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