Dec 15

Dear Mom & All–WWII Letters from Herb (part 10)

Below are some more letters that my dad, Herbert Miller, wrote home while he was at his basic training at Fort McClellan, Alabama. It was late in the fall of 1944 and he was in Company A, 12th Battalion, 8th Regiment there. He was nearly finished with his basic training and would soon come home on furlough to the Miller farm in Mercer County, Ohio.

Herb Miller, U.S. Army veteran, WWII.

In these letters my dad mentions his brother Vernie, his uncle and aunt Bob and Bernice (Brewster) Dudgeon, and his cousin Murlin Miller.

Today’s first letter was addressed to both his parents but the salutation was just Dear Mom.

Postmarked from Fort McClellan, AL, 1 Nov 1944, addressed to Mr. & Mrs. Carl Miller, RR#1, Willshire, Ohio, from Pvt. Herbert Miller:

29 Oct 1944
Dear Mom,
It’s Sunday morning and all is going along pretty good. We pulled into this here area Thursday night and have had every day off since then but we have been having night problems every night. Last Thursday we ran the artillery problems. We fired a lot of tracers and a lot of artillery was flying around. As a result they started a forest fire. We started fighting the fire at 2:00 and it was 3:30 [?] when we got it under control. There were close to 1000 men fighting the fire. I would say there were about 20 acres of timber burnt and then there were a lot of fields which were covered with grass that was burnt.

Only about another two weeks before I’ll be home sometime in three weeks. I imagine Don Hoblet will be home about the same time. Since he is in I.R.T.C. at Texas and the training is practically the same.

Don’t send any more boxes or anything like that.

We don’t get any candy, [?], or cookies, cakes & pies out here and everything is done tactically. That is you don’t smoke after dark. No loud talking or singing and when you eat you have to stay five yards apart.

I don’t get much chance to write letters out here. So am going to write all I can this morning.

It sure will be good to get home again. It’s been almost 4 months since I have been in the Army. I haven’t heard from Dale or Murlin. I wrote to Murlin a couple of times but he never answers.

I hope you are all OK. Am feeling fine. Will close for now.

Love,
Herb

Herb’s cousin Murlin Miller, WWII era.

My dad mentions Central Soya in Decatur in the next letter. His dad Carl worked there. He also mentions the Luther League, the youth group at Zion Chatt, where the family attended church.

Postmarked from Fort McClellan, AL, 2 Nov 1944, addressed to Mr. & Mrs. Carl Miller, RR#1, Willshire, Ohio, from Pvt. Herbert Miller:

1 Nov 1944
Dear Mom & All,
It’s Wednesday noon and we have today off as far as training is concerned. We had a night problem last night and have today off. We have been having inspections and everything else. I received your stationery today. Sure was glad to get it.

Well we have only two more weeks out here on maneuvers. I don’t know the time and date I’ll be home but it won’t be so very long.

The sun is shining pretty bright now but about 12:00 tonight it will be plenty chilly. Friday night we start the hike back to the Fort. It isn’t a very hard march, only 21 miles and 8 hours to make it in.

Last night in the night problems about half of the 4th platoon played hooky. So today the 4th Platoon isn’t enjoying the day off.

I’ll bet that was really a swell Halloween party the Luther League had. I sure would have liked to be there. I’ll bet Vernie looked comical in his outfit. That fire over at Decatur at the Central Soya Co. was really destructive. Dad wasn’t on that shift was he?

Guess I’d better close. Can’t think of anymore to write.

With Love,
Herbie

Herb, home on furlough, November 1944.

My dad apparently wrote October instead of November as the date on the next letter.

Postmarked from Fort McClellan, AL, 7 Nov 1944, addressed to Mr. & Mrs. Carl Miller, RR#1, Willshire, Ohio, from Pvt. Herbert Miller:

5 Oct 1944 [5 Nov 1944]
Dear Mom & All,
Today was Sunday. It is now about 8:00 in the evening. Only 6 more days to go till my training cycle ends. Tomorrow they are going to tell us where we are going next. This infantry training doesn’t necessarily mean I’m going to be an infantry man. I could get in heavy weapons or air corps or anything.

I imagine the crops are all in and it is getting pretty chilly out.

You asked about my birthday present. You don’t need to get me anything. If you really want to the cigarette lighter would really be swell.

I went down to the main PS but they didn’t have any pillow cases. I’m going into town some night this week and get them.

I received a letter from Bob & Bernice the other day but didn’t get it answered yet.

It’s a little chilly tonight so I built a fire in the stove. It is just as warm as toast in here now.

I made that 24 mile hike OK. It was pretty tiresome walking 8 hours straight.

Guess I’d better close. I’m feeling fine and hope you are the same.

With all my love,
Herbie

There is a big gap, 10 days, between that last letter and the next one. He wrote home quite often and he was supposed to find out where he would go after basic training the next day. It had to be shocking news that he was going overseas to fight and he surely wrote home about it. Or was he not allowed to write home with that news? I wonder how much they told him about where he was headed and how much he was allowed to tell. And I  wonder, if he did write letters home during that time period, what happened to them.

Last letter from Herb while in Alabama.

That is what some family member wrote in pencil on the envelope postmarked from Fort McClellan, AL, 15 Nov 1944, addressed to Mr. & Mrs. Carl Miller, RR#1, Willshire, Ohio, from Pvt. Herbert Miller:

15 Nov 1944
Dear Mom & All,
It’s Wednesday night and everything is coming along ok. I have all my clothes packed. I couldn’t take everything with me so I had to send a box home. The only thing I’ll beat the box home—or should.

