May 18

Dear Mom & All–WWII Letters from Herb (part 21)

Memorial Day is about a week away and a good time to post a few more transcriptions of my dad’s WWII letters and photos. Today’s letters are from May and June, 1945, 73 years ago. [1]

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, known as the Railsplitters. He fought in the Battle of the Bulge in Belgium and later in parts of Luxembourg and Germany.

My dad wrote quite a few letters home during the time he served our country in Europe during WWII and his family saved most of them. I have most of the letters he wrote to his parents, Carl and Gertrude (Brewster) Miller, and to his sister Em and her husband Norval “Jack”.

Below is a letter to my dad’s sister Em and her husband Norval “Jack.” He wrote the letter on 28 May 1945, but the inner postmark shows Rockford, 25 Aug 1945. The war in Europe was over by that time and my dad was part of the Occupation Forces.

Road signs in Germany, WWII.

28 May 1945

Dear Em & Jack,

I have a picture to send so decided to write a couple of lines. From what I hear youins have been having pretty bad weather. Do you have any corn out yet? Wait a minute. Speaking of corn, about a week ago our squad was detailed to guard a distillery which contained about three thousand gallons of corn liquor. We had the guard for about two weeks. Some fun!

These pictures I’m sending home I developed myself. The pictures were taken by a couple of other guys and Portor and I developed the smaller prints.

Must close for now. Am feeling fine and hope you are thee same.


P.S. Please send a package.

These may have been a couple of the photos he talked about in this letter. These photos were labeled, taken in Schriesheim, 1945:

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

Sgt. Mueller, Cpl. Meyer, Cpl. Thornton, Herbert Miller; Strahlenburg Castle, Schriesheim, Germany, 1945.

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

Taken from Strahlenburg Castle, Schriesheim, Germany, 1945.

The next letter was written on the same Railsplitter stationery, written to his parents. He wrote the letter 30 May 1945 and the inner post stamp is Berne, 25 Jun 1945.

30 May 1945

Dear Mom & All,

Just came in from retreat and rifle inspection. They showed another show today, something about Blondie and Dagwood.

I now have five more points. Tonight at retreat the company commander called seven of us guys up to the front of the formation and presented the Purple Heart to us. I imagine it is for the time when the shrapnel busted my wrist watch. It did cut a gash in my thumb.

I now have 36 points. That is just about ½ enough. But I’ve been in the Army only eleven months and most of the guys that have over 85 points have been in the Army three or four years.

How is everything coming along on the farm? Do you have any corn out yet? They last I heard it was still pretty wet around there.

You asked if I received the Celina Standard and The Willshire Herald. Yes I receive both of them and have been for quite a while. I thought that I mentioned it.

I received the fountain pen. Thanks a lot. It really writes good. I am using it now.

Must close for now. Will try ad write often.


P.S. Please send a box of cookies and home-baked fruit cake. That real good kind that you have been sending.

P.S. #2 The picture enclosed is of my platoon guide S/Sgt. Lawrence Broderick. He used to be my squad leader. (20 years old)

Unfortunately, I do not have that photo of Lawrence Broderick, but the photos shown below were labeled: Germany, 84th Division Award Ceremony.

84th Division Award Ceremony, Germany, post-war.

84th Division Award Ceremony, Germany, post-war.

The next photo is also an 84th Division Award Ceremony, but was taken earlier, during the war, in Belgium.

84th Division Award Ceremony, Belgium, during the war.

Although the war was technically over, my dad had to accumulate a certain number of points before he could be discharged. During that time, after the end of the war, he was a member of the Occupation Forces in Germany. He spent part of that time working in the post office.

1 June 1945

Dear Em & Jack

This letter won’t be so awful long but a few words are better than none. I imagine by the time you have mom and them will have received the Purple Heart I sent home. You didn’t know I had one, but I’m almost as good as women when it comes to keeping secrets.

How is farming coming along? Do you have all of the corn out yet?

I’ve written quite a few letters tonight. I wrote one to Don Hoblet and I’m getting so I don’t know what to say, so I’d better sign off.

Am feeling fine and hope you are the same.


P.S. Please send a package.

Herbert Miller, US Army, 84th Division, 333rd Company, Infantry. WWII, Battle of the Bulge.

Like so many of the WWII veterans, my dad did not talk a lot about his service and did not talk about his Purple Heart. He did like to read books and accounts of the Battle of the Bulge and of WWII.

You can tell that the women in his family were very good cooks because he kept asking them to send packages of their home-made goodies. He seemed to especially like their fruitcake. I should try to find the Miller fruitcake recipe.


