Jun 22

2018 Vacation Bible School at Zion Chatt

This week was Vacation Bible School for the Chatt community, held at Zion Chatt this year. The two churches in Chatt, Zion Lutheran and the Chattanooga United Methodist Church, take turns hosting the annual week-long event and this year was Zion’s turn. They have combined to host very successful and popular Bible School programs for many years and volunteers of all ages, from both churches, help out.

This year’s Bible School theme was “Shipwrecked—Rescued by Jesus” and those in charge are to be commended and thanked for putting together yet another successful Bible School. The church and basement were decorated with an island theme. Days were packed with Bible stories, upbeat songs, prayer, creative crafts, fun activities, snacks, and more.

2018 Bible School, Zion Chatt, “Shipwrecked”

Last year I took our granddaughter Chloe to our Chatt-area Bible School, her very first time attending Bible School. However, this year Chloe’s church had their Bible School the same week and she was not able to attend here. But I volunteered to help out this year at Zion for several days, assisting with the pre-K/Kindergarten class.

A lot of kids attended this year. There were over 70 there on Wednesday and we had 16 in our class that day. We kept them moving and I don’t think any of them were ever bored.

Bible School is a lot different today than when I attended nearly 60 years ago. My goodness, that was a long time ago!

I spent my summer days with my Miller grandparents. Their neighbor, Helen Jean White, would pick me up at the Miller farm and take me, along with her two children, Martha and Charles, to Zion Chatt’s Vacation Bible School. She would drive us in what I thought was the coolest car, a Pontiac Woody station wagon. For me it was like riding a small bus to Chatt. Back then Helen Jean taught both Sunday School and Bible School at Zion Chatt.

I don’t know if my memory is correct, since it has been a long time since I was little, but I think we had Bible School for two weeks one year. There were a few years that I recall it was a day-long event and we took our lunch each day.

Now we move each class from area to area, where specific persons tell a Bible story, teach the music, lead activities, or hand out the snacks. But back in my day we stayed in our room/area the whole time and had the same teacher for everything. The only time we left our table was for the opening session and for activities and play-time that was held outdoors.

Outdoor activities I remember consisted of games like Red Rover, The Farmer in the Dell, London Bridges Falling Down, Drop the Hankie, tag, and kick-ball. Now activities involve kiddie pools full of water and some ball games. The water felt really good for the kids this year since it was so hot.

Cooling off in the water.

It is sort of a joke around our church but you can count on Bible School week being the hottest week of the summer. Monday and Tuesday didn’t let us down this year. It was very hot and humid. Dreadfully hot, in fact, and downright uncomfortable. It helped that Bible School was held in the mornings, the cooler part of the day, if there was a cooler part of the day. There was a string of years some time ago when Bible School week was the week we got lots and lots of rain—usually so much rain that the basement would flood.

But that would never stop us from having Bible School. Rain or shine. Wet or dry. Hot and humid.

Bible School crafts have come a long way. Ruth, our crafty lady at church, comes up with some great craft ideas. This year the kids made terrariums, wind chimes, and necklaces, as well as stuffing bears to give away. Back in my day I remember gluing pop-sickle sticks together to make a cross, plastic canvas projects, and other crafts that involved cutting, pasting, and coloring. Pretty simple stuff compared to today’s crafts.

Craft time!

The music is much more upbeat today, too. The songs have a brisk tempo and the kids get to use motions and move around to the music. They really get into the music and have a great time. It is amazing how quickly they learn the songs.

Getting into the music!

But the most important thing about Bible School are the Bible stories and showing how they relate to the kids [and all of us] today. We never forget that part of Bible School and of our mission.

Bible Stories.

A big thank you to everyone who helped make Shipwrecked a very successful Bible School week.


