A letter in German

I know I have talked about Peter Kersten before, but with all things, we learn more information as we go. Recently I attended a Rotary meeting. I was asked by a colleague of mine, and since I have wanted to become more active in my community, I accepted. While at the meeting, I was introduced to Vonn. Vonn is an eighty something year old fellow that is somewhat of a historian. More importantly (to this blog at least), he is also fluent in German and he took the time to translate a letter that I have. I am sure I got the letter from my Aunt Leah, when she lent me items to copy. But, I tried “Google translate” with minimum success, so when he offered to translate this document, I was stoked. I was excited because it was a piece of my past that I could then put into some context with what I already know about Peter and his family. I was also excited that some light could be shed on this mysterious letter.  I am going to include the letter in its entirety, but I am going to try to add information that I have to put it into context. Please if you know more information let me know.  The letter was written on stationery from the German Mutual Benefit and Aid Society.  We will talk more about this at another time.


Chicago, Ill., December 23, 1925

Dear Ones,

Received your letter of December 2 and are pleased to hear from you. We are sorry to hear that Uncle Wilhelm died (Willhelm Kersten, Peter’s Uncle, Mathias’ brother). I cannot believe that Uncle would die so soon. What was he ailing from that he died so quickly? In November our brother-in-law (Unknown reference) informed us of his death but did not explain what ailed him. We have not heard from Uncle Wilhelm since he collected my part of the inheritance. I have no idea why he stopped writing. You ask about your Uncle Cristian Palm (we do have a line with last name Palm, Peter’s Aunt Magdalena married a Simon, they had children and their daughter Margaretha Simon married Johann Jacob Palm, I am assuming they had a child named Christian Palm). I cannot say if he is still alive or where he lives. I asked Johann Lanz of Manderfeld who lives here in Chicago about him. He said that your uncle lived in New York in 1898 [?] but that he has not heard from him since then. He promised to look for information. The court at St. Vith sent us a copy of the will. It was mailed to the old address. Will you be so kind and give the court our new address. Share it also with the executor [of the will] Johann Nicholas Theisen, mayor of Mandersfeld and give him and his family our regards. Regarding the inheritance I believe that we should leave it as Uncle has decreed. I am sorry that he excluded Persinger’s (I think he meant Perings) children but nothing can be done about that. The aunt in Racine is doing well, as is her husband. The same goes for their children. Both ___ [illegible] Maria (Anna Marie Kertsen Crewe), lives in Racine and Eduard (Edward Peter Kersten) lives here in Chicago. I will send you their addresses. As far as we are concerned we are hale and hearty and hope to continue so. Now with the old year coming to an end we wish you all happy holidays and the best for the new year. Give our greetings and a wish for a happy new year to Aunt Magdalena and Anna.

Greetings from your cousin Peter Kersten and family.

Hubert (Johann Hubertus Kersten, Peter’s brother) plans to write you.


Until later, I will be exploring backwards, or as my German ancestors would have said “Ich werde nach hinten erforschen







“Whoa, take’er easy there, Pilgrim”

I always wondered why John Wayne said Pilgrim so many times. Anyhow, Recently, I have been thinking about Pilgrims.  I even wonder to myself if I can call myself a descendent of a pilgrim. I have found information that leads me to believe that I am a 9th generation Pilgrim. Let me tell you why.

I was researching the old family tree and shaking some of the ancestral leaves when I noticed that I had an ancestor that died in Plymouth, Massachusetts. This got me thinking, when he got here and how.


Here is a little timeline about the pilgrims just for a refresher.

  • 16 Sept 1620-Mayflower leaves England
  • 16 Dec 1620-Mayflower lands arrive in the New World
  • 16 Mar 1621-Contract between Indians and Pilgrims
  • 15 Oct 1621-First “Thanksgiving”
  • 15 Nov 1621-Second Ship “The Fortune” arrives
  • 15 Jul 1623-Two More Ships arrive

(Reference: http://www.timetoast.com/timelines/the-pilgrims–4)


Robert Hicks was on the second ship, so he did not make it in time for the first Thanksgiving, but he got there as quick as he could. His wife came over on The Anne, which arrived in the summer of 1623.


Thanksgiving Dinner

Thanksgiving Dinner

(Photo source: http://ww2.valdosta.edu/~aaperez/ebooklesson1.html)

Robert was a Fellmonger in England. What the heck is a fellmonger? Essentially, he was a leather worker. He was a dealer in hides and skins. When he came to the New World, it looks like he became a farmer.

Robert was married to Margaret.  Some believe her maiden name was Winslow. Some of this information is still speculative, as I have not confirmed it all. Nevertheless, it appears that Margaret could have been his second wife. Regardless Margaret comes to America with her son Samuel and Lydia on the Anne in 1623.

So this is the way my line goes like this.

My mother’s grandmother, Carrie Lou Hicks was the daughter of Lemuel Dabney Hicks, who was the son of Blansford Hicks, who was the son of William Hix, who was the son of Samuel Hixs III, who was the son of Samuel Hicks, Jr. who was the son of Samuel Hicks, who was the son of Robert Hicks who came over on the Fortune and landed near Plymouth in 1621.

Consequently, my mother who always considered herself a daughter of the south, now realizes she has a Pilgrim heritage. I think she will be okay with it. The character of a person that decides to leave EVERYTHING they know to set off for the New World is a valiant person, and it is good to know that character and genes are in us too.

This Thanksgiving is going to be different, I can already tell. I am already thankful for so much in my life. I will pause this year to reflect with a little more familiarity about the brave people that risked everything to come to the new world almost 4oo years ago.


Until later, you will find me exploring backwards. By the way, my pilgrim name is Patience Jameson.








Blog Anniversary

It has almost been a year since I started blogging (5/30/13). I wish I could write more often but life gets busy sometimes.  I also knew we would find some cobwebs along the way.  My goal is to learn from these cobwebs.

I am so glad so many of you have joined me on this journey.  Your comments and insights have helped tremendously.  Please continue to stay involved.   Also, feel free to ask questions, I might have the information, but if I don’t I would be happy to find out.

I have met new family connections by blogging.   First, I received an email from a woman whose family history is attached to mine via slavery.  It is still shocking to write, but, as a historian, I have to acknowledge it.  She wrote that her family history traces back to the Whitehead family as being the owners of her ancestors.  It is really hard to wrap my head around it.  Unfortunately that is all I know.  She and I have not remained in contact.  She did say that our family did not have an overseer.  I plan on sending this post to her, in the hopes of reconnecting and learning about this cobweb.

My other familial connect came by way of my first cousin-once removed, (Anita) she found my blog by looking for another website about our ancestral homestead in Oglethorpe County.  Since then we have exchanged numerous emails and I feel like I have gotten to know her better.

My goals for the next year are simple; continue to blog as often as I can; encourage family participation and continue to explore backwards.