[1] These letters are from Pfc. Herbert Miller (35845400), Co. L, 333rd Infantry, A.P.O. 84, c/o Postmaster, New York, NY, to Mr & Mrs. Carl Miller, RR1, Willshire, Ohio, or to Mr. & Mrs. Norval Weitz, RR1, Rockford, Ohio.







May 15

Tombstone Tuesday–Christian & Mary A. (Bollenbacher) Fisher

Christian & Mary Ann (Bollenbacher) Fisher, Kessler/Liberty Cemetery, Mercer County, Ohio. (2018 photo by Karen)

This is the tombstone of Christian and Mary A. (Bollenbacher) Fisher, located in row 6 of Kessler (aka Liberty) Cemetery, Mercer County, Ohio. The marker is inscribed:

His Wife
Mar. 7, 1848
May 2, 1920

Aug. 29, 1839
Mar. 26, 1909


John “Christian” Fisher was born in Germany on 29 August 1839, the son of John Andrew and Gertrude (Miller) Fisher. His parents were also born in Germany and, according to the census, Christian immigrated in 1849, probably with his parents. [1]

They settled in Liberty Township, Mercer County, Ohio, soon after they arrived in America, living there by 1850. Their household in 1850: John A Fisher, 53; Charity, 52; Mathias, 13; and Christian, 11. All were born in Germany and the father farmed. [2]

The Andrew Fisher household in 1860: Andrew, 60, Germany; Catharine, 63, Germany; and Christian, 21, Germany. Andrew was a farmer the family had a Skeels Crossroad post office address. [3]

During those years (1850-60) the Andrew Fisher family was enumerated next to the Adam Bollenbacher family. They lived very near each other, if not next door to each other, south of Chatt.

Christian Fisher married his neighbor Mary Ann Bollenbacher on 10 December 1867 in Mercer County. [4]

Mary Ann Bollenbacher was born in Ohio on 7 March 1848, the daughter of Adam and Elizabeth (Mitchel) Bollenbacher.

The Adam Bollenbacher family in 1850: Adam, 44; Elizabeth, 30; Christian, 12; Catherine, 9; George, 6; Henry, 4; and Mary Ann, 2. Adam and Elizabeth were born in Germany but their children were born in Ohio. Adam farmed. [5]

The Adam Bollenbacher household in 1860: Adam, 54; Christina, 23; Mary Ann, 13; and Andrew, 14,again  enumerated next to the Andrew Fisher household. [6]

Christian and Mary Ann set up housekeeping in Liberty Township and had two children by 1870. Their household in 1870: John C Fisher, 29, Prussia; Mary, 22, Ohio; Magdalene, 1, Ohio; Louisa, 3 months, Ohio. John “Christian” was a farmer. [7]

Their household in 1880: John C Fisher, 40; Mary A, 30; Magdalena B, 11; Minnie L, 10; Margaret E, 4; John A, 2; and twins, William M and Mary E, both 2 months old. John “Christian” was a farmer. [8]

The John “Christian” Fisher family in 1900: John, 60; Mary A, 52; Emma, 24; Adam, 22; Lizzie, 20; and William, 20. Mary Ann had given birth to 9 children and 6 of them were still living. [1]

John “Christian” Fisher died in Liberty Township on 26 March 1909 of cerebral apoplexy. He was 69 years old. He was buried on 29 March and H.B. Cowan, Rockford, was in charge of the funeral arrangements. [9]

After Christian’s death Mary Ann lived with her son William, his wife Hulda (Betzel), and their two sons. Their household in 1910: William Fisher, 30; Hulda, 24; Luther, 4; John, 2; and Mary Ann Fisher, 62, mother. [10]

Mary Ann Fisher died of tuberculosis of the lungs on 2 April 1920 in Liberty Township. According to her death certificate her father was Adam Bollenbacher, born in Germany, but her mother’s name was not known by the informant, who was her son William Fisher, of Celina. She was 72 years old and was buried on the 4th. [11]

Christian and Mary Ann (Bollenbacher) Fisher had the following children:
Magdalena (1868-1947), married John Fritzinger
Wilhelmine “Louise” (1870-1953), married Peter Strabel
Carolina E (1872-1873)
Louis Charles (1874-1876)
Emma Margaret (1876-1959), married William C. Weitz
Adam John “AJ” (1878-1949), married Minnie Christine Koch
Mary Elizabeth (1880-1973), married John Koch
William Michael Fisher (1880-1955), married Hulda A. Betzel

The 1900 and 1910 censuses indicated that Mary Ann had given birth to 9 children, but I could only account for 8.


