Pictured above: Tobacco box with Ferdinand Petrus's letters and personal effects. Provided to me by Edward "Baby" Petrus of Skidmore, Texas.

Letters to Ferdinand

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Note - Being that Ferdinand and family immigrated to the United States from Belgium, some of the letters were written in their native tongue, Flemish (variation of Dutch). In 1991 I had the letters translated by University of Texas language student, Fred Schwink. Recently, Mark Thiels of Belgium has provided an alternative translation.

Mark explains "Please note that I tried to keep the translation as close as possible to the original text. i.e. no comma's and points and also the very simple language used by the writers. It gives a better picture of reality than using the actually common American language."

It is interesting to note the differences between the two translators - one being American and translating from Flemish to his native English and the other being Belgian, translating from his native Flemish to English. In some cases, the interpretation of the letters is quite different. Due to Mr. Thiels knowledge of the Flemish language, though, I believe his translation to be the most accurate.

Click on the pages above to view the original 1886 letter translated below.

Reillaer, Belgium February 24, 1886 -- Translated from Dutch by University of Texas language student, Fred Schwink. Alternate translation provided by Mark Thiels (a researcher on the Belgian side of our family) indicated in green.

Rillaar, the 2nd of February 1886.*

Much beloved son,

My Dearest Son,

I'm finally getting around to writing you. We are all still in good health and we are very pleased that you are doing well. We received your letter on the 22nd and we sent you a letter for New Year which you must already have gotten but if you still don't have it, let us know and we will go and check with the post office.

I come to write you a line, we all are still in good health and we are so pleased to learn that you are doing so good. We received you letter the 23 and we have sent you a letter by New Year, which you should have received now and if you didn't let us know then we will go to the postoffice overhere.

The weather here is now quite good, but every night it freezes but in the day it is nice weather and it has been like this for almost three months and there is still some three month old snow which has almost disappeared and of which we have had an excess this winter.

The weather is still good but it is freezing every night and during the day the weather is nice and so it is already since 3 months and there is still here and there some snow left from 3 months ago which flew together and which we got so plenty this winter.

In our New Year letter there is news, among other things, that F Branders has taken over the Bamis-Festival (Southern Dutch festival of St. Bavomis, 1st of October) and is living in the house where G. Branders had lived and G. Branders is living in Evarist Van Eiken's house and E. Van Eiken is living in Aerschot. In the town of Aerschot they're putting up a new pressing-house by the paved road at (indecipherable) and Constantinus Bruymalks(?) has taken it over. We have also taken over a well at Lichem op den Haanberg but the agreement hasn't been arrived at yet.

In our New Years letter some news was mentioned, so that F. Branders is married at "Bamis-kermis" (St. Bavo-mass = 1st October) (early October fair). He lives in the house of G. Branders and G. Branders is living in the house of Evarist Van Eiken and E. Van Eiken is living in Aarschot city. There one is building a new slaughter-house at the beginning of the way to Betekom. Constantinus Bruyninckx is doing the works. We have also accepted the building of a new pit in Zichem on the Haanberg (Rooster-hill) and are awaiting the approval.

Alfons wrote a New Year letter and he can really write well but we think that he is lost just as we will still write in this letter.

Alfons had written a New Years letter and he can write so good and we think this letter is lost like we already have written in this letter.

We wish you all good fortune in your undertakings beloved son and a happy life with your wife. Polina is still living all the time in Louvain and working but Justien is at home again.

We wish you a lot of luck in all what you do my beloved son and with your wife a long and happy life. Polina still lives in Leuven at the same place where she is a servant and Justine is home again.

Your Father, J. Petrus

Your Father J. Petrus

Beloved brother, I am going to write a few words to you about how great our surprise was when we opened your letter and read that it had been so long since you had heard anything from us and we wrote to you at New Year a letter and it will have been on its way for a month. We suspect that it was retained (by the post office).

My dearest brother I come to write you some words how great was our astonishment when we opened your letter and we were reading that it was so long ago that you received a letter from us and we have sent you a letter at New Year and we think that it must have lost somewhere.

If you should by any chance need me within the next few months so that your family should perhaps be larger, then you merely need to let me know. I will drop by some Sunday. Tell that to your Laura that I'll come. Peter's mother and Mother is also coming to visit you sometime. Before she dies she wants to see her daughter-in-law.

If maybe in some months you could need me because your family will become bigger then you just have to let me know, I will come then on a Sunday. Tell this to your Laura that I will come to be god-father and mother will also come and visit you before she dies she would like to meet her daughter in law.

Your brother L. Petrus

Your brother L. Petrus

Many regards from all of us parents sisters and brothers to you and your wife and all the Belgians that you know there.

Our compliments from parents and sisters and brothers to you and your wife and all the Belgians you know overthere.

*Note that Mark indicates a date of February 2nd, 1886 rather than the previously recorded date of February 24th, 1886. I cannot tell from the original letter which is correct.

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Reillaer, Belgium July 17, 1887 -- Translated from Dutch by University of Texas language student Fred Schwink. Alternate translation provided by Mark Thiels (a researcher on the Belgian side of our family) indicated in green.

Rillaar the 17 july 1887

Best Brother,

Dear brother,

It has once again been a long while since we heard from each other. I believe that we received our last letter on the 11th of February and haven't written back to you yet. Did you maybe think that we were dead? No, best brother, it is much less grave. We are all as healthy as we have ever been at any moment, parents, sisters, and brothers.

