V-mail from Germany to Willshire, 1945

V-mail from Herbert Miller, Germany, 1945.

I am a Charter Member and supporter of the National World War II Museum in New Orleans. They recently sent me information about one of their programs, Operation Footlocker. Operation Footlocker gives school children across the country the opportunity to see and touch real World War II artifacts, while adding to their WWII education.

Each footlocker sent to a school includes items such as V-mail letters, ration books, dog tags, sand from the beaches of Normandy and Iwo Jima, wartime magazines, a cloth map, a US Army Foreign Language Manual, a Savings Bond Stamp Book, a gas mask, Philippine Occupation Currency, an American tank periscope, a 1943 steel penny, to name a few.

A footlocker can be kept at a school for one week and costs $50 for the 2011-2012 school year. The cost is normally $100 but is less right now because of a grant. Specific details about the program are on National World War II Museum’s website.

I have an actual V-mail letter here at home. My dad sent this letter from Germany during WWII to his aunt and uncle, Clara (Miller) and Wavil “Johnny” Reef, and his grandmother, Christine (Rueck) Miller. The V-mail letter:

To: Mr & Mrs. Wavel Reef
RR #1
Willshire, Ohio

From: 35845400
Pfc Herbert Miller

Co. L-333rd ?

c/o PM NY NY

May 23, 1945

Dear Aunt, Uncle & Grandmother,

It’s about 8 o’clock in the morning and I am going to try and write a couple of letters. They have been keeping us pretty busy around here, drilling & guard duty & etc. We have a schedule about like basic training.

I started to write you a letter last nite & can’t find the envelope & paper I had started on so I’m going to write a V-mail.

I imagine you have a quite a few of the crops out. How has the weather been, dry or rainy?

I don’t know what they are going to do with this Div., it will be either Army occupation or the Pacific. These are Rumors going around that we are going to the Pacific, ? we do will probably go to the states first.

Must close for now, am feeling fine & hope you are the same.

Love, Herbie

PS My camera takes B-2 film. Please send some. 

What exactly was V-mail? V-mail, short for Victory Mail, was a mail process used to correspond with soldiers stationed abroad during WWII. The process was created in 1942 to reduce the space and weight required to ship soldiers’ letters home. The process was based on the British Airgraph process.

It worked like this: The V-mail letter sheets were a combination letter/envelope and they formed an envelope when folded. Soldiers wrote their letters in a limited space and added the name and address of the recipient on the special stationery. V-mail stationery was about 7 X 9 inches and no postage was necessary. The letters were first read by military censors. After that they were copied to microfilm by the US Army Signal Corps. Each letter was reduced to about thumb-nail size on the film. The rolls of microfilm were flown to the US and developed at a receiving station near the addressee. The letters were enlarged and printed on paper at about 60% of their original size, or about 4 1/4 x 5 1/4 inches. The V-mail letter was then delivered to the addressee.

V-mail in envelope, 1845.

Reducing the size of the letters made space available for other war supplies. According to the National Postal Museum, “V-mail ensured that thousands of tons of shipping space could be reserved for war materials. The 37 mail bags required to carry 150,000 one-page letters could be replaced by a single mail sack. The weight of that same amount of mail was reduced dramatically from 2,575 pounds to a mere 45.”

The first Army operated V-mail station overseas was opened on 15 April 1943 at Casablanca, North Africa. Between June 15, 1942 and April 1, 1945, over 510 million pieces of V-mail were received from military personnel abroad and over 556,513,795 pieces were sent from the U.S. to military post offices.

There were a few other advantages of V-mail. It deterred espionage communications by foiling the use of invisible ink, microdots, and micro printing. None of those techniques could be reproduced in a photocopy. The process also allowed more letters to reach military personnel faster around the globe.

Evidently Johnny & Clara sent my dad the camera film he asked for. This is one of my favorite photos of my dad during WWII. He developed this photo himself while he was in Germany.

Herbert Miller, 84 Division, 333rd Company, "The Railsplitters", WWII

By the way, my dad is listed in the National World War II Museum’s Honor Roll of Charter Members on-line.


Sources of information:

Wikipedia: V-mail
National Postal Museum: Victory Mail
National Postal Museum: V-mail


Tombstone Tuesday–Florence Marie Schumm

Florence Marie Schumm, Zion Lutheran Cemetery, Van Wert County, Ohio.

This is the tombstone of Florence Marie Schumm, located in row 3 of Zion Lutheran Cemetery, Schumm, Van Wert County, Ohio. The tombstone is inscribed: Florence Marie, Toch Von V.A. und B.W. Schumm, Gest. Den 10 Okt. 1913, Alter 2 M. 10 T. Translated: Florence Marie, daughter of V.A. and B.W. Schumm, died on 10 October 1913, age 2 months, 10 days.

