Collection: Schweitzer-Guggenheimer Letter Collection


Marie “Malchen” Bernheimer (Schweitzer)

Hirsch Schweitzer

Ernestine Schweitzer

Recipient: Isaac Schweitzer

Description: Letter from Hirsch Schweitzer, his wife Marie "Malchen" Schweitzer, and their daughter, Ernestine Schweitzer, sent from their home in Mühringen to their son Isaac Schweitzer, who had emigrated to the United States and was then living in Baltimore. The letter was written shortly before and in anticipation of Isaac's marriage to Isabella Guggenheimer, which occurred a few weeks later in Philadelphia on September 16, 1875.

Schweitzer family letter to Isaac Schweitzer, July 28, 1875

English Text

Mühringen, July 28, 1875

Dear Isak!

We received from you all your letters in short order.

We are always pleased to hear about your well-being. However, we still wanted to wait with writing until you would write us your exact address. Thus we received today your letters from the 12th of the month. The photo of your dear bride meets our complete approval. We were also delighted about Mr. Kaufman’s insert. He had a good journey, but wrote only little. I hope there will be more another time. We send him our best regards.

Thank God we are all doing fine. We can only be delighted since you have the prospect of your imminent wedding. Only my heart always sinks more since last year around this time we did not believe that your parents would be granted to lead their only son down the aisle. I do not want to continue [to be upset by this], and want to accept it as God's providence. It is up to [?, hole ] you and with God's help to make your parents and siblings happy over time – this is what children also owe [their parents].

We wrote to our dear Luise these days, [she] wants to visit us with her two children. We also want to see them again. Our dear Berthe is getting better, thank God. She could not come here and leave her little children alone. Dear Isak was here previously overnight, his business is doing fine. For us, business is a little bit quiet since it is currently harvest time. Everything will certainly be different again.

It is about 3 weeks ago that Mr. Einstein was here. He spent the entire afternoon with us. We gave him all our attention. I went with him to Eßlinger what I had already talked over with him beforehand.  He received his money there and departed again in the evening. He told us that he will soon go to Baltimore. Löwenthal finds little approval here, he is a little bit tense. He does not tell us anything and we don’t ask anything. That Kaufmann got back fine we learned from our Berthe.  His sister was at our Berthe [‘s home] and said she should write it to us and send her best regards, [thus] the friendlier Elsäser will be with us, [he] already visited us frequently before. He also sent several letters to Uncle Joseph, and I also enclosed one, but there have been no answers until today. If you get to know something, please let us know why he does not write.

If I want our Ernestine to get married well it will cost thousands in any case, but where [should it come] from? We will hardly be able to do something here, but God will lead us to the right path although we can hardly let her go from here, time will tell. I wish you now good luck for your store and business, that you will soon be a rich man, that your and our wishes will be fulfilled. I am looking forward to good news soon and send my regards,

your father H. Schweitzer

Best regards to your dear bride & parents and to Mr. [?] Kaufman and to all the relatives.


[Letter from Ernestine Schweitzer:]

Dearest brother!

Yesterday I received your letter dated from the 12th for which we only waited to also answer the previous one since we still had no address. We see your wellbeing from your letter and we can also assure you the same for us. We appreciate the photo of your dear bride very much.  As you can see [illegible] it has our approval. I will also enclose a note for her. The dear sisters send their regards to you as well. Thank God, the family is doing quite well. Dear Berthe is again quite invigorated.  She could not make up her mind to leave her household because of the young child. God always helps when it is necessary, we realize this daily.

The matter with the bill of exchange is settled now. Mr. Einstein himself came to us, we had a good conversation. I accompanied him to Imnau and back. As I told you he will report about us in person. He also told us many pleasant things about your bride. I hope that you will have lots of good luck with the new store so that you will be satisfied with all so that you will also be able to satisfy those at home or to make them happy again. We will hope the best for the future, the present was surely favorable, it would be ungrateful to everything if we would not recognize this. 

We got to know soon that Mr. Kaufmann had a good trip. Thank you for his note.  Best regards from me as well. As K. noted, your wedding will take place soon. We suspected this and had to familiarize ourselves with the thought that we would not be able to attend it in person. But our pious wishes and prayers will be heard, that you will only experience good things at the side of your self-chosen companion so that you will always have to tell us something pleasant. As far as we are concerned you have long been convinced that we strive to assure you our contentment. Since as usual our dear father or rather our dear parents do not think about themselves but rather do have the welfare of their children in mind, then we siblings want to strive to enrich their lives as far as it is in our power.

