Mar 16

Dear Mom & All–WWII Letters from Herb (part 19)

My dad, Herbert Miller, was trained as a replacement troop during the fall of 1944 and by the end of that same year he was in Belgium fighting in the Battle of the Bulge. He had been assigned to Company L, 333rd Regiment, 84th Infantry Division, known as the Railsplitters.

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

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

I am transcribing my dad’s letters and posting them here on Karen’s Chatt, along with some of the photos he took during the war. The letters are from Pfc. Herbert Miller (35845400), Co. L, 333rd Infantry, A.P.O. 84, c/o Postmaster, New York, NY, to Mr. & Mrs. Norval Weitz, RR1, Rockford, Ohio.

Postmarked 29 April 1945, to Mr. & Mrs. Norval Weitz, RR #1, Rockford, Ohio. The stationary that was inside the envelope is postmarked 25 May 1945, Rockford, Ohio.

26 April 1945

Dear Em & Jack,

Just a few lines to let you know that I’m OK and feeling fine. I’ve been wanting to write for a couple of days but never got to it. But I guess it is “better late than never.”

I received the comic books you sent and also the hard candy. Thanks a lot. I’ll put in a request for a box in this letter.

So Norval has most of the plowing done and ground worked up.

How is the farm work coming along anyway? I sure would like to be there and help, mostly for the nights, not the work. Remember how we used to go skating or go to the show on Sunday night? Those were the good old days. I sure hope it isn’t too long before I see those days again.

Must close for now. Write soon.


P.S. Please send a package of peanuts and cookies.

Service Flag at Carl Miller home for Herbert Miller, WWII.

No envelope; a type-written letter to my dad’s sister Em and her husband Norval “Jack.”

7 May 1945

Dear Em & Jack,

I guess it is about time I wrote a few letters. The mail hasn’t been coming in very good lately and I can’t find very much to write about.

How is everything coming along back home? OK I hope.

What do you think of the war by now? I saw some Russian soldiers the other day. Our company made contact with them and I went across the Elbe River with the rest of the guys to shake hands with them. They were those Russian horsemen that you hear quite a bit about. Then that night we had a party—one that I never will forget.

The Jerries are really afraid of the Russian soldiers. Swarms of Jerries were on the other side of the Elbe wanting to cross to surrender to the Americans. A lot of them came over and when the Russians came in sight some of them stripped and swam in the Elbe. The water was really cold. Even some German WACS and Civilian women did the same. What a sight.

One of the guys found a poem in a typewriter. I’m going to enclose it in this letter.

The mail just came in and I got a box from you. So I’m eating and pecking away with one finger. I don’t know how to type very well yet but I think I can pick it up if I keep pecking away.

Guess I’d better sign off for now. Am feeling fine and hope that you are the same.

Your brother,

Russian Soldiers & 84th at Elbe River.

Russian Soldiers & 84th at Elbe River.

I believe this is the poem my dad mentioned. It is on the same type of paper and appears to have been typed with the same typewriter, but this one was sent to his parents on 4 May.


Loving a soldier is not all play;
In fact there’s little of it gay.
It’s mostly having but not to hold;
It’s being young and feeling old.

Loving a soldier is not all cream;
It’s being in love with a misty dream.
It’s getting a card from a southern camp,
And sending a letter with an Air Mail stamp.

It’s hoping for furloughs that can’t be;
It’s wondering if he’s gone overseas.
And when he comes it’s laughter together,
Unconscious of people, of time, and of weather.

It’s hearing him whisper of his love for you,
And answering his whisper that you love him, too.
Then comes the ring and a promise of love,
Knowing you’re watched by the Father above.

And loving a soldier’s goodbye at the train,
And wondering if you’ll see him again.
Reluctantly, painfully, letting him go,
Indies you’re crying for wanting him so.

Then you watch for the word he is well
And wait for a long no-letter spell.
And your feet are planted in sand not sod
And you’re living strength comes solely from God.

Loving a soldier is undefined fears
And crying until there are no more tears.
Hating the world, yourself, and the war,
And so discouraged you can fight no more.

