Friedrich A Meissner Letters

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This is Document 1F (1856-1858)

 <T071>, cont

From: F.A.M.; To: Ferdinand Karck.

Ferdinand Karck:

To the above.

Jan 10, 1856.

I want to inform you by these lines that I have received your letters with the $10 enclosed. I want to thank you deeply for your kindness, and wishing you a Happy New Year, I sign.

 <Written in English>

July 27, 1856 [First letter from Mt. Pisgah, Wis. having trouble getting mail.].

 <T071>, cont.

Karoline Gerstenberg:

Mount Pisgah, Monroe County, Wisconsin.

Aug 3, 1856.

Dear Lina! I have received your letter of January and was very happy about it. You have passed silently over my questions about the place and the money. I can very well imagine the cause of it, but I expected a little more honesty from you.

We [F.A.M. and Henry — LPM] have moved again, as you will have learnt from the address. The southern climate had such an unnerving effect upon my spirit and body, that I hardly had the strength any more for my decision to move again. After having tried out the North, the East, and the South, we traveled to the ‘Promised Land,’ the West of America. The trip by steamers and trains took us four weeks. It is today exactly two weeks, that we arrived here. We built us during this time a cabin and made about 4000 lbs. of hay.


A small valley at the foot of a mountain, which is the origin of a beautiful creek, is our present home. We have beautiful oak trees, wonderful meadows, and the best soil you can imagine. Corn, wheat, barley, and oats thrive all well, (not to forget the beautiful water, which clear as crystal and cold as ice bubbles out of the mountain). On top of the mountains is a wonderful pasture for thousands of sheep.

The region was inhabited by red Indians still only a few years ago. Daily emigrants, coming from the old States, pass our door; first comes a big wagon, pulled by four oxen, covered by a sheet, with the most necessary household articles and the children. The man pushes the wagon and behind him the other family members follow with the cows, pigs, and sheep.

As we had to sell everything and the trip was very expensive, we look forward to hard times. We still have to have broken this autumn six to eight acres of land (it costs $4 per acre), we have to build a house and to split three to 4000 oaken boards, as all the planted land has to be fenced in [diagram], and we have to live off an empty pocket until the next crop. But we don’t lose our courage for that reason.

As I am living now again in a moderated [cooler] climate, I would like to have again some seeds from you, but they have to be fresh and you have to mail them still before the Elbe is freezing. I have no money right away but I will take care to pay you next autumn. Pack the seeds in a box or into a barrel and mark it F.A.M. and send it to Ferd. Karck in N.Y. Write a few lines to F.K., include the loading receipt, and ask him to send the barrel to me. Write me after my letter arrives whether I can expect your seeds with certainty and mention what you maybe are unable to send.

Give my regards to your husband and children.

Your …

I want to have from the things listed below only these you have the opportunity to collect the seeds yourself. I am especially interested in the things I underlined.


From: F.A.M.; To: Wilhelm Meissner.

Wilhelm Meissner [nephew; 1856].

Dear Wilhelm. I learned from one of Lina’s letters, that you arrived again at home and that with a stiff leg. — In case you should be still interested to come to this country, you can here easily acquire a small farm of your own by being industrious and thrifty. As you have been already at sea, you could easily come with a ship to N.Y. and you could not only pay your passage, but make some money besides. It would be best if you would bring a wife along. You can stay …


 … with me for the time being. The trip from N.Y. to here will cost about $30 per person. If you want to come over, I will write more details. Give your father the best regards from your uncle.


From: F.A.M.; To: Karoline and Georg Gerstenberg.

Mount Pisgah, Monroe County, Wisconsin.

Karoline and Georg Gerstenberg [1856].

Dear Lina! I hope you received my letter of the beginning of August, in which I sent you an order for seeds. I just thought in the meantime that it would not raise the expenses much to have me sent a box with shrubs and trees at the same time. The following things are about all I want to have …

Dear Gerstenberg. I have asked Lina to send me some seeds and others and I wanted to ask you to help her selecting and packing them. The seeds have to be packed probably alone for themselves into a box or barrel, the Georgines and shrubs into a second one between dry moss and you can put the potatoes loosely on top in order to fill up the barrel. I can sort them out again afterwards.

