Sometime ago Grace suggested that I make available a review of my old diary, mentioning such points that may be of interest to one or the other of our children. Later Raymond expressed the same wish. Of this I remarked the following on December 29, 1962, in my diary: “Raymond suggested that I make up a report of what I entered into my diary during all the past years otherwise everything I recorded would be lost forever because I recorded most of it in German shorthand (except during the first few years) which no one could read.” On January the 20th, 1963, he and Leona phoned us over long distance from their home in Lawton, Oklahoma, and Raymond, that not everything I wrote be reproduced but only such points which in my opinion might be of interest to one or the other of these who in years to come may read it. For example, I mention the name Otto Weise repeatedly, as far back as Christmas 1901. While this could interest Arvilla and Ewald a bit, it would hardly interest the others. Since my diary extends over about 35 years, or about 12,600 days, it would naturally be out of place to refer to each day. My aim is to offer a brief report covering the various years and to mention only such points that might be of interest to one or the other of the readers. On March the 3rd, 1963, Grace inquired again whether I prepare a review concerning my old diary. I had already written the above – and a little more – and read it to her. My regular daily enterings begin with January 1, 1962. I wrote several pages concerning activities in 1901. Of these, the following make up a condensed review. Up to October 31, 1904, all is written in regular “longhand” German script and is available for all who want to read it. I expect to leave all the more than a dozen books with Arvilla. She lived with us longest.
The year 1901 was in general a dry year. We harvested ten bales of cotton and a sufficient supply of corn. On Sept. the 15th I served (for the first time) as sponsor at the baptism of little Herbert Louis Wiederaenders (now Rev. Wiederaenders, older brother of Dr. Roland Wiederaenders, first vice president of Synod). Their now sainted mother gave me my first music lessons around the turn of the century. Their father taught me how to play by “Tonleiter:” musical scale, which to this day enables me to play familiar songs without the use of notes. On November 24th, a Sunday, brother Ernst’s marriage to Miss Auguste Koslan of Manheim took place. Among the eight couples of witnesses (Brautfuehrer) were brother Carl, I (accompanied by Marie Senff who later married Joe Mosebach who died last year: 1962), sisters Marie, Selma, and Lydia. The wedding took place at about three o’clock in the afternoon in Ebenezer Lutheran Church at Manheim. Pastor L. Ernst of Lincoln officiated. After the wedding a number of pictures were taken by photographer Meyer of Giddings. (Note: I still have some of these pictures. Rev. Ernst married sister Marie a few years later, and later served for years as pastor in Blue Hill, Nebraska where he passed away a good many years ago but where sister Marie, about 87, still lives, taking an active part in our “Family Letter”). In the evening the brass band of Lincoln furnished some music.
After the summer vacation, teacher G. A. Kilian of Serbin asked me to serve as his assistant in our Serbin Lutheran School. My salary is $10.00 per month. Before and after school, and usually on Saturdays, I help take care of his “chores around home and on his farm…” I am well pleased with the position, which I now have held three months. If it is God’s will, I shall very likely be offered again in the future and hold it as long as it will please the Lord. May God grant that I become a better assistant in the new year – and by His grace a better man all along!” During recent weeks I have taken private instructions in German grammar from Pastor H. T. Kilian… In English I have a fair collection of words, but since I have no opportunity to speak, they do not help me much. But I intend to begin writing English letters… (Note: I recall that I closed one of these first letters with the words, “God be with you till we meat again.” However, before I had sealed the letter, sister Marie had me change the spelling of “meat” to “meet.”) This year I got my first rides on a railroad train. In July, father, sister Marie, and I took a trip to Austin where we stayed over nite with Mrs. and Mr. Herman Fehr (he was a barber, his wife the former Selma Kilian, second eldest daughter of Teacher Kilian). In the first part of August, sisters Selma and Lydia, and I as well as brother Carl and Amalia and Ida Sander of Lincoln took a trip to Muldoon from where some cousin of Swiss Alp took us per wagon to Swiss Alp. All enjoyed the trip and visits very much… For the children’s Christmas Eve service I collected $20.30 for little “houses” for the candy, 60 pounds of candy, one barrel of apples and little picture booklets… After the service, teacher Kilian asked to kindly trim his tree. Otto Weise and I did. Then we were given some coffee and cake – and each a cigar. I received a present from Mrs. Kilian with the words “In remembrance.” Then Otto Weise and I left for home where we arrived at 12 P.M…. When I arrived at church on first Christmas day, Mrs. Kilian asked me to play the organ for the German service because teacher did not feel well either. But I took the hymns along for tomorrow and played the organ the next day – for the German service (Gerhard Fritsche, I think, played for the Wendish service). From church (first holiday) I went along to Weises where I played their new organ. Sie geht O.K. In the afternoon, papa, and the little ones (Berta and Ben Mroske) came there in the afternoon. When I came to church the second holiday, I found that teacher Kilian was confined to his bed and that I had to play the organ in church although I felt very bad myself. In the afternoon Otto Weise came for a visit, but I was in bed. (Note: The foregoing was entered into my old diary on January 2, 1902. This – the last few lines – were typed March 8, 1963)…”Ben Mroske”, referred to above, was born in the late 1890’s, and was taken in charge by my parents when his mother, a sister of my mother, died when Ben was born.