And then giving up and kneel while praying,
And really mean the prayers you are saying.
And when the mail comes you shout out with joy;
You act like a kid with a new shining toy.

You know very well he’s an ocean away;
You keep loving him more every day.
You know very well living’s no fun
With a man in the Army to shoulder a gun.

Then you grit your teeth and put on a grin;
He’s gone to war and you’d better help win.
Then your birthday comes; you’re older today;
You feel just the same as you did yesterday.

But you’re not, you have changed. You’re wiser and stronger.
You can weather the war if it’s twenty years long.
You’ll sweat as you work all through the day;
Your job will be hard, you’ll earn your pay.

So loving a soldier is headaches and tears;
It’s living a life full of sadness and undefined fears.
Loving a soldier is really not fun,
But it’s worth the price when the battle is won.

Author unknown.

More war letters from my dad Herbert Miller to come in future blog posts.

Mar 13

Tombstone Tuesday–Clarence R. Bollenbacher

Clarence R Bollenbacher, Kessler Cemetery, Mercer County, Ohio. (2015 photo by Karen)

This is the tombstone of Clarence R. Bollenbacher, located in row 7 of Kessler Cemetery, Mercer County, Ohio. The marker is inscribed:

Clarence R.
Son of
F.J. & A. B.
Died 23 Aug 1904
Aged 1 y, 9 m, 21 d

Clarence R. Bollenbacher was born in Liberty Township, Mercer County, Ohio, on 3 November 1902, the second child born to Fredrick Jacob and Anna Barbara (Huffman) Bollenbacher. The family lived near Skeels Cross Road at the time of his birth. His given name is spelled Clarants in the Mercer County birth records. [1] There is no indication what his middle initial R stood for.

Clarence died in Mercer County on 23 August 1904, not yet 2 years old. There is no record of his baptism or death in Zion Chatt’s records and no record of his death in the Mercer County Probate.

Clarence had the following siblings:
Mabel E (1900-1989), married Lester Kaylor
Ernest W (1906-1971), married Mabel Howell
Opal Marie (1909-1998), married Blaine Laffin
Albert Frederick (1911-1974), married Lillian Deitsch
Luther Carl “Bun” (1915-1983)


[1] “Ohio, County Births, 1841-2003,” database with images,, Clarants Bollenbacher, 3 Nov 1902; Liberty Township, Mercer County Births, Vol. 4 (1901-1908), p.14, no. 66; FHL microfilm 914953.

Mar 09

Dear Mom & All–WWII Letters from Herb (part 18)

My dad, Herbert Miller, was trained as a replacement troop during the fall of 1944 and by the end of that same year he was in Belgium fighting in the Battle of the Bulge. He had been assigned to Company L, 333rd Regiment, 84th Infantry Division, known as the Railsplitters.

Pfc Herbert M. Miller

I continue with the letters he sent home during that time, letters that his family lovingly saved all these years. And I am so grateful that they did.

I am transcribing the letters in the order they were written and I am now to May 1945.

The next letter, a V-Mail letter to his sister Emilene and her husband “Jack”, was typed and is easier to read than the hand-written letters.

V-mail envelope postmarked 26 May 1945, from Pfc Herbert Miller, to Mr. & Mrs. Norval Weitz, Rockford, Ohio. Inspected and passed by an Army examiner.

16 May 1945
Dear Emilene and Jack,

Decided to write a couple of letters this morning. There isn’t more to do. I received your letter that you wrote the 7th of May. That was the day before V-E Day. I also received a letter from Dorothy yesterday, the first letter I’ve received from her in about three weeks.

We can tell a little more about our location and some of the battles we were in. Did you see the German paratrooper knife that I sent home? I got that off of a paratrooper at a town by the name of Haerte [?] coming from the Ruhr to the Rhine River. That German flag has the name of the town on it. The German rifle I picked up on the other side of the Elbe River the day we set up with the Russians.

So Norval really likes his John Deere tractor. Dad said that he put in for a new John Deere tractor. I was wondering if he has it yet. I imagine it will take quite a while for the papers to come through. I imagine by the time you get this letter it will be about time to set out the tomato plants. Tomatoes always take a lot of work but they really pay off good if the weather is good.