Her death and burial record from the church records of Zion, Schumm: Florence Maria Schumm, daughter of Mr. Victor Schumm and his legal wife Bertha, nee Kroemer, was born 31 July 1913 in Willshire, Ohio. She died 10 October 1913 in Fort Wayne, Indiana, age 2 months, 10 days.  She was buried 13 October in the parish cemetery. Her funeral text was Galatians 3:26, 27.

Her baptism was also in Zion’s records: Florence Maria Schumm was born 31 July 1913 near Willshire, Ohio. She was baptized 3 August 1913 at the house of the parents. Her parents are Mr. Victor Schumm and his legal wife Bertha, nee Kroemer. Baptismal sponsors were Maria Kroemer and Lydia Schumm. Geo. J. Meyer, Pastor.

Florence Marie Schumm was the third child born to Alfred “Victor” and Bertha Wilhelmina (Kroemer) Schumm. Victor Schumm was the son of John Christian and Wilhelmina “Minnie” (Breuninger) Schumm. Wilhelmina “Minnie” was the daughter of Louis and Maria (Sekel) Breuninger.

Florence’s siblings were Johann “Christian” (1911-1933), Albert Victor (1912-1972), Adelia Wilhelmina, (1915-?) and Louise Maria (1916-1996)..



Brewster Brothers in the Civil War

Brewster Brothers: George W, Winfield Scott, Daniel M, James Henry (seated), 1913.

Last week I shared a newspaper article and a photo of the first Brewster Reunion, held in Adams County, Indiana, in 1913. Among those in attendance were two Civil War veterans. Brothers James Henry and Daniel M. Brewster served in Company E of the 80th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry [OVI].

According to James Henry Brewster’s Civil War records he enlisted on 24 December 1861, at Camp Meigs, Canal Dover, Tuscarawas County, Ohio. He enrolled for 3 years as a private on 24 January 1862 at Rockford. I assume they were referring to Rockford, Ohio, which is very near where we now live.

He was in the muster rolls by March of 1862 and by October 1862 he was in a Hospital in Corinth, Mississippi. Throughout the war he was plagued with chronic diarrhea and dysentery which he contracted at Inka, Mississippi, in September 1862. He also suffered with rheumatism which affected his back and head and resulted in heart trouble.

James Henry was appointed Corporal 24 August 1862. He was in the march from Holly Springs to Chattanooga, Tennessee, in the fall/winter of 1863 and served at Bridgeport, Tennessee. He was honorably discharged at Huntsville, Alabama, on 31 January 1864 but reenlisted in February 1864 for the duration of the war. James Henry was appointed Sergeant on 10 April 1865 and was honorably discharged on 13 August 1865 at Columbus, Ohio.

After the war he returned to New Philadelphia, Ohio, and married Jane Newton in 1866. They had 10 children and in 1884 they moved to Kansas. James Henry Brewster was a customer in the First National Bank in Coffeyville, Kansas, when the Dalton Gang robbed it in 1902.

According to his military records James Henry Brewster was born 9 August 1841 in Masontown, Fayette County, Pennsylvania, and died 9 March 1916. He was 5′ 9 1/2″ tall with dark hair and brown eyes.

Daniel M. Brewster enlisted in Company E of the 80th Regiment OVI for 3 years on 9 May 1864 in Columbus, Ohio. That same month he joined his Regiment at Larkinsville and left from the depot. He was present at muster until September 1864 when he was taken to the General Hospital in Chattanooga, Tennessee. In November of 1864 he was admitted to the No. 2 Hospital in Chattanooga for acute and chronic diarrhea. During 1865 he was a patient in both hospitals as well as the Northern Hospital and a hospital in Nashville, Tennessee. Daniel was transferred to the Veteran Reserve Corps on 28 December 1864 and to the Invalid Corps on 13 August 1865.

Daniel Brewster gave the following information in his General Affidavit for Civil War Pension: “I was sent from Chattanooga to Nashville on the [train] car to be cared for in the hospital, and was injured while on the way……being sick at the time of injury.” (dated 21 June 1879)

Also contained in Daniel’s Civil War Records: Daniel was 5′ 7″ tall, with blue eyes and light hair. He was born in Fayette County, Pennsylvania, and was a farmer.

Notes, hand-written by Harriet Ann Brewster Buckmaster, daughter of Daniel Brewster and his second wife:  “Daniel Brewster was 18 years old when he enlisted in Company E of the 80th Ohio Regiment of Infantry on the 9th day of May, 1864 and served until he was injured when a train was derailed by confederate soldiers and hospitalized. I recall father saying he walked from his home to Union City to enlist and then after being discharged he was given a new pair of boots and walked again from Union City home suffering with blisters on his feet by the new boots.  He served under General William Tecumseh Sherman in that memorable march to Atlanta where the train was derailed. He fought in the battles of Lookout Mountain, Dalton, Reseca, Kenesaw Mountain and others, going without food for three days at a time. 

