Siegelau 13 February 1893
Your dear letter of the 13th of last month arrived here on the 4th of this
month and as always all of us are happy to hear from you again.
You informed us that you experienced a rather severe and cold winter. The
same is the case with us here too. All of the last part of last year, that
is, the late fall up to the beginning of December, the weather here was
beautiful and warm without any frost whatsoever, so that it was possible to
work with ease out in the open air. Then it started snowing and with some
interruptions, it has been snowing ever since. It has been pretty cold. I do
not believe I can recall the cold ever having been so severe. On the morning
of the 17th of January, the outside thermometer that we have on the little
plum tree below the house, showed a temperature between 10 and 20 degrees
Reaumur.* Then the temperature on the thermometer outside the window showed
between 17 and 18 degrees. It was cuttingly cold. For many people the
potatoes froze in their cellars. Even we had some on top that were frozen.
From Sunday, 22nd of January, to Monday and all of Monday, there was a big
storm and snow as never before. There was such a big mass of snow cast down
that I can not recall ever having experienced so much of it. On the same
night, from the 22nd to the 23rd of January, during a heavy snow storm, the
mill building in Bleibach** caught fire and burned down to the ground. Our
fire extinguishing wagon was out there too.
With us here, too, a fire occurred during the night from the 3rd to 4th of
February, when fire broke out at the place of the Rauchen Farmer in the
Zinken, which reduced the entire house to ashes. There are reports that the
fire originated in the kitchen and that it broke out around eleven o'clock
at night. All the cattle, horses and hogs everything living, was saved,
particularly by the head farm hand by the name of Pfaff. You probably will
know him too. The local fire brigade could save only the potatoes.
Everything else had to be left to the flames.
Conditions here are really not good. The prices for cattle are pretty low.
This amounts to a difference between 150 to 200 (marks) with a pair of oxen.
The feed is very expensive too. 100 pounds of hay comes to four to five
marks, and young pigs too do not sell very well.
You desire that I write down a recipe for you concerning bratwürst. I do
not know whether I can tell you so exactly. It so happens that I have it
just like that in my hand. This week I slaughtered three force-fed hogs, one
at the Markenmuller place, one at our house, and one at the Trenkle place.
It so happens that I have to slaughter about 14 to 16 animals each winter.
I now have about ten pounds of meat chopped rather fine. Then I take pepper
in such an amount that you can hold on the handle of a spoon, and
negeligich*** in the corresponding amount amount of salt, so that you have
neither too much no too little, which is something you can judge if you
taste a little of the meat. With the seasoning dissolved in fresh well
water, all is mixed up, but however should not be too soft. Putting this
through the meat grinder should not be easy to do. I also often take a large
spoonful of fine wheat flour and then work everything thoroughly by hand.
This working through by hand contributes quite a lot to the quality. It is
in this manner that I make my sausage. The meat of the pigs also makes a
great difference. Sausages coming from one pig are often better than from
I want to conclude now with best regards to your wife, to you and the little
Heinrich. From all of us, we remain your devoted parents.
Fr. Anton Fahrlander
Trenklesepp, or Trenkler Joseph is still unmarried.
The Hummel place is not taken care of quite well. The woman is literally
somewhat shy of work and a little over-wrought. She runs "here and there"
away from him (her husband).
*Reaumur, a French physicist whose thermometer registered freezing at 0
degrees and boiling at 80 degrees. The father must mean below zero, as -19
and -20 would be about 11 and 12 degrees F., and -17 and -18 about 7 and 8
degrees F., whereas 19 and 20 degrees above zero R. would be 75 or 76
degrees F. This comparison made from information in April 1979 Gourmet
Magazine which has a diagram showing Reaumur, Fahrenheit and Celcius scales
side by side, but does not give a conversion formula for Reaumur.
**Bleibach is about two miles from Siegelau.
***"Negeligich" is the German word. It seems to be a root. Translator's
German-English Dictionary states "clove", so perhaps it is an herb or root
of similar flavor.