[1] 1900 U.S. Census, Liberty, Mercer, Ohio, ED 85, p.6, dwelling 117, family 122, John Fisher;; NARA microfilm T623.

[2] 1850 U.S. Census, Liberty, Mercer, Ohio, p.286B, dwelling 9, family 10, John A Fisher;; NARA microfilm M432, roll 710.

[3] 1860: 1860 U.S. Census, Liberty, Mercer, Ohio, p. 359, dwelling 1017, family 1022, Andw Fisher;; FHL microfilm 805009, NARA microfilm M653, roll 1099.

[4] “Ohio, County Marriages, 1789-2013,” database with images,, John C Fisher & Mary A Bollenbaugh, 19 Dec 1867; Mercer County Marriages, Vol. 3, p.172; FHL microfilm 914956.

[5] 1850 U.S. Census, Liberty, Mercer, Ohio, p.286B, dwelling 8, family 9, Adam Bullenbaugh;; NARA microfilm M432, roll 710.

[6] 1860 U.S. Census, Liberty, Mercer, Ohio, p.359, dwelling 1018, family 1023, Adam Bollenbaugh;; FHL microfilm 805009, NARA microfilm M653, roll 1009.

[7] 1870 U.S. Census, Liberty, Mercer, Ohio, p.148B, dwelling 103, family 95, John C Fisher;; FHL microfilm 552742, NARA microfilm M593, roll 1243.

[8] 1880 U.S. Census, Liberty, Mercer, Ohio, ED 188, p.474C, dwelling 53, family 56, John C Fisher;; NARA microfilm T9, roll 1048.

[9] “Ohio Deaths, 1908-1953,” database with images,, John Christian Fisher, 26 Mar 1909; Liberty, Mercer deaths, no. 15124; FHL microfilm 1926957.

[10] 1910 U.S. Census, Liberty, Mercer, Ohio, ED 119, p.11B, dwelling 209, family 216, William Fisher;; FHL microfilm 1375227, NARA microfilm T624, roll 1214.

[11] “Ohio Deaths, 1908-1953,” database with images,, Mary A Fisher, 2 May 1920; Liberty, Mercer County deaths, no. 38157; FHL microfilm 1991134.

May 11

Flowers for Mother’s Day, 1945

I wrote this a couple years ago but thought it timely to post it again since Mother’s Day is this coming Sunday. In addition, I have been transcribing my dad’s WWII letters and I found a letter my dad wrote that mentions these Mother’s Day flowers. [1]

An excerpt from a V-Mail letter my dad wrote from Germany to his sister Em on 20 April 1945. The war was not over when he wrote the letter but it was over by Mother’s Day:

…I sent mom a double bouquet of flowers for Mother’s Day. I didn’t get to send her any for Easter…

What mother wouldn’t enjoy getting a beautiful bouquet of cut flowers on Mother’s Day. Especially if the flowers were from her son who was overseas, serving his country during World War II.

Flowers from Herb in Germany, May 1945.

It was 13 May 1945. Mother’s Day. Less than a week after V-E Day, which marked the unconditional surrender of Nazi Germany and the end of fighting in Europe. Yes. There was a lot to celebrate.

Somehow my dad arranged for his mother to receive this large bouquet of flowers on Mother’s Day. Maybe one of his sisters cut them from the garden. No matter how she got the flowers, grandma certainly looks happy and proud. After all she had more than one reason to celebrate that day.

But the best and most important reason to celebrate was that the war was over and her son would be returning home soon. Grandma Miller must have been thrilled to receive the beautiful bouquet, but even happier to know that her son had survived the war.

Pfc Herbert M. Miller

Harry S. Truman issued a Mother’s Day Proclamation in April 1945: “…Whereas it is fitting that we acknowledge anew our gratitude, love, and devotion to the mothers of America… in this year of the war’s greatest intensity we are ever mindful of their splendid courage and steadfast loyalty to the highest ideals of our democracy…the service rendered the United States by the American mother as the greatest source of the country’s strength and inspiration…” [2]

Harry Truman’s words are still true and meaningful today, 73 years later.

Happy Mother’s Day!

[1] 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, known as the Railsplitters. He fought in the Battle of the Bulge in Belgium and later in parts of Luxemburg and Germany.

[2] Harry S. Truman: “Proclamation 2649—Mother’s Day, 1945,” April 17, 1945, Online by Gerhard Peters and john T. Wooley, The American Presidency Project ( : accessed 7 May 2015).



