Siegelau, 20 December 1896
Since the year will soon be over and I still have not written you, you will
probably think that we had forgotten you. I always postponed it and did not
write, in part out of negligence, and then one does not always feel like
writing. Please do not think ill of me me for that.
Otherwise we are pretty much all right in general, but I cannot praise it
much either. Let us hope the new year will be better, for this last summer
and fall were terribly bad, always rain and rain again. One hardly knows how
to get opportunity so that everything (crops) is brought in. Despite this we
still had to do most of our sowing at the beginning of November while
everything was wet. Before that we could hardly do anything. We also had
hoof and mouth disease in October which affected half the valley. It had
started at the Winter farm and went from one to the other, which really fit
in well with the bad feed. My feed diminished considerably, for we had to
keep everything in the stable, which took a lot of feed. All business and
traffic were closed down. One almost had to give young pigs away like
presents. One had to be glad if anyone wanted it. Last year was nothing, and
we hope next will be better. Everything is cheap. However, wood is
expensive. A lot of it is felled and chopped up. If only all of it would
grow again, that would guarantee a true profit. Well, there will be other
times again. Let us hope so at least.
With us this fall a little prince appeared again, whose name is Wilhelm, and
who is healthy and strong. He was born the 15th of October. Joseph can move
around pretty well now.
This last summer a terrible accident almost happened. I do not know whether
Father wrote you about that or not. The Winter farmer wanted to go to the
blacksmith shop with a young horse; it is five years old, to be sure. When
he led it out from Trenkle's place, it broke away from him, or rather he
could not control it anymore and it was exactly then that our Rosa, with
baby carriage and Joseph and Victoria in it, was moving down from the barn,
when the horse with the hay wagon and the farmer Winter on it, came storming
down behind them. Rosa wanted to jump aside but it was too late. The wagon
caught Rosa. However, the baby carriage was already so far to the side of
the road that it was just barely touched. However, it was flung quite a ways
so that Joseph and Victoria were thrown out, which however did not affect
them much. Rosa, however, was badly hurt and it was believed at first that
she was dead, but she recovered soon. The doctor was brought immediately and
had a lot of work to do until all the injuries were sewed up again. She had
her worst injury on her right knee, but she did all right again, so much so
that she was able to move about well after a few weeks.
The horse took off with Farmer Winter as far as the schoolhouse, but there
it could not make the turn right and the entire wagon went down into the
creek with Farmer Winter being flung to the bank of the creek, which broke
his shoulder joint, something that gave him trouble for quite a while, but
fortunately everyone stayed alive.
Now I want to conclude, otherwise I will not be able to get away the feed
that has gone bad. All of us therefore greet all of you and with best wishes
for a happy new year, better than the last one, or perhaps not worse.
Fr. Anton Fahrlander
Some explanatory notes, re letter 20 December, 1896:
Hoof and mouth disease is mentioned several times through the years in these
letters. According to the dictionary it is "an acute, contagious disease of
cattle and deer, caused by a virus and characterized by fever and blisters
in the mouth and around the hoofs; it can be transmitted to other domestic
animals and man". That sounds fearsome, and probably not much could be done
for it except attempt to prevent from spreading.
Regarding the children of Franz Anton, Dad's brother, involved in the
accident. Rosa, born July 17, 1887, would have been nine years old at the
time; Victoria, born July 6, 1894, two years old; and Joseph, was born July
24, 1895, one year old. Rosa was wife of Hermann Weber, whose farm I visited
in 1965, and again in 1974. Rosa had been dead some time; widower Weber was
already 80 years old in 1965 (his son was running the farm with his
delightful wife and children). He was very active, well-informed on world
affairs, and curious, as he asked questions through Hansrudi as interpreter.
Weber remembered when Dad came back for a visit in 1890. Weber was still alive
when we stopped there in 1974, but not feeling very strong. Still, he
motioned me to sit sit down beside him, and we carried on some conversation
through Hansrudi again as interpreter. In his Christmas message of 1976,
Hansrudi said that Weber died in October, at 91 years. I cannot forget his
face, his sparkling eyes, and his apparent sense of humor.