Collection: Dorothea Handel (Schuhmacher) Family Letters

Author: Dorothea Handel (Schuhmacher)

Recipient: Gottfried Handel

Description: Letter from Dorothea Schuhmacher to her father, Gottfried Handel, May 1, 1872 [2 of 2]. See also the other letter Dorothea Schuhmacher wrote to her father the same day.

Dorothea Schuhmacher to Gottfried Handel, May 1, 1872 [2 of 2]

English Text

Rome, 1 May 1872

Dear Father,

There are a couple of things I forgot to tell you, and I also should let you know that I am experiencing some hard times because I am always so sickly. I have been lying in bed for months.

We have also had many expenses, and over the last seven years have lost nearly 1,000 Dollars. Six years ago, we had a terrible storm: houses, barns, trees, all were brought down, and after the wind came the torrential rains. Three feet of rain fell, in some places four feet. It was the Saturday before Trinity Sunday. Last year, in ’71, we had ice an inch thick in the creek on the morning of June 16. Everything - grass, beans, potatoes, all of the corn - froze over much of this region. We had sowed twice, and the fields were in full bloom, but oh dear, this thwarted our progress. We have lost as much as your entire property would be worth if you sold it at a good price.

Two years ago we lost two horses in one night. Three years ago, five dairy cows and cattle. This winter, six pigs, two bulls, and one ram.[1] We’ve really felt this, and it is hard. Peter is depressed, I always try to console him. He thinks all is lost. I have been worried, too, but don’t show it, and instead say to him: “No souls have been lost”, and “Poland isn’t lost yet.”[2] When we come into the barn in the morning and find a dead animal, I tell him to be grateful for what we still have, and he is often angry with me and tells me I am careless and forget that he is going bankrupt.  Then I tell him “You are Job.[3] You will reap twice what you have lost.” Dear Father, this past winter we also lost a horse with a foal. This one used to kick a lot during harnessing and unharnessing, sometimes even kick the wagon. So the shock wasn’t too terrible. The others, two years ago, were so gentle that even a child could harness them and ride them.

Georg and Luise are often in the fields without me even knowing about it, and then they suddenly come trotting or galloping into the farm yard. Once Luise was on the horse when a passing locomotive pulled the whistle as the train was approaching town. The horse ran off with the child on his back. She was four years old. Everyone ran after them. The horse reached a 5 feet high fence and was going to jump it with the child. Luise hopped off by herself, because she figured she might fall otherwise. The horse went on to leap over the fence. Oh how thankful I was to press my child against my chest!

We always have reason to complain and also reason to be thankful. As far as Faber is concerned, I will deal with it when I come. I don’t think revenge is a sin; if they had treated you well, I would have let a lot go. You could have come to be with us a long time ago. We have all you need and more that often remains in the field. Farm laborers are hard to come by, and domestic servants are expensive. We do all the work ourselves.

Last year we bought a nice harvest machine, and we have plows that will first plow for the potatoes and corn, and then can be adjusted to plant potatoes, and anything else one needs. It can then also be used to pull up the potatoes so that everything is on the ground ready for picking up. This year we have twelve dairy cows, two horses, one pair of oxen, and five head of cattle. During the summer it is nearly impossible to get away, but we must do it, so expect us soon. Remember, A Mighty Fortress is Our God, and all our hope lies in Him.

I close now with many greetings from all of us here, in the Name of God, and pray for God’s protection for all of us.

Your loving children and grandchildren!

G. Schuhmacher

We will arrive shortly after, or even before, the power-of-attorney, because the power-of-attorney has to go to New York first to be completed. I will write to Kirlach that it is coming, and ask what they are doing.

[1] The original clearly says “Hummel”, which is a bumblebee. Presumably she meant “Hammel,” which means ram.

[2] This German idiom stems from the Polish national anthem, and is used in the sense of “not all is lost.”

[3] “Du bist Hiob,” biblical, meaning: you are the bearer of bad news.