It is a long, very long time ago that we got some news the one from the other. I think from the 11 February that we received your last letter and we haven't replied yet. Didn't you think we all were dead my dear brother no it isn't that worse we all are in good health, parents, sisters and brothers.

It was dry here for a long time. The crops suffered much and especially on the dry ground the oats are poor and the potatoes were almost fried. Then the day before yesterday, Friday morning, it began to rain. Everything recovered well and the grain harvest should be quite good. At a lot of places they are already doing the picking.

I has been dry for a too long time and the harvest suffered very much by that especially on the dryer fields there the oat isn't good and the potatoes were like cooked. When it started to rain 2 days ago on Friday everything became a little normal again and the corn harvest will be good again on different places one is harvesting already.

Best brother, our work here is still going very well. We have made already several ditches and will have to make another three fairly deep ones. How are things with your work and with your wife and daughter? Do you still have your farmer? In other words, how is your farming going? How are all your friends and acquaintances?

Dear brother our work is doing fine we have constructed already many pits (waterpits) and we have still to make 3 more all of them good deep. How is your work and how is your wife and daughter and the landwork ? In one word how are you and how are your friends.

The wife of smith Mertins has been working for Peeterman and van de Gaar and we received greetings from you. Van de Gaar has moved in here across the paved road and hasn't visited us and we haven't gone to visit her yet. Polina's matters are going well and she has a young son and is getting a servant girl. They are slaughtering six big hogs a week.

The wife of Mertens the blacksmith has visited Peetermans and van de gaar. We must pass on their greetings. Polina is doing fine and has a son now and a servant and a maid-servant. They slaughter 6 big porcs every week.

Many regards from all of us, parents, sisters, and brothers and especially from your brother. Lodewijk Petrus

Compliments from all of us parents, sisters and brothers and especially you brother Lodewijk Petrus.

Justina is living in Louvain.

Justine lives in Leuven.


Best brother, I cannot depart to you without suffering in my thoughts

Dearest brother I cannot stop without having you in mind.

I live here like a hermit and am almost 23 years old

I live here like a hermit and I'm about 23 years.

To depart from my parents, no, that I won't do yet I shall drift into sorrow

Leaving my parents I couldn't do now without giving them some pain,

But when the time has come then I will initiate my plan with certainty and that is no lie.

but when the time will come then I'll leave

If I could only fly I would be as a bird migrate to that warmer land. And then (illegible) we give to each other the hand.

and will come to the sun-land where we can give the one the other the hand.

L. Petrus

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Reillaer, Belgium June 10th 1888. -- Translated from Dutch by University of Texas language student Fred Schwink. Alternate translation provided by Mark Thiels (a researcher on the Belgian side of our family) indicated in green.

Beloved son,

My dear son,

An answer to your letter of May 16th. We want you to know that we are all in good health, parents, sisters, and brothers. Justina is living up to Antwerpen (Anvers) and Polina is doing very well. She has two children, the oldest a boy and the other a girl.

In answer to your letter of May 16th we let you know that we all, parents, brothers and sisters are in good health. Justina is now living in Antwerpen and Paulina is doing very well. She has 2 children, the oldest a boy, the youngest a girl.

The harvest is here again but not good. It was dry here too long but yesterday it rained a little and now also some so things will recover some. The potatoes are standing well but when they are washed if they are like last year then we haven't lost anything.

The harvest is medium to poor because it has been dry for a long time. Just yesterday we had some rain. The potatoes are growing well, but if by harvesting we will have rotten potatoes like last year, then the rain is of no use.

Your father J. Petrus

Your father J. Petrus

Father doesn't think much of the (?) but he's probably right, so long as we do good, we can (?). For such old people it's probably not well done. (Translator: The rest of the letter is very difficult to read. There is mention of a P. Andries who is not going to come to America after all because he is using a cane and is ill. Yet, when he has died, he will go to America after all. Konstant had his first communion.)

To come to you is something father doesn't like, somewhere he is right, as long as we can make some money here. On the other hand it will be very hard to come to you for old people like them. They don't have that much of work but they are used to live in that modest way. But mother would like to come. She will do so in winter when the evenings are longer.

Another word about your last letter. We thought you'll were dead, or that you had an accident, because if took so long before you wrote. We were so happy to receive your letter that we thought it was a treasure.

P. Andries will also never come to America, because he walks with a cane and is always sick. But, he would dare to cross, although when he talks about crossing over to America.

A lot of greetings from all of us, parents, brothers and sisters. Till we meet again. For sure there will be some amongst us whom will come and see you, no doubt about that.

Constant did his First Communion on Passion Sunday and Gustaff started to learn after his first year, those kids are about even tall now.

Now, you asked be how my paper was going. I had to quit it because the people around here don't have any money.

Now you ask me how my papers are doing? I stopped. People don't have money here. But Alfons continues and is selling about 38 pieces every day, which isn't that much. In winter it will become more again. I'm sending you hereby the paper of last Sunday. The one of Monday which is plenty about the election of Tuesday and thus doesn't contain much other news.

Receive the best greetings of your brother Lodewijk and that you may live for long years in peace and happiness with your wife. That is all what I can wish you. See you in some years brother, I'm closing now and till the next time.

Lodewijk Petrus

Lodewijk Petrus*

Best Peter,

Dear Godfather,

I'll come by to visit you some Sunday.

I will also come and visit you some time on a Sunday.


*"Lodewijk" Petrus is Ferdinand's brother "Louis" Petrus.

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Aarschot, Belgium August 20, 1889 -- Translated from Dutch by University of Texas language student Fred Schwink. Alternate translation provided by Mark Thiels (a researcher on the Belgian side of our family) indicated in green.

