Letters to Emil, Part 2

Ludington Daily News

If you’ve read “Letters to Emil, Part 1”, then you will recognize the front page article about the fire at the Rath building in 1916. Since I found the website with articles from before 1930, I have been fascinated with the Ludington Daily News. So this time we’re going to take “Letters t o Emil” to a whole new level.

Kermit, whom you met in “What’s in a Name?”, wrote this letter, dated April 8, 1917. I really believe it was 1918, because there is a letter from Emil’s brother Axel as well as one from his father, dated April 8, 1918. And I have the envelope, postmarked Apr. 9, 1918. In their dad’s letter (below), with the help of Google Translate, I read that he, too, was glad Emil had not yet been sent overseas. His older brother Alfred was already in France, but was not allowed to say where.

It appears that that Emil’s siblings would write individual letters, often on the tailor shop stationery, and these would be mailed in one envelope along with the letter from his parents. Something touches my heart when I imagine the scene: a father, mother, and children sitting perhaps in the living room by the fireplace, or perhaps together at the dining room table, getting their letters ready to go. In the same letter, on page 3, Nels explains that Kermit has forgotten to write that they had just gotten a Victrola and were enjoying listening to Swedish music on it.

By far the most “newsy” letters to Emil were from his sister, my great aunt Anna, who was about as informational as the Ludington Daily News “Society Page” ( a random selection is pictured above). By today’s standards, a newspaper section devoted to who went to what party, who had visitors from out of town, or who was in the hospital with scarlet fever, (as was Elmer Anderson of Danaher Street) may seem extremely unusual. You don’t usually read about the postman getting bitten by a dog or about the jewelry store being able to give three Victrola demonstrations at one time.

So when I read about Mrs. Bishop’s funeral in Anna’s letter of November 2, 1913, I thought, “I could probably find that in the Ludington Daily News!”

It took awhile, but I found it. The social page mentioned that Arthur Linquist arrived Thursday from Ashland, Wisconsin because of the death of his aunt, Mrs. Emile Bishop. The obituary was harder to find, as there usually wasn’t a clearly marked obituary section like we have today. And since each page of the paper had six columns with relatively tiny headings and almost no space between articles, this kind of thing is easy to miss.

If you noticed, Anna also mentioned that “old man Johnson” (no relation) had passed away and that his funeral had been at their church the previous Sunday. It turned out his obituary was in the same page as Mrs. Bishop’s, so that made my search easier.

It turns out Anna and her brother Nels Ivar had gone to a farewell party for Sigurd Werner, who was moving to Florida. And sure enough, this was not to be overlooked by the Ludington Daily News.

Fast forward to October 12, 1916, as Anna describes the activities of the “Knight Templars” and the Dorcas Society’s upcoming church bazaar.

Apparently “Knight Templar Day” was a big celebration in Ludington. Not only was it advertised for several days prior, but stores also had special sales in honor of the festivities.

The October 13 paper reported that the field day was a great success, despite inclement weather.

And the Dorcas Society bazaar was duly advertised the next week in the Society section.

On page three, Anna tells about the surprise birthday party the ladies had given for their pastor’s wife, Mrs. C.A. Benander. The article doesn’t mention the amount of money she received as a gift, but thanks to Aunt Anna, that information has now been preserved for posterity. I didn’t find anything about the party Anna was going to attend the next night, or I might have been able to figure out who the farmer and possible brother-in-law was. That can be a project for a different day.

14 thoughts on “Letters to Emil, Part 2

    1. Oh yes, I have come across a lot of articles about that! I have one or two letters that reference the “flu” on both sides of the family. That would make an interesting post. What amazes me is the number of ads there were for medicines that were supposed to either cure or prevent it. 😬

      1. It would indeed make an interesting post! 😊 I wonder if there’d be references to wearing masks or other ways they tried to limit the spread as we’re trying today.

  1. Fascinating. I love these little details of social history, and the fact they tie into your family make them super interesting. I’m looking forward to more from the Luddington Daily News!

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