January 17, 1883
Siegelau, 17, January 1883
My Dear Hermann
We received your very worthy letter of December 22. We are all well and thank you from all our hearts for New Year Greetings which you had sent us. I found two of the picture cards so fine I framed them and hung in the room.
Have you received my letter of December 4? Have you received the violin and in what condition did it arrive? I have tried to find out if your letter which you sent to Schmidt mentioned anything. Also I asked of Rathschreiber* if you mentioned anything about the violin or having received it. But nothing had been said. Do send us some information and tell us in what condition it arrived.
In the course of spring I sold the Deer to the tailor Schmidt, on the condition when I sold my blacksmith shop he would also take the Deer**. The blacksmith shop was sold Sept. 22, 1882 to August Mary Schmidt in Kollnau with a down payment of 4,000 marks, but he welshed on the deal. The result was Schmidt of Kollnau has been taken to court and agreed before trial to settle out of court, so the transaction was reversed and now I have the Deer back.
By now I suppose you have read in the papers about the flood at our place and the whole Rhine area. On 27 December because of the Schmidt affair, I had gone to Freiburg. Early in the morning I took the first train to Waldkirch. Even then you could not begin travel in the street in Gutach. At evening, when ready to go home, I had very bad luck. Already in Waldkirch they told me I would not be able to get home. About 5:30 as I crossed the bridge by Waldkirch, and the bridge had just two years ago been built of iron, water was on top of the bridge. Then about 9:30 the foundation of the bridge began to give way, wash out the banks close to town and the whole bridge fell into the water. About 6:00 when I arrived at Kollnau I was told that the Elz Dam washed out above Kollnau and that you could not get away from there by that route and I thought to myself I would not put myself unnecessarily in danger. But I did want to make certain how dangerous it was. I got to Kollnau by way of Rebberg*** almost without getting wet. From there I waded in water one foot deep.
I did not know whether I could get back to Kollnau or whether I could proceed on the left hand side up to the forest. I decided to attempt to walk up the mountain to Gutach. I got through fairly well. In Gutach the water was about two and a half feet and I had to make my way up through the woods to Kram place in Gutach, and would not have gotten through by myself, but young ____________ had guided me with a light. I got home at 10:00 in the evening. The damage caused everywhere by the water is impossible to estimate. Everywhere collections are held for those afflicted. It is reported that in the Rheinfalz (Rhein Palatinate) houses of entire towns have collapsed. We ourselves here did not suffer any damage in the event except for the fact that here and there ground slides had occured. Here with us there was a large one in front of the Carpenter house****.
Not too long ago I also met Teacher Weber of Waldkirch. He always asks about you. Could you perhaps write him once too? Yesterday I was at the Steierts and asked them to give me the address of their son, which they did most willingly. Old Man Steiert has been sick for about four weeks and is about to recover again now. The Steierts did not give the letter (from their son) to read. However, they informed me of the following: their son had worked quite a distance from New York as a baker and earned $5.50 a week aside from free room and board. These wages, he had written, had been too small for him and in order to earn more he had gone even further south into a completely southern city. There he had very good wages and found good work; had been working there awhile but became sick of yellow fever, so much so that he had been close to death. He had lost all of his money due to his sickness. The doctor had told him he should move back up to New York until he had recovered again.
This information gave me the impression that Steiert had written literally an untruth to his parents and I suspected that they will probably have mailed money to their son again. This is just a suspicion on my part. I want to enclose his address which Steiert sent his parents and which I copied yesterday. I remember in an earlier letter when you told us once that Steiert had gambled his money in Basel with swindlers. I though to myself that you probably had to loan him money and your last letter confirmed that. About two years ago while Steiert was still in New York his parents sent him money. By the way, his parents are very reserved towards me, particularly regarding information concerning their son. I do not know why. Perhaps their son has once written them something that was untrue which could have reference to you. However, I do not know anything for certain.
My brother Fidel is still working in the Black Forest area as a watch maker. He spent three days with us over Christmas and feels really well.
Franz Joseph, the son of the town clerk, has been with a baker in Elzach since last summer, in order to learn baking better.
Now I want to conclude. Thank God all of us are well. Rosa is a good nursemaid. Franz Anton has to thresh, of which there is a lot this winter. Maryanna attends school conscientiously, but is rather "naughty". Mother attends to housekeeping as usual. I myself do the milling-feeding, and occupy the bench next to the tile stove. In the evening they play Zego (?), and thus the boring winter passes. I never socialize here.
Please receive the best and the most cordial congratulations from all and please let us hear very soon, which we expect longingly.
Fr. Anton Fahrlander
*"Rathschreiber" means "town clerk".
**"Deer" (Hirsch) is the name of the inn.
***"Rebberg" means "grapevine hill".
****It is not clear whether he refers to a carpenter's house in the area, or to one of the houses on the farm. There is another house on the farm, down the driveway a distance, at foot of hill, which Franz Fahrlander said in 1974 was rented to some city business as a summer home of retreat.