Before listing sample entries of individual days, it may be of interest to give a brief account of the main points that the year brought about. But before doing this, in order to give my life’s story somewhat complete it is in place to go back to the earliest years.
I was born on July 18, 1882, on the farm near the banks of Rabbs Creek, some six miles west of Giddings, still occupied at the time of this writing (May 13, 1963) by my brother Otto. According to old church records of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church at Serbin, Texas, I received a “Haustaufe” – was baptized at home, by Pastor John Kilian, for whom KILIAN HALL of our AUSTIN CONCORDIA LUTHERAN COLLEGE was named. My three sponsors were the now sainted Eduard Wiederaenders, brother of my father’s first wife and uncle of Dr. Roland Wiederaenders, at this time first vice president of our Synod, uncle August Kasper, brother of my father and the father of cousin Gerhard Kasper, and Aunt Minna Knippa Sander, sister of my mother and the mother of cousin Adele Gruetzner.
I entered St. Paul’s Lutheran School at Serbin in 1890 and was confirmed in 1896 by Rev. H. T. Kilian. My confirmation passage was Psalm 37:37 – “Bleibe fromm, und halte dich recht; den solchem wirds zuletzt wohl gehen.” “Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright; for the end of that man is peace.” (For a more detailed account see REUNION OF CONFIRMANDS AND 40TH CLASS OF GRADUATES, May 20, 1962, of which I submitted a copy to each of our four children). School-years began and ended at Easter. Summer vacations were observed in August and September to let the children help their parents gather in the cotton crop. As a rule the “course of study” in school covered six years, provided the confirmand had reached the age of thirteen before ST. MICHAEL AND ALL ANGELS DAY (Sept. 29). This made me, Willie Weise (birthday May 28), and eight others in 1896 eligible, but barred Otto Weise of the same class because his 13th birthday was in October. Instead of “grades,” the various groups of pupils were classified as “classes,” – the lowest the Sixth, the highest the First Class. The teacher for the three lower classes – 6,5,4, was teacher Hy. Werner, that for the three upper classes – 3,2,1, teacher G. A. Kilian. All the subjects were presented in the German language, – including geography and arithmetic. “History” was unknown. Religion was handled in German and in Wendish – the latter always came first, so did the regular divine service every Sunday. All I remember from “geography” was the names of the five continents (Erdteile) in the order of their respective known age: Asien, Afrika, Europa, Amerika, Australien. (To take a jump of a good many years ahead, – Even at college the subject of World’s History was handled in German. As to English service, – the first I ever attended was after I had come to Houston in 1907).
