Tuesday, November 19, 2013

September 8, 1937 - Aba

In which Ralph writes with proud, fond words about his two daughters, home for vacation from Rethy.

September 8, 1937
Left to right: Unknown, Edith, Miriam Hodgkinson?, Esther, Mary Grimshaw.
Taken about 1936-1937, at Rethy.  Mom remembers that they were allowed
to take their dolls to Sunday School (or sometimes their teddy bears)
and afterwards the girls taught the lesson to the dolls.  From the
collection of Mary Grimshaw Janish. 

Dear family,

Coralee reminds me that it is a long time since I wrote to you. We trust though that you have not been without news all that time.

We are glad to be able to report reasonably good health this time. And we are now enjoying having the girls home with us for vacation. Near the end of last month Coralee and I went for a medical trip to Aru where there were some surgical cases to be done and other patients to be seen.

While there we had a chance to run over to Arua where Miss Souther(1) is temporarily stationed. [Personal portion redacted.] She has just recently returned to the field after a long time at home. Then we went to Rethi in time to attending the closing exercises of the school for white children (“Rethi Academy”).

This was the first time we had been to such an event since E & E had been going to school. They had a very interesting program in which nearly all the children took part. A new feature was the Honor Roll and Edith came off with the highest grade of the whole school. Esther was fourth with two points less than Edith.

The next day we had a real load in the car for we took Mr. Pontier with us and his two boys(2), Ruth Stam(3) and Miriam Hodgkinson(4) – the adults and six kids and all their baggage. However all went well and we reached Aba the same day. Since then we have been having a great time with the girls at home. All during last vacation we had visitors with us which meant a lot less time to spend with E & E, but this time we have been alone so far and have been making the most of it. Not quite alone however, for Mr. and Dr. Maynard(5) of the A.I.M. in Tanganyika(6) were here for a visit and stayed at the hospital having some meals with us.

The children have been keeping quite well and seem to thoroughly enjoy school life. They seem to be developing a bit too fast to suit us though for they are rapidly getting out of the little tot stage. At Rethi they are having piano and organ lessons and it has been fun to hear them practice on the little organ here at home. Their birthdays always come along when they are in school and so we are arranging to have a second birthday for both of them together while they are at home. They have chosen tomorrow as the day. 

Fortunately there are some visiting children on the station and so they should have a good party. They had accumulated a little spending money and we had the fun of taking them to the poste to spend it. I guess all the above sounds as if they were brand new babies and the first one at that. But you know how it is.

There have been unusually many white patients in the hospital lately but today the last one was discharged and so now the place is empty. These have all been non-mission people and that means a certain amount of financial help for the hospital, but just the same we are glad to be alone for a while. The dispensary attendance has been higher than usual this year. August is always a slack month in the native hospital but now it is filling up again. Today we had a very unusual operation for Congo – a cancer of the breast in a native(7).

The next day:
The children party has come and gone, and they had a great time. There were eleven present, a large number for Aba these days. And now we are all tired and it is bed time, and so good-night!

With love,
Ralph and Coralee

  1. Miss Ann Souther (pronounced sow-ther), a close friend of Coralee.  An American AIM missionary.
  2. Mr. Bill (and Marty) Pontier, their sons were Paul and Raymond “Ray”.  Mom remembers them as being full of pranks.  Both eventually became missionaries.  The Pontiers were based at Aru.    
  3. Ruth Stam lived at Aba. 
  4. Miriam Hodgkinson was a child of British missionaries.  Mom doesn't think she became a missionary herself, but was involved in support.  She was about the same age as Edith and Esther.  The Hodgkinsons may have lived at Dungu
  5. Ruby Arnold Maynard, 1912-1998, AIM missionary at Kola Ndoto, Tanzania.  According to the Billy Graham Archives, her work was largely medical, managing a hospital and later running a leprosarium. There are 3 reels of audio tape in the archives.  William J.  “Nangi” Maynard was her husband. The trip from Kola Ndoto to Aba is a long one, estimated on Google Maps at 1,326 kilometers.    
  6. Tanganyika became Tanzania (A short history of the country can be reviewed here).
  7. This cancer was also rare in the Kimpese area, where the Meyers’ were missionaries for several years.  

Monday, November 11, 2013

December 20, 1929 - Aba

In which Coralee raves about the new baby, and describes how she and Ralph acquired Patches the dog. 

December 20, 1929

Dear Family,

[Personal portion redacted.]
Five years have passed since we sailed from New York. It hardly seems possible; it has gone very quickly for us.