I ship out tomorrow morning sometime. So I ought to be home Friday evening sometime. But I don’t know the exact time I get there. There is a boy from Rockford whose folks are coming to Lima or wherever he is going. We go to Cincinnati first and from there will take the quickest or the first train north and he is going to call his folks from Cincinnati.

I bought both of my grandmothers a present. I wanted to get them something for Christmas and I saw something nice in Anniston.

It’s not much use for me to write a long letter because I’ll be home pretty shortly.

Love,
Herb

Be seeing youins soon.

My dad headed home on his furlough on 16 November and he thought he would be home by the following day. Depending on when he had to leave again he would was probably home for about 10 days, give or take.

The family took a lot of photos while he was home on furlough.

Herb on furlough, with parents, November 1944.

Herb on furlough, with siblings, November 1944.

Herb on furlough, with brothers Vernie & Kenny, November 1944.

Herb on furlough, with sister Helen, November 1944.

Herb on furlough, at Zion Chatt with Fred Betzel and Donald Hoblet, November 1944.

Herb, home on furlough, November 1944.

Herb, home on furlough, November 1944.

A few others from Zion Chatt were home on furlough about the same time:

Carl Ripley, WWII era.

Wesley Kallenberger, WWII era.

Wesley Kallenberger, WWII era.

From the next letter we know he was in Fort George Mead, Maryland, by 1 December.

Postmarked Fort George Mead, MD, 1 Dec 1944. To Mr. & Mrs. Carl Miller, RR #1, Willshire, Ohio. His return address indicated Co. A, 22nd Battalion, 6th, Regiment.

1 Dec, 1944
Dear Mom & All,
It is Friday evening about 5:10. We have retreat in about a half an hour. We didn’t have anything today except making up different kinds of ? rolls.

I sold that other cigarette lighter. They guys really like that kind of lighter.

It’s about 9:15 now. This evening right after chow I went over to the PX & bought me some Christmas cards and am mailing 15 out tomorrow. I have a lot more ready to send but guess I don’t want to fill up the mail room.

Tomorrow we test our gas masks in the gas chamber and we have from 1:00 Saturday morning until 5:30 Monday morning off.

I can’t think of much more to write so will close. Am feeling fine and hope youins are the same.

Love,
Herbie

The postmark is different on the next envelope: Postmarked from U.S. Army Postal Service 8 Dec 1944, addressed to Mr. & Mrs. Carl Miller, RR#1, Willshire, Ohio, from Pvt. Herbert Miller. His return address is different now, too: Pvt. Herbert Miller (35845400), Co. G, 3rd Platoon, APO 15665 c/o Postmaster, New York, NY. He was probably getting ready to ship out and go overseas. Someone, likely a family member, wrote on the envelope in pencil, Herbs paper in here. I wonder what paper that was?

7 Dec 1944
Dear Mom & All,
Just a half an hour to go till chow. Sure am getting hungry. We eat breakfast at 6:00, dinner at 11:00 and chow at 4:00. They are giving out some passes tonight, but I don’t feel like going to town tonight. I’m in the mood to see a show again.

They really have a swell library here. After the show last night I went over and read awhile.

I thought I would see Slim Ault or Eugene Case but didn’t see them at Meade or in fact haven’t seen them since my furlough.

I think I’ll sign up for an allotment and send some of my money home each pay day.

I can’t think of any more to write so had better close.

Love,
Herbie

My dad always loved to read. I guess it must run in the family and the love of reading was passed down to me.

Dec 12

Tombstone Tuesday–Laura B. (Schott) Swander

Laura B. (Schott) Swander, Zion Lutheran Cemetery, Chattanooga, Mercer County, Ohio. (2011 photo by Karen)

This is the tombstone of Laura B. (Schott) Swander, located in row 10 of Zion Lutheran Cemetery, Chattanooga, Mercer County, Ohio. The marker is inscribed:

Laura B.
Swander
1888-1943

Lorina “Laura” Barbara Schott was born in or near Chattanooga, Ohio, on 23 July 1888, the daughter of Michael (1855-1940) and Margaretha (Kühm) (1855-1942) Schott. Her father was born in Washington Township, Mercer County, Ohio, and her mother was born in Schillersdorf, Elsass.

Laura was baptized 29 July 1888 with George and Barbara Kühm serving as witnesses. The church records do not indicate if Laura was baptized at home or at the church. Laura was confirmed at Zion Chatt on 5 April 1903.

In 1900 Laura, age 11, lived with her parents and 5 of her siblings on the family farm in Liberty Township, Mercer County. The family in 1900: Michael, 44; Maggie, 45; Elizabeth E, 21; Fredrick C, 19; Mary K, 13; Laura B, 11; Albert W, 6; and Maggie O, 5. [1] 

In 1910 Laura lived with her brother August Schott (1879-1961) and his family on Taylor Street in Fort Wayne. Their household in 1910: August M, 30; Almeda, 29; Pauline, 5; Velma, 1; and Laura, 21, single. Laura worked as a winder at a knitting mill and her brother August was a chauffeur for and express wagon. [2] 

Laura married Frank Emil Swander in Celina, Mercer County, Ohio, on 27 January 1914. Frank’s name is spelled Swanders in their marriage record on several other records. Their marriage record gives quite a bit of information about the couple. Frank, age 24, was born in Indiana on 4 August 1890, the son of Imanuel and Francis (Strabie) Swander. Frank worked for the rail road at the time they married. Laura, age 25, was born in Chattanooga, Ohio, and was living there when they married. The record names her father as Michael Schott and her mother as Margaret King. They were married by Rev. F.G. Reitz, Evangelical Lutheran pastor in Celina. Laura was 25 and Frank was 24. [3]

