Monday, March 11, 2013
I love making genealogical finds and when they are done accidentally, it is even better! So this weekend, I was stuck at home with my car in the shop for repairs. It was a perfect time to scan old photos -- childhood, wedding, and the kids when they were babies. Well, as I was going through one of my daughter's scrapbooks she had done on family history for a middle school project, I found a copy of a letter. I guess if I was organized I would know exactly where the original one is! It is on my "to do" list to find. Anyways, the letter is in German and is addressed to (I thought) my 2nd great grandfather Baltazar Nebgen.
For years, I was just happy to have this letter in my possession and didn't care that I had no idea what the letter was about. I could try translating in online but it being handwritten would cause me more problems -- is that an s or a k or a t? I have a friend name Sabine, who I knew from my daughter's high school band days and my PTA days. She is from Germany so perhaps she could translate it for me. Okay, so now you are probably asking why I hadn't thought of this earlier, say perhaps 5 or 6 years ago. Well, my life was so crazy with kids' activities and mine that who even had time to breathe back then, never mind do genealogy research and translate German.
So, this is what I found out -- the letter is actually to Mrs. Baltazar Nebgen, my 2nd great grandmother. It is from a captain of a Dutch ship. I think I mentioned in a previous post that my great grandfather Peter Joseph Nebgen was a midshipman. I also want to mention that even though my great grandfather's first name was Peter, it seems doing research that he often went by his second name Joseph. I guess this is common for Germans in those days (something about taking a saint's name for the 1st name).
It is my understanding that Mrs. Baltazar Nebgen (Anna Maria Wittayer) had written the captain of the ship because she had not heard from her son since he got on the ship and she was worried. Okay, I can totally relate to this. Sons do seem to have a problem calling home (or writing home in those days). So the concerned Mom wanted to know where her son Joseph was. This letter is from the captain of the ship reassuring Anna Maria that Joseph is doing well and working hard (exactly what all mothers want to hear) and that he would be on the ship a bit longer. It seems though, that Joseph wanted to go back home as soon as he got off the ship.
I love that my Grandma kept this letter all those years and that she passed it on down to my father and now to me. It is a true treasure!