Close translation of a letter from Marie Stange to her brother Carl in Germany, Fall 1858, probably in Cottage Hill (Elmhurst)
My dear beloved brother,
I do not have to tell you how happy your last letter made me, because you know what great pleasure it gave me to hear from my beloved brothers. I therefore hurry to fulfill the request you had in that letter. Now it has been more than 3 years that we have been in America and it should have been more than right to give you more details about how I behaved in this country, earlier, but I know you will forgive me and I will try to tell you as detailed as possible. On August 27, I turned nineteen years old and since you have seen me for the last time I have grown much taller, I think if you would see me again which we all hope you will, you will not recognize me anymore. I am not at home, I am with Americans where it is very good for me, there I only have very easy work that is cooking, baking, ironing and mopping, they are good people, in February it will be a year that I have stayed there, I get one Thaler a week and in summer 1 ¼ Thaler because I have to work harder, they have 12 cows and in the Summer I have a lot to do with milking and preparing butter. I learned the English language very fast, it is very easy to learn. Now my English is nearly as good as my German. Also I have a lot of leisure time from my mastery and may go out every Sunday and visit Mom. Before I came to these people I had good work as well with Irish people, they speak English also, I had more work but received a bit more payment as well, first 1 Thaler then 1 ¼ Thaler. They were very good people especially the woman, that inspired me to all good and they seemed to like me a lot. I was with them 5 months only, they gave up their home and went to a town called Gallesburg, they would have liked to take me with them and I wouldn’t have said no if Father wouldn’t have been so ill and I couldn’t have come home as often and as easily as I can now. She gave me a rich present before she left, namely a pretty hat, a black silk mantilla, a golden brooch and other small things. I only have one friend, her name is Doris Bormann and she has no parents, her sister lives not far from us. But she isn’t with her sister but with other people and I meet her nearly every Sunday.
If you write to Justus please say hello from me many thousand times and remind him to write to me what he up to, as it is very painful for us, to hear from him so rarely, I would have thought that our father’s death might have softened his mind and would have brought him to write, which would have been a great relief for us.
I do not know what more to write but do want to tell you how Mother and Uncle live here. Albert built them a small house on some German’s land, ½ acres on which there is a house and just enough for a small garden as big as they need it. One acre is more than a German Morgen, they give 1 ½ Thaler a year for it. They leased two acres for themselves from an American and give 8 Thaler at whole and the man ploughs for them and they plant potatoes, food maize, and pumpkins. Food maize is like Turkish wheat. You must not think that they have to work like slaves, oh no, they work just as they please and with much pleasure. Here work is no disgrace. All rich Americans take up some work, whatever it might be and still are descent people.
Mother has two very pretty cows and a calf and two pigs, she makes so much butter from the cows that she can get what she needs out of it, there is a free feedlot close to our house, which is very comfortable for her and the hay she needs during the winter is very cheap.
Mother and Uncle and all of us feel very good here and do not long for Germany, if it wasn’t for you and Justus.
There we could not live as happy as we can here. Our only wish is and that is that we meet again, but that we want to keep to the one that is above us who will take care of it in the best manner. For this time I have to close. Mother and Uncle say hello and wish you happy New Year and hope that you can start it in good health and even end it that way.
Take care and write soon,
Loving and sincere sister,
This week we butcher our pigs and make sausage and then my mastery will come and pick me up again, you have to excuse the many mistakes I made, but I haven’t been writing for a long time and this time quite hasty.