May 08

Tombstone Tuesday–Otto and Margery (Schott) Bollenbacher

Otto & Margret (Schott) Bollenbacher, Zion Lutheran Cemetery, Mercer County, Ohio. (2011 photo by Karen)

This is the tombstone of Otto and Margret (Schott) Bollenbacher, located in row 10 of Zion Lutheran Cemetery, Chattanooga, Mercer County, Ohio. The marker is inscribed:




Married March 27 1913

Otto Bollenbacher was born 28 February 1888 in Liberty Township, Mercer County, Ohio. His mother Louisa Bollenbacher married Frederick Berron on 26 November 1889. His mother suffered with epilepsy most of her life which made it difficult to care for Otto and his three half-sisters. Some of them, including Otto, were likely raised by family or friends. Louisa died on 5 May 1911.

Otto Bollenbacher married Margret “Maggie” Schott on 27 March 1913 at Zion Chatt. They were married by Zion’s Rev. Lincoln Luther Loehr and Mrs. Loehr served as their witness.

Maggie Schott was born in Liberty Township, Mercer County, on 5 March 1895, the daughter of Michael August and Margarethe Olga (Kuehm) Schott. She was baptized Margaretha Olga Schott on 24 Mar 1895 at the home of her parents. Her baptismal sponsors were Katharine Hoehamer, Lene Kuehm, and George Berron.

Shortly after their marriage Otto and Maggie lived about a mile south of Chatt, between Schaadt and Oregon Roads, but by 1920 they were living in Adams County, Indiana. Their household in 1920 Otto, 31; Maggie, 24; Arveda, 5; and Marguerite A. Letterman, 12, niece. Otto was a farmer. [1]

By 1930 Otto and Maggie had two more children, a son, LeRoy, and a daughter, Marjorie. The Otto Bollenbacher household in 1930: Otto, 42; Maggie, 37; Arveda, 16; LeRoy, 9; and Marjorie, 4 months. They rented their Adams County home and Otto farmed. [2]

Between 1935 and 1940 Otto and his family moved from rural Adams County, Indiana, to Liberty Township, Mercer County, Ohio. They owned their home in Mercer County and Otto was a farmer. Living with them was Maggie’s widowed mother. Their household in 1940: Otto, 52; Maggie, 44; LeRoy, 19; Margery, 10; and Margaret Schott, 84, mother-in-law. [3]

Otto died at Parkview Hospital in Fort Wayne on 12 February 1970 from injuries he sustained in an automobile accident a few days before, near Chattanooga, Ohio. He was 81 years old and resided in Willshire. According to his death certificate he sustained severe lacerations and a fractured left leg. Zwick’s in Decatur was in charge of the funeral arrangements and his son LeRoy Bollenbacher was the informant for the information on his death certificate. [4] Otto was buried on the 15th and Zion’s Rev. Ralph Hershberger was in charge of the service. Otto was survived by his wife, a son, and 2 daughters.

Otto’s obituary:

Crash Injuries Claim Life of Willshire Man
Willshire—Injuries suffered in a two-car accident Sunday noon in Chattanooga have proved fatal for Otto Bollenbacher, 81, of Willshire.

Mr. Bollenbcher was a passenger in a car driven by his wife Margaret, which figured in the accident. The couple was enroute home from church when the accident occurred.

Mr. Bollenbacher was taken to Adams County Memorial Hospital, Decatur, Ind., following the accident and was later transferred to Parkview Memorial Hospital, where he died at 9:15 a.m. Thursday.

He was born Feb. 28, 1888, in Mercer County and he and his wife lived in that vicinity until ab out two years ago when they moved to Willshire.

A retired farmer, he was an active member of the Zion Lutheran Church at Chattanooga.

Survivors include his widow, the former Margaret Schott, whom he married March 27, 1913, two daughters, Mrs. Lawrence (Arveda) Purdy of Rt. 1, Celina, and Mrs. George (Marjorie) Eckrote of Rt. 2, Berne, Ind.; a son, Leroy of Rt. 1, Willshire; three half-sisters, Mrs. Frieda Kreischer of Van Wert, Mrs. Edward (Hulda) Becher of Lakeville, Ind., and Mrs. Emma Zehr of Harlan, Ind.; seven grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

Funeral services will be at 1:45 p.m. Sunday at Zwick Funeral Home in Decatur and at 2:30 p.m. Sunday in the Zion Lutheran Church. The Rev. Ralph Hershberger will officiate. Burial will be in the church cemetery.

Friends may call at the funeral home after 7 p.m. today.

The family has requested that those who wish may make memorials to the church improvement fund. [5]

According to Zion Chatt’s records Maggie Schott died of cancer on 29 June 1979 in Van Wert County, Ohio. She was buried on 1 July and Zwick’s was in charge of the funeral arrangements.