The way your letter read you are going to quit your job and become a farmer. Can you drive the tractor yet? I would like to see you plow corn. I’ll bet you could really plow is out.

What are some of the names of the songs on the Hit Parade? Are there any good movies out now? I sure would like to see one. It has been quite a while since I have seen a show.

Guess I’d better sign off for now. Am feeling fine and hope you are the same.



P.S. Please send a package of candy and [?]

Below are photos of some of the things my dad mentioned in this letter.

The Nazi flag, from the town of Dulken. He wrote the names of his Army buddies on the flag. I assume they were from Co. L, 333rd, 84th Division. Dulken is located in north Rhine-Westphalia, part of the municipality of Viersen.

Nazi flag from Dulken, Germany, with names from Co L, 333rd, 84th Div, Railspllitters.

Nazi flag from Dulken, Germany, with names from Co L, 333rd, 84th Div, Railspllitters.

Army buddies’ names on the Nazi flag:

S/Sgt. Larry Broderick
Pfc. Tommy Towbridge
Pfc. Dick Timmons
Pfc. Matt Trefun
Pfc. Herb Miller
Pvt. Frank Bailey
Pvt. John Groves
Pvt. John Proctor
Pfc. Ira Terry
Pvt. Max Trigillo
Pfc. Carrol Ketzenbuger

Photos of some 84th soldiers and Russian soldiers at the Elbe River:

84th & Russian soldiers at Elbe River.

84th & Russian soldiers at Elbe River.

84th & Russian soldiers at Elbe River.

German POWs & 84th, Elbe River.

The paratrooper’s knife. I could not locate the town of Haerte, where my dad said he got it:

V-E Day was 8 May and after that time he was able to write a little more information in his letters home. The division he was in, the 84th, the Railsplitters, was to be sent to the Pacific next and he probably would have gone there to fight had the war with Japan not ended.

Mar 06

Tombstone Tuesday–Fred J. & Anna (Huffman) Bollenbacher

Fred J & Anna (Huffman) Bollenbacher, Zion Lutheran Cemetery, Mercer County, Ohio. (2011 photo by Karen)

This is the tombstone of Fred J. and Anna (Huffman) Bollenbacher, located in row 9 of Zion Lutheran Cemetery, Chattanooga, Mercer County, Ohio. The marker is inscribed:


Fred J.


Fredrick Jacob “Fred” Bollenbacher was born in Liberty Township, Mercer County, Ohio, on 7 February 1874, the son of Jacob (1937-1915) and Caroline (Schaadt) Bollenbacher. Caroline Schaadt (1843-1880) was the second of Jacob’s three wives. [1]

Fred’s mother Caroline died on 7 March 1880, probably from complications of childbirth. Fred’s widowed father Jacob resided with his 7 children when the 1880 census was taken on 5 June of that year. The Jacob Bollenbacher household in 1880: Jacob, 42; Phoebe, 11; Louisa M, 10; Adolph, 8; Frederick J, 6; Henriette C, 4; Emma, 2; Peter, 3 months. Jacob was born in Bavaria and was a farmer. [2]

Jacob Bollenbacher married Anna Barbara Huffman in Mercer County, Ohio, on 15 February 1900. [3]

Anna Barbara Huffman was born in Liberty Township, Mercer County, Ohio, on 21 February 1879. Anna was the youngest of 4 children born to Ferdinand and Barbara (Schott) Huffman.

Anna was baptized at Zion Chatt on 30 March 1879 with Christ and Anna (Koch) Kessler serving as her sponsors. Anna was confirmed at Zion Chatt on 9 April 1893 by Rev. J.F.C. Soller. Her surname is sometimes spelled Hoffmann in Zion Chatt’s records.

