William Wieboldt

Letter of William Wieboldt to his Parents, October 30, 1871 (ichi-63787)

William A. Wieboldt was thirteen years old when he wrote this letter to his parents in Germany. He later went on to found the Wieboldt's department stores. The letter is dated October 30, 1871. This version is translated from the original German.

Yesterday I received your dear letter and read that all of you are still well and happy and I was glad. I can say the same about us. Now I will write to you first a little about the great fire which took place in Chicago between Sunday night and Monday October 8th and 9th about which you have surely read much about already in the newspapers and you surely thought that we were also burnt up and we would have been burnt if the wind had not been so favorable--for which we have the dear Lord to thank.

3/4 of the lovely, beautiful, yes magnificent city of Chicago burned down in less than 24 hours. Now it is still burning in some places of the ruins and the beautiful big hotel I wrote you about has also been burned down. Oh, it looks terrible and especially because the beautiful proudest section of the city where the large buildings such as are not to be seen in Germany, and which you can hardly imagine, were destroyed. Perhaps next time I will send you a book about the fire and my picture with it when I get to it. There were 50 or 60 firehoses in Chicago the first days that it burned.

What is little Anna doing now. She can probably speak a little by now and Maria thinks she doesn't sing well now. I may learn to play the piano and if she still has the urge to come here to America, I will teach her also and, if I get back to Germany sometime, we will sing again "Oh Strassbourg, Oh Strassbourg." Hermann thought he wanted to be a slaughterer? That is not a nice business here because it is too dirty. Whatever I don't like, I still think the store business is best where one must account for a dirty hand, and from what I hear, things are much better for me than for Gustaf von Ahnen. When you can, write the address of Henriette and Emma Koster if you can possibly get it as I would like once more to know how they are getting along. I have no more time today. I will write again soon and hope you will too.

Best wishes to Madam Kopf in Altenwalde, to Edward and Adolf Famm and all our friends and my dear grandparents from Uncle W and his bride and Uncle and Tante Stein and especially from your son.