In 1920 Frank worked as farm laborer in Noble County, Indiana. He and Laura were the only two people in their household. Frank was 30 and Laura 31. [4]

In 1930 Frank E, 41 and Laura B, 43 lived in Fort Wayne, Indiana, where Frank was a tool keeper for a steam railroad. They owned their own home on East Rudisill Blvd and they had a radio. There were no children in their household. [5]

Frank and Laura moved to DeKalb County, north of Fort Wayne sometime between 1930 and 1935. The Frank Swander household in 1940: Frank, 50; Laura, 51; and Walter Schott, 47, single. Walter was Laura’s brother. Frank was the manager and operator of a filling station and Walter was an attendant at the filling station. Frank and Laura had lived in same house 5 years before the census but Walter had lived in Cincinnati, Ohio, 5 years before. [6]

Laura’s father Michael Schott died 20 January 1940 and her mother died two years later, on 13 August 1942. They are both buried in row 9 of Zion Chatt’s cemetery. According to her parents’ obituaries Laura and Frank were living in Auburn, Indiana.

Laura (Schott) Swander died at Sacred Heart Hospital in Garrett, DeKalb County, Indiana, on 22 June 1943. She was 55 years, 10 months, and 30 days old and died of pancreatic cancer which had metastasized. She had suffered with the disease for 1 year. Wellman’s Funeral Home in Fort Wayne was in charge of the arrangements and her brother Michael Schott of Fort Wayne was the informant for her information on her death certificate. Laura was buried on 25 June. [7]

Frank and Laura had at least one child who died at birth. Glen Franklin Swander died of a cerebral hemorrhage injury at his birth on 26 November 1915. He is buried at Lindenwood Cemetery, Fort Wayne. Glen Franklin’s death certificate indicates that he was born in Fort Wayne, that his father Frank was born in DeKalb County, and that his mother Laura was born In Mercer County. [8]

Frank Swander died in 1961 and is buried next to his wife Laura.

Neither Frank nor Laura is listed in Zion Chatt’s death and burial records. In fact, the only time the couple is mentioned in Zion Chatt’s records (besides Laura’s baptism and confirmation) is when Laura’s niece Lorina Irene Schott was baptized in 1920. Both Frank and Lora were her baptismal sponsors.

 

[1] 1900 U.S. Census, Liberty, Mercer, Ohio, ED 85, p.9B, dwelling 173, family 178, Michael Schott; Ancestry.com; FHL microfilm 1241304, NARA microfilm T623, roll 1304.

[2] 1910 U.S. Census, Fort Wayne Ward 6, Allen, Indiana, ED 47, p.2A, dwelling & family 31, August M Schott; Ancestry.com; FHL microfilm 1374352, NARA microfilm T624, roll 339.

[3] “Ohio, County Marriages, 1789-2013,” database with images, FamilySearch, Frank E. Swanders & Laura Schott, 27 Jan 1914; Mercer County Marriages, Vol. 10, p.709; FHL microfilm 914959.

[4] 1920 U.S. Census, Swan, Noble, Indiana, ED 146, p.1B, dwelling & family 20, Frank Swanders; Ancestry.com;  NARA microfilm T625, roll 459.

[5] 1930 U.S. Census, Fort Wayne, Allen, Indiana, ED 45, p.28A, dwelling 57, family 60, Frank E Swander; Ancestry.com; FHL microfilm 2340310, NARA microfilm T626, roll 575.

[6] 1940 U.S. Census, Jackson, DeKalb, Indiana, ED 17-8, p.11A, line 35, frank Swander; Ancestry.com; NARA microfilm T627, roll 1036.

[7] Indiana, Death Certificates, 1943, Roll 7, no.18142, Laura Swanders, 22 June 1943; Ancestry.com; Indiana State Board of Health, Death Certificates, 1900-2011, Indiana Archives and Records Administration, Indianapolis, Indiana.

[8] Indiana, Death Certificates, 1910-1919, Roll 2, no.821, Glen Franklin Swanders, 26 Nov 1915; Ancestry.com; Indiana State Board of Health, Death Certificates, 1900-2011, Indiana Archives and Records Administration, Indianapolis, Indiana.

 

Dec 08

Dear Mom & All–WWII Letters from Herb (part 9)

Below are some more letters that my dad, Herbert Miller, wrote home while he was at his basic training at Fort McClellan, Alabama.

It was the fall of 1944 and he was in Company A, 12th Battalion, 8th Regiment there. He was nearly finished with his basic training and in these letters my dad mentions Helen, Kenny, and Em, who were his siblings. “Johnnies” was Johnny and Clara (Miller) Reef, his uncle and aunt.

Herb Miller, Fort McClellan, Alabama, 1944.

Postmarked from Fort McClellan, AL, 29 Sep 1944, addressed to Mr. & Mrs. Carl Miller, RR#1, Willshire, Ohio, from Pvt. Herbert Miller:

28 Sep 1944
Dear Mom & All,
It’s Thursday night and no night problems tonight. We fired the mortars today. They were sorta easy to fire.

Talking about sit-down strikes, read the clipping I enclosed about the G.P.W. on a sit-down strike. They really treat them nice around here. I don’t know very much news.

