January 16, 1919 – The Letter

1919.01.16 159


On this day one hundred years ago, Jay finally received news of Rinda’s death in a letter sent by her sister, Gertie.

Jan 16th, 1919

Dear Sis,

Your sad letter of Dec 23rd reach me to day and I will lose no time in answering.  Sure was some shock to read of Rinda’s death.  Of course I knew her lungs were weak and one more attack of pneumonia would sure prove fatal last winter.  We were at Black Duck (Minnesota) she was very sick last winter also Raymond at one time.  I thought they would both pass away.  We were five miles from a doctor and awfully hard to get one to travel in that country during Jan.  Do not remember the date of last letter received from Rinda but think it was written in Nov.  Mail travels so slow at times but your’s came through quickly.

How long was Rinda sick?  Did she make any requests regarding Raymond’s care?

Was there any thing she wanted me to do?  Poor girl I can’t make myself believe she has gone from us.  How did your mother stand the shock?

Yes Rinda wrote me some time ago about your troubles and I fully realize you have your hands full and have my deepest heart felt sympathy. Now as you say you must have aid in caring for little Raymond very true.

Realizing I am many miles from America and attached to Army of Occupation and chance of its being many months before I reach home.

If I ever do as I have been sick with flu and just returned to duty last week.  Has left me sick and weak and doubt if I will ever be man I was once.  But that matters not there are more important things to think of to night.

What you need is cash to help care for Raymond.  I have decided to write to my brother at once to forward you $15 the first of each month until I can again hear from you as to amount of funds you will need each month.  Sort of emergency fund. By so doing cash would be reaching you much quicker than sending it from here.

Soldiers pay is small and allotments & insurance has eaten mine up.  I will write my brother to night informing him to mail back funds for Dec, Jan, & Feb which will be $45 so that should give you a start.

This letter will no doubt reach you early in Feb and by middle of Feb the cash should be at your disposal.

Don’t know how this plan will appeal to you but hope it will assist you for present anyway.

Please pardon pencil as I have no ink to write and I am half dead with cold.  No snow in Germany where we are can go about with but an over coat.  I was in Mpls one year ago.  In fact I used to spend about 2 mo time twice a year there when upon road.  Had a good position but war changed many a man’s life.

Wish to thank you very kindly for taking Raymond and giving him a home and a mother’s care.  Sorry to say that is more than can do for poor little fellow now.

But when I get back he should have best I can afford.

I am tired and will close hoping to hear from you upon receipt of this letter.  Love to Ray.

Best of wishes to you and your family.


Sincerely yours,

Sergt J.E. Shetler

Co “A” 301st Engrs

American Exp. Force\France

He also wrote a letter to his brother on this date.  In it he explains the situation and that Dell is to send money to Gertie for Raymond’s care right away and then on a monthly basis until Jay gets home.

He was much more emotional in that letter than he is in this one.

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