Tuesday, December 29, 2015


Some postcards addressed to Martha

Mademoiselle Martha Rohrbach

Stadt Hospital, Hier, Bienne
Fiel, the 9 Aug 1911

Dear Sister

How are you doing in the Hospital and how are your eyes doing. I hope that you will be able to come soon back, for without your voice the choir does not sound quite right. Remain healthy and don’t take any high money (don’t really know what they are trying to say, perhaps stay faithful and don’t get disrupted???)

Good Bye
Bretheren Weber, Farmer and Carver

Miss Martha Rohrbach,
Brueggestreet, 20 B, Madetoch, Biel, Canton Bern
, Switzerland, Europe
send 7th Avenue, Salt Lake, Utah, April 1912 (post stamp)

The 2 April 1909

My dear ones. I am writing you fast that on the 1 April at 8 am in the morning a healthy, strong boy was born. All is well and healthy. We have now the most beautiful weather here. Next Sunday is again Conference. 1000 Kisses and greeting to all of you. How is Bertha doing?

The card is from Hanging Bridge Royal Gorge, Colorado

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Walter Hanni Letters Part 1

These letters appear to be ones Walter wrote to Martha while he was in the Swiss army.

Andermatt, the 10 October 1911
Dear Martha,

I have received the package, many thanks to you. Did you pack this package? It was totally perfect and in great condition. I was on guard duty when the package arrived. It was my first try at shooting; we have been sharp shooting this week with Canons. We shot from Andermatt all the way to Realp. A terrible noise filled the Urseren Valley. It was a loud noise as can be heard when an avalanche is triggered in spring time. We were training shooting at a good time, the weather was very nice.
I am happy to hear that your health is making great progress. The very best possession a human can have is to have good health. I have not been sick for a minute yet and I am very grateful for that to my Father in Heaven.

You wrote that you went to visit your sister and brother in law in Schraderau. Now you have the opportunity to spoil yourself a little, so make good use of it. Once I come back home, I will make up for lost time. I am not able to have a very good time up here be for I don’t have the best of company. I think you will understand what I mean. It is no pleasure for me to go to the tavern and there is too much snow in the mountains to enjoy any kind of sport. As soon as the snow freezes I will use the opportunity to go skiing.

How are the people in Biel doing? Is the old Friede still there? I have received a report from brother Ritter. I have written a letter to Jeanne Losli, tell her to answer my letter. How is she doing? Is Jeanne healthy? I hope so.
Monday in three weeks I will be able to join the Saints, how is the ward choir doing? I hope that we can sing in good harmony. 
I have to end now. Wish you much happiness and Gods blessings.

Good night,

Greetings from the old Walter

Andermatt, the 8th October

Dear Martha!

I have received the little bock. Thank you again for it. Now I need to ask you, should I send the little box back to you or may I keep it?
It is Sunday evening and I had the honor to be on “guard duty”. What a pleasure it is. The sky is blue, the moon is shining on top of the beautiful Alp Mountain tops. Very enjoyable to go for a walk and I am inviting you to walk with me. 
Many thoughts went through my mind, all kinds of phantasies. When I am home I can tell you the details, but you probably can imagine yourself what those have been. 
In 4 weeks I will be done and released to come home. I hope that you will be totally healthy by that time. I wish you much happiness and health and Gods blessings. 
Schleep wenn and have sweet dreams. 

Your Walter (I think he means that she is his sunshine love???)  

To Miss Martha Rohrbach, Brueggestreet, Madietsch
Andermatt, the 21 October 1911

Dear Martha!

I have received your letter and thank you very much for it. You wrote me about the great time you had. I wished I could have been there with you, but I can’t change it now. In 14 days I will be able to have joy also. I will make up for the time I lost here. Tuesday is our great parade day and that should be really wonderful.

How are you doing? Are your eyes better yet? I sure hope so! We will have a wonderful time together when I come back. I dreamt about you, but I will tell you all about it in person. I am healthy and fine.
I wish you God’s blessing and much happiness.

Good night and sleep well and have sweet dreams.

