Family history documents and stories to supplement the genealogical information at

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.

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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.

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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).

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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Tena to Katie, 18 March 1894

Dover, Ohio, Mar 18th

Dear Sister and Brother,
I will answer your kind letter which we received some time ago. It seems as tho I hardly get time to write. The children been having such bad colds that it takes me so much time to take care of them. In fact the baby had the cold all winter and part the time he had a high fever from teething. He has six teeth now. He was one year old the 2nd of March. He walks from chair to chair and along the wall all over the room and he walks a few steps alone.

What beautiful sunny weather we have in this month of March. It seems as tho it would stay spring. Will has spaded up most of the lot and we have put out a bed of mullet [sic] seed. I think it a little early yet.

Will has no steady work yet, although he has worked some two weeks ago. He worked five days at the rolling mill and last week four days; this week he has no work.

Last Sunday the children of our church had examination; this Sunday they were confirmed. I suppose the same at your church in North Amherst.

Katharin enjoys herself these nice sunny days. There is a robin comes to the back door and sings, and Katharin sings. Every morning she has to see if it is here yet. She calls it her robin.

Katharin also is glad that Easter is coming, and the Rabbit will bring her some nice eggs. She made her rabbit nest last week in an old market basket.

The boys out home have their oats ground ploughed.

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

I remain, as ever, your sister,

Regards from all to all


Mullet seed? I feel sure this is an error in transcription, but the transcription very clearly reads "mullet seed". I can only think of two possibilities for what Tena originally wrote.
  1. Millet seed, although this seems an unlikely crop for a town garden.
  2. Sallet seed, an alternative spelling of salad which generally meant lettuce or other greens.

    My German dictionary says the German word for salad is Salat, by the way. Early spring would be the time of year to sow it, although as Tena said, mid-March may have been a little early. The gardener in me wonders where they got the seed and what kind it was and how the crop turned out.

Confirmation. The Ragersville Historical Society transcribed and published the record books of St. John's Evangelical Church in Dover, the church to which Tena refers. It seems Palm Sunday was the usual day for confirmations and March 18 of 1894 was Palm Sunday. Pastor D. J. Helmkamp had a class of 21 confirmands, and among them I see a few familiar names.

Eduard Zoller, son of Heinrich Zoller and Maria nee Oehling. Little Katherine's future husband's mother was Celestia Ailing. The original spelling of Ailing was Oehling. Maria is surely a relative, but I don't have an exact match in my notes.

Klara Feil, daughter of Christian Feil and Anna Maria nee Hammann (Harmann). Klara's much older sister Anna Catherine, married Will Weinsz's brother, Louis.

Karl Wendling, son of Ludwig Wendling and Charlotte nee Weber. Charlotte may have been "the Mrs. Wendling out on the farm", refered to in Tena's letter of 27 December 1893.

Somehow I never thought of the grass in an Easter basket as being a rabbit's nest. I always thought it was for the hen to lay her eggs in.

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