Jun 19

Tombstone Tuesday–Christian Roehm

Christian Roehm, Zion Lutheran Cemetery, Schumm, Van Wert County, Ohio. (2012 photo by Karen)

This is the tombstone of Christian Roehm, located in row 2 of Zion Lutheran Cemetery, Schumm, Van Wert County, Ohio. The marker is inscribed:

Son of
Andrew & [unreadable]
12 July 1863
13 Y, 11M, 12 D

Christian Roehm was born in Ohio, likely in Tully Township, Van Wert County, on 26 July 1849 to Andreas “Andrew” (1814-1902) and Catharine (Bienz) (1819-1858) Roehm.

His mother’s name on the tombstone is unreadable now, but when the Van Wert County Chapter OGS read the cemetery in 1992, they read her name as “Freidrica.” Friedericka would have been Christian’s step-mother and that may very well be the name inscribed on the tombstone. Christian’s birth mother Catharine died in 1858.

Christian Roehm’s parents Andrew and Catharine (Bienz) married on 16 August 1840 in Van Wert County, Ohio. They were both born in Germany and his father Andrew was a farmer. [1]

The Andrew Roehm family lived in Tully Township in 1850. Their household in 1850: Andrew, 37; Catherine, 31; Mary, 9; John, 7; Elizabeth, 5; Jacob, 3; and Christian, 1. All their children were born in Ohio. [2] Christian’s baptism is not recorded in Zion Schumm’s records, perhaps because they did not live in Willshire Township and did not attend Zion Schumm at that time.

Sometime during the next 10 years the family moved to Willshire Township. Christian’s mother Catherine died in 1858 and the Andrew Roehm family was enumerated in the census two years later. Their family in 1860: Andrew, 45; Mary, 18; John, 16; Elizabeth, 14; Jacob, 13; Christina, 11; Henry, 9; Emanuel, 7; and Anna, 3. [3]

The 1860 census was enumerated on 25 July 1960 and Christian’s father Andrew married widow Friedericke (Gutheil) Rettig (1827-1910) a few months later, on 8 November 1860, in Van Wert County. [4] Friedericke had at 5 children from her first marriage to John Rettig. She and Andrew went on to have at least 5 children of their own.

Young Christian Roehm died 12 July 1863. Zion Schumm’s records tell that he suffered from cramps for a year and was found dead one morning.

Christian’s father Andrew Roehm died 4 January 1902. He and his second wife Friedericka are buried a few rows away, in row 7.


[1] Ohio, County Marriage Records, 1774-1993, Van Wert County, p.4, Andrew Roehm & Catharine Bientz, 16 Aug 1840; database & image on-line, Ancestry.com; film no. 001015859.

[2] 1850 U.S. Census, Tully, Van Wert, Ohio, p.189A, dwelling 406, family 425, Andrew Reem; Ancestry.com; NARA microfilm M432, roll 736.

[3] 1860 U.S. Census, Willshire, Van Wert, Ohio, p.427, dwelling 1099, family 1093, Andrew Rackin; Ancestry.com; FHL microfilm 805045, NARA microfilm M653, roll 1045.

[4] Ohio, County Marriage Records, 1774-1993, Van Wert County, p.232, Andrew Roehm & Fredrika Guthial, 8 Nov 1860; database & image on-line, Ancestry.com; film no. 001015859.

Jun 15

Dear Mom & All–WWII Letters from Herb (part 23)

My dad, Herbert Miller, was trained as a replacement troop during the fall of 1944. After he arrived in Europe he was assigned to Company L, 333rd Regiment, 84th Infantry Division. The 84th was known as the Railsplitters. He fought in the Battle of the Bulge in Belgium and later in parts of Luxembourg, Germany, and France.

Herbert M. Miller

I continue with the transcriptions of the letters my dad wrote home while he served his country during WWII. The war was over by the time he wrote these letters and he was serving with the Occupation Force in Germany. His letters give us an idea of what things were like for him during that time.

The first two letters are V-mail letters, tiny letters, reduced in size and rather difficult to read. My dad does some complaining in the third letter, which is rather unusual because he usually didn’t complain much.