Now back to the year 1902. Although I did not know it at the beginning of the year 1902, this year was to mark the beginning of happenings that resulted in shaping the future course of my life. Sometime during the first half of the year I decided to become a regular teacher of our Christian Day School system. This involved taking a five-year course in Synod’s “Teachers Seminary”, at that time located at Addison, Illinois, some twenty miles west of Chicago. It also meant leaving home that summer for four years without returning a single time, – and spending five Christmas vacations at the college where I helped scrub the floors to earn a few dollars. The first summer, 1903, I spent on a farm near Crete, Illinois, not far east of Chicago, the second, 1904, on a farm at Wayside, Wisconsin, the third, 1905, on a farm near Luverne, Iowa, west of Cedar Rapids. The following summer, 1906, I spent at home. In 1907, I graduated and received a call from Trinity Lutheran Church in Houston (Pastor Rev. C . A. Waech, still living at the time of this writing – over 90 years of age with whom I still exchange letters of friendship). More details concerning these places will follow when these years will be discussed. But here I must make one exception because of its far-reaching consequences. I refer to the summer of 1904 which I spent at Wayside, Wisconsin, and for the first time met the 17-year-old girl who six years later became my dear wife in 1910 and ever since stood by me faithfully and served me most efficiently – at the time of this writing (May 25, 1963) for nearly 53 years. May the Lord be her great reward!
My salary at each of the three places mentioned above was $25 per month – far more than my brother Ernst received around that time, working on a farm for $10 per month, – around home in the neighborhood of Serbin and Giddings, Texas.
Instead of quoting sample entries, I consider it of advantage to give a brief report covering the different years. More details will be found in the diary. The first half of 1902, I helped out in the Serbin school, then at home to August 30. The next day, Sunday Aug. the 31st, I started on my trip to Addison by way of the “Katy Flier” which I took at Elgin, Monday morning in Dallas. Passing through some city in Oklahoma, I noticed some parades and was told they were in the interest of “Labor Day,” the first time I heard about this day. At 8 Tues. A.M. Sept 2, we were in St. Louis where the sign DR. PEPPER caused me to believe he was a famous doctor, – not knowing that fifty, sixty years later Dr. Pepper would be my favorite soft drink. – At 5 P.M. we were in Chicago, at 8 in Addison, where Gustav Jakobik and I spent the first night with Stahmers, the seminary caretaker. The rest of the year, 1902, was spent in the seminary. (For details see my diary of Sept. to December 31).
Reconsidering the statement in the first sentence of the foregoing paragraph, I decided to offer both: “quoting sample entries” and “A brief report covering the different years.” As to “sample entries”, it might be of interest to choose at least the following two: July the 4th and July the 18th (my birthday). So let’s go back to the foregoing year, 1902, where I entered the following: Friday (July 4). Papa, Selma, and Miss Clara Weise drove to Lincoln yesterday where today is observed as a holiday. I was remembered quite generously by the school children. I received 12 peaches, 3 pears, 4 plums, 3 sticks of candy, 6 cards, 1 biblical picture, and one handkerchief (from Lydia Zoch). All these from the children. After school, Teacher Kilian and his folks prepared iced cream. Then I drove along home. G. Jacobik came along and remained over night. From him I received a shirt.
Now to the year 1908. June 24, marked the end of my first year in the seminary. I thanked the Lord that I had passed in all subjects. The first three years – “Classes” 5,4,3 of the five years course (1902-1905) made up the high school course, the last two the college course (1906, 1907). All religious instruction was given in the German language. Even World’s History (Weltgeschichte) was handled in German and on the basis of a German textbook. All divine services were held in German. (As far as I remember, the first English sermon I heard was after I had arrived in Houston after my graduation in 1907).
In the afternoon of June 24th (1903) I in company of another student arrived at Crete, Illinois, some 20 miles southeast of Chicago, where I worked during the summer months for $20 per month on the farm of Henry Hasemean. (Note: On a previous page I wrongly stated that the salary at all three places was $25 per month).
July 4 (1903). Today was observed as a holiday everywhere, but I did not go anywhere. In the forenoon I cultivated in the corn patch. The afternoon I had free.
July 18, Saturday. My 21st birthday, – was in no way different from other days. In the morning I hauled milk to the factory, in the afternoon I worked in gathering hay.
August 2: Sunday. In the forenoon I attended church. In the afternoon I was at home alone. In the evening I milked 8 cows. (Note: The above was typed
July 18, Thursday, my 61st birthday, 1963.)
Aug. 6, Thursday: Herr Haseman, Adolf (hired man) und ich waren nach Indiana fischen. Haben 21 Fische gefangen.
Aug 8. Saturday, I hauled manure the whole day into the field. Received from brother Carl, G. Jakobik, and Otto Weise letters. Brother Carl is since July 21 in Northrup (Depot agent). He receives $56.00 per month.
