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Letters from Catharina Josefina Leyden Flink 1899-1912


This file contains a series of letters written by Catharina Josefina Leyden Flink (a sister of Adam J. Leiden) to Elizabeth Leyden (wife of Adam J. Leiden). The last few letters were written to George Henry Leiden (son of Adam J. Leiden), who was able to read and write German (Catharina often complained that the children didn't learn German. Apparently some did. Della Mary claimed that the entire family spoke German when they were young). She wrote about once a year, usually towards the end of the year.

These letters were found among the George Henry Leiden estate. They were written in German, and were tattered and water stained. They were translated into English by an aquaintence of some family member. Bob Leiden made copies of the transcripts for Bill Pringle, who created this page.

These letters are part of the family history of the Leiden family. If you are related to any of the people mentioned in these letters, know something about the contents of the letters, and/or would like more information on the Leiden family, please let me know.

Catharina had a number of health problems with her legs especially. Apparently, Sobernheim, Rhineland, Prussia had some spas which she took advantage of. During the first letter, in 1899, she wonders if this will be her last letter. In fact, they continue until at least 1912. Elizabeth was a year older than Catharina, which she comments on often, although in the last few letters she seems to forget how old Elizabeth was.

The Catholic Church shared a building with the Protestants (probably Lutheran) for many years in Sonderheim. They eventually built a separate building, dedicated 9 Oct 1899, and Catharina donated a stained glass window in memory of her husband.

Catharina mentions a number of people in the letters, some of whom are known to be part of the families, but some are otherwise unknown.


1 Jan 1899

Letter from Catharine Flink (sister of Adam J. Leiden) to Elizabeth Leiden (wife of Adam J. Leiden)
1 January 1899

Dear Elizabeth,

Did not write for long time because of a broken arm - then an inflamation of the left leg - was becoming alright then poor blood circulation (blood clot) on right leg. Bedfast six weeks. After I was up blood clot appeared on other leg, weeks later was allowed up again.

Happy that Jacob's son [1] is so talented. She thinks he shouldn't have to give up his time for tutoring. A student who earns money for further study.

How much money have I sent you already? And you already own the farm. One shouldn't work so hard. Above all things, let all the children learn German - wasn't right that you didn't teach them the language.

My sister [2] who is 75 is healthy all the way through. She is much stronger than I.

Her sister in law, also the family of Rickus, have trouble with rheumatism. Your sister is well (Lenchen) [3] and could outlive her husband. His body is healthy but he forgets.

Tony is lazy - dreams up all sorts of things. Worried that he might get in a gang and he will get into all kinds of trouble.

Jean has 4 small children. She is doing the same thing as your Henry. [4] Your sister-in-law would like to see Elischen get married. But she would not like to live in her home town. Johanna's family sold a limestone quarry for 90,000-30,000 and her man stayed on as manager for 3,000 a year. She has 4 children, two boys, two girls. Her oldest boy is graduation from school.

The children of my sister [5], one is a son who is a judge (Saarhucken) and Leillee is married to a doctor in Neuss. She has four children (three boys one girl) and Henry is in Chicago.

Have you any school in St. Lawrence? You must likely remember that we shared our church with the Protestants. Has stopped this past year.

I donated a painted window to the new church (picture of St. Peter) fishing scene (in memory of my husband) cost 300.

When you write to me, write also about your children. One or two children will stay at home with Jacob.

Do you still have that old person living with you? [6] I have a person who has been with me 11 years. Maybe this is my last letter.

Frau Dr. Flink

  1. Not sure which son. Harry Adam was 20, John Pius 19, Philip Jacob 17, Albon Anthony 15, Aloysius Francis 13
  2. Maria Elizabeth Leyden Longard
  3. Unknown sister?
  4. George Henry Leiden
  5. Maria Elizabeth Leyden
  6. Unknown person. Maybe Mary Dumm who lived w/ George Henry Leiden during several census records?


29 Oct 1899

Letter from Catharine Flink (sister of Adam J. Leiden) to Elizabeth Leiden (wife of Adam J. Leiden)
29 October 1899

Dear Elizabeth,

Quite some time since I last wrote. Have been taking the waters, when one is 70, one is not so spry anymore. I was three weeks in a spa, after I was three weeks resting at home. I go daily to baths (mud). Now I can walk again, however the leg is still swollen from the winter months.

