Jackson County, Illinois

Letter from John B Well to Franz Keller in Germany

Donated by John Smith III

John B. Will was born 6 October 1836 in Hemsbach, Baden, Germany and from the details of this letter immigrated to the United States in 1856, settling first in Belleville, IL where he entered service during the Civil War in Company C, 24th Illinois Vol Infantry on 27 July 1861. He was honorably discharged in Little Rock, AR on 7 July 1865 as a Pvt in Company E, 43rd Illinois Vol Infantry. After the war ended he returned to Belleville and married Mary Ann Wagner (born July 1, 1848 in Belleville) on February 8, 1866. In 1869 he moved his family to Murphysboro, IL, Jackson County, and spent most of his life as a blacksmith in the coal mines near his home in Harrison, Sommerset Township. He died there on 31 May 1925. Mary died there on 2 May 1930.

Text of letter as written:


Jackson Co, Ill.

December 16, 1896

Dear friend Franz Keller,

I got your letter in answer to mine saying that you received my letter and the 20 marks. This gave me great pleasure. Now I must address myself to my brother Jake Rohl whom I will acknowledge as a brother as long as my eyes are open or closed.

You wrote me that you brought Mother home from Landenbach and how she had been treated. I scarcely could read your letter - I cried so much. Dear brother, when you write me again be so kind and tell me how it goes in Hembsbach, who of my old friends and acquaintances is still living and who is dead. I should like so very much to hear about Hemsbach. I cannot write much to you, only about me and my family. But you can write me who is still alive and who has died during the last 40 years since I left home.

I can name you two from Hemsbach who died last year. It was Jakob Grieg and Michel Brauch's wife. the old Michel was dead before I came to America.

Dearest Mother,

Now I want to address a few words to you. I cannot write much, my heart is too full now. But the next letter you'll get from me will bring you a little more light. Now, dearest Mother, my sons Jakob Will and Johannes Will, and Lisa Will, Marie Will and Karolina Will said to me they wanted to send a Christmas present to their grandmother. But what? I said the best you can send would be for each of you to give me 4 marks and I send it to Grandmother. They did so and I am sending it here with many regards from all of us to all of you. Say hello from us to all acquaintances and friends.

John B. Will and family

I almost forgot to wish you happy and merry holidays. Answer soon!

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