Besides these I would like you to pack another box, about four feet long and three feet high and wide, with fruit trees and bushes. Please cut hard into the roots and cut off the wood from all kinds of things with roots, like roses and bushes, with the exception of one or two inches. Dry the moss and press it as hard as possible. You can modify my list according to the space in the box and your supply. It would be good if you would dig holes into the box, as the things get easily hot on the ship.

Mark the boxes F.A.M., 1, 2, and 3, and send them to Mr. F. Karck in N.Y. Write some lines to him, whereby you tell him the contents of the boxes (on account of the Customs!), namely: No. 1 = one box white seeds, No. 2 a box with plants, No. 3 a box with shrubs. If the freight is not too expensive by steamboat, I would like you to do so. The postage from N.Y. to here costs four cents (that is more than 2 ß) per lb. You will therefore understand that all unnecessary weight has to be avoided.

I would like to write more but our work is so urgent, that we have no time, we are just building our house, I have already dug out the cellar. I hope that you and all your dear ones will receive this letter in good health. We are living now in a beautiful, healthy region, and have the best soil. I wish I could send you about 10 acres of it. Farewell, and fulfill the request of your …

 <Written in English>

From: F.A.M.; To: Messrs. Comstock, Terre, & Co.

Messrs. Comstock & Terre & Co. Wethersfield, Conn.

23 Feb 1857 [excerpt].

… The Indian wigwams remain still in the woods but the inhabitants are nearly all gone. … I send you a list of seeds … You will oblige me if you spare me some paper for bags because I want to sell some of them seeds to my neighbors; and them Dutch hoes I can’t get here, so I wish you would get me a couple without handle so that you can put them in the box with the seeds. … [Send] c/o Henry Meissner, American House.


From: F.A.M.; To: Miss Sallie Stafford.

Miss Sallie Stafford, Wallingford, Vermont.

Mar 8, 1857.

Dear Miss. My newspaper tells me that you are to become a mother without having a husband, or a father for your child; now if you are what I fancy you to be, if you have a zest for country life, think you could love and would like to marry a man of 50 — you may become both. At home your misfortune will always be a stain on your fair character but here you may go for a widow and nobody would know.


From: F.A.M.; To: Henry Meissner.

Henry M. — Muscoda Wis.

27 Mar 1857 [excerpt].

… I want you to come home by the first of May.


From: F.A.M.; To: Henry Meissner.

Henry M. — Muscoda Wis.

6 Apr 1857 [excerpt].

… If you don't come home, all our work we have done already on the farm would be lost, and I should have to go and hire myself out …


From: F.A.M.; To: Ferdinand Karck.

April 6, 1857.

Mr. Ferd. Karck, C. of H. in N.Y.

Dear Sir! I just received a letter from my daughter, dated Hamburg, March 3, wherein she states that she mailed a cargo of shrubs and plants for me under your address. I therefore would like to ask you to send this cargo at once after arrival to Mr. N. Hintgen, La Crosse, Wisconsin, where I will be able to pick it up. I leave it up to you whether you want to send it by freight line or by express. I am interested that the cargo is not too long on the way and then again, that the costs are not too high. You will be so kind, I hope, to pay the freight from Hamburg, which probably is little. I would send you the money hereby, if I would not be so short momentarily.

I moved out of Florida last autumn, because the warm climate did not agree with my health. Since I moved here I naturally had to live out of my pocket. Groceries are here partly higher in price here than in N.Y. Bread is 15 — 20 cts., butter 30 cents. — The cause for this is that the region was evacuated by red Indians only a few years ago and so many new settlers arrive.

In case you have opportunity to give advice about the choice of a region to one of our countrymen, you can confidently send him here. I have tried the North, the East, and the South, and would have gone to the West much earlier if I would not have read and heard so much about the fevers there. This is true for the great ‘Prairies," too, where there is no wood and water. Therefore nearly all of my neighbors left all the other regions. We have wonderful springs, which never freezes in winter and in summer is cold as ice. We have enough wood for fire and fencing and very good soil. The yield is 20 to 40 bushels wheat per acre, 50 to 75 bushels corn, and the same with barley, and two to 300 bushels potatoes. But these things will have little interest for you.

Assuring you my deepest respect I remain your devoted …

<Written in English>

From: F.A.M.; To: Henry Meissner.