The land of my brother Jean [1] was auctioned off and it is hard to believe one can't sell any land. No one wants to rent it either. 3,033 (price sold the land). The house was sold for 12,000=4,000 which is to come from the house. My sister-in-law still has the right to live in the house, but the money from the land comes to me (Frau Flink). By Christmas I am expecting my payment but people are slow in payment.

In Martinstein, Frau Leiden is going to sell her house and part of the land. She moves in with Elizabeth of Bedenheim. Johanna also lives in Budenheim. Am sorry that the house in Martinstein is going to be sold. But Elizabeth doesn't want to live there so she will move to Budenheim.

My sister [2] is 76 but she is very active, more healthy than her daughter, Leilla. The daughter has cramps in her heart, legs (varicose veins). I think our legs are different in the way they act.

How are your children, did they get over their examination alright? In United States you had a good harvest, according to newspaper, good for Jacob.

How far are you away from your children? Who is still with you? You shouldn't be all alone. Next year the girl is with me 12 years. She is going to receive a medal.

Your sister Lenchen [3] (short for Lena) is well.

Jean has four girls. Was always hoping for a boy. Henry [4] also had four girls and after that he had a boy. Maybe the same thing will happen to Jean.

Tony is just stepping around (lazy type).

Make sure that the boys from Jacob learn how to write German.

They have a new church, dedicated on the 9th of this month. No organ, no chairs, no pulpit. Whole community paid for the middle one (painted one) I donated a window. Herr and Frau Rickus donated the other one. [5]

Now you have all the news.

Best regards to you, your children, and your grandchildren


  1. Johann? - Sometimes Jean is her brother, and other times Jean appears to be female
  2. Maria Elizabeth Leyden
  3. Unknown sister?
  4. Possibly Henry Longard, son of Maria Elizabeth Leyden and Johann Nepomuk Longard
  5. Rickus family name appears in other letters


26 Mar 1900

Letter from Catharine Flink (sister of Adam J. Leiden) to Elizabeth Leiden (wife of Adam J. Leiden)
26 March 1900

Dear Sister-in-law,

Your sister Lena was also poorly and I did not believe that she would recover, but she is again thinking of going to church - thank God we have our own church now.

Your house in Martinstein is sold to Walter for 9,000 mark. 1st of April your sister will move to Budenheim.

Johanna's husband has a hotel - wine shop operated by the husband of Elsie.

From the sale of the house you will receive 500 out of the 1500 mark - which I will send to you. This will be all you get until I die.

The land from my brother, Jean, went on auction - sold very cheap - was sold for 11,000 mark, three installments - years ago he would have received 16-17,000 mark. My sister-in-law will receive the interest.

Jacob [1] has christianed his 12th. About time you stop these blessings. Two of his boys have intention to come to Europe. I am afraid they won't be satisfied even if they can speak good German.

Am going to the baths this summer.

Now you are going to be 74 years old and our husbands are dead and we women are all that are left, for how long just as God wills.

Regards from Lenchen (Lena).

Don't write until you get the money from me.

Frau Flink

  1. Edward Claude Leiden was the 12th child of Jacob John Leiden (she usually refers to him as John)


24 Dec 1903

Letter from Catharine Flink (sister of Adam J. Leiden) to Elizabeth Leiden (wife of Adam J. Leiden)
24 December 1903

Dear Elizabeth (sister-in-law),

Thank you for the photographs. They are all healthy boys and girls. And one boy six months old, most likely is from Henry. Sorry that you have not taught the children German. As you wrote, the oldest boy of John [1] bought a shoe store in St. Lawrence. How far is it to the city?

I think you are going to be as old as your father. I feel fairly good - have a small scratch on my leg - healed now. My sister [2] will be 80 years old in February. She spins all day long. The son is a judge in Dusseldorf (Longard). This is closer to where her daughter and husband and children live. Enclosed you will find pictures made by Franz (who is 19 years old). [3] He will go to the university to study medicine. Your brother-in-law Jacob Gerber [4] died in July 1903. Got childish toward the end. Tony goes around without doing anything. Elizabeth Leiden has no children which is alright. Johanna's daughter is engaged.

Are we old ones going to see the end of the year?

Frau Leiden has moved to Boun for a few months. She has trouble with eyes but still can write better than you. People in Martinstein have a new school house, teacher is Ecker, you must know him. Had cancer in the lung.

Write soon again - best regards.

