Julius Raymond Petrus
Julius Raymond was born in 1896 in Alexandria, Louisiana.
Julius Raymond married Ella Cecilia Priour in 1918. Their three children were:
Annie Laurie Petrus
Julius Leonard Petrus
Gerald Theodore Petrus
Julius Raymond traveled to Venezuela in December of 1925 to work in the oilfields. While there, he contracted Typhoid Fever and died May 13, 1926. He wrote the following letter to his brother-in-law and sister Ann before his departure (letter courtesy of Margie Petrus).
Letter postmarked Nov 23, 1925 (above)
Mr & Mrs. O.G. Parkhill,
Arrived this morning in New York, stayed three days in Houston, the other boys came on last monday, but I had to take a Blood Test which was 100% pure, the doctor thought I was not able to go to the tropics on account of the fever, also had to be vaccinated for smallpox so all is O.K. Sailing Wensday morning with lots of love to you and Sparkplug.
If you write address me %Venequela Gulf Oil Co., Maracaibo Venezuela
Hope you all have started on your house by now.
It's a bit chilling to note that Julius was forewarned of his fate by the doctors belief that he "was not able to go to the tropics on account of the fever." Less than five months later Julius would contract Malaria, then Typhoid fever which led to his death. The cablegram below informed the family of his passing.
This cablegram was found in Ferdinand Petrus' wallet.
The cablegram was sent to his brother-in-law, Orville Parkhill and requests the address of his wife, Ella Cecilia. The following letters detailing the events of his death were sent to Ella Cecilia in Skidmore, Texas. The letter was addressed simply to "Mrs Petrus, Skidmore, Texas per S.S. Tachira"
British Controlled Oilfields, Limited
Apartado, 322, Maracaibo (Venezuela) Per S.S. Tachira, 25th May 1926 Mrs Petrus, Skidmore, Texas,
Dear Madam, It was with much regret that we had to inform you through Doctor W.M. Turner of Tampico of the death of your husband. Mr Petrus went into Hospital here on Monday May 4th apparently suffering from Malaria. He was taken to the Venezuelan Gulf Oil Company's Hospital for treatment under Doctor W.W. Cook, and his condition gave no cause for alarm; later, however, he developed Typhoid Fever, always a more serious complaint in this climate than in a temperate one, apart from which Mr. Petrus did not appear to have a strong constitution. During his first week in hospital he was not thought to be dangerously ill, but on Saturday the 8th inst he took a change for the worse. He rallied once or twice and there was some hope of his recovery up to the day he died, Friday* 13th at 11 p.m. We visited him daily and saw that he had everything possible for his comfort. Burial took place on the 14th inst, and we enclose photographs of the Funeral Service. The American Consul, the writer and many members of the staff and other friends attended the funeral. We ask you to accept our deepest sympathy with you in your sad bereavement.
We are, Dear Madam, Yours very truly, p.p. British Controlled Oilfields, Ltd.
Leo Booth, General Manager
*The 13th of May 1926 was a Thursday. This appears to have been an error by the writer.
The following photos of the Maricaibo Cemetery and graveside service were included with the letter from Mr Booth.
The entrance of the Municipal Cemetery in Maracaibo, Venezuela. Julius Raymond was buried May 14th, 1926 in Grave #24, Row #20 of the Municipal Cemetery in Maracaibo, Venezuela.
American Consular Service
Maracaibo, Venezuela. May 29th, 1926
Mrs. Ella C. Petrus, Skidmore, Texas. Madam: It is my sad duty to advise you officially of the death of Julius Raymond Petrus which occurred at 11:15 P.M. on May 13th, 1926 at the Venezuelan Gulf Hospital in Bella Vista, Maracaibo, Venezuela, and which was caused by typhoid fever according to the certificate of attending physician, Doctor W.W. Cook. The body of Mr. Petrus was buried after appropriate religious ceremony on May 14th, 1926 in Grave #24, Row #20 of the Municipal Cemetery in Maracaibo. According to local law the remains may be removed to the United States after a period of four years. From the information this office has been able to gather, it appears Mr. Petrus came to this District on December 7th, 1925 in the service of the Venezuelan Gulf Oil Company, but left that concern on December 27th, 1925 to accept employment with the British Controlled Oilfields Limited of Avenida de la Industria No. 51, Maracaibo, Venezuela. He was in the employ of the latter company at the time of his death. Would you kindly send this office letters of administration granted by a competent court in order that proper disposition may be made of Mr. Petrus's personal effects which were delivered to this Consulate by the British Controlled Oilfields, Limited. Permit me to express to you the deep sympathy of the American colony in your grief, and the assurance that this Consulate will be glad to render all assistance possible.