Best Cousin,

Dear Nephew,

We will be celebrating carneval this Tuesday. I an sitting up to my elbows in kramik and vlaaien (pastries) and so I am writing my letter.

We are having fair on Tuesday, to-day. I'm in the currentbread and tarts until my elbows and so I'm writing my letter.

How I laughed when I read your letter! Now you certainly think that I have the following to say: See, bishop, now I am going to head off to Africa, Asia, or America and I'm going to live there with my son? - Och, boy, they would read another Oremus (let us pray) to me! - The damned flies! They keep trying to come and shit on my paper.

What fun I had by reading your last letter. Oh you dirty boy! Do you really think I only have to say: look bishop, now I'm going to Africa, Asia or America and I'm going to live there at my nephews place? Oh boy they will learn me another Oremus! (those damned flies, they try to shit on my paper every second)

I thus said: Read me an Oremus. And indeed, I can't just go anywhere I want to, where I have to go, where they send me. But I certainly can't come to America. You also certainly shouldn't think that I am already a pastor: no, I will first receive the cloth on September 29th. Nonetheless [Doch] - and if you write dog with a g then that means a misformed dog.

So, I said: Oremus for reading. And indeed I can't go where I want but I have to go where they send me. Besides going to America is impossible. I cannot. Therefore I have two big perspiring feet and corns. You even may not think I'm already a priest: no, the 29th of September I will receive my clothes.

But I've blabbed about myself long enough, let us speak for a while about other people. Our Sus is doing quite well alone. He has only one disciple left and he stomped me roundly with his spurs yesterday evening. Sus doesn't want to hear anything more about coming to America.

But I have already talked too much about myself. Let us talk about other people now. Our Sus (Fransiscus) is still doing very good. He only have now one disciple (cock) which hitted me with his spurs yesterday evening. Coming to America is something Sus doesn't want to hear about anymore.

Our Evrard has to be with the grenadiers till September 10th and our Evarish is with the foot cannoniers. You certainly never thought that we were such a warlike people?

Our Evrard still has to stay granadier until 10 September and our Evarist is with the gunners. You probably never thought we were such a warlike people?

It rained here this summer a lot and now a wind is blowing as if the demons had broken loose! Many of the potatoes are rotting but the harvest was brought in well. We harvested at the same place 100 koops of grain more than last year. Hay is got at 25 centimes the bushel and now you can get an extra 20 for each one you sell.

We got a lot of rain this last summer and now we have strong winds as if all devils are around here! We will have a lot of rotten potatoes but the corn harvest is dry and good. We had on the same place 100 heaps more corn than last year. Hay is sold at 25 centimes the bushel and one can receive 20 centimes when selling now.

Have you already heard that your brother Alfons doesn't want to hear anything about smiths? He says that it's too hot next to the fire.

Do already know about the fact that your brother Alfons doesn't want to become a smith. It is too hot at the fireplace he says.

Now something about our land in general. There is fighting going on, my boy, fighting for the Flemish language, so that there is rage here! You know that the French and the rich of our country would gladly help Flemish over the edge and put French in its place. For this reason the fight of Flemish against the French. A violent battle, but not with the fist - although this could result from that - but with word and pen.

Now something about our country in general. The struggle is on boy, for the Flemish language, a good struggle! You know that the French speaking people and the rich people of our country would like to be quit of the Flemish language and instore French all over the place. A strong fight, not with the fists (but it could happen) but with word and pen.

All of the newspapers - the Flemish and some of the French - can hardly keep up with it. The citizens protest all over the place and intend that one should give the Flemish language the same rights here as French has. Our language, cousin, has not enjoyed this right for the last 100 years. But now we are beginning to win that back.

All journals (the Flemish and some French) are very busy with this matter. The people are protesting all over and claim that the Flemish language must have the same rights as the French language. That right, nephew, our language didn't have for more than 100 years. But now we receive it back, step by step.

The Walloon servants who know no Flemish must be driven from Flemish areas without mercy. Many have already been driven away and many must and shall yet be driven away. This is only as it should be! Why should the Fleming save the Walloon with his cents when the Walloon doesn't take the trouble to make himself understood to the Fleming?

The French speaking employees whom don't know Flemish have to be removed. Lots of them have already been driven off whilst others will follow. It isn't more than right. Why should the Flemish people fatten with its money the French, whilst these are not even capable to make them understandable in Flemish.

Well, boy, I'll leave off this topic. You'll have to take a look at the newspaper clippings and see how busy people are here with their language. I cut the Gouwdag van Kortrijk for Het Land and the other clipping is from the Vlaming and the third is a whole newspaper.

Nand (Ferdinand) boy I'm gonna stop here. These articles out of the journals will learn you how one is busy with our language. "De gouwdag van Kortrijk" (The area meeting-day in Kortrijk) is out of the journal "Het Land" (The Land), the other comes out of "De Vlaming" (The Fleming) and the third one is a complete gazette.

Keep yourself smartly with your wife and children and have kindest greetings from all of us who are also still smart and healthy.

Stay healthy with wife and children and have my best greetings and our best regards. We still are doing well over here.

Your cousin,

Your nephew

Josef Branders

Josef Branders

If you should hear a good ghost or werewolf story being told there, send it to me if you please. God be praised.

Nand if you hear some beautiful ghost or werewolf story overthere please send it to me. God will be praised.

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Alexandria, La. May 31, 1908 -- Translated from Dutch by University of Texas language student Fred Schwink.