Frau C. Flink

  1. Harry A. Leiden - John is Jacob John Leiden
  2. Maria Elizabeth Leyden Longard
  3. Possibly a grandson of Maria, perhaps a son of Leilla
  4. Catharina Gerber was the mother of Catharina Leyden Flink and Adam J. Leiden. She had a brother Jacob. Perhaps this was his son.


20 Jan 1905

Letter from Catharine Flink (sister of Adam J. Leiden) to Elizabeth Leiden (wife of Adam J. Leiden)
20 January 1905

Dear Elizabeth,

None of your children can speak German. Tony is living by himself, in bed till 11 o'clock, then works for a butcher - some at night. Every noon he goes to the Hafn (maybe slang - goes to the field) - he's getting fat. Martinstein (new school being built) new school built on field belonging to priest. Church will be restored - new rectory to be built. Priest is from Menxheim.

From a small chapel - men and boys met there - women sometimes used it. They also have a convent there with eight sisters, have a kingergarten, sewing school, nursing for sick people.

In Budenheim, all is good and your sister-in-law is healthy. Elizabeth has no children. That is well because they stay together. Johanna has a daughter that is already married and is a grandmother.

My sister [1] will be 81 years old next month. She goes every day shopping to the butcher. Her youngest son, age 66, lives in Dusseldorf. He is a judge in the superior court. Henry is a bum in Chicago (not working).

Neice Leilla has children working in machine factory in Dusseldorf (the oldest one), second one studies medicine (just like his father). Youngest one has his own business (selling-learning) apprentice. Has a daughter still at home, who is 16. Now the children of your son Jacob are all grown up - they help very much with the work. Soon will start looking for a wife. Hoping to pick right girl.

I am 76, sold my house but I have the right to live in the house. Don't want to move right away. You will be almost 78 by now.

From you sister-in-law
Catherine Flink

  1. Maria Elizabeth Leyden Longard


2 Jan 1906

Letter from Catharine Flink (sister of Adam J. Leiden) to Elizabeth Leiden (wife of Adam J. Leiden)
2 January 1906

Dear sister-in-law,

Long time since we have heard from you or you from me. Happy New Year to you and yours. You will be 78 and I will be 77 and my sister will be 82.

This summer I was for five weeks at Bad Ems (Mineral Waters). I hope this winter to be better.

Frau Rickus doesn't feel good. She has a lot of headaches. Her memory is failing. Adam Gerber writes quite often from America. Your sister-in-law is very lively. She lives in Budenheim with her children. A oldest son from my niece is a chemist in Buffalo. He likes it there but does not want to stay there, because social life in Germany is nicer.

How are your children and grandchildren? If your children could only write in German. Adam Gerber's children write very nice German.

In Martinstein they kept the wineries but the crop was very poor this year.

Elizabeth has no children, that is good because they might have religious trouble.

Wish you good luck in 1906.

Frau Dr. Flink


20 Dec 1906

Letter from Catharine Flink (sister of Adam J. Leiden) to George Henry Leiden (son of Adam J. Leiden)
20 December 1906

My Dear Henry,

Happy to hear from you. It is easy to read and happy you can write in German.

According to the photograph, the wife of Henry is a pretty and determined woman. You wish to get to know our family better but I would say don't make that long trip. I am 78, my sister is 83. Who knows if we will be here if you come over here. One or two you know already - Gerbers Tony - my nephew Henry Longard still in Chicago (makes no headway). A son from my niece, a Dr. Goder [1] who was born a Longard is in Chicago, he is a mechanical engineer in a machine factory. He is a very nice pleasant young man - came over to America in 1905, first he was in Buffalo. Wants to stay about three years, then return to Germany. Am sorry your mother doesn't see better.

Very often I have trouble with my legs. Also have trouble with my throat and lungs.

In Martinstein, the priest renovated the church, paid for it with his own money.

Aunt Dr. Flink

Will you please write to me - as I can hardly read your mother's writing.

  1. He apparently changed his name - perhaps when he immigrated?


21 Dec 1907

Letter from Catharine Flink (sister of Adam J. Leiden) to George Henry Leiden (son of Adam J. Leiden)
21 December 1907

My Dear Henry,

I am happy to hear from you in German, thank you for the portrait of your wife. She seems very neat and tidy.

Business is not very good in America according to the papers, not very good here in industry.

How old is your mother now - my sister is 84 years. I think your mother is a little younger.

Rail Road is coming to Martinstein, that should bring some business.