Henry M. — Muscoda Wis.

17 Apr 1857 [excerpt].

… I am glad that the seeds have arrived … it would be as well for you to come … and carry the box for your trunk … everybody is asking for you and wants to know when you are coming home. I expect you positive not later than the first of May …


From: F.A.M.; To: Mr. J.B. Elston.

Mr. J.B. Elston, Wis[consin?] H[ouse?], Muscoda, Wis.

17 Apr 1857 [excerpt].

Dear Sir. I want my son Henry Meißner who is to work for you to be home as soon as possible at latest the First of May, I cant get along this spring without his help …

[Several pages cut away.].

Adolph Frederick Meissner (1804–1899)


From: F.A.M.; To: Sallie Stafford.

Sallie Stafford, Wallingford, Vermont. [Not sent? (see last paragraph)].

Aug 16, 1857 .

My dear friend: Only a few days ago I wrote to you and again I have the pen in my hand for the same purpose — don’t you think I am foolish. I have a great mind to burn your first two letters but I shall have to preserve them to cool me off when I am getting too warm.

As it is the only way I know of to make you acquainted with myself, I will write my own biography for you, if you will have patience enough to read a very long letter.

I was born on the 27th day of December 1804, in the village of Schönbach ("Handsome Brook") in the Kingdom of Saxony. Saxony is called the garden of Germany and celebrated not only for the beauty and scenery of the country but for works of art and science, and handsome women.

The young mechanic when he starts on his first journey sings: [German words, followed by English translation: ] "I will travel to Saxony where pretty girls grow like apples on the tree." One of our most popular writers (Burges) sang the praise of the Saxon girls. The answer to his poem by a Sweden girl is a much frequented country air. It runs thus: [German words, followed by English translation: ] "I am a Sweden girl and not so well educated as the Saxon girls who read the parts [drama?] and play the piano and whose manners are said to be as sweet as honey.."

Now I must tell you before I resume my narrative: In Europe there are three distinct classes of society, the Lower, the Middle, and the Higher. The first mentioned comprises Workmen, Peasants, and Mechanics. In my native state this class can all read and write. The second class is composed of Lawyers, Preachers, Doctors, Merchants, and of the farmers and all learned and well educated men. The higher class is formed of the Nobility up to the King. Money gives little or no rank but distinguished men of the second class are freely admitted in the circles of the upper class.

My grandfather [Christian Friedrich Meissner, 1721 – 1802] was Pastor on the Church (Lutheran) of the village. My father [Ernest Friedrich Meissner, 1764 – 1817] followed his father in office in the same Parish but died when I was about 10 years old [actually 12 y 5 m — LPM]; two years later my mother [Juliane Eleanore Seidel, abt. 1768 – abt 1820; see <T206>] died also. I was placed in the care of an uncle who was Gardener to the King of Saxony. Dresden is the capital of the state and the residence of the King. We lived in a beautiful garden in the suburbs of this city. Large glass houses was filled with rare exotic plants. [Pilnitz? — LPM] From here I went to school and have seen and tasted many of the luxuries of higher life. I had the privilege of visiting the opera, the theater, and masked balls. I remember well that I often forgot the play on stage resting my eyes on one of the Princesses whose beauty fascinated me.

After I had got through with my schooling another uncle of mine who had made his fortune as a Merchant wanted me to follow his vocation, but after two years trial I could not stand it longer — his office was like a prison for me. I urged so long on my Guardian till he placed me in an Institution where farming was taught as a science. When I was about 19 years old [1823?] I went to America but finding in the Western wilds that knowledge availed nothing, and having before my departure from Hamburg fallen in love, I got homesick and went back. I stopped in Hamburg and after waiting a while till I was of age, I married [on 2 Feb 1827 to Elise Henriette Sophie Fredericke VON MITHOFEN, b 12 Mar 1806 — see <T206>  — actually F.A.M. was 22 years old. Karoline was already born Nov 1826 — LPM].

