This past summer this old letter was found among some other old Schumm-related items.
Dated January 1877, it is a sad letter from Sarah Kitchen in Green Bay, Wisconsin, to her uncle Louis Breuninger in Willshire, Ohio. Sarah writes about the death of her mother, who was also Louis’ sister.
Louis Breuninger was my great-great-grandfather, my grandfather Cornelius Schumm’s maternal grandfather.
Louis Breuninger (1819-1890) immigrated in around 1840 and lived in Green Bay until about 1869, when he purchased land east of Willshire and moved his immediate family there. His brother Carl and two sisters, also immigrants, had also settled near Green Bay, but they remained in Wisconsin.
The writer of this letter, Sarah Kitchen (1852-?) was the daughter of Charles Kitchen (c1805-1885) and his wife Charlotte Elisabeth Magdalena (Breuninger) (1824-1876/7). Charlotte was the sister of my great-great-grandfather Louis Breuninger. Sarah writes about the death of her mother Charlotte. You can feel Sarah’s grief in her letter:
Green Bay Wisconsin
Jan 28th 1877
I have intended to have written to you before but I could not. My mind feels so distracted at times that I don’t know what to do first. What is home without a mother. It does not seem like home at all. We miss her more and more every day. When I sit and think of all our troubles it almost breaks my heart. O dear—I don’t know what to do sometimes.
We have not seen the worst of it yet. Father is very weak and miserable. He is getting thinner every day. He walks about the house all day and frets and no rest at night. It almost kills him. We tell him not to do so but to no good. He says he wants to go, too. What shall we do—no one to go to for advice. We have all the business to see to ourselves.
Father does not know anything about it for he has not attended to it for two or three years. Mother did it all, poor thing. It was too much for her. It was more than she could stand. We would often tell her not to worry, so that we would rather lose everything we had than have her fret so much.
Her health was very poor for two or three years and after Eliza’s death she kept getting worse. She was troubled very much with palpitations of the heart and short breath. It would almost take her breath away to go up and down stairs and still she would not have a doctor until the very last. She had the dropsy six weeks before she died. Her body was swelled very much but still she was not in bed. She kept up as long as she would until the day before Christmas and then she could not get up anymore. She suffered terrible the last few days from inflammation of the bowels. She was quite conscious until the very last but could not speak.
Dear mother, what a life of care and trouble she had. It is all at an end. She rests in peace. No one but those that have lost a mother know what it is. It is hard, very hard, but one consolation is that we have but a short time and we will all meet again. Our Redeemer knows what is best for us.
Did you get cousin Lora’s and Jane’s letter and the paper we sent. Cousin Lora is staying with us. Please write to Aunt Minnie and tell her mother began a letter for her but never finished it.
The rest of the family are all well. Hoping you are all the same. From your niece.
Tell Charlotte I received her letter this morning and will answer as soon as I can. Poor thing I pity her.
Some of the the people mentioned in the letter:
Aunt Minnie was likely Louis Breuninger’s daughter, Wilhelmina (1860-1899), who married John C. Schumm (1849-1926).
Charlotte, mentioned at the end of the letter, was likely Louis Breuninger’s daughter Charlotte (1855-1905), who married Rev. George Schumm (1841-1917) in 1875. I wonder what Sarah was referring to when she said she pitied her.
Cousin Lora was likely Lora Ellis (1852-1937), daughter of Albert Gallatin Ellis & Louisa Charlotte Elisabeth Juliana “Eliza” Breuninger, sister of the deceased, Charlotte (Breuninger) Kitchen.
Jane may have been the writer Sarah’s younger sister.
Sarah wrote that her mother Charlotte’s health was poor for several years after Eliza’s death. Eliza was most likely Eliza (Breuninger) Ellis, the sister of Charlotte (Breuninger) Kitchen and Louis Breuninger. Louisa Charlotte Elisabeth Juliana “Eliza” (Breuninger) Ellis (1821-1872), was married to Albert Gallatin Ellis.
Sarah mentioned her father Charles in the letter. Charles was a confectioner, or baker, according to the 1870 and 1880 censuses and from information I received from a Kitchen descendant. That descendant said that Charles was from England. Charles Kitchen died in Green Bay about eight years later, in February 1885, at the age of 80 years. A brother John survived him.
I have always wondered what brought Louis Breuninger to Van Wert County. Why did he move from Green Bay, where his siblings and their families remained? Louis likely knew someone near Willshire, but who? He or his wife Maria quite possibly had some connection to someone living in the area.
I love reading these old letters and seeing all the family names that are mentioned.
This letter is yet another bit of family history and just little piece of the puzzle.