years old and Albert is two years old. We play outdoors all day long. I go to Sunday School every Sunday. Our Sunday School will have a picnic. I would like to go if I can. So goodbye Aunt Katie


Whoops, June got past me and I'm only now getting around to posting great-great-grandma's June 18 letter. Reading through these letters, I think I can see where I get some of my procrastination.

A few notes about some of the people mentioned. John, who had been ill, would be John Weinsz, Will's brother. He would have been about 22 years old at the time of this letter. Apparently he made a complete recovery from his illness because he went on to marry and have five children and didn't die until 1943.

I don't see a baptism record for Mrs. John Feil's baby boy in the records of St. John's Evangelical church in Dover, but the 1900 US Census shows a 4 year old John P. Feil, son of John and Anna Feil living in Strasburg, Tuscarawas Co., Ohio. The census also says his birthday is June 1894, and he couldn't be 4 years old if that was true. I am guessing that this is the baby boy Tena mentioned and he was born in June 1895 and was therefore 4 years old at the taking of the census on 1 June 1900. Anna Catherine Feil (John Sr.'s sister?) married Louis Weinsz (Will's brother).

Labels: , ,

Friday, June 5, 2009

Tena to Katie, 31 May 1897

Canal Dover, May 31

Dear Sister and family,

I will try and answer your kind letter at once. I know I ought to have written to you long ago, but writing seems so hard for me. I feel so weak in my back. I have been quite poorly all winter and spring.

Will and the children have been well. Katie goes to school every day. Albert goes to Sunday School with Katie every Sunday. Albert has his hair cut, it makes him look more like a boy. I was glad to hear that little Elnora is so well and growing so nicely. How many teeth has she? This will be only her second summer which some times is worse than the first if they have not many teeth.

Dear sister, how is the weather down there? Here it is beautiful. The nights are quite cool but I don't think there was any frosts. Have you had any frosts up there?

William has no work. The furnace is not running steady. Just now it is not running at all and they have not made any good iron yet. Seems it started last week. They were afraid it would blow up for them. A number of men were hurt but not seriously. Now they are cleaning her out to see what is to be done. They think the man that is running her don't understand how to run a furnace and not other work, there seems to be here in Dover [sic]. Is work plenty up there or does it seem rather dull?

I suppose it was quite a surprise to you to meet Aunt Barbery and Fannie and daughter. When you write to them give them my regards.

I am also trying the remedy you wrote to me, taking dry salt. I don't know yet whether it will do me good or not, but hope it may do me some good by keeping on taking it. I also take my medicine with it but in small doses.

Now I will close writing, hoping to hear from you.

I remain,
your sister, Tena

Dear sister, I suppose you will think I can fill a sheet of paper like this at once but I cannot. This took me four days until I finished it.

Tena has left her descendants a mystery with this letter. Who the heck is Aunt Barbery? Barbery, as we have learned through talking to older relatives, is a nickname for Barbara. It seems to be in common usage in Ohio, but I don't think I've come across it elsewhere. But I have not a clue as to who this woman is, nor Fannie. Barbara was a common name in William Weinsz's family, so perhaps Tena is referring to his aunt, not hers. On the other hand, we don't know too much about Tena's mother's family, so Barbery could be related that way. We will have to remain especially alert if/when we find records of a Barbara who could be a relative.

And little Albert got his first haircut. I don't have a date for this photo, but clearly it is after he got his hair cut.

He is here with his sister Katie, and I'm guessing this might be an Easter photo, or spring anyway, because of Katie's light colored dress and pretty hat.

Back to Will's work again or lack of it. It's hard to imagine a time before Unemployment Insurance, Workman's Comp Insurance, workplace safety rules, etc. If the furnace (iron mill) wasn't running, the men didn't get paid.

That newspaper item was from April 8, 1897 edition of The Ohio Democrat, published in New Philadelphia, Ohio, almost 2 months before this letter was written. I tried to learn more about the incident at the end of May, where Tena says "a number of men were hurt", but doesn't have the newspaper for that week. The June 6 edition, however, contained this item:

I know Tena said they were cleaning out the furnace, but with dynamite????

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

A Detour to the Prairie

I hate to create a break in the middle of Tena's letters, but a tweet from a fellow garden blogger got me thinking about Laura Ingalls Wilder and the Little House books. I read and reread those books many times when I was young, and even though I'm no longer young I still love them.