My means was only small — I went to gardening and soon attracted the attention of Mr. Booth & Co., seed growers and merchants (see supplement no. 1). I was placed as head gardener in their large establishment. After a few years I established myself (see supplement no. 2). [These were apparently attachments to the letter — LPM] I bought a small farm, planted a nursery, and raised garden seeds. I toiled hard and succeeded well. I planted a large orchard, I built a new house 72 feet long and 52 feet wide (80,000 bricks was used so) [This is the house in Kummerfeld that is probably still standing — LPM] and may have now reaped the fruit of my labors and dwelled in comfort, but owing to some dissatisfaction, the idea took hold of me to start for America again. My first born daughter Karoline married a young man [m. Georg Gerstenberg 1 Aug 1847] who was gardener with me. I put her in possession of my property.

I left with my wife [some mystery here — LPM] and four children William, Wilhelmina, Leonore, and Henry, and arrived the second time at New York (Oct 20 1845). In New York I got acquainted with a gentleman who owned a large farm and tracts of land in Essex County N.Y. There I went with my family but finding after 1-1/2 years experience that the soil was too poor and the winter too long I resolved to leave again. But many a pleasant evening I recollect at Woodwardsville. Mr. Radcliff, a gentleman from New York, and his sister, who owned a saw mill and large tracts of land here, was our neighbor; a Vermont family (Mr. Este, his wife, three full-grown daughters and some sons) kept house for him; this with my own family made a pretty nice company — either we spent the evenings there or all came to my house and you may believe it was sometimes very lively.

Trying to please my wife, who didn’t like the wilderness, and finding an opportunity I went to Cape Cod Massachusetts; for a year and a half I worked a farm on shares then I accepted the offer of a wealthy man to buy me a farm. The farm consisted of only 25 acres of land with a new dwelling house and cost me, when I had built a new barn, 2000 dollars. I raised vegetables for market and made out pretty well but finding that I was toiling only for the rich man who took my earnings as interest for his money I wanted to go where land was cheap although rich. I wanted to find that America where I had dreamed of. My wife was opposed to a new country but at last I prevailed. The question presented itself now where to go to. I would have chosen the West, but I had read so much about the unhealthy climate and the prevalent fevers that I didn’t like to risk the lives of myself and family for all the wonders and risks of that far famed country.

I had heard and read several times of the mild and healthy climate of Florida, and reasoning that in a country where a farmer has to provide for no winter his business must be an easy one I resolved to go there.

Cape Cod is all together peopled by seafaring men — in summer all the boys go on a fishing voyage and in winter they stay home and attend school. (My children went also to school — they all speak plain English — no one suspects them to be Germans.) No wonder that my oldest son William, frequenting such company, wanted to go to sea also. The gentleman who bought the farm for me, an old sea captain who had risen in the times of war from a poor boy to a rich man, favored his intention and promised to help him in a few years to the place of a captain, so I was forced to give my consent and he went, before we left, on a voyage around Cape Horn; he follows the sea still but has since regretted very deeply and written many a letter to keep his younger brother back.

In January 1852, we left for Jacksonville, Florida and arrived there. We went 250 miles up the St. Johns River to a settlement called Enterprise, and arrived all in good health and spirits. This place, consisting of a hotel beautifully located on Lake Monroe and about 20 settlers scattered in the woods, is very much frequented in the winter time by invalids from the northern states — a steamboat runs every week between there and Jacksonville. We took possession of an empty log house not far from the hotel, and as my wife and daughters were the only white women in the neighborhood (only one other settler had a wife and she died while we stayed there) our cabin was at all times visited by the hotel people. I remember very well a fleshy gentleman and his lady from Vermont, but I don’t recollect his name, who had a great fancy for our company.

As the summer approached the guests from the hotel left, the landlord shut up the house and left also. People told us we would soon get the fever and cautioned us to move off from the lake to the pine woods, but our residence with the view over the clear water of the lake was so pleasant, our health so good, that we did not heed their good advice. I had planted several acres of land with corn and vegetables. In the evenings a great fire of pine knots was lit; the neighbors assembled, stories were told, the girls would sing, till after midnight when the air got cooler we all went to seek rest.