Greetings, Walter

Andermatt, the 2nd or 7th November 1911

Dear Martha

I have to tell you that I will be coming home on Monday evening and I am very happy about this. I can hardly wait to be with my loved once again. I hope that you will be healthy and fine when I arrive. I am so grateful to you for all the good you have done. I hope I will have a great time at home once I am there. We still have wonderful weather here and it is supposed to be good as long as I am remaining here. I am doing just fine and can thank my Heavenly Father for that. 

Several thoughts go through my head, fantasies of all kinds. I will tell you all about it when I come home but perhaps you can guess some of those already. Only four more weeks and I am finished with my service here. I hope that you will get totally healthy by the time I get back home. I wish you much happiness, healthiness and the blessings from God. 
Sleep well and dream sweetly again. 


Martha Hanni letter

To: Miss Martha Rohrbach, Hospital Chambre n 22, Pasquart (local village)
Biel, the 23 July 1910
Dear Martha,
I have received your letter with great joy and had to laugh when you wrote “you are in a very good mood hopefully.” How is the English language coming along? You are probably muddling your way through the language and will soon be able to translate for some.
I don’t have any news to report to you, all remains the same, sometimes better, other times worse! Jeanne has sent you already two letters, did you receive them?  
You said that if you would get a beautiful hat you would go and live in town. We have some beautiful models of it here. I still have the one I had last year. It is made of the same straw as the ones last summer, but a different style. On both sides is fastened a large rose and around it small ones and a black trimming. I have bought this hat in Bern. Jeanne and I have the most beautiful hats of all the girls. Jeanne and I will have a picture taken with our hats so you can see it yourself. 
How is Walter doing, he has not written me at all. 
Brother Hansen had an appendix inflammation and was in the Seeland Hospital. Lilly and Lisi Trittib were with him almost every day. When he was released from the hospital he went to Fankhauser’s to sleep and they took good care of him for him and he only will stay at the Fankhauser’s. One of their sons helped steal a barrel of Beer. That is what my father told me and that Fankhauser family is supposed to be the Example Family. 
Brother Bottam was able to go home again. He was close to death in Basel, but once he felt better he could come home again and I am happy for him. 
On the 10 August is Conference in Bern and I am looking forward to it. We have had a lot of rain and it is not very good for our white skirts, they drag on the ground. We don’t see Misses Monbaron any more at church, I don’t know what happened to her. Misses Baumann is not attending any more either, it is because of Lilly but I can’t tell you any more about it, since I don’t know more. The old Finschi of Solothurn is getting married soon. His intentions are already posted and made public. 
I don’t know any more. Don’t mind my hand writing, for I wrote very fast.
I send my greetings to you and kiss you. 
Please write back soon, don’t let me wait to long with your answer. Greetings also from mother.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Hanni letters

As we have been going through my grandma's house the last couple of months we have happened upon many interesting things as is the case when cleaning out grandparents houses. It is interesting to see what things people choose to keep and as a result leave behind.

World War II love letters
First off to everyone who loved the World War II love letters from Grandpa Ken. What a treasure — who knew grandpa was such a romantic. The letters have all been scanned and are available to view or download on familysearch.org on Grandpa Ken's page. I felt that was the best place to put them. Mostly because they are multiple page pdfs and there were a lot of them. Second Grandpa Ken wrote quite a long history about himself. We also found a history for Grandma Margaret. We hope to get those put into a book before too long. We will let interested parties know when we get that completed.

Third we found a box of letters that belonged to Walter and Martha Hanni. They are all around 100 years old and written for the most part in German script. (I still need to put Walter's history on this site. It is rather long.) Most were written by Walter to Martha and some are letters to Martha written by other people. Some were from before the move from Switzerland and some from after. I was also able to borrow these for a day and scan them as well. I did find a friend of ours who can read German script (a lost art I hear) and she has agreed to translate them for us. I have no idea what is in these letters and for the enjoyment of the family I will post them on this blog when we get the translations back — hopefully in chronological order. The first one was actually written in French and written to Martha by a friend. I sent it to a friend who speaks French and this is what she sent back.

The first letter. It was written to Martha and addressed to her at a hospital in Biel, Switzerland.