It really rained tonight, or this evening. I’m sure glad I’m not on a night problem. We have started to take up boxing and wrestling. Maybe I’ll be able to take care of myself when I get out of here.

Helen asked where I thought the 27th Division is. I don’t know, but I’m almost positive they didn’t or aren’t in combat right now.

Pretty soon they will send American troops in China. There are some or a lot of American airfields there that the Japs are capturing. So before long they will send in foot troops—the infantry. I read in the (Ft. McClellan) Cycle where Ft. McClellan men would be the first ones in Tokyo [?].

Guess I’d better close.

Love,
Herbie

My grandparents even saved the newspaper clipping that my dad mentioned in the above letter:

1944 newspaper clipping sent from Fort McClellan.

Postmarked from Fort McClellan, AL, 2 Oct 1944, addressed to Mr. & Mrs. Carl Miller, RR#1, Willshire, Ohio, from Pvt. Herbert Miller:

30 Sep 1944
Dear Mom & All,
I decided to write youins a letter so here goes.

It is Sunday morning and just got back from church. It is 10:05. I have my rifle to clean, cartridge belt & leggings to wash out by 11:30, so will have to hurry.

I have all those pictures taken but not developed yet. I’m going to take them in this afternoon. I will send you a set of them. I received a box of chocolate candy from Homer Carrs. It sure was good candy.

We leave for maneuvers the 13th of October on Friday and come back to camp Nov. 4. Stay in camp for a week and then sometime the following week will be shipped out. I will get my furlough delay en-route. So that means I will bring my barracks bags and everything I’m going to take to the next camp home with me.

I heard Dale was at camp Atterbury.

What is the price of beans this year? I imagine the corn is pretty nubbing [?] since it was a dry year.

Guess I’d better close and clean my rifle.

Love,
Herb

P.S. I have enough stationery to last me till I get home.

Postmarked from Fort McClellan, AL, 4 Oct 1944, addressed to Mr. & Mrs. Carl Miller, RR#1, Willshire, Ohio, from Pvt. Herbert Miller:

1 Oct 1944
Dear Mom & All,
Today is a rest day so I’m lying around in the hut sleeping and writing letters. The reason we have this rest day is because we had a night problem that lasted until 9:30 this morning. I spent my first night in a fox hole. It was OK only there were a few snakes crawling around. I killed a rattler about 2 ½ feet long. Other than that I slept OK. I received a large box of cookies and candy from Clara. They sure were good.

We got paid this morning. My check was $23.75. It usually varies according to whether there are 30 or 31 days in the moth.

Last night it was really chilly. Now it is so hot you can’t keep cool.

So Helen has her driver’s license now. I knew she would pass her test all right. Yes I know ho nervous on gets in a time like that.

Is dad still working on the same shift like he did before? I imagine he gets tireder than ever on some of those shifts and with the work on the hen house.

I might get sent to a division and get additional training. They take all 18 year-olds for co. cadre here or send them to a division. The cycle ends o Nov. 11 and my birthday is the 29th. I would have gone to the Army about 2 months sooner I would be sure of going to a division but since it is so close it is hard to tell. They may send me across right away.

Guess I’d better close for now.

Love,
Herbie

Herb Miller, Fort McClellan, AL, basic training, 1944.

Postmarked from Fort McClellan, AL, 9 Oct 1944, addressed to Mr. & Mrs. Carl Miller, RR#1, Willshire, Ohio, from Pvt. Herbert Miller:

8 Oct 1944
Dear Mom & All,
It’s Sunday evening and am about to go to bed. I have to clean my rifle, shave, and write another letter.

I’m sending you some pictures and also the negatives, so you can get some more prints if you want some. I don’t or won’t have any more chances to go to town.

Day after tomorrow we go out to maneuvers.

We are packing all of our stuff to leave.

We usually could get all the cigarettes we wanted. Now they will sell us only two packs.

Just two more days of scrubbing the huts in the morning, then we will be sleeping on the ground.

I went to church this morning, washed out my clothes, and then went to a show this afternoon. It was really a good show, “Marriage is a Private Affair.”

It is really chilly tonight. We should have built a fire in the stove. But we should have to walk quite a ways for coal and also a quite a ways to empty the ashes.

Then we would have to polish the stove. So I decided it would be too much bother.

Could you send another roll of film? Just one more is all I would like to have.

Guess I’d better close.

Love,
Herb

Postmarked from Fort McClellan, AL, 12 Oct 1944, addressed to Mr. & Mrs. Carl Miller, RR#1, Willshire, Ohio, from Pvt. Herbert Miller:

Dear Mom & All,
It’s almost dinner time. We arrived at our maneuver’s area OK. Just got the fox holes dug, tent erected and everything camouflaged. We will be here for 9 days. I don’t know where I’ll get to mail this but I figured I’d better write a few lines now and a few later to make a letter. Everything is done tactically—just like it is done in actual combat. I’m beginning to get hungry so will close for awhile and finish this letter late.

Here it is 1:00 and we still haven’t had chow. It ought to be anytime now. I’m going to write on the back of the sheets. You see we had to carry everything with us on the march—gas mask, field pack, rifle, steel helmet, mess gear, tent, blankets, extra fatigues, extra blanket, extra shoes, cigarettes, writing paper—everything that we need out here.

It wasn’t a very hard march out here, the way they talked it would be pretty tough. These nine days will go fast. The guy that is sleeping with me in the pup tent is Pvt. Merryman. Guess I’d better close.