This happy time lasted till about the first of June [1852] when my misfortune commenced. One by one was taken down with the fever. In a while we got so far reduced that we could not get our self a drink of water. (One farmer who lived alone in the woods had got down by the fever, seeing in four weeks not a living soul, and had to crawl all the time on his hands and legs to a spring to get a drink of water.) We ate quinine by the pound; moved to another location but there was no help — sometimes we would get clear of the fever for eight or 14 days but it always returned. After living about a year in this way I went down to Jacksonville and bought a farm four miles below the town on the St Johns River; the tide water and the fresh sea breeze made it a healthy location. I moved my family there and soon all got better except myself who was troubled by the fever a half year longer.

I planted my farm with vegetables for the Jacksonville market and we were getting something underway again when about midsummer 1853, my wife was taken down with dysentery and died after a short sickness. I have lost father and mother but never has anything affected me so much as the loss of my dearest friend my wife. My grief, perhaps owing to the weak state of my health, was most uncontrollable. Standing with my children around the death bed of their mother I told them, "Pretty soon I shall be all alone — Henry will go to sea and you (my daughters) will get married and follow your husbands." Then Wilhelmine, who I had always loved best, flung to my neck bursted in tears, hugging and kissing me, exclaiming, "Father if they all leave you I shall never leave you — I will stay with you." — and she was the first to leave me. I buried the body in the midst of my flower garden before my window — I could not make up my mind to have her carried to a distant graveyard. Evergreen shrubs and never ceasing flowers mark the sacred spot.

In a few days after, Myself, Wilhelmine and Henry were taken down by the same complaint, which in the Southern climate is contagious and generally fatal. My place was four miles from the city and as there was a great deal of sickness prevailing the doctor could not well attend to us so four or so of my friends hired a house in town and moved us there. We were very sick; the doctor visited us twice every day, young ladies watched the nights and gave us medicine and cooling syringes — in my fever dreams they seemed to me like angels. Leonore kept well all the time and stayed with us. In about four weeks Henry got enough better to go to the farm but Wilhelmine was not strong enough and stayed with Leonore in town.

In the next house to us in town lived a Mrs. Ryan, with family. Her oldest daughter was married to a printer who edited a paper but had left and gone as a volunteer against the Indians. Not finding his death by the enemy he took his life himself, owing to jealousy. There was another married daughter in the house who had left her husband, three or four younger children, and a boy of about 19 years. Mr. Ryan was in California. After we had left town this family got intimate with my daughter and induced Wilhelmine to come and live with them. Leonore disliking the people went to live with Mrs. Swart, a very honorable lady, Mr. Swart being important [?] of the town.

Wilhelmine [b July 1834] fell in love with young Ryan and as I was opposed to their union because he was a mean boy and of very unsteady habits she left with the Ryan family for California [1854]. From there she urged Leonore to join her and prevailed at last. Leonore left with a Mrs. Trace who went to join her husband in California and wanted a traveling companion and who paid her expenses. I had no objection for Leonore to go because we never could agree. Wilhelmine was a very handsome girl, well educated and of pleasant manners but of a very sensitive mind. In her fever sickness she often spoke whole hours in a trance, her eyes shut — she would recite a poem from our great poets or sing a hymn with the greatest correctness, feeling, and expression. She would not speak but seemed to understand when we spoke to her: when mother asked her, shall I wash you? she would shake her head, shall Father wash you? she would make a consenting sing. Then I took a bowl with cold water and bathed her commencing on the top of the head; when I came as far as to her breast she would open her eyes and wake from her dream. Now blame me if you can that I didn’t keep her back; reasoning was of no use and force would perhaps have killed her or destroyed her reason. She was 18 [20?] years old and has chosen her lot.

I sold my farm for a mere trifle, and went for a time with Henry to a plantation [Sammis?] making gardens. (Some time when I have nothing else to write I will give you a description of a Southern plantation, if you have not got tired of reading my scribbling.) In June last year [1856] we left for the West. From Massachusetts I took two tons of furniture and household goods besides all kinds of farming utensils to Florida. When we left for here I sold nearly all but not enough — our package proved still too cumbersome.

We went by steamboat over Charleston to New York, thence by railroad over Philadelphia, Cleveland, and Chicago to Prairie du Chien [WI]. Here I left Henry for a while and took a scramble through the country to look for land. I fixed on the spot where I am now, preempted [chose for Homestead] 160 acres, and went for Henry and my package. We arrived here July 19, 1856, unhitched our wagon below the shade of a big oak tree near the first spring of the little La Crosse river, made a fire, and cooked our first meal in our new chosen home.