Very respectfully yours,
Alexander K. Sloan, American Consul
Inventory of the personal property of Julius Raymond Petrus made on May 27th, 1926 at the American Consulate in Maracaibo, Venezuela.
One brown leather suit case containing -- $5.00
One pair of working boots --- 0.50
One pair of shoes --- 0.50
One straw hat ----- nil
Three pairs of trousers --- 0.25
One gray palm beach suit --- 2.00
Two pairs palm beach trousers --- 2.00
Five shirts --- 2.50
Three pairs combination underwear --- 1.00
Five handkerchiefs ----- nil
One carton of Camel cigarettes --- 1.00
Five pairs of socks ----- nil
One razor, one shaving brush, soap and powder --- 0.25
One belt --- 0.25
Two collars ----- nil
One card case and note book ----- nil
Fourteen working shirts --- 1.00
One pair trousers ----- nil
One belt ----- nil
One combination suit ----- nil
One watch (unmarked) white metal --- 0.50
One pocket knife ----- nil
Four passport photographs --- 0.25
Total values --- 17.00
Certified correct. Frederick Eve for the British Controlled Oilfields Ltd. Jay Walker for the American Consul. I hereby certify that the above is a true copy of the original appearing on page 160 of the Miscellaneous Record Book of this Consulate. -- Jay Walker Vice - Consul of the United States of America. Service #536
There is a bit of a mystery regarding the aftermath of Julius's death. It seems that the letters above may have never been given to Julius's wife Ella.
When I was in high school, I remember "Baby" (Edward Petrus) brought some letters by the house about Grandpa Petrus. He must have suggested that Dad give them to Grandma Petrus (Ella) because Dad said "Oh, there's no point showing that stuff to her now."-- Keith Petrus
It seems strange that the letters would eventually turn up among the belongings of Ann & Orville Parkhill. Especially since Grandma Petrus did not appear herself to have copies of the letters. The following note from Julius's parents, Ferdinand and Laura Petrus, suggests that multiple copies of the letters were sent but it is unclear if Ella was among the recipients.
Skidmore, June 18th
Dear Anna and Parkhill,
Enclosed find copy of letter of Manager British Controlled Oil Fields to Julius wife, also 2 pictures of his burial. We don't know Mary's address so hers is in your envelope, you give it to her.
All well here and same to you,
Ella must have written to Leo Booth with questions about Raymond's death. His reply follows (again, it is not know if the letter ever reached her since it was in the possession of Ann & Orville Parkhill).
British Controlled Oilfields, Limited
Apartado, 232, Maracaibo, June 25th, 1926
Mrs. Julius R. Petrus, Skidmore, Bee Co., Texas.
Dear Madam: I have to acknowledge receipt of your letter with respect to the passing of your deceased husband and wish to repeat the particulars already given you. I visited him at the American Hospital here some 5 hours prior to his death, when he was receiving the utmost attention from the American Doctor and white nurses in the best appointed and most up to date Hospital in Venezuela. He was then laying very peaceful and though I knew him to be very weak I was surprised to learn that he died quite quickly during the night. He was buried the following day in the Municipal Cemetery of Maracaibo, and we are taking every precaution to suitably mark the grave and will later give you particulars. The enclosed photograph will convey you better than words the last scene at the grave-side. The group includes the American Vice-Consul and some of his friends from the Company, and I beg of you to accept my assurance that every thing possible was done by the American Doctors here to save him and that he put up so brave a fight that I felt personally confident that he would recover. All affairs connected with his effects are in the hands of the Vice Consul and will be sent to you as soon as the proper formalities are completed.
Assuring you of our deep sympathy in your great loss, we are, dear Madam, Yours faithfully, p.p. British Controlled Oilfields Ltd.
Leo Booth, General Manager
The American Consulate received payment from Julius's employer, British Controlled Oilfields, and apparently forwarded the funds to his wife in Skidmore as indicated in the following 1927 letter from the American Consulate.
American Consulate, Maracaibo Venezuela
April 11, 1927
Received from British Controlled Oilfields Limited, Maracaibo,
draft #924232 dated June 30, 1926........................Debits 528.80
Transmitted to Mrs. Ella Petrus, administratrix of estate,
draft #924232 dated June 30, 1926.......................Credits 528.80
I hereby certify that the above is the correct and true account of the final settlement of the estate of Julius Raymond Petrus.
Alexander K. Sloan
Fee stamps attached to original copy
Julius Raymond Petrus's monogrammed shaving mug. The reverse of the photo above, signed "This Belogs to Julius Petrus JR"
Special thanks to Edward "Baby" Petrus for providing the letters and photos describing Julius Raymond's death and internment in Venezuela.
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