Aug 9. Sunday. I was not in church. I wrote letters to brother Carl and Otto Weise.
Aug. 29. Saturday. Now the vacation is over. God be praised and thanked for His help and that He permitted me to always enjoy good health. But it is also He from whom I need help in the future. May He be with me with His grace and assistance, in order that I may begin and end everything to His glory and my and my neighbor’s benefit. To this end help me, dear God, for Christ’s sake according to His will.
Sept. 1. Tuesday. At 8:30 August Paul, Fred Radema, and I left Crete and at 1:30 we arrived at Addison. The Lord be praised and thanked that He granted us a safe arrival.
Sept 5. Saturday. From 8 to 11 we studied – the regular hours. Towards evening I took my wash to Leesebergs. (Note: They were my “Benefactors” who took care every week of my wash, free of charge. I gave piano lesson to one or two of the girls.)
Sept 9. Wednesday….G. Jakobik and I bought a watermelon for 18 cents and ate it.
Dec. 31. Thursday. The last day of 1903. In the forenoon I helped scrub the floors. Towards evening, H. Albers and I walked to church (some five miles away from Addison). After we returned from church, we received a fine meal and wine. (Note: Most of all sample entries are shortened, the original for Dec. 31, covers nearly two pages, closing in shorthand with Psalm 111 – word for word.)
Note: I now decided to leave all of the more than a dozen books of my original diary with Grace, instead of with Arvilla, not so much because Grace was the first to suggest “that I make available a review of my diary” (see first paragraph on page one of this “review”), but because in years, many years, to come it will be but natural that her children may take a greater interest in perusing the contents than Arvilla’s stepchildren would be.
1904: The year that marked the beginning of my acquaintance with the 17-year-old beauty who six years later (July 21, 1910) became my dear life’s companion with whom by this time (August 11, 1963) I by God’s grace have lived 53 years of a happy and blessed life. May the Lord be her rich reward! – It will be understood why further down I’ll list more entries from my diary that cover my two months stay (July and August) with the Borchardt’s at Wayside, Wisconsin. – But now to the beginning of the eventful 1904.
Jan 1, 1904. Friday, Prof. Brohm delivered a very good sermon. The text was Romans 12:12: “Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer”. God, help me, that I always do accordingly, that I depend on Him only and take all my cares before Him. Thus I may enter the new year confidently and need not worry about anything, for if He is for me, who can be against me? Above all, may He protect me against sin in order that at all times I may with a good conscience stand before Him. To this help me, Thou faithful God! – In the evening, I wrote a letter to brother Carl.
Jan. 2, Saturday. I again helped scrubbing the floors of the seminary. Received a letter from home with $10 and $1 from Marie Janasch. In the evening, I took my wash to Leesebergs, gave two piano lessons, and stayed there over night.
Jan 3, Sunday. In the forenoon, I drove with Leesebergs per sleigh to church. In the afternoon we had much company and good entertainment. At 9:30, I walked back to the seminary.
Jan. 4, Monday. In the morning it was 18 degrees below zero…. In the afternoon I received from Mr. Stahmer (the caretaker) $4.50 for having helped scrubbing the floors.
Jan 5, Tuesday. Today the absent students returned. Tomorrow instructions will begin. May God bestow His blessings upon teachers and students. In the evening I wrote a letter to Otto Weise.
Jan. 24, Sunday. Prof. F. Koenig delivered the sermon. (Note: He was the father of Paul Koenig, at that time a classmate of mine, but later prepared for the ministry and is now Dr. Koenig, pastor of Christ Church, St. Louis). Although it was 8 degrees below zero, Walter Gotsch and I walked to Leesebergs. We enjoyed ourselves. We also received ice cream.
Feb 11, Thursday. During the night it snowed heavily, hence we had no lessons until 9:15. We shoveled snow.
