Jake Schomber’s Nieces

A generous grant from 4Culture is currently funding the digitization and cataloging of several archival collections, including the letters of Minnie Wilson and Jake Schomber, Issaquah residents and sweetheart. The couple corresponded during World War I, when Jake was serving in the Army. This post is part of a series of posts about their lives and letters.

After finishing the cataloging of the letters between Jake Schomber and Minnie Wilson, I came across some miscellaneous letters written to Jake during WWI. This was an exciting event as the letters of Minnie and Jake, while interesting, become a little repetitious after awhile. I have noticed that while reading correspondence (whether it be Minnie and Jake’s or the Anderson’s) there are references to other letters written and it makes me curious to read that specific letter. But, for some reason, the letter mentioned is not in our collection. This always reminds me that what I find important in an item is not necessarily what was important to the original recipient.

With this letter, however, it is not hard to see why Jake kept it.

The letter is from his niece, Evelyn Lewis, daughter of Anna Schomber Lewis and Joseph Lewis. It is dated October 5, 1918, and in the painstaking script of a 10-year-old Evelyn told Jake all of what she deemed important and newsworthy in Issaquah.

(click on the letters to read them full-size)

She begins by talking about the hunting by the men in her family. She probably knew Jake was an avid hunter and liked this kind of information. She rats our her dad, Jake’s brother-in-law, calling him an “awful poor sportsman” and that “he’s went hunting twice and didn’t bring home a thing.”

She continues by saying that Carrie is home again, presumably her Aunt Carrie, Jake’s sister. I am curious to do a little more digging to determine where Carrie was, perhaps school?

As someone who loves shopping the next part was my favorite (I have corrected some of the punctuation, not all, to make it easier to read):

“Mama went to Seattle Saturday and got a suit a pair of shoes and two waists and a hat[.] [S]he got some gingham for the kids she brought some candy to[o]. [D]ad bought two pairs of shoes a pair for him and a pair for Tom[.] Mama bought a pair of shoes for me but I am sorry to say that Toms[,] dads and my pair of shoes were small and we had only three working days in which to exchange the shoes. [S]o dad said he’d go down to Seattle and exchange them so he went down Wednesday and exchanged them[.] [H]e got me a pair of shoes that costs $6.50 they are brown shoes. Toms are to but dad got a tan pair. I wish you could see them gee they are nice.”

Evelyn’s section on new shoes and waists is the majority of the letter. A trip into Seattle would have been a big deal and she was probably excited to relay the whole ordeal of her parents going into Seattle not just once but twice. (As a side note, inflation on that price for a pair of shoes roughly translates into $100 today.)

Evelyn’s letter also contains a separate piece of paper on which she has written “Here is too pictures Florence made you aren’t they beautiful.” On the front of the paper Florence, Evelyn’s 4-year-old sister, has drawn a house (complete with door, window and chimney) and a lady. The amazing part about these drawings is that you could compare them with the drawings of a 4-year-old of today and they would be very similar. It seems that the stylings in drawings of children doesn’t change much, even over almost 100 years.

This letter and the enclosed drawing was such a pleasure for me to find in our collection that I can’t imagine how happy Jake must have been to receive it while in the Army. Jake was still in Camp Fremont at the time Evelyn (and Florence) wrote the letter but no more than 2 weeks later he was shipped out to go overseas. I can imagine this letter helped to lift his spirits.