Sgt. Fenn, Cpt. McGee, Sgt. Mueller, Cpl Thornton, Herb Miller; Schriesheim, Germany 1945.

V-mail letter from Pfc Herbert Miller to Em & Jack Weitz, Rockford, Ohio:

19 June 1945

Dear Em & Jack,

It’s about 4:30 in the morning and just got off guard duty. Only have 1½ any more so it isn’t any use to go to bed.

How is everything coming along around Chatt? Do you have all of the crops out yet? I don’t have the least idea where I’m going to be sent but right now we are doing the job of occupational troops and if we stay here 6 months that means 6 months less in the Pacific. The town we are in now is about the size of Celina. These German towns are very old and historic. This particular town has a castle that was built sometime in the 13th century. It is half in ruins, not from the war, and sits right on top of a hill. From there you can see for miles and miles. Oh, yes, the ground is very hilly around here, something like Alabama.

There are very few passes given out. Four men out of forty got passes in the last 6 months. The passes are for Paris, Holland, and Belgium. You don’t need a pass in Germany. You can go into town any night or every night But you can’t associate with the German farms [?] homes [?].

Must close for now.


He was very likely referring to Schriesheim Castle, where he took these photos.

Sgt. Mueller, Cpl. Meyer, Cpl. Thronton, Herbert Miller; Shriesheim Castle, Germany, 1945.

My dad mentions going to the Pacific in the letter above. The rumor was that if the war had continued the 84th would have been sent to the Pacific, but the war with Japan ended in September 1945.

V-mail letter from Pfc Herbert Miller to Em & Jack Weitz, Rockford, Ohio:

30 June 1845

Dear Em & Jack,

It’s Saturday afternoon and decided to write a couple of letters. How is the farming coming along? OK I hope. Are there any ripe tomatoes yet? How about the corn? Is it up yet? I imagine it is and is getting pretty tall. They don’t raise any corn at all around here or anywhere in Germany. They raise lots of beets and grass [?]. Where I’m at now is way up I the hills, just about like Alabama, hot in the day and cool at night. I’ve had two baths [?] at American bases since I’ve been over here.

Today was pay day. I’ve been sending $15 home every month until the last two times. I’m going to save it for when I go on pass. It will probably be quite a while yet.

I’ve been in the Army a year now. Sure does seem like a long time. In 12 more days I’ll be over seas [?] months.

I must close for now. Am feeling fine and hope you are the same.


Sgt. George Mueller, Schriesheim Castle, Germany, 1945.

From Pfc Herbert Miller to Mr. & Mrs. Norval Weitz, Rockford, Ohio. Letter inside stamped Rockford, Ohio, 31 Aug 1945:

10 July 1945
Schriesheim, Germany

Dear Em & Jack,

I received your letter tonight that you mailed July 2, that is 8 days, not so bad. The mail situation is really terrible, when we complain about it they tell us the folks back home have probably stopped writing. There were 14 letters for 160 men. Not very good is it? The day before there were 6 letters and the day before 48. Then they wonder why we feel blue. We were having 3 shows a week and now there is only 2. The theatre is just a small one and only half of the men can go in it. Nobody to talk to. Today for chow we got 1 hot dog, a little sauce on top of it, one biscuit, and a cup of ice water. They are nearly starving us. Then we have 8 hours of training a day. Such a life.

How is farming coming along? Are the crops coming along OK?

Johnies [uncle & aunt, John & Clara (Miller) Reef] asked if we had a refrigerator. I’ve seen two since I’ve been in Germany. The German bread is black and you could leave it sit for a month and it would be just as hard as fresh. They don’t have any fancy food like we do. When we were moving from the Ruhr to the Rhine and from the Rhine to the Elbe, we were moving so fast. We would come or move so fast that when we would clean out a house they would be cooking a meal and it would be on the stove.

I haven’t received a box for quite a while so I am going to request one.