In America an uncle from Tony Gerber died. Was run over by a train. Greetings to your mother, brother John [1] and his family from

Aunt Frau Flink

  1. Jacob John Leiden


23 Sep 1908

Letter from Catharine Flink (sister of Adam J. Leiden) to George Henry Leiden (son of Adam J. Leiden)

My Dear Henry,

As you happen to be the only one that can write and read German, and your mother with her bad eyesight cannot read or write. Since May I am 79 years old. My sister is 85 in February.

How many children do you have? What is your main work? And how is John [1]? Two of his sons have a shoe business in St. Lawrence and they have 11 left - what are they doing?

John Gerber is sending his children on to get ore education. One is a teacher and writes very nice letters.

In Chicago I also have a grand-nephew who will be there three years. He is selling wines, also sells religious articles. He is satisfied and makes speeches for the meetings. Maybe you read something about him, Joseph Goder.

John must have a lot of animals. Are his children that all alone - Does his mother still live all alone? Should be best if one of the children would live with her. I also am all alone - I have no children, but have a girl who has been with me 21 years.

You should see that your children learn German.

Your Aunt
Frau Dr. Flink
23 September 1908

  1. Jacob John Leiden


20 Dec 1909

Letter from Catharine Flink (sister of Adam J. Leiden) to George Henry Leiden (son of Adam J. Leiden) and Elizabeth Leiden (wife of Adam J. Leiden)
20 December 1909

Dear Nephew and Sister-in-law,

A very long time I didn't hear from you - now the holiday is here. Wishes to you and your mother, also John's father (probably family).

How old is your mother now? She must be as old as my sister, Frau Longard. Next year in May I will be 81.

In Chicago there is a son of my niece, a Dr. Goder got married on November 23 with a German American. Wants to return in the spring with his wife.

You have enough to write about with your family and John's family. Your family is almost too young to be on their own. The eyesight of your mother is almost the same as before.

Dr. said to me I almost have to have an operation on my eyes.

Who is taking care of your mother's house?

When I am going to die there won't be any power of attorney from your family. Woud you write one up and send it. One should do it in German and send it over to have it signed. Let me know about it.

When one gets old, one has to think about it, and it would be to your benefit if everything would be fixed up.

Your Aunt
Frau Flick


22 Dec 1910

Letter from Catharine Flink (sister of Adam J. Leiden) to George Henry Leiden (son of Adam J. Leiden)
22 December 1910

Dear Henry,

Best wishes for the holidays.

Your mother's eyesight has become poorer in the last year.

How is John [1] with all his children? The two oldest [2] you wrote have a shoe store in St. Lawrence. But he has 13 children as much as I know. They must be all grown. You have as much as 7 children. What are they doing? Anyone learning a trade?

You can tell your mother that the oldest daughter of her brother Peter died two weeks ago [3]. She was married, living in Budenheim, had four children. Those four children are all grown up. They are very well off.

I heard that John bought a big piece of land - with a big family he needs it.

How are the (?) in St. Lawrence?

We had lost of rain already - a flood. The grape harvest was very poor. Fruit prices were very low.

Greetings to all
Frau Flick

  1. Jacob John Leiden
  2. Harry Adam Leiden and John Pius Leiden. Harry continued selling shoes in Johnstown and Pittsburgh.
  3. Leilla Longard


13 Jan 1912

Letter from Catharine Flink (sister of Adam J. Leiden) to George Henry Leiden (son of Adam J. Leiden)
13 January 1912

Dear Henry,

Your mother is most likely living yet. She should be about 86 years old by now. My sister [1] and I are the only ones left in Leiden family. My sister will be 88 and I am 83.

The sister-in-law of your mother (who lived in Martinstein) now in Budenheim near Mainy. This lady has two daughters married. The oldest daughter, Johanna, died in the spring (gallstones). Her four children are all grown up. She lived with Johanna's children.

Write me about the family of John.

In Chicago, a son of my niece, Goder, is actually an engineer. He is married, has one child 1-1/2 years old. Sent a photo of my nephew.

Heinric Longard in Chicago. In spring returned to Germany. Didn't seem to go as far as he expected to go.

A few children from John are married already. He has children that stay on the farm.

Have you something else to do besides the general store? How are your children? Hope you don't get a headache answering my questions.

Best regards to you, your family John.

How far are you from John, also your mother

Aunt Flink

  1. Maria Elizabeth

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