Feb 25, Thursday. I had a letter from Otto Weise. In English dictation, I had 14 errors. Very bad! God help me, that I’ll do better! (Note. The foregoing entries are intended as samples, that would follow up to June 28th, 1924, the close of the schoolyear, the end of my second year, fourth class, in the seminary. I had again passed in all subjects. On June 29th we received our reports. The same day I went with my classmate Ben Krueger to Wayside, Wisconsin, where I spent the next day. Now the following, – the beginning of my wonderful stay with the Borchardts):
July 1, Friday. In the morning Ben Krueger and I went to Borchardts. Ben Krueger and Mr. Borchardt got our trunks from the depot (Reedville). In the afternoon Mr. Borchardt and I worked in the potato patch. In the evening Miss Emma and I went to a neighbor, Weldts. I think that I’ll like it here (after but one day’s stay!).
July 4, Monday. In the forenoon it rained. In the afternoon Fred, Emma, and I went to a picnic. But there was not much going on. In the evening Fred and Emma went to another one. I wrote in Emma’s autograph. That Emma and Fred went to another picnic, I do not like at all. God grant that they do not get into evil company!
July 5, Tuesday… I turned around hay with a machine (Hay Tadder, I think it was called).
In the afternoon we hauled in three loads of hay. Emma also helped. I like her very much. God, protect her from all sins!
July 6, Wednesday…In the evening we had a little music. I played my violin, father, mother, and Emma sang. It was very beautiful. I like Emma better from day to day.
July 18, Monday. My 22nd birthday… In the evening Krueger’s boys and Albert Siebert were here. In the morning Emma and I picked berries.
July 19, Tuesday. We hauled in the last three loads of hay. In the evening Lochner’s boys were here. Received a letter from Otto Weise. Emma gave me a necktie for birthday.
July 23, Saturday… Emma does not get out of my mind. I like her very much. O Lord! If it is Thy will, grant that I do not fall in love with her, nor she with me. Very likely, I cannot have her anyway. However, your thoughts are not our thoughts and your ways are not our ways. But this I ask: Grant that she may love and fear Thee above all else. That you may also be her and my greatest treasure, that Thou be her Guide unto death and receive her finally in our everlasting rest in heaven. Do this for the sake of Thy beloved Son. Amen.
August 19, Friday. Emma’s 18th birthday is today. I gave her a FORGET-ME-NOT booklet and a birthday card.
Sept 5, Monday. In the forenoon I packed my trunk. Emma helped me. Spent some very fine hours. They gave me lots of things. In the afternoon, Ben Krueger and I visited Teacher Boxman. In the evening we took farewell from Borchardts. Mrs. Borchardt had tears in her eyes. I felt very heavy-hearted.
Sept 6, Tuesday. Today we went back to Addison. Mr. Krueger took us to Reedville. Towards evening we arrived at Addison.
Sept 8, Thursday. In the forenoon, I unpacked my trunk. In the afternoon opening services were held. Director Krauss delivered a very good address on the text: “Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed thereto according to thy word.” Ps. 119:9. O Lord my God, grant that I direct my way according to thy commandments and assist me in all my work!
Sept. 16, Friday. I received a photograph from Emma Borchardt.
Sept 19, Monday. Received a letter from Otto Weise.
Sept 23, Friday. Received a seven-page letter from Emma Borchardt, *), which brought much joy to me.
Oct 13, Thursday. In the morning I wrote a letter Emma Borchardt. *).
Oct. 24, Monday. Received a letter from brother Carl in which he informs me that he is engaged to Emma Zoch. (Note: Up to Oct. 31, 1904, I wrote in the regular German script, “longhand”, but also included a good many statements in shorthand. From now on, Nov. 1, 1904, everything is recorded in shorthand.)
*) “Wrote a letter to Emma Borchardt,” “Received a letter from Emma Borchardt,” these statements will be found henceforth quite frequently in my diary – up to April the 5th, 1909, when I discontinued. (On Aug. the 5th, 1936, I took it up again and since then every day has been mentioned.) As to my correspondence with Emma Borchardt, that lasted until we got married on July 21, 1910, at Wayside, Wisconsin, six years after we had met but had not seen each other during all these six year. We became engaged thru our exchange of letters. The first time we met after our engagement was about a week before our wedding, when I (and my classmate Teacher Paul Wukasch of Quincy, Illinois, who served as “Best Man”) got off the train at Reedville, Wisconsin – and where I received my first KISS! (not only the first from Emma Borchardt, but probably the first ever, at least as far I remember).