Thursday, September 16, 2010

Treasure Chest Thursday

Following WWI, which great-grandmother Dreher [nee: Josephine Benzel] called "the Great War" [dying before the onset of WWII], the government sent those mothers who lost their sons overseas free passage for a trip to their burial sites.

While great-grandmother had never been any place except Indiana and Kentucky, she was not about to miss the opportunity to stand over the grave of her fallen son.  Unfortunately, her son did not make the journey to the foreign shore, before dying from illness. He was buried at sea, although a memorial marker stands in France for him.

As the ship came to the longitude and latitude documented as his eternal resting place, engines were cut, and great-grandmother was allowed a few minutes to stand over the "grave" of her lost son.

She sent but one letter home during her voyage, and this is it:

It is addressed to:
Mr. H.C. Dreher
c/o Fe Banet
Georgetown, Ind
U.S.A.
[H.C. Dreher was her husband, Henry Condar Dreher Sr.]

This is a single sheet of paper provided for her, folded and mailed as an envelope or post card.
Inside:

It reads:
"on S.S. Presedint Roosefelt - May 28
Dear Children here I am almost in
mid ocean. have seen 2 whales and
a school of flying fish it sure is
wonderful. I am well and sure
injoying myself hope you are all well
Mother Dreher"
[sic]


This is the second portion of the interior [think of a sheet of paper, folded once, twice and then a third time].
This interior portion is actually the ships menu.
You should be able to click on the image to view it better.

This is the back of the "envelope" when completely folded. The front side being the addressed portion.

A quick search on Ancestry.com and we were able to locate an image of the actual ship great-grandmother made this adventure on:


Great-Grandmother passed away on 12 December 1932 at the age of 67. I am told she never forgot the trip she made and spoke often of it. And especially the kindness of the captain in stopping the vessel over the place where her son was interred.

Josephine Benzel Dreher made this trip in 1931.

Josephine Sophie Benzel Dreher
1865 - 1932

1 comment:

hummer said...

What a marvelous story. Thanks for sharing.