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Stella Sober letter to Lou Sober, 1937

[Following is my transcription of a hand-written letter dated Jan. 9, 1937.
The letter was written by Stella Sober, daughter of Alexander Jordan Sober,
b. Jan 1, 1844, to her cousin Louisa Voris Sober, b. Mar. 21, 1866,
daughter of Aaron Sober, b. May 15 1837. Alexander Jordan and Aaron are
both children of Alexander Sober and Mary Foy. Louisa Voris Sober married
Dr. Henry Bierman. In the letter, words that were underlined in the
original appear in all capital letters in the transcription. The Martha
referred to in the letter is Stella's sister. These Sobers lived near the
townships of Shamokin and Irish Valley, in Northumberland Co.,
Pennsylvania. Hbg., mentioned several times, must refer to Harrisburg, the
capital of PA. The relationships that Stella described match current Sober
databases, with the exception that she may have confused her (great) uncles
Isaac b. 1814 and Aaron b. 1816. -- Gary Leonard, <>, April, 2000]

[Page 1]
My dear Lou, now as to the Sobers I do not know very much but will tell you
all I know or can think of. They came from Holland LONG ago and settled in
New Jersey. (I did not know until Martha told me, that they had settled
there.) Uncle Joe told me a huge fortune was traced from Holland to
America, & traced until Adriane Sober could not be found, he did not know
what happened to the money. When the Rev. broke out, 6 Sober men enlisted
from N.J. and when the war was over, 3 could not be accounted for, either
lost in battle or missing & it MAY have been they were in Camp near Easton
and died with smallpox as an epidemic broke out in that camp.

[Page 2]
I do not know the names of all of the men, but the Adjt. Genl. Dept. at
Trenton, N.J. should be able to supply all that information. After the war,
Aaron, Alexander and Moore settled in Irish Valley, they all had large
families. Aaron Sober was the father of Coleman, Luther & I think 3 more
boys, also Mrs. Gilger of Shamokin and Mrs. Dr. Hollenback of Shamokin.
Alexander was the father of our grandfather but I do not know the names of
HIS brothers and sisters if any. But our grandfather was the father of
Buelah, Mary Ann, Samuel (the oldest) then 7 sons in succession, I do not
know how the ages ran or how the names ran more than the fact my father was
the 7th son, the other names were Uriah - Aaron -

[Page 3]
Morris - Selathiel - William - Isaac - and Alexander (Jordan). Then came
Aunt Sue and Uncle Joe - 12 in all. Alexander Jr. or II, our grandfather,
died in 1869 & Grandma in 1894 or near that. Aunt Buleh had 3 girls & 1 son
- Uncle Sam, 2 girls - 1 son. Aunt Mary Ann, several children but I do not
know their names. Uncle Morris, I think, only 2 daughters, I will enclose a
clipping of his one daughter & the other one Ethel was a very bright
schoolteacher. Your family, Uncle Aaron, there were 7 children, Judson,
Mary, Margaret, Lizzie, Harry, LOUISA & Grace - Uncle Selathiel & Uncle
Joe, no children. Uncle Will - Bell, and Papa (Alexander 3rd) Martha and
Stella. Now Lou you may know MORE of the family than I do. Uncle Uriah - 3
daughters - Laura, Katie, Lulu. Bill Sober, I think, was a son of Aaron.
Out at the World Fair in Chicago, I met a very charming Mrs. George Sober
from some place in Ohio, she said her husband was from Northd. Co., Pa, but
could not learn much of his family, I do not know where he came in. Grandma
Sober was a Foye and her mother was a sister of the mother of U.S. Sen.
Wolverton of Sunbury, he and grandma were 1st cousins - Years ago a Sober
settled in Phila & was very prominent socially & a GREAT man in Christ's
Church. We do not know if he was one of the N.J. 6 or not. The children of
Moore Sober were Mrs. Whit Lake (a banker of Shamokin) Emma Sober, 2 of her
sisters married a man by the name of Chamberlain in I. Valley.

[Page 4]
1 sister married a dentist, Dr. Hollenback in Shamokin. It seems to me he
too married 2 of the sisters. Uncle Will married Emma Boas of Reading, her
father was a banker & a millionaire. The bank failed & he, out of his own
money, paid every one who lost & it left him a poor man but a clear
conscience; the other bankers remained rich. When Uncle Will died he had
nearly 50,000 standing out, he trusted everybody, the accts. were never
collected as he did not keep books. Uncle Will & Papa went to Dickinson
Seminary at Wmsport. Papa then taught school for awhile & read law in
Danville, he was admitted to the bar, but his health soon failed entirely
(had never been well after the war) & he had to give up. Uncle Will read
law and was a wonderful lawyer, would never touch a criminal case. I heard
a Judge say when Uncle Will plead a case, the

[Page 5]
court room was always packed to hear him as he used such good language &
did everything in such a dignified manner that it was a pleasure to hear
him. He said, Why there was not a word in the dictionary that Will Sober
did not know the meaning of & how to use it. He also said he would have
been Judge from the start almost, if he had let drink alone. I remember one
time when I was there, Bell did something. He spoke rather sharply, and
turned to Aunt Emma & said, "Why, Emma, I cannot tolerate such
insubordination." I never forgot it. You know more about Uncle Aaron's than
I do. Now all this may interest the boys & it may not, but I thought I
would tell you all. Now as to the War, I am sorry I know very