Best brother Ferdinand,

Since it has been a long time since you heard news from all of us, I have decided to write a few lines to let you know that all are healthy and hope the same of you. Father and Mother are still living in town and are both in good condition. Mother goes every day to the (?) and Father still has his garden to give him something to do. Sometimes both of them stroll on over our way. How are you all doing, brother, and have you become well settled there. We are both doing quite well. We are healthy and live contentedly and happily with each other. I hope this year to pay off my place. Only $2000 and then I have no more debt. Yesterday I finished putting out the potatoes. I had 5 acres and they brought in easily 400 bushels. The price is presently from 55 to 50 cents per bushel. The harvest is looking good, but we're getting too much rain again and the farmers have a lot of work to keep the grass back. I am already finding boll weevils in it. In a few days I'm going to try to eradicate them with Paris green. I am not hearing any news from Alphons and Gust Thiels.

Mrs. Thiels and Mrs. Filette have now been about 3 weeks on visit to Corpus. L. Thiels has also returned two or three weeks ago from Tampa, Florida. I still haven't seen him yet but I've heard that he has already gone to work on the town hall in Pineville. Now, best Brother, I know for sure that this matter with Louis and Emma has caused you much sorrow and it is certainly a question worthy of sadness, but it's not your fault and it is my wish that you can become friends again and live in happiness with each other as is proper. Just who is more to blame I don't know, but the Thiels and even the neighbors blame Emma.

Louis, I mean our brother, is still butchering with Frans Marien and Constant has got August and Jeff Michiels to help him. so far as I can see their matters are going well. I am sending you a death notice from my father-in-law Zaliger who, as you will already know, died not 4 months ago.

I will now close by wishing all of you health and happiness and I remain yours faithfully, your loving brother,


P.S. Mrs. Thiels and Filette returned here last Tuesday the 26th.

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Watsonville, Cal., July 17, 1908

Dear Brother & Sister in Law,

Where is the time that we all had a nice time together? That time was well allayed with sickness and a little trouble, but is surely remembered by me as very precious. Do you not find it very lonesome, all by yourselves without some good old and true friend to converse with? I do. Though we enjoy better health and even make a better living, the good old time when we all could come together and express our feelings freely to those whom we knew shared our joys and sorrows is sadly borne in mind. Why do we all get such different notions as to the country where happiness is found? It is odd. If it does not turn to your expectations in Texas, come over here where it is ever so much better than there. An experience of three years has taught us enough to know that.

Certainly here is sickness and trouble as well as anywhere in the wide world, but, on the whole, it is a good deal better than wherever I've been before in my life. If only those friends like you and such others could be here with us what a happy time that would be.

We do not make much money here, but considering that we think of saving all the money from our apple crop, which we think will be at least $300, it is not so bad in that respect, is it? You see, we make our living out of butter, eggs, potatoes, and vegetables and try to save the apple money to pay off our debt. This year will everything be paid, at least we hope so, then we must not carry hundreds of dollars to banks which charge you 10% int. You see, we are doing all right financially, but this is nothing compared with the fine climate we enjoy; there is no better anywhere; add to this the berries which last for three months on the bushes and then are jarred up for the rest of the year, the prunes, peaches, and especially apples all in abundance, it certainly ;is a little more than we expected to get here. We are eating apple pie every day. Rose having dried enough apples to last all the year round. But some people have a great deal more than all this that we have, and they are lucky, for they have their friends, whilst ours our far, very far. Do not think I write this to induce you all to come over here to live, this is not the case, as I'm just writing this without any such intention, simply telling how this country is, and how we are getting along.

At present we have two sick ones, Albert and Joanna have measles, but they are getting better and would like to come out of the bed, yet we try to keep them there in a little longer. Certainly, sickness of all kinds are here - where in the world are they not? - but malaria and the kind of fevers like we had in Louisiana there are not.

We have had somewhat of a drought this year, so that the Irish potato crop is only half what is should be, but we expect a record-breaker apple crop

Now Ferdinand, do not wait long in letting us, your friends and relations, know how all your people are and how all your people are and how the country over there suits you. We love you more since we had to leave, therefore write a long letter to please us very much, and if you know how Alphonse and his family is and August Thiels's let us know, we long to hear from our dear old friends. Do you see them often? Describe the country where you and they live a little so I may know whether it beats this much, or not. I have not anything to do at present. We thought to go to Mr. Steward's who lives in the neighborhood to pit apricots, but now Albert and Joanna have measles, we do not know whether we may go or not. He will let us know soon. You see, the other people who work there may be scared of catching the disease. Pitting cots, as they call it, getting the stones out of the apricots is an easy job, and many children work at it, so, you see, they may not allow us to come. We thought to go five of us, myself with the four oldest of our children. Mr. Steward thinks he has 70 tons of apricots of his own.

This is not a plum or apricot region, however, but an apple country; the plum, apricot, peach, pear, cherry, and grape region is next to this county over on the other side of the Santa Cruz Mountains, in the adjoining valley of Santa Clara,* San Jose is the county seat. That is the greatest fruit region in the world. Our Valley is small, only about eight miles from the Bay of Monterey to the S.C. Mts. and about the same length, but it will produce, so they think, 3000 cars of apples this year. 2000 cars to be shipped to all parts of the world in boxes and a thousand cars canned and evaporated.

It is a great pity that the Belgian people want to live in Louisiana and do not know that it is ever so much better in other parts of the U.S., especially on the coast of California, certain it is that if I had my old companions here with me I'd think it to be the very best what God or nature could give in this world, not anything perfect, but coming near, pretty near to it.