They ate corn that they could eat when it was ripe. I remember his telling about them going without food for several days at a time and once when they were resting some of the soldiers stole a hog from a farm house and killed it. But when they were ready to cook the meat they had orders to march and did not get the meat they so badly needed. 

[Daniel] was on his way to the memorable march to the sea when his train was derailed by confederate soldiers and was hospitalized with an injury to his back. He was given an honorable discharge on July 27,1865…

Our father was a very patriotic man and was a staunch Republican.”

After the war Daniel moved to the Adams County, Indiana, area and married Sarah Ann Fetters in Mercer County, Ohio, in 1867. They had four children. Sarah died in 1877 and Daniel then married Loverda Bebout. Daniel and Loverda had six children. I descend from Daniel and Sarah’s son Phillip Henry Brewster.

According to the website Eightieth Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry, the 80th OVI was organized at large from October 1861-January 1862, to serve three years. On the expiration of its term of service the original members (except veterans) were mustered out and the organization, composed of veterans and recruits, retained in service until 13 August 1865, when it was mustered out in accordance with orders from the War Department. The 80th OVI participated in the following battles:

Corinth, Mississippi (siege of), 30 April-30 May 1862
Farmington, Mississippi, 9 May 1862
Iuka, Mississippi, 19-20 September 1861
Corinth, Mississippi, 4 October 1862
Raymond, Mississippi, 12 May 1863
Jackson, Mississippi, 14 May 1863
Vicksburg, Miss. (Siege of), 18 May-14 July 1863
Mission Ridge, Tennessee, 25 November 1863
Salkahatchie, South Carolina, 3-9 February 1865
Bentonville, North Carolina, 19-21 March 1865
Sherman’s March to the Sea

I have proved both James H. and Daniel Brewster in the OGS lineage society, Society of Civil War Families of Ohio. I also purchased a brick in Daniel’s honor.

Dan Brewster brick at OGS Library, Bellville, Ohio.


Daniel Brewster, Civil War Service Records, National Archives, M552, Roll 13, Ohio.
Daniel Brewster, Federal Military Pension File, Civil War, National Archives, Cert No. 831,126, Can PL 386, Bundle 4807.
James Henry Brewster, Federal Military Pension File, Civil War, National Archives, File XC2691080.


Tombstone Tuesday–Sophia & George Byer

Sophia & George Byer, Zion Lutheran Cemetery, Chattanooga, Ohio.

This is the tombstone of Sophia Byer and her son George, located in row 6 of Zion Lutheran Cemetery, Chattanooga, Mercer County, Ohio.

The marker is nearly unreadable now but was transcribed by the Mercer County Chapter of the Ohio Genealogical Society in 1990. Their transcription: Byer, Sophia, wife of Jasper, died 10 March 1872, aged 22 years, 3 months, 6 days. George, son, 26 Feb 1872-10 Mar 1872.  (Mercer County, Ohio, Cemetery Inscriptions, Volume VI, Blackcreek, Hopewell and Liberty Townships,  compiled by The Mercer County Chapter OGS, 1990:96.)

This information corresponds with their death and burial record in Zion’s church records: Sophia Beyer, born Gugel, wife of Casper Beyer, died 10 Mar 1872. She was 22 years, 3 months and 6 days old.  She died 13 days after the birth of a child, who went to the eternal rest of the Holy Ones on the same day with his mother. He was baptized on 1 March and was given the name Georg Friedrich. Their funeral text was Psalm 16:6.

Sophia was the daughter of Sixtus and Magdalene (Herzog) Gugel, featured in last week’s Tombstone Tuesday.

According to Zion’s Family Register Anna “Sophia” Gugel was born 30 December 1849 in Butler County, Ohio. She was baptized and confirmed 15 May 1864 in Mercer County. Sophia married Casper Beyer and their marriage is also recorded in Zion’s records:

Casper Beyer and Sophia Gugel, both single, were united in Holy Matrimony on 8 Aug 1867. His parents were Johann Michael and Catharine Beyer and her parents were Sixtus and Magdalene Gugel. The groom was age 27 and was from Puschendorf, Kingdom of Bavaria. The bride was age 18 and a native of Butler County, Ohio. Witnesses were William Becker and Magdalena Betzel. The marriage ceremony was in the church.

Casper and Sophia had the following children, as recorded in the baptism records of Zion, Chattanooga:

Sixtus Michael Beyer was born 28 August 1868 in Blackcreek Township, Mercer County, Ohio. He was baptized 27 September 1868. His parents were Casper Beyer, born in Puschendorf, Mittelfranken, Bavaria and his wife Sophia, nee Gugel, born in Butler County, Ohio. Witnesses at his baptism were Sixtus Gugel and his wife Magdalena. 