Next we built a shanty, made some hay for winter use, and commenced building a house. After this, with the aid of some neighbors, was finished, purchased a stove for 30 dollars and some household goods and stores. My means was nearly exhausted. My journey from Florida to Wisconsin cost me alone 200 dollars. The winter set in, and the snow being so deep preventing all farming work, Henry resolved to hire out. He is a steady, likely [likable] boy 19 years old. Everybody liked him, the girls not excepted. In Florida he would never join a dancing party but here he got very lively. There was not a week that the young folks did not have a dance. He got a good situation in a village on the railroad 60 miles from here. He left me about the first of January [1857] and I went to board in Mr. Russell’s family. Partly I stayed with Mr. Hazen our postmaster, whose office I take over in his absence.

As spring came on I wrote Henry to come home but he wished to stay, without giving any reason. (The neighbors think he has got a sweetheart there.) I may [might] have written again or I may [might] have compelled him to come home but I felt too proud for the one and I would not do the other.

Now if you know how I have loved this boy your heart would tell you how his desertion has grieved me, but love asks no pay. I loved him — my love paid of itself.

I don’t wish to be dependent on my children. Since I came here I have gained health and strength. I feel at least 10 years younger. I have not been so well before since I came to America. Next December I shall be 53 years old; some people think me 40. I live in pleasant relation to my neighbors. Sometimes I feel quite happy and think it is better not to have the cares of a family. Sometimes I wish for a friend, a heart that could understand me, that I might call my own — .

I have hired land of my neighbors; my crops are very promising. I shall raise more than Mr. Russell, who has a large family to support. I have built me a new home, I may raise me a new family — .

Dear Sallie, these lines were written for you and not for the eye of a stranger. I have told you what I think to be the truth. It has given me pleasure to let all the past travel once more through my memory. Judge mild [do not judge harshly], I know very little about you. You have not given me an explanation of your first letter; I shall not ask one. It is my one aim always to believe the best of everyone till I am forced to the contrary. Why should I not believe the best of you, whose friendship I am seeking. I believe you are good; all I ask is don’t convince me otherwise.

After reading this long letter I feel rather reluctant to send the same off. I shall wait for another letter from you; I think you have hardly given me a right to believe that you take enough interest in your new found friend to justify my confidence.

Yours truly,.

From: F.A.M.; To: Sallie Stafford.

Sallie Stafford, Wallingford, Vermont.

30 Aug 1857 [excerpt].

… all your objection you have made and all you are going to make can be overcome if we unite our effort. If your health is feeble, I never liked strong stout women … the first part of your last letter says no , the second part creates hope again …

[Pages cut …]


[After cut page, obviously to Sally: ]

From: F.A.M.; To: Sallie Stafford.

Sallie Stafford, Wallingford, Vermont.

Dec 1857 [excerpt].

… light of a guardian, I have never known a woman who could raise a man…. I am now convinced you love B., and I cannot see any wrong in it — if he is unworthy of your affection that is not your fault. If I knew him I would do all in my power to make him repent and lead him back to his duty … good by dear friend.

[More pages cut.]

 <T074>, cont.

List of Dates:

1804, Dec. 27, Friedrich Adolph Meissner, born in Schönbach in the Oberlausitz in the Kingdom of Saxony.

1805, Dec. 2, Johanna Friederike Doris Runtzler born near Hamburg.

1826, Nov. 12, Karoline Marie Eleonore born. [In the original, this line does not appear in chronological order.]

1832, February 24, William born. [In the original, this line does not appear in chronological order.]

1834, July 20, Wilhelmine born.

1836, June 18, Leonore born.

1838, February 23, Henry born.


1845, Sept. 1, Departed from Hamburg.

1845, Oct. 20, Arrived in New York.

1845, Nov. 14, arrived in Woodwardsville, Essex County, N.Y.

1847, May 15, arrived in West Barnstable [Massachusetts].

1852, January 24, arrived in Enterprise, Florida.

1853, August 17, Mother [J.F. Doris Runtzler] died.

1854, May 23, F.A.M. became a citizen.

1854, May 27, Wilhelmine departed for California.

1855, End of May, Leonore departed for California.

1855, August 24, to Sammis.