February 2, 1910

Dear Martha,

I arrived well at the house. My [landlords/hosts] received me very well and I wanted to start working Saturday evening, and I was too tired I went to bed.
See you later.You accused me of not having written, but I hope that you do the same pleasure of you having written a little word.
 And when I started to work the next day everything seemed funny [or odd] to me but it made me very bad [hurt or sick] and now it quits a little [isn’t as bad]. I am always thinking that you are doing well I hope for that and that it
[pg 2] Will be soon the moment of you lifting/rising yourself and especially if you can walk. And also as much as I hope that it goes well I can’t write his name I remind myself more. Me when I arrived at the house they all had a good laugh; with my package under the arm.
And now I end my letter by telling you that for me it all to me you weaken [this part doesn’t really make any sense, but the last word on that line is hard to make out…I think it is t’afais which doesn’t mean anything, but if it’s spelled incorrectly it might have supposed to have been t’affrais, which would mean you weaken] impossible to come Sunday it will be for the next Sunday because I do not want to be at the house.

[pg 3]I had a lot of boredom at the hospital it cost me nothing to come and to go out no more.
Finally in waiting until the other Sunday.
Good greetings to all and also to Sister Lina,
One who thinks of you all
Goodbye dear Martha
A thousand kisses/Thousands of kisses a friend who thinks of you
Mathilde Brandt

Interesting letter. Hopefully it will make more sense when more letter translations come back as there were several letters from this time period all addressed to Martha at this hospital. I have not heard any stories about her and why she might have been hospitalized. Anyone know what this is about?

Until next time

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Let's join the General Society of Mayflower Descendants

We have known about the General Society of Mayflower Descendants (GSMD) for some time now and we have seen evidence that I am likely related to multiple pilgrims. We decided to go ahead and try to join the GSMD officially. One of the many things that led to this decisions was that our family line on FamilySearch has been edited in some way to break many of the connections that we thought we had. People have been merging or pruning the tree and we think that some errors may have been made. The process to join the GSMD requires you to provide very authoritative evidence of your direct lineage all the way back to the Mayflower passengers. A lot of the work has already been done for the generations following those pilgrims so our main focus is my immediate 3-5+ generations until we can tie into a line with existing approval of lineage. This will provide two things for us personally: 1) more confident evidence of my pilgrim heritage and 2) knowing that by going through this process we will make it easier for our ancestors or cousins or distant family to prove their lineage and join due to the fact that they may have less generations they need to cover as a result of our work.

We plan to document the process so that others who are considering joining can see what its like. We have heard that it can be rigorous or, depending on what has already been done, it may be relatively simple. We suspect that we have 4 or 5 lines back to the pilgrims and over time we would like to validate all of them.

So here is the first post.

Last night I located The Utah Society, a local member "chapter" of the GSMD. The Utah Society shows on their webpage that you start the process by submitting a "application review" worksheet showing your lineage. This is a real quick and dirty "this is how I think I am related" with no attached documentation at the moment. The idea is that the local historian will poke around their resources to determine what has already been approved by other members to see how much work we will have to do. We have potentially 5 lines so I sent an email to the historian expressing interest in joining and asked if the historian would like to see 1 "application review" at a time or all 5. While we waited for a reply we got to work reviewing our lines to be ready to send the review worksheets.

Here are the 5 lines we are interested in pursuing identified by signers of the Mayflower Compact:
  1. John Tilley and John Howland. (Both signed the compact and John Howland later married John Tilley's daughter Elizabeth.)
  2. Thomas Rogers
  3. Francis Cooke
  4. Peter Brown
  5. Stephen Hopkins
I jumped on my whiteboard desk while we consulted FamilySearch, AncestorFinder, and Ancestry.com family trees. These tools and many others can be used to look through your tree and determine paths. We are using a new, private Ancestry.com tree to catalog the direct line and will put only direct ancestors and their spouses to have a clean representation of our work. 

See John Lathrop on there? He was not on the Mayflower but is a significant historical religious ancestor and we wanted to see where he fit in.

The only line that we couldn't currently easily walk is the Peter Brown line. We found lots of conflicting evidence and no actual path to Peter Brown. The documentation we had that suggested a line was generated from RelativeFinder possibly when, for some reason, our tree in FamilySearch was in a poorly merged state. 

By the end of the night the historian from the Utah Society had replied stating we could send all 5 application reviews at the same time (now only 4 thanks to Peter Brown). The email also included more information about the application process. This sounds like its going to be a fun adventure.