I recalled that Laura's parents, Charles Ingalls and Caroline Quiner, were married in Concord, Jefferson County, Wisconsin, near where my Beilke ancestors settled. (That's the connection to my genealogy, however tenuous.)
Image of the Ingalls family Bible, from Laura Ingalls Wilder Country by William Anderson

I got all excited when I first learned that, thinking that Little House in the Big Woods must have been nearby. Well, no, the Ingalls family had moved on by then and the Little House in the Big Woods was far to the northwest in Pepin, Wisconsin.

My great-great-grandfather, Franz Beilke, and family immigrated from Germany in 1867 (the year of Laura Ingalls birth) and eventually bought a farm in the next township west of Concord.
Franz Beilke house in Jefferson County Wisconsin

While I was searching online for info about the Ingalls family, I can across something that I hadn't heard before. Charles Ingalls, as a boy, lived in Kane County Illinois, just east of where I lived in DeKalb County. So I have a double connection to the Ingalls family, even though both are very tangential. But even more surprising (to me) is the volume of Little House material online. There are fan sites, blogs, and even Twitterers. A whole universe that I didn't know existed.

::: A few links for you to get lost in :::

Blogs & Fan Sites:
Pioneer Girl, fact and fiction of Laura Ingalls Wilder
from laura ingalls wilder to cyberbessie (this blog is part of the site above)
Beyond Little House
Laura Ingalls Wilder, Frontier Girl

Buy a CD of Pa's fiddle music:
Happy Land: Musical Tributes to Laura Ingalls Wilder from CD Baby or from Pa's Fiddle

Or download for $0.89 per song

Follow Little House fans on Twitter:

Laura Ingalls Wilder
Beyond Little House
Laura Ingalls Wilder (HalfPintIngalls)

Labels: ,

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Tena to Katie, 1 May 1898

Canal Dover, May 1st

Dear sister Katie and family,

I will answer your kind letter and let you know we are getting along. Will and the children are well and I am about the same.

Will is working on the railroad.

Father was to see us, I think you know it. I would liked to have him stay longer with us.

Katie was ten years old last Wednesday, April 27. She goes to school every day.

How are you all getting along, how is Elnora? I suppose she enjoys these brite sunny days like Albert. He can hardly find enough time to eat. To day is a very warm day and it is just lovely out doors. The grass is so green and the trees are all in blossom, the air is just fragrant.

I suppose your school has let out, here it will last all this month yet children will be glad when it lets out; it seems hard for them to sit in school when it is so warm.

Well sister Rosa has got back to the old homestead. I suppose she finds enough work to do. It is now over four months since our dear mother died. Peacefull be her slumber.

Now I will close writing, hoping these few lines will find you all enjoying good health.

Your sister,
Christena Weinsz

Regards to all, write soon.

Notes: I'm with Tena and Albert. Nice spring days are too good to spend indoors. I had this letter typed up and ready to post several days before May 1 and then forgot all about it while I was busy in the garden.

Johann Georg Roth and Anna Margarethe Zuelch
Anna Margarethe Zülch Roth passed away on Christmas Day 1897. According to the records of St. Peter's Evangelical church in Amherst, Ohio, she was born in Germany on February 2, 1834 to Conrad Heinrich Zülch and Elizabetha Brand. She met and married Johann Georg (J. George) Roth in Lorain Co. Ohio, where both their families settled. They had at least five children, but only three daughters survived to adulthood - Christena (Tena), the author of these letters; Katie, the recipient of these letters, and Rosa, the sister who moved back home to keep house for her father.

Map of Roth property in Lorain County Ohio
The Roth "homestead" was a farm in Black River Township, Lorain County, on Oberlin Road (now Oberlin Aveune). This is currently within the city of Lorain.
Roth farmhouse in Lorain County Ohio

Housekeeping was a full-time skilled occupation in the late 1800s. Just consider laundry, for example. The instructions in Buckeye Cookery, and Practical Housekeeping take up almost 11 pages, although several of those are stain-removal recipes. When Tena writes that she supposes Rosa "finds enough work to do", I don't think she meant that Rosa was looking for ways to occupy her time, but instead that there was too much that needed attention.

Labels: , , , ,