Otto and Maggie Bollenbacher had the following children:
Arveda (1914-2001), married Lawrence Purdy
LeRoy Michael (1920-1974), married Nora Buchannan.
Marjorie Ilene (1929-2003), married George Eckrote


[1] 1920 U.S. Census, Jefferson, Adams, Indiana, ED 4, p.7B, dwelling 144, family 154, Otto Bollenbacher;; NARA microfilm T625, roll 420.

[2] 1930 U.S. Census, Jefferson, Adams, Indiana, ED 4, p.3A, dwelling & family 49, Otto Bollenbacher;; NARA microfilm T626.

[3] 1940 U.S. Census, Liberty, Mercer, Ohio, ED 54-22, p.3B, family 60, Otto Bollenbacher;; NARA microfilm T627, roll 3114.

[4] Indiana, Death Certificates, 1899-2011, Otto Bollenbacher, 12 Feb 1970; database on-line,, accessed 7 May 2018; Indiana Archives and Records Administration, Indianapolis, Indiana, Year 1970, roll 2.

[5] Van Wert Times Bulletin, Van Wert, Ohio, 13 Feb 1970, p.1; digital images,

May 04

Chattanooga, Ohio, 1912

A few weeks ago I received the Holy Grail of postcards—an honest-to-goodness, authentic, 1912 picture postcard of Chattanooga, Ohio. Mary Anne Bollenbacher gave me the postcard a few minutes before the beginning of our church service and I was so excited I had a little trouble concentrating on my music. I knew there were probably some old picture postcards of Chatt out there but I thought I would never have one.

I have seen this photo before. Many of you may have seen it, too, if you have ever been in the Chatt Bar. A larger copy of the photo hangs on the wall there. Downtown Chatt in 1912.

1912 picture postcard of Chattanooga, Ohio.

This particular postcard comes from Olen Bollenbacher’s family, Olen being Mary Anne’s husband. The message on this postcard was written by Olen’s grandmother, Emma (Bollenbacher) Bollenbacher, the daughter of Jacob and Caroline (Schaadt) Bollenbacher, who was eventually married to John Martin Bollenbacher. Emma wrote the message on the postcard for her daughter Helen because Helen was only 6 years old at the time and could not write.

The postcard was in the possession of Olen’s cousin, who was downsizing and wanted to give the card to someone who would appreciate it. Thank you, Mary Anne, for thinking of me! I really do appreciate and treasure it.

In 1910 John Martin and Emma Bollenbacher lived in Jefferson Township, Adams County, Indiana. Emma was 31, Olen’s father Victor was 6, and Helen was 4. [1]

Two years later Emma wrote on the back of the postcard for Helen:

Message written by Emma Bollenbacher for her 6-year old daughter Helen.

Postmarked Wren, Ohio, 21 Sep 1912
To Miss Marie Kriesher
Wren, Ohio
RR2, Box 34

Hello Marie I am well and hope the same of youins. I will go to school next week. We will have a new teacher. Come over to see me some time. Mamma is writing this for Helen she can’t write yet from your friend Helen Bollenbacher

Youins. It must be a Chatt-area thing. My dad used that word quite often in his letters during the war.

School must have started late back then. They probably had to get most of the farm and field work finished before they started school.

The photo was taken looking to the north. On the left, beyond the first two buildings, was the Chattanooga Hotel and saloon, comprised of three buildings, where the Chatt Bar is today.  You can see that the roof had a high arched section.

1912 picture postcard of Chattanooga, Ohio.

The long sign by the water pump, in front of the hotel area, says gasoline. There are several buggies along the street as well as some hitching posts. There are several telephone poles along the street and another tall building a little farther north.

West side of street, Chattanooga, Ohio, 1912

Across the street, on the east side, is a rather large brick-looking building and one or two people are sitting on the second story roof of that building. It almost looks like someone is lying in that overhang area, too.  Under the overhang is a big tank labeled GAS. The piece of machinery in the lower right has a metal tractor seat. It looks like there may be a truck farther on north, beyond the open buggy. Three young boys are standing in the dirt street and it looks like they might be playing a game.

East side of street, Chattanooga, Ohio, 1912

What a wonderful old photo postcard of Chatt. I feel very fortunate to have it and so appreciate that the Bollenbacher family entrusted it to me for safekeeping. Thank you! Thank you!


[1] 1910 U.S. Census, Jefferson, Adams, Indiana, ED 4, p.2B, dwelling & family 35, John Bollenbacher;; FHL microfilm 1374351, NARA microfilm T624, roll 338.

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