16 July 2012

Amanuensis Monday: Who Is George Neubauer?

Amanuensis Monday: You want me to do what?
Amanuensis Monday is another daily blogging prompt suggested by GeneaBloggers. When I first saw this prompt, my immediate reaction was "Amanu-what?" but when I read the description I was intrigued. The prompt is described this way:

An Amanuensis is a person employed to write what another dictates or to copy what has been written by another. Amanuensis Monday is a daily blogging theme which encourages the family historian to transcribe family letters, journals, audiotapes, and other historical artifacts. Not only do the documents contain genealogical information, the words breathe life into kin – some we never met – others we see a time in their life before we knew them.

Now that I know what an amanuensis is and what Amanuensis Monday is,  I realize I have some documents that will fill the bill quite nicely for this prompt. They involve my mother's side of the family, however, rather than my father's, and they'll take a little bit of explaining.

Annie Neubauer was my mother's grandmother, my maternal great-grandmother. She grew up in a German-American Catholic family in Baltimore, Maryland in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The family spoke German at home, had German language prayer books, and wrote letters to each other in German in an elegant, formal hand. I have photocopies of two letters from George Neubauer to his parents dated 1 Jan 1873 and 1874 respectively, in  German, with English, translations attached. The original letters were handwritten, but the translations were typed on an old manual typewriter. I believe my uncle Eddie Roberts provided me with the photocopies of the letters, but I have no idea who translated them. I also have no idea of the relationship between Annie Neubauer and George Neubauer. I suspect (but do not know for sure) that George Neubauer was one of Annie Neubauer's brothers. In the first letter he writes:

Dear Parents,

I can not let this day go by without telling you my heartfelt feelings.

For the New Year I wish you the best of luck, the blessing of the Lord, a long life, and after a peaceful death eternal life in heaven.I particularly feel strong about these wishes thinking about the past years when you worked so hard to make a good child out of me. For the many favors which you extended on my body and soul I express my thanks deep from my heart and the dear Lord will reward you for it in heaven with an extraordinary blessing. In order to show you my gratefulness I promise to make you happy with a good and pious behavior. I will not let a day go by without having prayed for you. I know that in the last year I have worried you with my bad behavior. I am sorry and I ask you for forgiveness and in the New Year I will be a very different son.

In the hope that you will continue to take care of me in the same way I remain with love and devotion your thankful son George.


Balto. 1 Jan. 1873

Next week, I'll post the second of the two letters with my thoughts about both. In the meantime, if any of my GeneaBloggers colleagues who are researching the Neubauer family or German-American families, especially in the Baltimore area, could provide me with some guidance on how to identify George Neubauer and establish the relationship between George and Annie Neubauer, I would be most grateful. Danke schön!


Kathy said...

A letter that would warm the heart of any parent - although it sounds as though George had reason to butter up his parents. I'll come back to read George's next letter.

Niall Mor said...

Hi Kathy! Thanks for stopping by. I've added your blog to my blogroll. Yes, it does sound like George is definitely trying to stay on Mama and Papa's good side, doesn't it?

TCasteel said...

Collections of old letters are interesting to read. We have lost the 'letter writing' skill set..if you can call it that. We have the telephone at hand and the more recent emails & texting methods of communication. I think the hand written 'thank you' card is about all that's left now days.
That said, I do enjoy reading the old letters and journals, even if I do not write any myself.
Theresa (Tangled Trees)

Niall Mor said...

Hi Theresa,

Thanks for stopping by! Do you have a blog about your genealogical research? If so, I would love to add it to my blogroll.

Yes, I would agree we have lost largely lost the skill of letter writing. Earlier this year my computer was on the fritz for an extended period, so letters and phone calls were about the only means of communication I had. I tried to spark a revival of the art of letter writing, but it didn't take off. I've become just as dependent on technology as everyone else. Since my idea roughly coincided with the "Occupy Wall Street!" protests, I thought of calling it, "Occupy Your Mailbox!" Maybe someday :)