Do not think I want to brag to make anyone move here. I know too well that there is no chance of that. I really wish to tell how it is.

Now, you had better come once and see all of it. It will cause us an immense amount of joy, a good deal more than the pleasure of seeing Mr. Lemmens* the other day. He came to visit us, but from what we could understand out of his talk he is always the same old spendthrift who finds his greatest delight in drinking. He stayed but one day and that was long enough. But when you come it will be different, different, different; Ferdinand, when you come it will be different.

With much love to all of your people and Alphonse's and August's family, I am yours very truly, your brother in law

J. A. Robrecht

Note. Do not put off writing us, please.

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Alexandria, La. January 17, 1913 -- Translated from Dutch by University of Texas language student Fred Schwink.

Dear brother,

Father has died on January 9th at 12 o'clock in the night. Carrying out of the holy sacraments and burial on Saturday the 11th. Pray for his soul that He who created us may give him quickly the kingdom of heaven.

On the evening of Saturday the fourth he fell from the ditch and broke his collarbone and suffered internal injuries and had and attack of pleurisy. His suffering was very great. And I hope the Lord will give to him eternal life.

Well, best brother, Mother is in quite good health and so is our entire household and hope that this letter reaches you all in best health.

Cordial greeting from all of us to your wife and children and to you.

Your brother,


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Alexandria, La. March 12, 1913 -- Translated from Dutch by University of Texas language student Fred Schwink.

Best brother Ferdinand,

With no result I have waited for an answer to my letter. Nonetheless, I will be so bold as to write to you a few lines again to let you know that I and my wife and our mother are still in good health and we hope the same of you.

It would be an understatement, best brother, to say that we are highly amazed not to hear from you, no, we cannot comprehend your silence. We had hoped strongly to see you here at Father's funeral, all the more so because you had repeatedly promised to come visit us. We can do nothing else but assume that there were good and sufficient reasons which held you back. Whatever the reason was, best brother, believe me when I say to you that it angered me a first and caused Mother especially sorrow, that you didn't at least write.

Well, we hope to hear from you shortly and if you should decide to come quickly, be certain, best brother, despite the fact that your opinions are different, that we will all be happy to see you and that we will all do whatever is possible to make your stay here as pleasant as possible. Send our regards to your beloved wife Laura, to my Peter Julius, to John, Marghariet, Mary and the other Children. I couldn't get hold of their names.

I remain respectfully your loving brother,


How are Anna and Adda?

Are they still in San Antonio?

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Alexandria, La. April 24th 1913

Dear Brother and Family,

Your kind letter of March 23rd received. We were indeed very glad to hear from you. We fully sympathize with you that cruel circumstances prevented you from coming over to fathers funeral, we know how much you must have regretted it and you are hardly to blame.

We are all in good health. Mother is still living with us and I think she will stay here the rest of her days. She missed father very much at first and she seemed very lonesome but she has about got over that and become reconciled to her fate. We are doing what we can to make her stay with us cheerful and comfortable.

Dear brother, I am sad to inform you of the death of our niece Mrs. Joannes Baptiste Jacobs, before her marriage Alphonsine Counson, oldest daughter of sister Justien. She died the 24th of March and was buried on the 27. She was the mother of two little girls the oldest of which must be around two years old, and which will now find a home with their grandmother Justien.

We note with pleasure that Mary and her husband have opened a new business and we wish them much success.

Also are we glad to know that Annie and Addie have made good in their chosen profession and I wish to congratulate them for the noble work they are doing. How is John and Julius? I think they must be both fine young man now, they were so big already when I was over there. You know, dear brother, it may seem funny for me to say so now, but I have always regretted that I could not stay with you all a few days when I was there, but I felt so homesick that seemingly nothing could have induced me to remain behind when Alphons an Louis where going. I always remember with pleasure the kind reception we received at the hands of you and your good wife. And this brings to my mind your coming visit. I do hope and expect, dear brother that you will make good your promise. We all look forward to it with joy, and let me assure you that we will all be glad to have you among us for a few days and we will do everything to make your stay a pleasant and happy one, - so don't forget to come. You will find so many changes since you left here. So many new Belgians have settled around here and more are on the way, till I do not know them all by name, in short there will be many things here to interest you. I will close for this time.

Please accept the best regards from Mother, my wife and myself and our love to your dear wife and all the family


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Postcard, November 20, 1919 -- Translated from Dutch by University of Texas language student Fred Schwink.

Brother, we took our mother to Sister Rose who wanted her very much. We brought her there in good health and she is there very content as are Sister Rose and her family who are in good health. Rose and Robert are doing well in Watsonville and have 10 acres of young, fertile, fruit trees and are earning their bread well.

Your brother,

Louis Petrus

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Alexandria, La. March 24th 1920

Dear Brother & Sister-in-law,

I write you to let you know that we are both in good health and we hope you are the same. Up to now we have had much bad weather here and farmers are much behind with their work. The prospect for a crop of Irish potatoes is very unpromising as much of the seed has rotted in the ground. Am now planting corn and hope to finish this week, the weather permitting.

Dear brother, I take pleasure in mailing you in this letter $200 worth of Liberty bonds, and I feel there is some explanation due here about this.

As you must know Mother died on the 16th December of last year with sister Rose in California. There remained in my care in cash in bank besides $600 Mother loaned to Rose to build her house which are still unpaid and on which they have been paying the yearly interest. I have entrusted the work of the succession to brother Louis as he is living in town and has more leisure time at his disposal than myself.