If I became engaged like my girlfriend already did - you can imagine how it would be for the parents if I would leave.  But there are no other prospects, some matches have already been proposed, but so far we have made little efforts. Dear father is deferring [the matter] as long as possible and I think that nobody can take my destiny.  Something appropriate will be in store. The esteemed Manuel [?] Feigenheimer also got engaged. He is going to get a girl from Freiburg that has 12,000 FL. This is a lot of money for such a man. We girls get afraid again with matches like that.  He courted Jettle and liked her. Suddenly he departs and gets engaged to another girl. [He is] an uneducated man, his mother was also against Jette and therefore it takes a lot of money to get into business. The above mentioned will soon move to Horb. Manuel, the wise [?], left his mother[’s house] today [illegible ]. Therefore there is misery [?] in Imnau. It [=the house?] is again occupied, again a family from Baltimore named Lindener [?]. The local Americans go there often, also [this] Sunday to the Schützenfest [=local festival] in Stuttgart, which is supposed to be marvelous. We need to stay at home, like many other people as well.

Elsäser is very anxious because he has not gotten an answer from Uncle for a long time. It is not his fault that he did not leave yet. His stores indeed want him to stay here and his wealth is also not in [illegible] money. The manuscripts [sic, most likely certificates of debt/bonds] must be paid to him which of course does not go that fast. Cousin Sophie has apparently won his love and both hold what he promised. They should write to him and not believe other people. When you are in circumstances like Uncle it would be good to get a partner with money. [illegible = Elsässer?] told our beloved father everything and unburdened his heart. It is not such a pleasant situation for him.  When you get this letter in your hands your store will have opened, I wish you again good luck for it,

delight us with an answer soon,

farewell wishes from

your sister Ernstine Schweitzer

[In Yiddish / Judeo-German:]

My Dear Son Isak, may your life be long and happy,

This is longer than usual, as it’s replying to several of your letters, for which [delay] we are sorry. We wanted to wait for your Baltimore address. Dear Isak, I am very glad that you’re in such a good frame of mind and that we, thank God, can say the same with respect to our health. Everything is also well with your dear sisters and their families, though they can never have enough news of you. Knowing more about your business would make our happiness complete. As far as your wedding goes, you’ve already got me thinking, wishing, worrying––I can’t describe how it’s affecting us. I’ve already seen that it will be on the second day of rosh chodesh Elul[1]. I pray God that the wedding will be very happy and that your beloved Isabella and her dear parents will be as happy and content as you. We give our all for the sake of our children. The picture of your dear bride pleased us greatly. We have already shown it to many people, all of whom approved. We sent the pictures you sent earlier to your sisters in Karlsruhe and Heilbronn. Dear Isak, it’s no wonder that your father is very worried. Rosenfeld from Buchau turned up recently with an offer to marry Ernestine that turned out to be an insult. 8 thousand gulden, he said, and the deal would be on––there’s no one else but Elsäss[er] here. You didn’t much approve of him [Rosenfeld] when you were here. He is a businessman. He was willing to marry redheaded Maniel for 7 thousand gulden, but he’d rather marry a girl with so much more. Don’t take such things badly. It pains me to write them to you––we can discuss them and ask questions. Don’t tell Gailinger anything about it. Julius has always needed 3 helpers in the business, just like Löwenthal, who has 3 in Amergau [?] and 3 more in Mühringen. The best we can do is offer your father [hope of] comfort in the future. I hope that God will make you and all our loved ones happy and that we come together for joyous occasions, and I hope to read a lot of pleasant things from you and your dear bride.

Your mother

[Signed in German:] Malchen Schweizer


[Different handwriting, probably H. Schweitzer, in German:]

I am sorry to find out through Elsäser that my brother Joseph got into bankruptcy as well. Elsäser told me that he got engaged to his daughter and wants to start a business with her when he comes back, but he has still not received a response to his 2 letters yet. If you could get that, please do it. It will take time until he gets his assets since it is difficult to collect certificates of debt. Therefore he cannot say when he will depart.

[Page 4, left margin:]

His siblings don’t want to admit it of course, they will leave.

[1] September 1, 1875. Rosh Chodesh, the new moon, marks the beginning of a Hebrew month.

Original text