Anna Huffman grew up in Liberty Township. The Ferdinand Huffman household in 1880: Ferdinand, 33; Barbara, 33; Mary, 11; Caroline, 9; George, 7; Henry, 1; Caroline, 65 [Ferdinand’s mother]. Ferdinand and Barbara’s 4 children are listed, but their fourth child, Henry, is a mystery. I wonder if this should have been Anna instead. She would have been 1 year old then. [4] 

In 1900 Anna, who was married by that time, lived with her parents when the 1900 census was taken on 12 June. Also in the household was her brother George and her paternal grandmother Caroline, the widowed mother of her father Ferdinand.  The Ferdinand Huffman household in 1900: Barbara, 53, head; Ferdinand, 53, husband; George, 36, son; Anna Bollenbacher, 21, daughter, married; and Caroline, 79, mother, widowed. [5]

By 1910 Fred and Anna Bollenbacher had been married 10 years and had 3 children in their household. Their household in 1910: Fred J, 36; Anna, 31; Mabel, 9; Ernest, 8; and Opal, 1. Fred was a general farmer. Anna had given birth to 4 children and 3 were living. [6]

In about 1916 Fred and Anna Bollenbacher and their 5 children lived on a 40-acre farm south of Chatt in about 1916. The land was located a little south of Frahm Pike and east of State Route 49. Fred was a farmer and a thresher who owned 2 horses and 3 cows and had an Indiana telephone, according to The Farm Journal Illustrated Directory of Mercer County, Ohio, 1916, 1921.

The Fred Bollenbacher household in 1920: Fred J, 45; Anna, 39; Mabel, 18; Ernest, 13; Albert, 8; Opal, 10; and Luther, 4. Fred was a farmer. [7] 

Fred & Anna (Huffman) Bollenbacher family, c1920. Front, Fred & Anna; Middle: Opal, Luther, & Albert; Back: Mabel & Ernest.

A big thanks to Christy for sending me the above photo of the Fred J. and Anna (Huffman) Bollenbacher family, taken about 1920. Christy is Fred and Anna’s great-granddaughter and she descends from their son Albert.

Fred J. Bollenbacher died 28 April 1938 in Liberty Township at the age of 64 years, 2 months, and 21 days. He was buried on the 30th. According to Zion Chatt’s records he was survived by his wife, 3 sons, 2 daughters, 6 grandchildren, 1 brother, 2 sisters, 3 half-brothers, and 3 half-sisters. Fred was a farmer and a thrasher. He took his own life by hanging due to ill health.

In 1940 Anna, a 61-year old widow, lived with her son Luther, age 24 and single, in the same house they had rented and lived in 5 years before. The census indicates that the house was not connected to a farm. Luther “Bun” was a general laborer, doing all sorts of odd jobs. [8]

Anna Bollenbacher, 107 years old, 1986.

I remember when Anna came to church and we had a 100th birthday celebration for her. She even worked in her garden in her last years. What a remarkable lady!

Anna (Huffman) Bollenbacher, 1979. 100 years old.

Anna (Huffman) Bollenbacher died of pneumonia and kidney failure in Coldwater, Mercer County, Ohio, on 6 December 1986, at the age of 107. She was buried on the 9th.

Fred and Anna are buried close to their son Luther, who died in 1983.

Fred and Anna had the following children:
Mabel E (1900-1989), married Lester Kaylor
Clarence R (1902-1904)
Ernest W (1906-1971), married Mabel Howell
Opal Marie (1909-1998), married Blaine Laffin
Albert Frederick (1911-1974), married Lillian Deitsch
Luther Carl “Bun” (1915-1983)


[1] Jacob Bollenbacher (1837-1915) had three wives: Louisa Friedericka Becker (1848-1864); Caroline Schaadt (1843-1880); and Magdalena Distler (1856-1923).

[2] 1880 U.S. Census, Liberty, Mercer, Ohio, ED 188, p.473B, dwelling 48, family 50, Jacob Bollenbaugh;; NARA microfilm T9, roll 1048.

[3] “Ohio, County Marriages, 1789-2013,”, Fred J Bollenbacher & Anna Barbara Huffman, 15 Feb 1900; Mercer County Marriages, Vol. 8, p.111; FHL microfilm 914957.