Love,
Herb

Postmarked from Fort McClellan, AL, 18 Oct 1944, addressed to Mr. & Mrs. Carl Miller, RR#1, Willshire, Ohio, from Pvt. Herbert Miller:

14 Oct 1944
Dear Mom & All,
It’s almost 5:00 and I started this letter yesterday evening but was called for chow. It is now Sun. morn. We are on the machine gun range, firing other machine guns. We have a night problem tonight and tomorrow night. I probably won’t have a chance to go to church until I get home on my furlough.

I have to bring all my equipment and stuff home with me.

I don’t know much news. So don’t imagine it will be a very long letter.

Where is Dale C. at? Johnnies said he mailed a letter in Texas and was still going west. I’ve written to Murlin a couple of times but never got any answer. Gene Case [?] is the only one I heard from.

I’m really sleepy today and have been getting a lot of sleep. I guess it’s because I’m used to taking it easy on Sunday afternoon.

One of the lieutenants said they would tell us in our 16th week where our next camp would be

Here at the maneuvers at Choccolocco we use blanks in problems and live rounds on the range.

In Marsville [?] we use all live ammunition, artillery shells, mortar shells, and land mines.

I imagine Dad’s car does sound different. He put quite a bit of money in it but it is worth it.

Where is Jr. Derrickson at now? I read in the paper where Roma Miller was wounded in action.

Does Helen know Robert Caywood from Celina? He is here and we are coming home together.

Guess I’d better close, am feeling fine and hope you are the same.

Love,
Herb

Postmarked from Fort McClellan, AL, 21 Oct 1944, addressed to Mr. & Mrs. Carl Miller, RR#1, Willshire, Ohio, from Pvt. Herbert Miller:

20 Oct 1944
Dear Mom & All,
Here it is Friday night and I haven’t had time to write any letters for quite a while.

Tomorrow we take off again for another maneuvers area. It will be a four night hike out there. Quite a ways isn’t it?

How is the farming coming along by now? I imagine all the corn is shucked.

So Kenny got his bicycle. I’ll bet he is really tickled.

I received a carton of cigarettes from Em and Jack today. Also film from Johnnies.

You know I’ve been so busy I didn’t get to the main PX or to town. In fact I couldn’t have got to town if I wanted to. The only time we are in the Co area is through the week and no passes through the week. I wanted to get grandma [?], and Johnnies and Dad something, especially for their birthdays and Mom’s on Nov. 3, so if it is OK I’ll buy it before I ship out and bring them home on my furlough.

I’m taking a sergeant’s place tonight for CQ—command of quarters. So have an easy job.

Guess I’d better close.

Love,
Herbie

Herb Miller, U.S. Army veteran, WWII.

Postmarked from Fort McClellan, AL, 27 Oct 1944, addressed to Mr. & Mrs. Carl Miller, RR#1, Willshire, Ohio, from Pvt. Herbert Miller:

24 Oct 1944
Dear Mom & All,
Here it is Tuesday night and I finally found time to scribble a few lines. It’s been dark for quite a while. I made me a lamp out of a c-ration coffee can and leggin lace using rifle oil for fuel. It smokes quite a bit but that can be expected.

I received your box and also the letters. Say those cookies and home baked bread really taste good. We have been living on c-rations and hard-tack for quite a while on maneuvers.

You don’t need to send any more films. I have the one Johnnies sent and since I will be where I can take pictures for a week before my furlough I won’t need them. 17 more days to go yet. I’m pretty sure of where I’m going to be sent next, although they will tell us for sure next week. I think I will be sent down South again, only a little further west—Mississippi in a division. I won’t miss so very far. If I would be much older I would be sure of going across.

Well I’m glad to hear youins are having good weather there for harvesting the crops.

The maneuvers out here at Marsville [?] are very interesting. Tomorrow we go through the German Village. We use a lot of live ammunition and there is a lot of chances to get hurt if the guys are careless. Most of the guys are very careful but there are a few “jerks” who always spoil a good game. So instead of getting shot in the “hind end”-back, we make them go in front or take their ammunition away from them.

You aught to see my bed here. I’m sleeping like a king. I’m still sleeping with Merryman and we gathered straw and grass and put it on the ground inside of our tent, till it was a foot thick. Then one blanket over that and a comfort. We have three blankets and another comfort to cover up with.

I was on guard duty Saturday night. It’s like Red said, there are a lot of things in the Army I’d rather do. Well our barracks bags hadn’t come out yet and all the clothes I had were what I brought in my pack and that was 1 blanket and 1 rain coat besides my tent. It happened that that was a very chilly night and I darn near froze. There were 6 men at the post where we were to stand guard and that post was in the center of a field—of all places for a guard post.

Well guess I’d better close for now. I hope I get some more time to write before I get back to camp.

Love,
Herbert

It would not be long until my dad would finish his basic training and he looked forward to going home on furlough. He thought he would be sent to another camp after that, possibly in Mississippi, but that was not to be. He mentioned the chilly nights in Alabama but he had no idea what would be in store for him in less than three months in Europe, in the Ardennes and the Battle of the Bulge. It is probably just as well that he did not know. I am just glad that they trained him so well and that he had the wherewithal to survive the war.

More of his letters next week.