1856, January 1, [Should be 1857 — LPM] Henry left my house.

1856, June 19, Left Jacksonville for Wisconsin.

1856, July 19, Arrived in Big Spring in Monroe County, Wisconsin.

 <Written in English>

From: F.A.M.; To: Eva Dorathea Krauss.

Effie Krauss.

May 31, 1858.

Dear Effie, let me call you Dear, if I am not dear to you, you have already become so to me. When I did see you the first time I thought you was a pretty good looking girl, since I have got better acquainted with you I do believe you are a true hearted and noble-minded woman. But I am not going to write a love letter, I wish to commit some reasonings and arguments to your consideration.

Suppose that your sentiments are favorable to the wish I have expressed to you, circumstances would prevent a consummation of the same probably late in the fall. [In fact they were married 3 June, three days after the he wrote this letter. — LPM].

Now I wish you to consider that the summer is the time where the farmer has to lay stores up for the winter. With your assistance in my household I could earn nearly double than what I can alone. I don’t care so much for myself, I shall always have enough. I say this because I would like to provide you a comfortable home. There is another thing to be considered, if you stay where you are now and allow me to come and see you I ame affraid I may fall so much in love to you that my visits may become to frequent and I may neglect my work all together.

It seems nearly impossible for me to stay all summer allone, and would I not make a bigg fool of myself if I was going to spend my time in courting and when I was to grasp the prize, see it perhaps snatch away by som more favored candidat.

The only way I can see to serve our (?) [sic] interest is if your family would consent to come and live with me, your Brother [Henry Krauss, later Crouse] thinks of going away soon, you will be all allone in the woods, my house will give you better comfort and your Father could raise more Potatoes here then there. You would have a better chance to find out my faults and if you think them not so bigg and consented to be my sweet dear Effie, my dear beloved wife I would like to have your Parents settled near by.

There is some good Government land still here or I will Henry let have one half of my preemption. If you think my offer acceptable let Father and Henry come down as sooner as better and we will take it over and if you think my happiness worth of any consideration I shall expect you in their compaine.

Allow me to call myself your Friend.


Marriage Contract [proposed?].

Articles of Agreement made the 00 day of Month, AD one thousand eight hundred and fifty eight between F.A.M. of the one part and E.C. of the other part.

The said F.A.M. and E.C. have agreed and by these presents do agree to become husband and wife together and copartners in all real estate or personal property owned by either partie at present, or acquired thereafter, and do hereby promise to be governed by the following articels.

1. Each of said parties shall give his personal attention and devote his time wholly to the mutual interest and shall use his best skill judgement and discretion in promoting the profits and well fare of ther household.

2. Neither of said parties shall assume any pecuniary liability either in his own or in the name of both for the accommodation of any other person nor sell any real estate without the written consent of the other party.

3. In case of death of one of the parties the remaining party shall be the sole owner of the whole real and personal property and no relation of either partie shall have a claime on the same. In case of Death of both parties the propertie shall go to the children if any originatet of this marriage and no children acquired by either party either before or thereafter their marriage schall have a claim on their mutual property.

[There is no evidence that any such contract was actually agreed and signed by both F.A.M. and E.C.].

 <T075>, cont.

From: F.A.M.; To: Karoline Gerstenberg.

Mount Pisgah, Monroe Co., Wisc.

Nov 20, 1858.

Dear Lina! Only a few days ago I received your letter of March. You will find the cause of this by reading my letter.

Last year (1857) was a very good year (as I told you in one of my last letters), everything grow in abundance. Last spring the bushel barley and the bushel potatoes cost 125 cents, in autumn 25 cents.

The last winter was very mild. It rained nearly all the time, which made me so bored and melancholic, that I nearly could not stand it any more, when I sat alone in my house in the evenings. The rain splashed on my windows and no living soul was near me. I felt tired of my life and wanted to die. Finally I decided to get married again, but I found no opportunity till spring came, when a German family from Ohio emigrated to this place. The seemed to be decent people, were however very poor. Their only daughter, a girl of 21 years, became my wife after a short acquaintance [married 3 Jun 1858 — LPM] and I have to confess I had more luck than brain in my choice.

