Timothy Hagenbuch’s 1841 Letter to His Brother, Daniel
Late in the summer of 1841, Timothy Hagenbuch wrote a letter to his younger brother, Daniel. Daniel was 25 years old and living in Delaware County, Indiana. He had moved there in 1840 to be closer to another brother, Enoch.
Unlike Daniel and Enoch, Timothy had not gone west and was still living at the Hagenbuch Homestead in Albany Township, Berks County, Pennsylvania. He was nearly 37 years old. The story of how Timothy’s letter was discovered was discussed in Part 1 in this series, while Part 2 and Part 3 explored an 1839 letter from Timothy to Enoch.
Below is an English translation of the 1841 letter which was originally written in Pennsylvania Deitsch. Much credit goes to Jean McLane who graciously worked to provide the translation. Minor edits have been made to the text for legibility, while more substantial changes are wrapped in brackets.
Lastly, it should be noted that the letter lacks an envelope, as was common at that time. It is a single piece of blue paper folded so it can be sealed with wax and mailed.
Folded Letter, Front Side
Mr. Daniel Hagenbuch
Sept. 18 
Folded Letter, Back Side
D.H. 2 October 1841
Opened Letter, Side One, Right Page
Albany, 15th September 1841
Valued brother Daniel, I thank the Almighty that he has granted me enough health and strength that I can write to you how things look in your birthplace. So to speak, no one has much to complain about in the house now. Father [Jacob Hagenbuch] has not been able to leave all summer. That small amount [has been written] in haste.
The neighborhood: about 15 to 20 children, and many people have [reason to] complain about summer illnesses. Dysentery, Scarlet Fever, Diarrhea and more illnesses.
It would be my heartfelt wish, and God willing, that my handwriting might find you Brother Daniel, Enoch, wife, and children all well. Today is the day when I had wanted to send off this letter, but I haven’t been able to. By noon not a single letter was written. I was not at home most of the time. This morning I was not home either. Last week it took me four days to get to Reading. I had small errands for myself and for Father. Yesterday I was not at home, not [the] day before yesterday either. Well next Saturday is the annual market, the so-called fair in Hamburg. Isaac Reichelderfer, Jeremias Bailey, and William Braucher want to go to Hamburg, [and] I intend to send this letter along. The twenty-five [cents postage] are for Enoch.
Now the nest is flat, the hen is not laying any more at this time. Just pay attention to the bird that you have. A bird in hand is worth more than ten in the air.
We are having lovely September weather, wet enough for growing, but the water isn’t too much. Amos [Hagenbuch] finished planting rye yesterday. Next week he wants to plant wheat.
Opened Letter, Side Two, Left Page
Died on 29 August 29th, Johan Wessner’s wife. I don’t know if I have reported on the wife or not. [She was] in her 43rd year. On Sept. 2nd, Maria Anna Saufelin [Swoveland], age 1-3-13, daughter of Benjamin. On Sept 1st, Sarah Saufelynn [Swoveland] daughter of Benjamin, age 9-3-11. Her illness was scarlet fever. On 11th of this [month] Samuel Hollenbach, son of Samuel, in Windsor, of dysentery, in his 4th year. Sarah Naepp [Knepp], daughter of Philip, age 6-3-15. On Aug. 15th the same in Windsor, David Zettelmoyer, a child.
Married on Sept. 11th, Reuben Lintz [Lins] with Catharina Seidel of Windsor, daughter of Gottfri[e]d.
Market prices: wheat $1.38, rye 0.73, 65 cents, oats 40 to 45¢, butter 10 cents, eggs 10 cents, beef 5 cents, and I think soon it will be 3-1/2 to 4 cents. In Orwigsburg, smoked meat front ham sides, stinking good pork 5 cents. Drivers’ livestock plenty. Reuben Lutz arrived on Sep. 10th from Trumbull County, Ohio. He says he met 3000 head of livestock that are on the way. I have already heard that livestock and sheep had been driven back again. The people would lose too much on their livestock.
Last week when I was in Reading, I was also in the jail and saw the murderers. By [the term of] the November court, they will be tried. This time you must be satisfied with 3 or 4 dozen lines as I must from you, because I do not know much to write this time.
Opened Letter, Side Two, Left Page
Enoch, do you still have no name for your child even though Nan is two years old? We would really like to know what its name is. Or will you not give it a name until another one has arrived? If it still has no name then bring it here. I will help baptize it and will give it a name and a lovely gown.
Brother Michael is now at Father’s and is making shingles to cover the cold-house. Daniel Stein wants to build a barn in the near future. Jacob Schmidt sends his greetings to you, Daniel, and wishes you happiness and [wants to know] whether you are still getting along all right? You boys, if you don’t have anything special to write, then write by the first or second of November. But if you have something to report quickly, then you can write as quick as you want.
At Paffen Store in Chester County, the Honorable Mr. [John C.] Guldin was preaching on Sundays in the summer about drunkards, and mostly about one [drinker]. He said if they wouldn’t stop the excessive drinking, then the devil would take them. That night, the preacher talked a man into it. He made [his face] black and went at night into the [drinker’s] house and up to his bed, dragging him out of bed. He said he was the devil, and he wanted to take him. He had been told so often he should not drink so much, and he had not yet quit. The drinker screamed for help and grabbed the devil and washed him. So it was a neighbor whom the pastor had recruited. Now the pastor and the [neighbor] are in jail, etc.
I wish you happiness and blessings, health and peace. End the 18th of Sept.