Monday, June 25, 2018

Military Monday - Letters from Henry part 3

After Henry and Rosa were married, Rosa went to stay with him at Camp Sherman for a little while. 

From April 24 through May 3, Henry sent 3 postcards and 1 letter.

He talks of drilling day and night, and planning to go out to the Rifle Range.  There is also some talk that they will move to another camp, or perhaps overseas.

Some excerpts are:

Camp Sherman 4-24-18
Dear Parents,
... Rosa is still here. Last night Dr. Schultz took us to the show. Sunday it was so rainy we could not get to see much of the camp. Will try and get to show Rosa around this Sunday if it is nice.
Best Wishes, Henry & Rosa

Camp Sherman 4-28-18

Dear Parents,
Sunday noon and we are drilling. Get it everyday and some nights hear we are going to leave in a week so Rosa will stay awhile yet.
Best Wishes, H.

Camp Sherman May 1, 1918

Dear Parents,
... will try and write a few lines before we will have to drill again for we are in the barracks checking up on the stuff we got.
We have drill every day in the week now drilled last Sunday all day. And tomorrow morning we go on the rifle range for five days. Will stay out there at night live in tents.
Rosa is still here and will stay till we leae here for they have told us we would leave here in a few weeks for another camp. But we do not know where I think it will be for the East some where.
Rosa thinks of going to work for awhile it is too lonesome she says not doing any thing at all. They will send her some clothes for she has not very many with her.
... With Best Wishes from me and Rosa.

Camp Sherman 5-3-18
Dear Parents,
Got the box of eats all O.K. We are on the Range came out yesterday morning, living in tents will stay about 3 more days. Don’t know when we will leave but it will be soon. Many Thanks, Henry

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Society Saturday - Following the Trail of the Moravians

The annual meeting of the Children of the American Colonists was held in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

The object of the NSCAC  is to promote history and patriotism among young people.  Our members all claim descent from someone who contributed to the 13 colonies prior to the revolution.  Every year, our Geneal Assembly is held with that in mind.

We began by touring Old Salem - a living reconstruction of an early Moravian settlement in North Carolina.  The Moravians were a religious group who originated in Germany and traveled to Pennsylvania, then south to North Carolina.  Old Salem was intended to be a trade center for surrounding towns.  All of the buildings there are original 18th & 19th century buildings, and many have interpreters inside to explain the various trades that took place there.  One interpreter explained how women wore colored ribbons to designate their status - such as child, teen, single sister (young women of marrying age), married women and widows.

We visited the gunsmith shop and saw them making flint lock and pressure rifles.

Next was the Tavern which was a popular stop for "strangers" who visited the town to conduct visits.  Even George Washington stayed there for 2 days in 1791.  The cost of 1/2 bed for a night was equivalent to several days wages for many.  There was a bar that served alcohol, and games of "skill" (not chance) for entertainment.

Down the street were the shops of the turner and the joiner, where we learned how their furniture was made by hand.  Everyone got to try their hand at some of the tools.  All of the wood shavings were recycled to fill in ruts in the road or start cooking fires.

At the silversmith shop, one attraction was a tile stove.  We learned how the molds were imported from Germany, and the tiles were made here in the early 1810's.  The stove itself weighs about 2000 pounds, so it would not have been imported as a whole.

The Moravians were early proponents of education.  The Boys School was started in 1794, and the girls school about 10 years later.  This was very unusual for the time period.  The schools were boarding schools with about 15 pupils each.  The students were able to go home in the evenings and have meals with their families.

Our last stop of the day was to God's Acre - the cemetery.  It was a lovely and peaceful spot.  The graves were very uniform, and in neat little rows.  People were buried in the order in which they died - not according to family groups.