Dec 05

Tombstone Tuesday–Otto A. & Eva R. (Wise) Brandt

Otto & Eva (Wise) Brandt, Zion Lutheran Cemetery, Chattanooga, Mercer County, Ohio. (2011 photo by Karen)

This is the tombstone of Otto Arthur and Eva Rose (Wise) Brandt, located in row 10 of Zion Lutheran Cemetery, Chattanooga, Mercer County, Ohio. The marker is inscribed:

BRANDT

Eva R.
1879-1958
Rev. 3:20

Otto A.
1874-1952
Genesis 5:24

Otto Arthur Brandt was born 3 February 1874 in Blackcreek Township, Mercer County, Ohio, the son of Ludwig/Louis and Margaretha/Margaret (Heffner) Brandt. His father was born in Dietzhausen, Prussia, and his mother in Mercer County, Ohio.  Otto was baptized 8 April 1874 with his parents serving as his sponsors.

The Louis Brandt household in Blackcreek Township in 1880: Lewis, 40; Margaret, 33; Matilda, 14; Gusta A, 12; Otto A, 6; Henry R, 4; and Benjamin, 2. Lewis Brandt was a farmer. [1]

Otto Brandt’s mother Margaret died in June 1889, less than a year before his confirmation. She was only 42 years old. Otto was confirmed at Zion Chatt on Palm Sunday, 30 March 1890. His father Louis married Maria Schulz on 5 December 1895 and they had three children together, Louis, Emil, and Margaret, Otto’s half-siblings.

The Louis Brandt family still resided on the Blackcreek Farm in 1900: Louis, 60; Marie S, 33; Otto A, 26; Benjamin F, 21; Mary L, 19; Clarence S, 16; Carroll R, 11; Lewis EJ, 2; Frederick E, 1 month; and Sophia Schulz, 56, Marie’s mother. This enumeration indicates that Louis and Marie had been married 4 years and that she had had 2 children. It also indicates that Louis immigrated in 1855 and that Maria and her mother immigrated in 1892. [2] 

Otto Brandt married Eva Rosine/Rose Wise on 4 March 1903 in Van Wert County. At the time of their marriage Otto lived in Mercer County and Eva lived in Harrison Township. Otto was a farmer and was 29 years old. Eva was 24. They were married by Rev. Karl Wyneken. [3]

Eva Wise was the daughter of Simon and Lena (Storm) Wise and was born 24 March 1879 in Marysville, Union County, Ohio. Zion Chatt’s records indicate that she was confirmed at St. John Church, Union County, on 26 March 1893. Her parents’ marriage record indicates that her father’s surname was spelled Weiss and that he was from Union County, Ohio, and Lena was from Van Wert County. [4]

Eva Wise lived with her parents in Van Wert County in 1900. The Wise household in 1900: John C, 49; Magdalena, 42; Eva R, 21; Oswald, 18; Louis, 15; Leonard, 13; and Louisa M, 5. Other records indicate Eva’s father’s name was Simon. This enumeration indicates that he was born in Germany, immigrated in 1872, and was a farmer. Magdalena was born in Ohio. John [Simon] and Magdalena married in 1878 and she had given birth to 8 children and 5 were living. [5]

The Otto Brandt household in 1910: Otto A, 36; Eva R, 34; Ester M, 5; Carl L, 3; Wilbur C, 0; and William Riches, 20. The family lived on what was called Brandt Pike, south of Willshire in Blackcreek Township, where Otto was a farmer. [6]

The Otto Brant family in 1920: Otto, 45; Eva, 40; Esther, 15; Carl, 12; Bernice, 7; Herbert, 5;, and Louise, 1. Otto was a general farmer and they lived very close to Otto’s stepmother and step-siblings, Marie, Louis, Emil, and Gretchen. Although the enumeration indicates Marie was married, her husband Louis [and Otto’s father] died in 1905. [7]

The Otto Brandt family remained on the same farm for the next two decades. Their household in 1940: Otto A, 66; Eva R, 61; Herbert W, 24; Clayton O Baumgardner, 63; Simon Wise, 89. Otto and Herbert farmed. Clayton Baumgardener was a hired farm hand and Simon Wise was Eva’s  widowed father. [8] 

Otto Arthur Brandt died at his home 3 miles south of Willshire on route 49 in Blackcreek Township on 14 September 1952 at the age of 78 years, 7 months, and 11 days. He died of a coronary thrombosis which he had two hours prior caused by arteriosclerosis heart disease which he had for 10 years. Zion Chatt’s records indicate that he had paralysis on his left side since 8 September. M.J. Osborn signed his death certificate and his son Carl Brandt was the informant for the information on his death certificate. Arrangements were handled by Zwick and Otto was buried on 17 September. He was survived by his wife Eva, sons Carl and Herb, daughters Mrs. Omer Havens, Mrs. Charles Schell, and Mrs. Dean Baughman, brothers Rev. Dr. B.F. Brandt and Carl, half brothers Louis and Emil, a sister Mrs. Harvey Altenbend, and a half sister Mrs. [Margaret] Stanton Dailey. [9] [10]

Eva (Wise) Brandt died of a heart attack at 6:00 p.m. on 12 December 1958, at the age of 79 years, 8 months, and 18 days. She was buried on the 15th and she chose Rev 3:20 as her funeral text. She was survived by survived by three daughters, Mrs. (Owen) Esther Havens, Mrs. (Charles) Bernice Schell, and Mrs. Dean Baughman; 2 sons, Carl L. and Herbert W.; a brother Lewis Wise; a sister Mrs. Earl Dennis [?]. One son [Wilbur Clarence] preceded her in death.

