Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Letter to Louisa Steiner Voegtly

My maternal great-grandfather is Adolph Nicholas Voegtly. His nickname was And, or Ad, the spelling of which changed depending on who was doing the writing. Adolph was born on April 1, 1871, in Allegheny, Pennsylvania to Louisa (Steiner) Voegtly and John Voegtly, Jr. He was the youngest of five children, three girls and two boys. I'm not exactly sure what is meant by his reference below  – 12 girls to one man – as I'm still researching this side of the family. But it wasn't unusual for families to have half a dozen or more children back then as their mortality rate was quite high. The Voegtly's were part of a very large extended family that lived in that area of Pennsylvania. Much more about that later.

In June, 1895, at the age of 24, Adolph wrote a letter to his mother telling her of his engagement to Nancy (Nannie) Hays. They were married two years later and had two children, my grandmother Sarah and my grand uncle John.  Anyway, it's another lovely letter that my family has kept and passed down for over a hundred years and I thought I would share it with you. Click on them to enlarge them or read below.

June 28, 1895

Dear Mamma:

You left your poor orphan children rather suddenly. I was never much more surprised than Wednesday evening when I found you had gone, on such short notice. You’ll be almost as much surprised to get this letter from me, as I was to find you missing. I have something very important to tell you that I want you to know before I tell anyone else. Can you guess what it is? I bet you can. Something that you have suspected would happen before long. I’ll not keep you waiting any longer. The news is that I thought there were not enough girls in the family – only about twelve girls to one man – so thought I would invite another to join us. In plain words – I love Nannie Hays – she loves me, and we are engaged.

I hope, dear mamma, that you will learn to love Nannie. I am sure you won’t find that very hard to do. I know it was the easiest thing in the world for me to do.

I needn’t tell you how good and nice and lovable she is – you will find that out yourself, and I know she’ll find out what a dear, good mother I have always had.

And now, mamma, dear, ask God’s blessing on Nannie and I. I asked His help and guidance in this matter many, many times. I believe He has led me to this step. We need His help and guidance now, more than ever. Pray for us. I will write again soon.

Your Loving Son,



  1. Sarah, can you write down what it says? Its hard to make out in the photos! Amazing that your family kept all this!

  2. Sure, I'll put it in my next post, which is a letter my grandfather wrote to my mother after she announced she was engaged.

  3. I decided to post it here instead of my next post. I don't know why Adolph's mother left rather suddenly (where did she go?). Obviously he knew how to reach her... maybe someone in the family was sick? A few years later, Adolph himself is struck down with a terrible illness, appendicitis I think, and from the letters and notes I've found, he was lucky to live. He also taught in a Sunday school, so religion seemed to be a big part of his life.