The following day, we traveled to Bethabara.  That was the Moravian settlement started prior to Old Salem.  We toured the Gemeinhaus - or Congregational House.  This was the home of the Minister and his wife, as well as the church.  We were told to enter the Saal (worship hall) by either the Knaben or the Maedchen doors - men and women were kept separate during the service as well as during most daily life.  "Strangers" (ie. non-Moravians) entered through a third, side door.  The minister would sit at the front, symbolizing that he was not any more important than the congregants.  There was a Lot Box on his table - this was the way they would decide important issues - inside were scrolls that said "Yes" "No" or "Wait".  If the community members were in disagreement, or there was a big decision (such as where to settle next), they would pray about it and then draw one of the scrolls, trusting that God had determined the answer.

The minister and his family lived in the other half of the building.  Upstairs was a guest room which was used for visiting dignitaries (ie. church elders), or for newlyweds to stay in for the first few weeks of their marriage before going to separate male and female housing (some honeymoon!).  The minister had 3 tile stoves in his house to keep warm.

Our next stop was at the Potters house.  Pottery was very important to the Moravians.  It was a trade that they had brought with them from Germany and was not very common on the North Carolina frontier.  Thus, they sold their pottery - plates, cups, bowls, etc. to settlers up to 60 miles away.  The potter should have been the wealthiest man in town, but all profits were given to the church and the community.  The National Project of NSCAC this year was to provide new interpretive signage for the Potter's house.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Those Places Thursday - Guilford County

I had a meeting in Winston-Salem, NC recently and took advantage of a few extra days to do some research in neighboring Guilford County.  My Wiley, Burney and Kerr ancestors were there in the late 1700-early 1800's.

I started off at Buffalo Creek Presbyterian Church - this church was founded in 1756 and my Burney ancestors were early members.  In fact, they were involved in a scandal there in 1779 - see

Next, I visited the land owned by my 6th great-grandfather, John Burney (c1725-1795).  He received a grant from the state in 1777 for 640 acres.  His son, my ancestor William Burney received 200 of those acres when he came of age.  That land is within the Greensboro city limits at this point, and some of it is now occupied by low income housing.

Western view of back of housing project.

Then it was on to the land owned by William Wiley (died 1783), another 6th great-grandfather.  He received 2 grants of land as part of the Granville grant - one in Sept 1758, the other in Sept. 1759.  This land was along Birch creek in what was originally Orange County, NC - which later became Guilford County.  Views of this land contained fields and farmland.

A little farther south was his son David Wiley's land.  David was my 5th great-grandfather and lived 1754-1816.  He owned a tract of 100 acres which  is now the site of an abandoned golf course.

Last on the tour of family land was David Kerr (1714-1804), the father of David Wiley's wife Catherine, therefore, another 6th great-grandfather.  His land was located just northwest of William Wiley's land.

Finally, I visited Alamance Presbyterian Church.  This was the church that the Wileys and Kerrs attended.  It was founded in 1762, and was also where the NC Presbyterian synod was founded.

In the cemetery I found 2 stones for my family - there are many no-longer-marked graves, as well as illegible stones, so I suspect other ancestors may be buried here as well.  The two I found were for Catherine Kerr Wiley and her father David Kerr - who has an illegible stone along with a newer stone.

Note:  the locations of land were compiled from land records, map by Fred Hughes, and the assistance of Google.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Military Monday - Letters from Henry part 2

There are over 3 months between letters that I have.  I'm sure that Henry was writing home more frequently, but I know that he was home at least for a little while in March because he got married!

Fulton Co OH Marriage Book 11 p377

Henry married Rosa Kaiser on 24 March 1918 in Fulton County Ohio.
Rosa was the daughter of Philip Kaiser and Catherine Baus and was born February 15, 1891 in Denver, Colorado.