Catharina Elisabetha Beyer was born 27 February 1870 in Blackcreek Township, Mercer County, Ohio.  She was baptized 3 April 1870. Her parents were Casper Beyer, born in Puschendorf, Bavaria, and Sophia, nee Gugel, born in Butler County, Ohio. Witnesses at her baptism were Heinrich Becker and Sophia Gugel.

Georg Friedrich Beyer, their infant son who is buried with his mother, was not listed in Zion’s baptism records.

Note: Byer was also spelled Beyer in the church records.


The First Brewster Reunion, 1913

First Brewster Reunion, 7 September 1913, Adams County, Indiana.

It is always a pleasant surprise when some family-related information unexpectedly pops up right before your eyes. Last Friday I was doing some newspaper research at the Brumback Library in Van Wert. I was nearly finished and was looking through a book of abstracted articles from the Willshire Herald, waiting for a rain storm to end. I was searching for news articles about my maternal ancestors from the Willshire/Schumm area.

What I did not expect to find was an article about my Brewster ancestors who lived in Indiana. The Brewsters are my dad’s side of the family and they lived in the Adams/Jay County area. Adams County, Indiana, and Van Wert County, Ohio, border each other. I shouldn’t have been surprised that Indiana news was published in an Ohio town that was so close to the state line. But I was.

This article was about the first Brewster Reunion, held in Adams County, Indiana, in 1913. I have had the above photo of the reunion for some time and it is nice to have a newspaper article about it.

The following two paragraphs are from page 5 of the Thursday, 18 September 1913 edition of the Willshire Herald:

J.H. Brewster and wife left Monday morning for New Philadelphia, Ohio, to visit other relatives before returning to their home in Kansas.

The first reunion of the Brewster family was held in the Baucker grove, in Jefferson township on Sunday, September 7. A bounteous dinner was served to all present. After dinner everybody was busy eating ice cream and melon. J.H. Brewster of Kansas, delivered an after dinner speech which was very interesting and full of good advice, and all listened very attentively. Those present were as follows: J.H. Brewster and wife of Independence, Kansas; Daniel Brewster, wife, two daughters Edna and Augusta; Winfield S. Brewster and children, Charles, Andrew and Emma; George W. Brewster and wife of Decatur; Philip H. Brewster, wife and children Gertie, Alpha, Bernice, Elva and Masters Jesse, Theodore and Glenn; Charles Brewster, wife and children Clara, Fredia, Maynard, Harold, Melvin and Jennie; Frank Brewster, wife and children Bernice, Minnie and Joe; Jesse A. Buckmaster, wife and children Claudice, Lois, Verlyn and True; Samuel Brewster, wife and children Elsie and Russel; Roy Scoles, wife and children Breman and Harry, all of Adams county; Mrs. Ora E. Curk and daughter Irmyl of New Corydon, Indiana; Harry Teeter, wife and son Walter of Portland, Indiana. 

Willshire Herald, 18 September 1913, p5.

Persons in above photo, left to right, starting with back row:

Back row: Jesse A. Buckmaster, Charles William Brewster, Phillip Henry Brewster, James Henry Brewster, Daniel M. Brewster, Winfield Scott Brewster, George W. Brewster, Charles Brewster, Samuel Marion Brewster, Roy Scoles.

Row 2: Harry Teeter, Augusta Blanch Brewster, Gertrude Brewster, ?, Alpha Brewster, Jack Russel Brewster (child), Edna May (Woodruff) Brewster, Claudia Beatrice Buckmaster, Irmyl Lang, Dora Edna Brewster, Ora Elizabeth Brewster, Franklin D. Brewster, Andrew Theodore Brewster.

Row 3: Harriet Ann (Brewster) Buckmaster, Golda Rosetta (Brewster) Teeter w/son Walter, Oma Annette (Brewster) Scoles w/son Harry, Mary Elizabeth (Bellis) Brewster w/son Richard, Pearl Selina (Reid) Brewster w/Glen, Maude (Marsh) Brewster w/son Melvin, Mary Loverda (Bebout) Brewster, Jane (Newton) Brewster, Rachel Hannah (Bebout) Brewster, Theodore “Dore” Franklin Brewster, ?.

Row 4 (front row): Jesse Brewster, Maynard D. Brewster, Lois Louella Buckmaster, Harold “Bill” Brewster, Merrill Scoles, Elsie Elizabeth Brewster, Beatrice Brewster, Annabel Lee Brewster, Bernice Brewster, Elva Viola Brewster, Verlyn Genevieve Buckmaster, Freda Brewster, Robert Brewster, Clara Brewster, Angelo “True” Buckmaster. (source: Brewster Genealogy, Compiled by Leone B. Freed, 1982, revised 1988 & 1994.)

When looking for information about our ancestors we need to remember to exhaust all sources and not to limit the scope of our search for information. You never know where you might find information you seek.