But Louis, Constant and Alphonse take the view that it will be to the best interest of all concerned on account of the very dull times prevailing here to wait until fall to sell any property belonging to the estate. That is why nothing has been done yet in this matter.

Now last week I got a letter from sister Pauline asking me if she had anything coming to her of the estate of her parents to send it to her right away. I have every reason to believe they need help as she and her husband saved nothing but what clothes they had on their back.

I have therefore decided to divide those bonds among 7 of us thus $200 each. I am going to let sister Rose wait. Four hundred dollars worth of these bonds I have sold in the Commercial bank receiving therefore 4655 francs. This I sent them the other day, trusting it will help them out for a while.

As the city council has passed the ordinance for paving Monroe Street. with vitrified brick and the contract will probably be given out soon I have deemed it advisable keep the remaining cash to pay for this paving as far as it will go as I figure the cost will run close to $1,000.(?)

I have tried to make this matter plain, dear brother and trust it will meet with your approval. As you probably know the oil excitement has spread to Alex. and Rapides parish. Land has been leased all over the parish to prospect for oil an gas. A well here in the neighborhood has a good gas pressure and evidences of oil, however I have not been greatly impressed yet.

Hopefully this will find you all well.

I remain your loving


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Alexandria, La. April 4th 1920

Dear Brother Ferdinand

I am sending you in this letter a document which sister Pauline sent me from Belgium a couple of days ago. It is concerning an inheritance which we have coming from an uncle of our deceased Mother Mr. Theophiele Claes and his sister who before their death resided at Liege, Belgium.

In looking over this paper you will find that we have signed same in the presence of a Notary and it will also be necessary for you to do the same, and you will do me a favor and it will also be to your interest to attend to this matter as soon as you can. After having signed it in the proper manner, you will please send it back to me and I will then send it to sister Rose to get her signature after which I am going to send it to the Belgian consul at New-Orleans to have it legalized and then it will be in order to mail back to Belgium.

It's a great deal of red tape, it is true, but they want to make sure we are no impostors. In this connection dear brother, it may be interesting for you to know that the division of this estate has been held up for several years. We first heard of this just before the outbreak of the war when they first made inquiry about the whereabouts of mother as one of the heirs.

I have written several letters and sent them the necessary papers and had this thing about straight but on account of mothers death it has to be done over again. Then also of course nothing could be done during the war.

As you will see, dear brother this document is written in French, this is unfortunate. However, we have had this thing read and explained to us by Rev. Father Cronenberger of Alexandria and what he asks us is in substance to give him the power to act as our agent to sell this property under such terms and conditions as he sees fit and to the best advantage and personally we know of no good reason why we should not sign.

Now, dear brother, I trust that you will see fit to attend to this matter at once as the people over on the other side are very anxious to proceed.

I also am waiting to hear from you about those Liberty bonds I sent you on the 25th of March last. I hope they have arrived safe. We are in good health and this being Easter day will close by wishing for yourself, your good wife Laura and all the nephews and nieces a good and joyful Easter.

I am you affectionate brother


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Alexandra, La. April 15th 1920

Dear Brother Ferdinand

I received yesterday the letter from Mr. Carlisle with the paper enclosed all O.K. I will lose no time to send it further on to the different destinations so as to have it in proper order to mail back to Belgium and then we will await further developments.

In regard to that corn mill am pleased to let you know Mr. Vanhoof will take $25 for it provided I will load it myself. I have not seen it myself but he assures me it is in good order but needs sharpening and he also says an 8 horsepower engine can pull it. As regards to hauling and loading will say I would be glad to do this for you without any charge for my work. Have told Mr. Vanhoof I would write you his terms and let him know what you decide to do about it.

For answer to your question about Mother I can assure you, dear brother, that she had no objection to going to California and the reason she was buried there was - so sister Rose has informed me - because she expressed the wish before she died to rest by the side of her.

Personally I would have preferred to have her buried here, but as it was she was already dead and buried when I heard from RobrechtsS, so could not change the matter.

We are both in good health and hope the same of you all. With best regards for yourself, your wife and family I am

Your brother


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Alexandria, La. May 2, 1920

Dear Brother Ferdinand

I am writing you to let you know I received your last letter enclosing cheque for $30.00. I have this day been over to Mr. Vanhoof. bought the mill an paid him for same and will haul same and ship to you soon, probably the first day it rains and am unable to work in the field.

I wish to thank you for your generosity in allowing five dollars for my trouble. Would have been glad to have attended to this matter as a small favor as you certainly have always been kind and obliging to me. As to the cream peas am sorry to say I have none and do not know of any in the neighborhood.

Have inquired about the address of Alphonse and have learned he is in San Benito. Am sorry to hear you do not get enough rain. We had a good rain here a week ago and it has greatly improved the prospect for a crop here.

I wish to thank my good niece Marguriete for her kind invitation and congratulate her on her successful studies and wish her much success and happiness in her future life.

Hoping this will find you all well

I remain with kind regards to all

Your brother


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Alexandria, La. May 18, 1920

Dear Brother Ferdinand,

I take pleasure in letting you know I have shipped your old corn mill yesterday by the L.P.(?) route and you will find bill of lading enclosed. I have boxed the movable parts separate as you directed and trust everything will reach you in good order and give satisfaction.

We are all in good health and hope this may find you all the same. We had a good rain here after a dry spell of 3 weeks duration and crop prospects are fairly good.

Brother Constant, Ferdinand and Peter Peterman are expecting to take a trip to Belgium next month. Constant will leave his children with us and expects to bring a wife from over there.

