An 1853 letter from Otto Hellwig of Melsungen
to daughter Eleanor in Detroit, Michigan

This letter, which folded in upon itself to form its own envelope, was sealed with wax undoubtedly stamped by Otto himself with his personal wax stamp.  Click here to see brother  “O. K. Hell”’s postscript, added on a back corner.


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Side 1

Side 2

The letter was passed down from Christina (Wittkopf) Gompf, daughter of Eleanor, to her granddaughter Sylvia (Wheeler) Mallonee.  We do not have a transcription yet, but we do have a translation, courtesy of Sylvia’s mother, Anna (Gompf) Wheeler, who wrote the following:

Grandmother Eleanor received a letter from her father Otto in Melsungen, Germany, that was dated May 10, 1853.  The letter was addressed as follows and translated from German into English:

To: Miss Eleanor Hellwig
      State of Michigan
      North America

Dear Daughter Eleanor,

Dear Daughter, we have waited a long time for a letter from you telling us of your affairs.  Now that I have time to write and let you know how we’re getting along.  Thank God that everything is well.  If you haven’t written a letter to us, write soon.

We’re sending hanks of wool yarn and twelve pieces goose feathers by Mrs. Martha Andres from Melsungen.  There is no news as this year a lot of German people went to America.

Best wishes from Father and Mother, sister and brothers and Steinbacks, Aunt Kummelsche family.  Live happily and write real soon.  Money we did not receive from the Hoffmans.

Otto Hellwig

Best wishes from your Dear Brother (O. K. Hellwig)

When I first read this letter I thought, ‘what on earth were the 12 pieces of goose feathers for, but then when I discovered Grandmother Eleanor’s name on the ship’s manifest – of course, it made sense – she was a Milliner!


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