[4] 1880 U.S. Census, Liberty, Mercer, Ohio, ED 188, p.472C, dwelling, family, Ferdinand Hoffman;; NARA microfilm T9, roll 1048.

[5] 1900 U.S. Census, Liberty, Mercer, Ohio, ED 85, p.9A, dwelling 164, family 169, Ferdinand Hoffman;; FHL microfilm 1241304, NARA microfilm T623, roll 1304.

[6] 1910 U.S. Census, Liberty, Mercer, Ohio, ED 119, p.4A, dwelling & family 60, Fred J Bollenbaugher;; FHL microfilm 1375227, NARA microfilm T624, roll 1214.

[7] 1920 U.S. Census, Liberty, Mercer, Ohio, ED 140, p.9B, dwelling 177, family 191, Fred J. Bollenbacher;; NARA microfilm T625, roll 1418.

[8] 1940 U.S. Census, Liberty, Mercer, Ohio, ED 54-22, p.8A, line 1, Anna Bollenbacher;; NARA microfilm T627, roll 3114.

Mar 02

1908 German Lutheran Mission Feast, Schumm, Ohio

Below is a nice picture postcard of the 1908 German Lutheran Mission Feast in Schumm, Ohio.

German Lutheran Mission Feast, Schumm, Ohio, 1908.

The postcard is postmarked Schumm, Ohio, 13 October 1908.

There are young and old alike gathered and everyone is certainly dressed in their Sunday best—the ladies in beautiful long flowing white dresses and the gents in their suits, ties, and hats.

I wonder where this Mission Feast was held? It was probably held near Zion Lutheran Church in Schumm. Could it have been held on the Schumm homestead farm, just north of the church? The photo was taken in a very wooded area. I wonder if there was a wooded area near the church over a century ago?

The Mission Feast was probably held weeks, if not months before the card was sent in October. It would have taken some time to develop the photos and make the postcards.

The postcard is addressed to Adam Sauer, Pekin, Illinois. The name John is at the end of the message. The writing is difficult to read and I do not see a surname there. There are some Sauer-Schumm connections but I am not 100% sure how this Adam Sauer is connected. [1]

Back of German Lutheran Mission Feast postcard, 1908.

I cannot read what is written on the back because unfortunately I do not know enough German to make out the message.

Despite the lack of information about the postcard it is still a very nice photo with a Schumm connection and a Schumm postmark. I would appreciate any additional information about the family mentioned on this postcard or the event pictured here.

This postcard makes me think of the upcoming Schumm reunion which will held this year on Sunday 5 August at Zion Lutheran Church. The 2018 reunion will be the 43rd gathering of the descendants of John George Schumm. The reunion is held every other year and attracts well over 100 Schumm relatives.


[1] A possible connection from information in Anna (Meisinger) Sauer’s obituary:  Anna (Meisinger) Sauer (1855-1935), had a brother Adam Meisinger living in Pekin, Illinois, at the time of Anna’s death in 1935. Anna (Meisinger) was married to John Sauer (1855-1900) and they had 9 children that survived to adulthood. Anna and John Sauer attended Zion Lutheran Church, Schumm, and both are buried in Zion Schumm’s cemetery. Anna (Meisinger) and John Sauer had a son Adam, per Anna’s obituary, and Adam was enumerated in the 1900 census with his parents and his 8 siblings. Adam Sauer was born in 1887 and he might have been staying with his uncle Adam Meisinger in Pekin, Illinois, in 1908. Adam Sauer would have had a connection and an interest in Zion Schumm. Anna and John Sauer also had a son named John Jr and he may have sent the postcard. Also of interest is another child of John and Anna (Meisinger) Sauer–Maria (Sauer) Schumm (1886-1975), who married William Jacob Schumm (1883-1967), and they had children Elsie, Irma, and Milton Schumm.

However, just to complicate things, there was another Adam Sauer in the Schumm area at the same time. He married Magdalena Dietrich in 1883. They also attended church at Zion Schumm but he was about a generation older than the other Adam Sauer born in 1887.

Because of the Pekin, Illinois, connection, I believe this postcard was likely sent to the son of John and Anna (Meisinger) Sauer.

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