With best regard to you and all the family I remain your brother


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Alexandria La. June 7, 1922

Brother Ferdinand and family

We are all in good held at present and my only wishes is that this few lines will find you all in the same condition.

We had a very wet spring and the crop is late except on high land. I suppose you know all about the high water and flood from the Red and Mississippi River.

There is land around Alexandria not in the flood district what never has been planted yet just dry and now they plant.

Joseph has finished school and is sure a good boy. He is about 4 inches higher than myself and is sensible just like a man of 35 or 40 years.

The potato crop was good on high land but the price is low has been to one cent a pound but is improving. The price was two cents yesterday and I think will go higher.

Best wishes from Bernedien and all the family and from myself.

Your Brother


(Write soon)

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Alexandria La, July 13, 1923

Dear Brother and Sister

Since it is a good while I have wrote you, I am wondering how you are getting along on this hot summer.

We are all well at present and Frances is at home now with us some boy(?) you bet and is working for J. C. Lelser Auto work. Joseph is working in the post office.

You will find enclosed your share of the last election(?). If you have not any use for same and return me the checks enclosed I can invest same for you at 8% good security our time deposit 4 1/2% make it work we have to do so our self.

I have in my mind to come over the last part of August and will stop with you and hope this few lines will find you and your family in the best of health with best wishes from Bernadine to others Petrus and yourself and from your brother.


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Watsonville, Ca. January 1, 1924 -- Translated from Dutch by University of Texas language student Fred Schwink.

Very beloved brother and L. and children,

What a long time it has been since we heard from each other. We are all healthy and happy. I hope this letter may find you all in good condition.

At the moment, all is quiet here. Our place has been for sale for too long but everything is too cheap. It seems that we shall not profit from it. We are asking 2000 dollars for our place. We want to go live in town. I still have 9 children at home.

Our Li...? is married and lives in Westwood. She has a good, Catholic husband who earns 10 dollars the day. Marie is now living in San Francisco.

The apples were very cheap this year. Many people are losing their place. We are doing among the best.

Our Agust is always clearing wood. He already has a big pile. He in better health now than he was earlier. He weighs 142 pounds. I weigh 200 and five pounds Our Agust shouldn't work harder than he wants to. He still plays the "Oregen" (organ) often. I have six children who go to school. I have a good cow, some chickens, and a fat hog which we are soon going to kill dead. God be thanked, we are not short of anything. Our "otembiel" goes every Sunday twice to church with a big but good load.

Brother, we wish all of you a happy and fortunate New Year and that the Lord bless you all with worldly good and later gives you all the pure heaven. Such are the wishes of all your dear ones in Watsonville.

Our Gust says that you must visit us sometime. How good it would be if we had the good fortune to hug each other again. Let us at least write to each other and say that we love all our brothers and sisters.

With a hug I remain your loving

S. Rosa

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Alexandria La. February 11, 1924

Brother Ferdinand

I just feel like writing you a few lines to let you know that we are all in good held and I hope this few lines will find you and your family in the same condition. We have a very good winter here but to much rain not so good for the farmer if it don't stop soon how is it over there

We had to have a road to the Land father left I suppose you know we had no outlet. Some August Vandersypen bought the 20 acres what I bought from Thomas Hinson and he is a dombel don't do nothing to help his maken. Abe addams bought the Hyman Land next to it and Comten has the Land in front Abe addams donated 15 feet Comten 15 feet making 30 feet road to August Vandersypen Land but August wont 1000 dollars a acre for his so we bought from Abe addams 15 feet more and we have a 30 feet road to Jackson street now August don't understand this.

Well this morning I received this deed from Abe addams for 175.00 dollars and wile you had your part in the Bank yet you are that much short but I will replace it just as soon as I see Gustaaf he has that much left I think from last years sent.

Did you decide yet to use your share and make it bring interest of so and you have no use for it over there send me the checks and I will put it in the saving bank at 4 1/2% and send you the time deposit slips.

Hoping again that you are all well and write me a few lines I am as ever your brother

Louis Petrus

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Alexandria La. June 17,1924

Brother Ferdinand

Will you please send me your two checks Heterwich paid his lest note lest Saturday and I am to divide this again and give every one his share.

We had considerable expenses on the farm Road. Beoofing, finseng enz.(etcetera in Dutch)

I wont your checks send them to the Bank for collection or send them to me, if you send them to me I will make you one for all any way do. but do so at once I will have my axe Balanced and take yours out first and divide the Balance understand I wont to be sure.

We are all in good held and have some very warm whether but the crop is reasonable good.

Best regards from all of us to your family and your good wife from all of us

Your respectful Brother

Louis Petrus

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Alexandria, La. December 1, 1925 -- Translated from Dutch by University of Texas language student Fred Schwink.

Brother Ferdinand,

I received your letter with the check and thank you. Your portion is $1652.79. I have locked up the old check here. You can burn it up. Now tell me what to do with your part.

I advise you to take it from the bank and to invest it in the savings bank. I don't need you for that. You must understand that as long as it isn't in the savings bank it brings you nothing, if you lose the check, perhaps you lose everything. Remember that we don't live forever. If it is in the savings bank under your name you can't lose it.

Best greeting from all of us to your wife and children and I hope that she shall recover her health quickly.

Your brother

Louis Petrus

(If you want it in the bank of Skidmore, I'll send it, it makes no difference to me.)

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Postcard, June 28, 1927 -- Translated from Dutch by University of Texas language student Fred Schwink.