P.S. Please send a box of food.

Taken from Schriesheim Castle, Germany, 1945.

Getting letters and packages was very important to the troops. I am sure they looked forward to mail-time very much and were probably very disappointed when they did not receive anything. 

Jun 12

Tombstone Tuesday–Eva M.K. Sauer

Eva M.K. Sauer, Zion Lutheran Cemetery, Schumm, Van Wert, Ohio. (2012 photo by Karen)

This is the tombstone of Eva Sauer, located in row 2 of Zion Lutheran Cemetery, Schumm, Van Wert County, Ohio. The marker is inscribed:

Eva M.K.
Von Adam U.
Geboren 2 Dec 1887
Gestorben 21 Oct 1888

Eva M.K., daughter of Adam and Magdalena Sauer, born 2 December 1887, died 21 October 1888.

Christened as Maria Eva Katharina, “Eva” Sauer was born in Willshire Township, Van Wert County, Ohio, on 2 December 1887, the daughter of Adam and Magdalena “Lena“ (Dietrich) Sauer. [1] According to Zion Schumm’s records she was baptized at home on 18 December 1887 with Mrs. Maria Grund and Maria Buchner serving as her baptismal sponsors.

Eva’s father Adam was born in Germany and 1900 census indicates that he immigrated in 1881. [2] Her mother Lena was born in Ohio.

Eva Sauer died of brain fever at home at 9:30 on the morning of 24 October 1888. She was only 10 months and 22 days old and was buried on 25 October. The church records give her funeral text as Jeremiah 31:3.

Zion Schumm records the births and baptisms of four additional children born to Adam and Magdalena Sauer: Maria Anna Sauer, born 17 March 1885; Anna Katharina Sophia Sauer, born 15 June 1886; Heinrich Johannes Sauer, born 17 September 1889; and Adolph Reinhard Sauer, born 29 October 1891.

Sometime between 1900 and 1910 the Adam Sauer family moved from Van Wert County to Fort Wayne, Indiana. Adam had been a farmer in Ohio but worked as a carpenter in Indiana. The 1910 enumeration indicates that four of the five Sauer children were living. [3]

Adam Sauer died in 1918 [4] and his widow Lena (Dietrich) Sauer died in 1940. [5] They are both buried in Concordia Lutheran Cemetery, Fort Wayne, Indiana.


[1] “Ohio, County Births, 1841-2003,” database with images, FamilySearch.org, Eva M Sauer, 2 Dec 1887; Births, Willshire Twp, Van Wert Co, Vol.2, p.389, no. 85; FHL microfilm 1015856.

[2] 1900 U.S. Census, Willshire, Van Wert, Ohio, ED 98, p.12, dwelling 233, family 238, Adam Sauer; Ancestry.com; NARA microfilm T623.

[3] 1910 U.S. Census, Fort Wayne Ward 6, Allen, Indiana, ED 49, p.18A, dwelling 416, family 423, Adam Sauer; Ancestry.com; FHL microfilm 1374352, NARA microfilm T624, roll 339.

[4] Find a Grave.com, Adam Sauer memorial no. 34635449.

[5] Find a Grave.com, Adam Sauer memorial no. 34635564.

Jun 08

Dear Mom & All–WWII Letters from Herb (part 22)

My dad, Herbert Miller, was trained as a replacement troop during the fall of 1944. After he arrived in Europe he was assigned to Company L, 333rd Regiment, 84th Infantry Division. The 84th was known as the Railsplitters. He fought in the Battle of the Bulge in Belgium and later in parts of Luxembourg, Germany, and France.

Herbert M. Miller, WWII.

I have been transcribing and posting the letters my dad wrote home during the war but today I am going to take a break from the letters and write about some war stories my dad told me back in the late 1990s.

After the Battle of the Bulge my dad, Herb, fought in the German towns of Aachen and Linnich before crossing the Rhine River and arriving in Koln.