Eva’s death record indicates that she died at their home 3 miles south of Willshire on 49, in Van Wert County, although their home was actually in Mercer County. Her cause of death was shown as coronary thrombosis which she had had for 2 hours, with 5 years of atherosclerotic heart disease as a contributing factor. Son Herbert Brandt was the informant for the information on his mother’s death certificate. VOID is stamped on her Van Wert County death certificate with this handwritten notation: This certificate was filed in the incorrect county. Mailed to Mrs. Jean Rawers, Registrar, Mercer County. Dated 1/8/59. Signed David Adler Jones. Her death certificate was also signed by Dr. M.J. Osborn and Zwick was in charge of the arrangements. [11]

Eva (Wise) Brandt

Otto and Eva (Wise) Brandt had the following children:
Esther Laura Maria (1905-2000), married Omer M. Havens
Carl Louis (1906-2000), married Mabel Emely Morrison
Wilbur Clarence (1909-1914)
Bernice May (1912-2008), married Charles W. Shell
Herbert Wilson (1914-2014), married Anna Fahncke
Miriam Louisa (1918-2003), married Dean V. Baughman

 

[1] 1880 U.S. Census, Black Creek, Mercer, Ohio, ED 179, p.325A, line 40, Lewis Brant; Ancestry.com; NARA microfilm T9, roll 1048.

[2] 1900 U.S. Census, Black Creek, Mercer, Ohio, ED 74, p.13A, dwelling/family 261, Louis Bra; Ancestry.com; FHL microfilm 1241303, NARA microfilm T623, roll 1303.

[3] “Ohio, County Marriages, 1789-2013,” database with images, FamilySearch.org, O.A. Brandt & Eva Wise, 4 Mar 1903; Van Wert County Marriages, Vol. 10, p.585; FHL microfilm 1015863.

[4] “Ohio, County Marriages, 1789-2013,” database with images, FamilySearch.org, Simon Weiss & Lena Storm, 23 Nov 1876; Van Wert Marriages, Vol, 4, p.464; FHL microfilm 1015860.

[5] 1900 U.S. Census, Harrison, Van Wert, Ohio, Ed 79, p.7A, dwelling/family 59, John C Wise; Ancestry.com; FHL microfilm 1241329, NARA microfilm T623, roll 1329.

[6] 1910 U.S. census, Black Creek, Mercer, Ohio, ED 107, p.8B, dwelling 178, family 179, Otta A Brandt; Ancestry.com; FHL microfilm 1375227, NARA microfilm T624, roll 1214.

[7] 1920 U.S. Census, Black Creek, Mercer, Ohio, ED 124, p.5A, dwelling/family 93, Otto Brant; Ancestry.com; NARA microfilm T625, roll 1418.

[8] 1940 U.S. Census, Black Creek, Mercer, Ohio, ED 54-1, p.3B, line 78, Otto A Brandt; Ancestry.com; NARA microfilm T627, roll 3114.

[9] “Ohio Deaths, 1908-1953,” database with images, FamilySearch.org, Otto Arthur Brandt, 14 Sep 1952; FHL microfilm 2246306.

[10] Zion’s records indicate that Louis and Emil were “stepbrothers” and that Margaret was a “stepsister” but they would have been Otto’s half siblings.

[11] “Ohio, County Death Records, 1840-2001,” database with images, FamilySearch.org, Eva Rose Brandt, 12 Dec 1958; Willshire, Van Wert; FHL microfilm 1952882.

 

Dec 01

Dear Mom & All–WWII Letters from Herb (part 8)

Below are some more letters that my dad, Herbert Miller, wrote home during his basic training at Fort McClellan, Alabama. It was the summer of 1944 and he was in Company A, 12th Battalion, 8th Regiment there. His sister Helen was dating Paul “Red” Linn at the time and Red ended up serving in the Pacific. Helen and Red eventually married.

Herb Miller, Fort McClellan, AL, basic training, 1944.

Postmarked from Fort McClellan, AL, 17 Sep 1944, addressed to Mr. & Mrs. Carl Miller, RR#1, Willshire, Ohio, from Pvt. Herbert Miller:

16 Sep 1944
Dear Mom & All,

It’s Saturday night and not much doing here. I’ve been writing letters all evening. Wrote 11 so far besides a few odds and ends. So, I’m glad I learned how to sew buttons and to patch. I had to do both this evening and still have a little mending to do. I washed out my fatigues tonight. Now that makes me sound like a woman so I’m going to stop.

No, I didn’t get the grapes Ruth sent. We have been eating out in the field about every day this week.

Sure wish I had a camera down here. There are a lot of pictures I would like to take to show youins what the camp looks like.

Is Helen still hearing from Red? He ought to be getting a furlough pretty soon.

It looks like the war with Germany will end soon. But Japan will take awhile. I thought they would be starting on the Philippines pretty soon.

There is an Irishman here who has been in the U.S. only about 9 months. He really is a lot of fun. Last night he was giving the Prime Minister Chamberlain’s speech and it was really good.

Guess I’d better close. Can’t think of any more to say.

Love,
Herbie

Herbert Miller, WWII.

Postmarked from Fort McClellan, AL, 22 Sep 1944, addressed to Mr. & Mrs. Carl Miller, RR#1, Willshire, Ohio, from Pvt. Herbert Miller:

21 Sep 1944
Dear Mom & All,

It is Thursday morning and am waiting for the whistle to fall out. It was 2 o’clock before I got to bed last night. We had a night problem in the hills. I have put in about 40 hours already this week and here it is only Thursday morning. Most of the guys from other companies say this is our hardest week.

They have a new giz [?] system now, have so many points for certain things that are undone or done wrong. Such as dirty floor = 1 pt. etc. After a person has 6 pts. in one week he is restricted to the co. area or put on detail for three nights in a row. So far I have one point this week.