Brother Ferdinand,

We are underway to Belgium to visit our sisters. Believe you me, brother, we're having fun. I, Bernadien and Gustaaf feel sorry for the people in the USA drinking rotgut


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Alexandria, La. January 30, 1928

On December 17th I sent you your Certificate of Deposit from the Alexandria Bank Alexandria amounting to 1652.79 and carrying interest of 66.28 making in all $1719.07 dollars by registered mail did you renew it.

I went to the bank yesterday and you have not collected same and I want you to write me at once.

Please remember that the bank pay no more interest unless you renew same.

Deposit same in your bank for collection after signing your name on the back and you must do it at once or return it to me and I will take care of same.

Your brother


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Alexandria, La. December 12, 1928

Voor U. Brother

On Dec 14 your certificate of Deposit is one year old and has to be renewed or get your money. The amount is 1787.83 and 4% interest for one year 71.51 = 1859.34

If you do not need same I can have it renewed if you do let me know at once.

I can use one thousand of same and will give you 6% for one year or until you need some, that is, I can pay you at any time. On account of having much repair and one half of the rent I used to get, I am in the hole on cash, not on notes. I have plenty of them earning 6% but I had to lend from the Bank and cost me 8% you see the difference.

In case this agree with you write at once and I will send your check and you can send me yours for $1000.00 and I will send you my note for same.

I suppose you understand

Your respectful Brother


(Don't forget to write)

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Alexandria La, December 12, 1928

-- Enclosed in envelope with previous letter

Dear Brother Ferdinand and Family

The year is getting short and Christmas & new year are coming soon and time to greet one another.

So I am going to let you know that we all are in good heath and hope the few lines will find you and your family in the same condition and my only wishes are that you all may have a happy Christmas and a good New Year.

We are having some rain now but we had a good fall so far that we could not wish for better had a good potato crop not many vegetables the are late but begin to get plenty full also a good Pecan crop but not much Cotton on account of the late Spring.

Everything is getting very dull in Alexandria plenty houses for rent and also stores and I don't see how it is going to get better.

Best wishes from all of us and especially from your brother.

Louis Petrus

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Alexandria LA. December 4, 1929

Dear Brother Ferdinand and Family

It is sure a long time since I wrote you but now year end is close by and so I am writing you a few lines to let you all know we are still alive and [in] reasonable good health and hope these few lines will find you and your family in good health.

We are having some cold weather just now. Yesterday morning we had ice and this morning ice and have frost but it seems to get warmer we have sunshine just now.

How are you all getting along it is a long time since I have [been] over there but I hope I [will] be able to come over next summer.

Jerome is in Milwaukee taking a Ciardia(?) Counts(?) and will soon finish he has a intention of staying over there he thinks he can get work over there.

Best regards from all of us to you and your good other half from me, Bernedine and the whole family and hope to receive a few lines from you.

Your respectful Brother


(Don't you feel like coming over, you are very welcome)

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Alexandria La. January 2 1930

Brother Ferdinand and family

Received your letter of Dec. 13 and sure was glad to hear from you and that you and your family are in good health.

We are all doing very well here and are at present in good health, and wish you and your family a happy and prosperous new year.

I am looking for you to come over someday but I advise you to wait until the weather gets better. We had a real winter here, snow 6" deep and freezing but the snow left us, had a few days sunshine and had rain last night and is looking like we will get some more.

I suppose you seen in the paper where my house in 1250 9th Street had a gas explosion and killed 3 Nigers and done about 600 dollars damages to the house. I suppose some of them was drunk and left a gas jet open.

I had just spent a thousand dollars on same about 2 years ago, had it in good shape but all is lost. I do not know if I will repair same or not, did not start yet.

Best regard from all of us to you and the whole family.

Your Brother


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Alexandria La. July 5, 1930

Brother Ferdinand & Family

This is to let you know that we are still alive and in reasonable good health and I hope this few lines will find you and your family in the same condition.

We have a very hot summer here and also dry. One time I was thinking that corn and all my garden stuff would burn up but on the 3rd we had some rain and everything is looking better now.

I suppose you all now about the high water, it done some damages around Alphonse's on to the road to Boyee(?) the water wash about 10" from the floor of Alphonse's home.

The river is getting low now and the contract to put a lock and dam across the mouth of the Bayou Boqiules(?) was started last summer but the contractor was a bom, and after fiddling around for about three months he had to stop - and they have I think a better one now started again and I hope will finish before the next high water. I suppose you know that the water is backing up through Bayou Rapides.

Best regards from all of us to you and your family.

L. Petrus

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October 31, 1930

Dear Mrs. Petrus:

I have just returned from Live Oak County, where I have been making a preliminary investigation relating to the death of your husband.

I find that Howe has left Three Rivers and at one time was in the Government Hospital at San Antonio. The more accurate report that I have had of him, however, is that he has disappeared from San Antonio, probably returning Iowa, where he formerly lived, but that his wife is still in San Antonio. I have had conflicting reports as to the truck he was driving but believe he was actually in the employ of Three Rivers Glass Company, regardless of what truck he was driving at the time of the accident.

I have located Howe's truck in San Marcos and as I am going to Austin tomorrow (Saturday), I will find out more about the truck and also more about Howe, as I have Mrs. Howe's address in San Antonio

When I have obtained more data on the truck and after I have talked with Mrs. Howe I will be better able to advise you in the matter. You will hear from me further in the next few days.

Yours very truly,

R.L. Cox

Alex F. Cox


Cox & Cox

Attorneys at Law

Klipstein Building

Beeville, Texas