Herb volunteered to be in a task force under General Church. The task force was one of several and consisted of groups men who rode on the backs of Sherman tanks, plowing northward through Germany from the Rhine River to the Ruhr River. There were several tanks and 5-6 men would ride on the back of each tank. The infantry would follow, riding in trucks behind the tanks.

84th Division Sherman Tank, Germany.

Some of the German towns Herb fought in during this time included Koln, Lindern, Baal, Dulken, Krefeld, and Duisberg.  He said there was not much fighting at this time and that German troops watched as they went by. Sometimes they would find German officers in homes, sitting down to eat. At night he would help guard and protect the tank and wasn’t able to get much sleep.

When they reached the Rhine River Herb traveled by truck, moving toward the Weser River. During that time period he fought in the German towns of Wesel, Lembeck, Munster, and Bielefeld.

When they arrived at the Weser River he guarded a bridge there for 3-4 days. The Germans tried to bomb the bridge with a German jet, the first German jet Herb ever saw. After that they fought in Hannover and Haardt, where he said there was some very tough fighting.

Reichsautobahn. The beginning of the German autobahns, under the Third Reich.

My dad said that his fox-hole buddy was an American-born Serbian who could speak several languages. Some German citizens told his buddy that they were forced to dig a very large grave and that many bodies were buried there. The soldiers alerted their commanders and they did find a mass grave.

Soon after that they liberated two German Jewish concentration camps–Ahlem, close to Hannover, and Salzwedel, by the Elbe River. At first they thought the people there were prisoners of war. The prisoners were very thin and he saw rows of wooden shelves for sleeping and saw some gas chambers. He said they de-loused those who were held there and gave them some of their rations. He also said the Army had no trouble taking over the camp and that a few Jews helped overpower some German guards when they knew the Americans were coming.

I found several links to the Ahlem Concentration Camp on-line and there are a couple accounts describing its liberation by the 84th Infantry Division on 10 April 1945. [The 84th]…discovered an undetermined number of starving and ill Jewish prisoners. Reports range from 30 to 250 persons. The SS guards had abandoned these prisoners when they evacuated the camp, taking with them some 600 “healthy” prisoners. Of the prisoners sent on this death march, only 450 made it to the Bergen-Belsen camp. The SS guards had shot many of those who were unable to maintain the pace of the march… [1]

Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger also served in the 84th, in Company G of the 335th, and he was there at Ahlem. Kissinger described what he saw as “…the single most shocking experience I have ever had…” Another account called the camp a horrific sight. [2]

The 84th liberated the concentration camp at Salzwedel on 14 April 1945. Conditions there were also deplorable. [Salzwedel was] …a camp formed by the SS in July 1944 to supply forced labor for a German munitions factory. The unit found some 3,000 female inmates, mainly Jewish women who had been transported from the Auschwitz camp complex, and several hundred political prisoners. The US Army reported that sanitary conditions at the camp were poor because of overcrowding and a lack of water. Some 100 of these prisoners were seriously ill and 33 of them required immediate medical attention at a local hospital…  [1]

The war ended for Herb when he was in Wittenberg, by the Elbe River. They took a farm house there and met the Russians.

Russian Soldiers & 84th at Elbe River.

Russian Soldiers & 84th at Elbe River.

But my dad did not have the 85 points that were needed to return home, so he was put on Occupation Duty at Weinheim, Laudenbach, Oberlandenbeck and Schriesheim. During his occupation time he took part in destroying train-car loads of Luger weapons. Later he was appointed money order clerk at the military post office in Heidelberg.

You start to get a feeling of why so many WWII veterans did not talk much about their war service. I can’t imagine what they went through and what they saw. We must never forget, but always remember the sacrifices made for freedom and humanity.


[1] 84 Infantry Division, Holocaust Encyclopedia, on-line.

[2] Liberating Ahlem Concentration Camp: The Vernon Tott Photographic Collection, on-line.

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