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The McGowan-Nolan Family Page


 Below is the text of a letter written by Bertha Pickler Theviot to her granddaughter Eleanor Nolan in February 1927. The letter has been copied as written, with minor attempts to correct names or spelling. The original letter is available as a  pdf document.

2/16- 1927

My dear Eleanor:

Your questions will be answered to the best of my abilities as follows.

I was born July 4th 1854 in the beautiful city called Carlsbad where the famous Spruedel salt comes from, famous all over the world, hot spring place only where rich people can live--

Graduated from High School when I was 12 1/2 years old, took up French, Latin with German: have seen most all Royal Blood at our home--like Bismarck and old King William, King of Sweden, Emperor William with all his sons and the late Empress. Franz Joseph, Emperor of Ostrieich and all the Russian Emperors which were killed and many others, it would take to long. They all came in summer time to Carlsbad, especially before War time. Carlsbad was always the Kittel of Royal Politicians. After my school days were over, I started to travel a little in my country, like Vienna, Prag and surrounding Country's. In 1869 I was introduced to Tom Petro and his wife Emperor and Empress of Brazil. He lost his throne and traveled around to recover his health. Carlsbad give to their honor a fine ball and they chosen me, with there General to open the Ball, for they could not attend , losing a loving Daughter befor. After the ball the Empress came every day to see me, and give me a grand invitation to come for two years to Brazil and show me their Country. They also would take 4 companions along, so I would not be to lonesome. They drove up to our house and almost begged Mother, but Mother would not hear to it--so I didn't see Brazil. I always was great for traveling.

In 1872, Mother made up her mind to take a trip to America and sure I was happy. Easter time we where on the Ocean and sure for 3 days we had a big storm and I was the only one not being seasick. I had to Eat with the Captain and Officers all allone at the table, the rest all where laid up for repairs. My dear old uncle send a Mr. Sommers to New York to meet us and help us along on our journey but the poor fellow could not talk German and we not English, so we were up against us. Those days Minnesota was a very hard place and not much inside, so the New York people didn't want us to go any further, but Mama brought 14 poor relatives along, and she had to take care of them as she had a home build for them, and we landed first in Mankato over night. There was no train to St. James till the next day, at noon we started for our new home, but what a disappointment for us. When we landed the whole country or city was at the depot to receive us--they expected Germans with wooden shoes and short skirts. But where dresses to fine for them for that part of Country, but they had a big Banquet arranged in the Hotel for us, and we all where most heartbroken to come to such a place--but we didn't lost our fiat in Good and sure, he helped us wonderfull. Anyway the People and good neighbors tried to make it as pleasant as they could, and to my good friend Mr. J. W. D. we have to be thankfull. He seen right off, and take us in Fall to St. Paul, made a home for us there. St. Paul was a little place yet, but it looked big to us, after St. James. Mr. D. rented a home for us on E/4th and St. Peter Street, where we had to pay 50 dollars a Month, but I was more like living

January 23rd 1873--I was married to your Grosspapa, he was clerk at the old Post Office on Wabasha Street bet-3 and 4th Street St. Paul. The new Post office was build at 5th and Wabasha Street, where the moved he overworked day and night and took ill, so Doctor advised him to go to California, where they had a position for him in the Custom House, but his friends talked him out and we stayed in St. Paul, he went in the Dry Goods business with B. F. Zahn and Co., on Seven corners. After a while my health went back on me selling our home and yet not to go. I got nervous frustration and we had to change in the Country where Doctor said that would be the only thing for me. And we landed in my dear old Belle Plaine where my health came back and many happy days I have seen in my young and also old days. We were there for 7 years and had a General Mercantile Business till some of his friends talked him to go West and open up there and that way we landed in Brainerd in 1881. Just think what a long time. I was in Millinery for over 25 years and Gross papa in Groceries & Dry Goods for many years. Build the K. C. Hall and many other property. I have worked for all Churches in my young days. Belonged to the St. Francis Choir for 25 years, helped most on all programs in the City. Belonged to the G. A. R. , was president of W. R. C for 14 years. Held past chiefs chairs in following orders: W.C.O.F. / 28 years D. of H. / 18 years M.B.A. / 28 years K. P/ 10 years Ladies Macabbes/ 30 years W.O. F. 2 years

And all Church Work, Charity, Red Cross, still a director since the war, and in social life all together, if there is more you like to know I even have my Ger Club Ticket from the old country in the First Nat Bank, also my birth card and your Great Grandma's Hoping this is enough for today I close with love to you from your old Grossmama, Correct all my mistakes Miss Lawyer.

Bertha Theviot (Laura Anna)

my full name

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