By April 7, Henry was back at Camp Sherman and wrote the following:

Camp Sherman April 7 1918
Dear Parents,
Sunday again so I will try and write just a few lines to you. It is raining some at present but think it will soon stop for it looks as tho it would not rain very much. This forenoon I was to church are dedicating our new Lutheran building and it sure is a dandy building I have nearly two miles to go, but don’t mind that for all we do is walk all the time. And every Monday we are to get a long hike with our pack just got mine last night and this morning I rolled it up ready to to an Have to put one blanket one suit of underwear one pair of socks, towel soap, tooth brush, and paste. Hair brush and comb. Mess kit, poncho (raincoat) and shelter ball and pins. That make a good load to carry on the back. Got a letter from Clara and Lorenz, and Eva this week. And today one from Eleanor and some maple sugar. Got one from Rosa saying she was at your place yesterday you want to make her work when she gets there make her earn her board at least.
Haven’t head from Marie yet she must be too busy for I sent her a picture on Monday.
Had thot of going to church this after noon again but the rain scared me out but may go yet for it looks as tho it stopped raining they had the picture take this morning of the church and the people that were there will try and get a few. Cant buy very many for the many wants a dollar for them but will get one and send it home for you folks.
And one for Rosa if I have enough money left. I see by the papers that some of the farmers will get a chance to stay at home for a while yet has John heard if he will get to stay at home for the summer or not. I hope so. Will ring off for this time.

With Best Wishes, Henry.

He is starting to sound like a soldier - learning how to roll his pack, and hike, hike, hike....

Monday, June 04, 2018

Military Monday - Letters from Henry part 1

I am starting a new series of posts based on letters written home by my great-uncle Henry Steinbrecher.

Henry Steinbrecher, pre-military
Henry was born in Donnhof Russia on 10 September 1890, the first son of John William and Eva Elizabeth (Hettinger) Steinbrecher.  Henry had 4 older half-siblings from his father's first marriage to Catherine Baus.  The Steinbrechers emigrated to the U.S. in 1892 and eventually settled in Fulton County, OH.

WWI Draft Registration from Fold3

Henry registered for the draft in June 1917 and enlisted in the Army on October 12, 1917.  He was initially sent to Camp Sherman near Chillicothe, OH for training.  He wrote several letters home to his parents.  They are addressed to his younger brother Arthur.  These letters were passed along by Arthur's widow Lola to my mother Ruth and then to me.

We believe that the reason they were addressed to Arthur is because Henry's parents could not read or write in English.  They were part of the Germans from Russia ethnic group - a people who lived in Russia for over 100 years but maintained their German language and culture.  Once they came to the U.S., they continued to speak primarily German.  Of course, it was probably frowned upon for Henry to write in German, so he wrote in English to his brother.  Most letters carry the salutation "Dear Parents".

The text of this letter says:

Camp Sherman Dec 27 1917
Dear Folks,
Just a few lines this evening, have been working in the kitchen today finished at 6.30 and washed my shirt already have been washing something nearly every day. That is a job I don’t like but it has to be done just the same.
We had a real Xmas dinner turkey and ice cream and fruits and vegetables and nuts all we wanted of everything. Sure had a real dinner. The officers eat with us. And several fellows had their Girls. We also had oysters. It was past three till we ever got out of the mess hall believe me we did not want any supper the did not get any either in the evening I and a bunch of the boys went to the picture show and after that I and Dan K went to a musical consert at the big Y. So you see I was quite busy in the afternoon in the forenoon I was so lonesome did not know what to do so I washed my underwear and socks. I think it would have been better if I would not have done it but did not know what else to do.
I wish that I could be home for new year but it seems impossible for they won’t give any passes on account of signing the payroll the last of December you know that if we did not sign it we would not get any pay and we can use the quite well. I got that box of candy and that letter from you and Mrs. Duford, also got that letter today with a dollar bill in it. Many thanks. Lorenz was here from Saturday till Sunday night, and don’t know what is the trouble for he hasn’t wrote if he got home or got lost.
How are all the folks hope they are well. And hope that Arthur will be able to go to school again, after the holidays. I have been feeling good nearly all the time. You tell John that it is too cold to drive to Hammond with the machine I am not very anxious about selling it be if he does sell it to Bill he can have time but must give a not with 5% int. from date. This letter is for Marie but will mail it with Arthurs name so if you should happen to be gone they will not mail it away. Good night, Henry