[Page 6]
little too. Grandma had 5 sons go. You know the Sober men were ALWAYS
large, well built men, & I guess are yet. Those who were too young but I
guess Papa was the only one was so large he was taken "on age" as grandma
expressed it. Uncle Will never got any further than Hbg - he was a Special
Messenger who took messages to Washington - TOO important to mail or wire.
He boarded with Mrs. Espy, 321 N. Trout St. ($ was quite a LEAN) Uncle
Selathiel was killed in the Battle of Fair Oaks, Va, I do not remember the
date but the boys of course know that. Papa, Uncle Aaron & Salathiel (I do
not know how to spell it anymore) must have been marching side by side as
your Father told me he was next to my father who jerked and saved his life
but the piece of bursting shell hit & killed Salathiel. They marked the
place & when the battle was over your father & mine went back, wrapped S.
in blankets & buried him. Then, years after, his remains were brought home
& buried in the cemetery at Irish Valley, this is all I know of him. They
were members of Co. D - 52nd Regt. P.V. Uncle Morris was a Capt. and after
the war, went west (Iowa) later to Oklahoma. He invented a thrashing
machine, had it Pat'd at Washington, but before he put in on the market
discovered a big improvement. Took it apart, & before he had it ready for
another patent, he died. Uncle Aaron was an invalid from close of

[Page 7]
the war, but was almost an authority on the Bible, he could tell you where
to find any thing you asked him. You know Lou, the Sobers were all
exceedingly bright people. My father was made Corporal & then sent to
Georgtown out of Washington to learn the signal code. He was captured & put
in Andersonville Prison, where he remained until he was either released by
exchanging soldiers or else until the close of the war. When the boys
reached the old home, Grandma was the first to see them, she was out on the
porch, she called to the folks in the house; "Here come the boys and they
have a strange man with them", but the strange man was my father, he was
skin & bones & had not his brothers and Ambrose Taylor carried him on their

[Page 8]
backs for MILES, taking turns, he never would have reached home, was never
well until he died in 1876. Papa had a picture or chart or whatever it
would be called, of 52nd Regt. When Papa died, your Father wanted it, &
Mamma gave it to him. I THINK Uncle Aaron gave it to Harry. You remember
it, it hung between the door that went to the kitchen and side porch. The
flag of Co. D 52nd Regt. in the case down in the Capitol is all tatters,
they must have been in many battles. Sorry we were not old enough to have
Papa tell us things, but we were then TOO young to even know there had been
a war. By writing for the records of each & every one of the boys, to the
Adjt. Gen'l Dept. Hbg or maybe Washington, I imagine

[Page 9]
it IS Washington, they would give a detailed acct. on each & every one.
Cousin Coleman told me that Grandma had a family of VERY good looking boys,
the best-looking in the Valley, but he did not mention the girls. Lou, as
the boys are interested in the family, I have some pictures WE prize, but
will not live forever. I think I'll send them to you if you say so. One is
a daguerotype of Uncle Salathiel & one of Papa. I'll mark the others so you
know who they are, IF they want them. All of Papa's immediate family are
gone. I guess Uncle Isaac was the last. Awfully sorry I cannot tell you
more but think this is all I know. Aunt Sue had 1 son. Here is a little
story about the Sober name, Miss Margaret Clark of Washingtonville, an aunt
of Emma Robertson who married Will Shoop had a little book, she gave to a
missionary & was sorry she had not kept it as she thinks it was our EARLY
forefather: Long years ago when people had only one name, a man by the name
of John, did a great service (do not know what it was) for his ruler, (I do
not know if King or what the ruler was) & the highest honor at that time
was to bestow a second name on a person, so this ruler told John to select
a name. John was such a good man, he wanted time to select a name, free of
tarnish & one that nothing to the end of time could be marked, so after
some time, he met a man who had such a beautiful stone in his ring, the man
said it was a sapphire, so John went to the ruler & told him he had selected

[Page 10]
Sapphire, so he was John Sapphire for a long time. Then the name was called
Sapher, then Sopher & later Soper. John became a great preacher & went to
London, and preached. He was so popular that a St. was named Soper for him.
That was the BOOK story. But one day a man went into the Lib. to trace
something & met Martha. The name Sober attracted him at once & he told her
that Col. Soper of N.Y. City had sent him abroad to find out about the
Sopers, he heard of Soper St. & he thought it must have been named on acct.
of soap factory in London. But in tracing it found it had been named in
honor of a John Soper who had come

[Page 11]
to London & was such a great minister, so it looks as though this John
Soper is one & the same man. He also said Col. Soper had a daughter
Gertrude, & she & Martha were the image of each other. I think this is very
interesting, don't you? I have known this for many years, but guess you are
the first Sober I have told it to. Our name may have been Soper and changed
by mistake during the Rev. Lou, let me hear from you SOON & I'll send the
pictures if you say so. Martha is not very well do not know what. I dare
NOT get sick, but some times feel the other way from being well. Lots of
love from both of us to all. Jan. 9th, 1937.


A HUGE "Thank-You" to Gary and Janice Leonard for permission to post this letter! Very rarely do opportunities like this come along, and I am truly in their debt.