But the spring was as wet as the winter. After taking care for my fields and garden I got sick. Since July 1, I am lying in bed since eight weeks on my back. I could not eat anything during …


 …  <T76> this time. I was nothing more but skin and bone. Nobody believed in my recovery. After this time it got a little bit better but it still took me 14 days, until I could do a few steps around the room. If my wife would not have nursed and treated me so full of love during this time I am sure I would not be alive any more.

In July I received a note from the Express Company in La Crosse (28 miles from here) telling me that a package had arrived for me and only a few days ago I was able to have it picked up. As wet as winter and spring, the summer was also. Wheat and potatoes are entirely ruined, besides there is no money among the people, there is no trade. We did not gather in at all, because everything was choked in weeds. It therefore was very good that I did not receive your seeds earlier. I can now sow it next spring. You will understand that I am unable to send you any money under these circumstances.

We live from corn and some pork. I was lucky to slaughter a pig this autumn. Coffee, tea, sugar, etc. are entirely erased from the list of necessary things. I had to pay 100 cts. for the package, which I had to borrow. I am still to receive some money for the seeds I sold in spring, but nobody has money to pay.

If you look at the map you will see that Wisconsin is in the northwest of A. and you can realize that we don’t raise rice and coffee. Our products are corn, wheat, oats, barley, rye, buckwheat, beans, potatoes, onions, cabbage, turnips, apples, cucumbers, pumpkins, and so on. There are no bearing fruit trees here yet, but a pretty good kind of plums grows wild.

I am very happy about the fruit seeds and other seeds you sent me and I am curious to see how big cabbage I can raise. If you won’t be impatient I would like to ask you to collect again some seeds for me next summer. I am especially interested in strawberry seeds, also in Steirländer strawberries, Plattfriesische and Dutch potatoes (seeds, not bulbs), as well as in all sorts of plants and shrubs. This will cause you no expenses, only some troubles. If I want something else besides this and will have the money for it I am going to write you again in summer. You have to send it at any rate in autumn. It will be too late in spring.

My health is again well and you can read from the preceding letter that I did not lose my …


 …  <T77> courage yet and am full of plans for the future. Only I miss the youthful strength.

I hope this letter will reach you in good health. We send our regards and I remain your loving father …

== To Heinrich Gerstenberg [son of Karoline, about 9 years old]:

I was very glad about your little letter and I would be still happier if you would come over here. But you don’t have to wait until you are grown up. It is there harder to get used to the type of living, work, and language here. If you are industrious and properly, you can earn yourself a nice farm as by Kuhlmann’s or Mr. Yehlers, but you have to build the houses yourself.

Give my regards to your brothers and write me in your next letter when each of you was born.

Your Grandfather …

 <Written in English>

From: F.A.M.; To: Sallie Stafford.

Sallie Stafford, South Wallingford, Vermont.

4 Dec 1858 [excerpt].

Dear friend, …

I was married the third of June last to a woman of German birth and American education who came here from Ohio with their parents a short time previous. My somwhat hasty choice has proved quit a happy one, my wife is twenty one years old, she has a very good heart, is pretty good looking, and speaks well English.

I am very desirios not to lose the likeness of my daughter with her little boy which I have send to you and I shall ask the favor (I think it is the last) of you to send the same back to me.

If this letter should meet no answer, I shall have to write to your Postmaster to obtain som information.

Yours truly.

End of Document 1F (1856-1858)


FAM Biographical Summary

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Meissner Family

More about FA Meissner

FIRST: Preface

Last: Supplement

Grouped by F.A.M. books and sections within a book

There is also an index of Bookmarks (links to Translation pages) at the end of the Preface.

1A 1843-1848

2A 1865-1868

3A 1870-1872

4A 1877-1882

5A 1884

6A 1886-1887

7 1894-1898

8 1898-1899

1B 1848-1850

2B 1869-1870

3B 1873

4B 1883-1884

5B 1885-1886

6B 1887-1888



1C 1850-1851


3C 1874-1875



6C 1888-1890



1D 1852-1854


3D 1876-1877



6D 1890-1892



1E 1854-1855





6E 1893-1894



1F 1856-1858








1G 1859-1863








1H 1863-1865








Compiled 1999 by Loren P. Meissner. [This email address is NOT a hyperlink - you have to type it in!]

This page was last updated 19 February 2012