Will probably get K.P. tomorrow or Saturday. They are up to the Ms already.

Yesterday morning they picked out 30 men to demonstrate scouting and patrolling to the rest of the Co. and to the majors, colonels, and general. I was in it. Had to run the problem three times.

I didn’t get the grapes [?] Ruth [?] sent but your letter explained why I didn’t get them.

It sounded like the whistle, so I guess I’d better close for now.

Love,
Herb

P.S. Tell the kids to study good in school.

[Note by Karen:That is the second mention of grapes being sent to him. Sending grapes through the mail to Alabama in early fall? There must be a story behind that!]

Postmarked from Fort McClellan, AL, 24 Sep 1944, addressed to Mr. & Mrs. Carl Miller, RR#1, Willshire, Ohio, from Pvt. Herbert Miller:

23 Sep 1944
Dear Mom & All,

It’s Saturday night and it is getting sort of late. Tomorrow we set up our stands. We have a box about four ft. square and 4 in. high to fill up with sand and put the stove in it.

Yes, I got your stationery. In fact I go two packages of it. I’m putting yours to a lot of bother [?], the candy, camera, and film. Tell Helen I will pay her for the film when I come home.

Monday and Tuesday I didn’t get any letters but Wednesday I got about 10-12.

K.P. and table waiting was really tough this last time. Sure glad it is over. Monday we fire the mortars and in two weeks we go out on maneuvers for a week and then next three days are back here. Then we take off again for another place for two weeks.

We were supposed to crawl under machine gun fire this week but we didn’t. This morning we had a two hr. show on “the Battle of Russia.” Last week we saw the show on “The Battle for Britain.”

Today we went through the obstacle course with light packs or combat packs and rifles. It is easy to go through.

I can’t think of much to write and am getting pretty sleepy.

Did Bud Oakley pass for the Army? I imagine Dale will be gone by the time you get this. It will really be hard on him with the ideas he has.

I sure would like to see K [?] Ross [?]. Hope Don H., Gene C. & my furloughs are the same time. I think Gene Case will get his before mine.

Guess I [will] close for now and write more tomorrow.

Love,
Herbie

One of my dad’s basic training buddies, Pvt. Robert McDonald, from Gettysburg, PA.

Postmarked from Fort McClellan, AL, 25 Sep 1944, addressed to Mr. & Mrs. Carl Miller, RR#1, Willshire, Ohio, from Pvt. Herbert Miller:

24 Sep 1944
Dear Mom & All,

It’s Sunday evening and it is getting sort of late. I thought I would drop you a few lines and send you my picture. This letter will be short.

We put up the stoves today. Had to fill a box full of sand and clay to set the stove in for protection of fire.

We had two good meals today. This evening I mopped the hut, cleaned the rifles, washed my fatigues, and decided to write a few letters. Time sure is going fast. Only 7 more weeks to go.

How are the crops coming along? How did the beans come out or aren’t they combined yet? Johnnies said a lot of the beans are ripe now.

Tell Helen not to worry about Red. I imagine he is planning to surprise her and his folks by coming home pretty soon.

Guess I’d better sign off.

Love,
Herbie

P.S. I just had to tear the letter open. I forgot to enclose the picture. Ha!

Below is a photo of Paul “Red” Linn, who was dating my dad’s sister Helen during the war. Red is mentioned in quite a few of my dad’s letters. Helen and Red married after the war.

Paul “Red” Linn, WWII; married Herb’s sister Helen.

Herb’s sister Helen (Miller) & “Red” Linn.

Postmarked from Fort McClellan, AL, 28 Sep 1944, addressed to Mr. & Mrs. Carl Miller, RR#1, Willshire, Ohio, from Pvt. Herbert Miller:

27 Sep 1944
Dear Mom & All,

Here it is Wednesday evening again. Time surely is going fast. Those night problems we have make it go faster too. We had a 4 hr. one Monday night and got in at 12:30. Last night we had an 8 hr. one and got in at 5:20 this morning.

We had yesterday morning and this morning off so I’m getting plenty of rest. As for the eats, they are excellent.

I received the camera and box. Thanks a lot. I know I’m putting youins to a lot of bother. The reason I wanted the hard candy, I take about 6 or 7 pieces along and leave them melt in my mouth while we are marching to keep from getting thirsty. I took 4 pictures already. Some of my buddies, the other 4 will take with our O.D.s on. Did you receive that picture yet? It’s not very plain. My buddy took it.

Tell Helen this camera will be OK. I won’t have so awful much time to take pictures. We only have one more Sunday off before I come home. The rest of the time will be in Libman [?].

I’m getting pretty sleepy. Guess I’d better close.

Love,
Herb

I remember that my dad always liked hard candy. He may have acquired a taste for it during his basic training. He also liked to take photos and he developed the pictures himself. Quite a few of his photos survived and I am thankful to have them.

My dad did not mention anything about the new hen house on the Miller farm back in Mercer County, Ohio, in any of these letters. Perhaps it was completed by this time. Below is the only photo I could find of what I believe was hen house that was built during the summer of 1944. I believe it was the long white building on the left side of the photo below. I am sure some of my relatives remember for sure. This photo would have been taken years later and it looks like my dad’s youngest sister Anna Lou, who looks like she is resting after a whole lot of snow shoveling.

This past Wednesday, 29 November, was my dad’s birthday. He would have been 92 years old. He has been gone for 5½ years now and we miss him a lot.

Still more letters to come next week.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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