Jakob's first 20 years in America were filled with adventure and a variety of interesting experiences. He traveled to San Francisco shortly after his arrival in New York City, after his sister Martha was settled with their cousin Cecelia Markheim and her family in Brooklyn. He spent much time with his uncle Samuel Braunhart the politician, and was with him when Samuel died a month after his heart problems were accentuated by the 1906 earthquake.
Jakob was a tailor by trade; he spent time in Alaska and married Pearl Rawson, a woman from Oregon, in 1913 in San Francisco. He shows up in August 1918 with an FBI file. He had joined the U.S. Army and because he had contacted the German consul in order to not get in trouble with the country of Germany, and because he had announced that he had two brothers in the German Army (that would have to have been Theo and Moritz), the FBI opened a file on him. Interestingly, in the FBI report it states that his wife had left him earlier in 1918.
This all a precursor to the contents of the following letter - which was written by father Alexander, sister Frieda, and the most heart wrenching part - from his mother Helene. The letter is dated 3 September, 1919.
We tend to assign hero and bravery status to those who left their home country and their family to immigrate. What we do not often do is examine the emotional impact of such splits on the parents that are left behind. In mother Helene Braunhart's case, she saw almost half of her children immigrate and she never saw them again.
Because the letter mentions his wife Pearl, it is obvious that Jakob and his parents had not corresponded for over a year - since the letter refers to Jakob's beloved wife Pearl - so it is clear that the parents knew nothing of the split between the two. Also there is a reference to funds in the bank, of which I do not know what the letter refers to.
The letter in its original German form is presented here, followed by the English translation.
Thanks to our good friend Matthias Steinke, we now have an English translation of this letter:
Schubin, 3rd September 1919
[from father Alexander]
Dear good son Jakob!
Since a year and a day (means since a long time) we are without any news from you. All are writing only our children don´t. From Martha came a short letter a couple of days ago. Hope you and Pearl are healthy. Our boys were soldiers during the war and came back soon. Only Theo and ?? are still suffering at languor? sometimes.
Theo, Philipp, and Karl, who escaped from here in January, are all in Berlin. All further you can read in aunt’s letter and in the letters that we sent to Martha and Anna.
So, dear Jakob how is it with the bank? Will it give anything at all? The Dollar costs 14 M. (Reichsmark). Write about it free and detailed.
As far as we get news from you with detailed information about your current address you will get a long detailed letter. So (send) immediately a message to your dearly loving parents.
[from sister Frieda]
My dear brother! I will also direct some lines to you. Thanks God, I´m fine, which I also hope from you and your beloved wife.
The dear parents already sent more details so I will close for now.
Hearty greetings and kisses is sending you your Loving sister Frieda.
[from mother Helene]
Dear beloved son!
In vain do we expect a letter from you? You can’t imagine the grief I have to endure for years to be without any informations about my children. From the rich to the poorest, all get wonderful letters from theirs; only our children are heartless, what you will surely regret, if it will be too late.
Write, dear son how you are and whether you and your beloved wife are healthy. We don’t want to have something from you, only one thing I ask you, please ask, whether it may be possible that the bank pays us, because we want to move to Berlin. From there I will write more detailed.
We´re doing well. We have been through a lot and don’t know what yet to come for us. If the bank doesn’t pay, we don’t know what to do. I lay it to your heart dear son, to strive and to give us immediately message.
I would like to see you all again one day.
Many hearty greetings and kisses to you and your dear wife, your deep loving mother Helene