These are very hot days here now. We are in the midst of our dry season. Which means little or no rain, high winds all day that dry everything so ugly and brown. The sun gives us extra heat and just about wilts us. Ralph and I notice the sun so here, for it is hotter here at Aba than at Aru or Rethi (1), where we were before. I’ll be so glad when the rains come again and it is cooler.

During the dry season the natives burn the grass on every side. These fires have started and there is fine flakes of burnt grass flying in the air.  One can almost imagine we are in a dirty city by looking at the clothes on the line. These fires make the air very smoky and there isn't any view these days, only a misty smoky haze on the horizon. This burning time is also a hunting time for the blacks. They start the fire over a certain area and the men stand just back of the fire with spears or bows and arrows to shoot any animal that may appear – i.e. rats or anything bigger.

You should see our dog. We've always said we’d never have a dog but here we find ourselves with one and we both confess we like it.  Last month Ralph had to go to Aru to see the medical work there and so I went along. It is 200 miles one way so we stayed over the weekend. On the way back we stopped at the govt. official’s home so I could nurse the baby and found one of his little daughters a bit sick. Ralph gave them some advice and just as we were near to leaving the mother said to the child, “wouldn't you like to give the doctor one of your little dogs”. And she said very promptly – yes Mother and brought her favorite pup. There wasn't anything to do but take it. It is a short-haired dog, black and white, so we have called him Patches. 

It is some dog alright, so cute but so mean. Chews everything. I found him just in time the other day to rescue Edith’s carriage cover. I wouldn't be surprised if he’d chew the baby (2) if he got a chance. Our house boys are crazy about him. All the natives love a dog. They are wealth in their eyes. You have no trouble in exchanging a female dog i.e. pup for a female goat. And goats, especially females, are real wealth for here they buy their wives with goats. So much for the dog, now about the baby.

Allow me to rave a bit. She does seem the sweetest and dearest in all the world to me. She weighs 11lb 14 oz. now and seems so well. So far I have been able to feed her altogether and it surely is a real blessing and so much better for her and less expensive for us. She sleeps thru the night now from 6 to 6. Ralph of course thinks this is quite a worthy accomplishment.

She is outgrowing her basket so I must get busy and fix her a bed. There seems to be such a little bit of time I can hardly get anything done. Seriously I think maybe the day ought to be longer. Maybe I might get thru then.

I know you all are awful busy too and I hate to bother you but I have been wondering if you would do a little shopping for me? [Personal portion redacted.] It’s for the baby. I am enclosing $5.00 that came as a gift and if the things cost more than this with the mailing charges and I’m pretty sure they will, please send it to the Brooklyn office and they will take it from our allowance, which is quite O.K. 

I would like two pair of shoes. Little first step ones. Different or rather progressive sizes and some socks. Several pieces of colored material suitable for little everyday dresses. Also several dress patterns and some transfer patterns so I can touch them up a little, also a good variety of embroidery threads. [Personal portion redacted.] I don’t crave anything elaborate for my girlie but I would love to have her neat and pretty.

Shoes are a real necessity for a child out here for they are apt to contract various diseases going barefooted. So I must plan for her little feet.

It is late so I must go. Thank you so much in advance.  Good night and best wishes for the coming year.

Ah yes – a nice fat parcel is stored away out of sight awaiting the 25th. It left your place some time ago. We will try hard to keep up our resistance until the 25th. It is a real temptation to look alright.

Thank you so much we surely do appreciate your loving thoughts of us.  

With much love,

Coralee and Ralph

  1. Both Aru and Rethy are situated at a higher altitude than Aba. Aba is also located further north and closer to the desert.  
  2. The "baby" is Esther Louise, born August 7th and referred to first here.  

Thursday, November 7, 2013

June, 1929 - Aba, Congo Belge

In which Coralee tells the family at home about another new member of the Kleinschmidts!  

Aba, C.B. 
Ralph Kleinschmidt & Edith, about September 1928

June ?, 1929

Dear Family,

There isn't much time tonight for a letter but I did want to get a line off to you by this mail. Your good letter came a long time ago and I hope you’ll forgive us for not answering sooner. We surely do appreciate all the work of getting those things for Edith. It was so good of you all to send them. The parcel came last mail and everything was just lovely. Thanks so much. I do like the material and patterns so much. The little shoes were just fine. [Personal portion redacted.] The shoes are all too large for Edith now but that is far better as she will soon be able to use them. She has a little pair that she is wearing now that a govt. official’s wife gave me. So the shoe problem has worked out lovely.

Coralee Kleinschmidt & Edith, about September 1928

Edith is so well and sturdy but very small. She is nearly ten months old and barely weighs 16 lb.(1) She is very active, crawling everywhere and pulling herself up. Has three teeth with several others apparently near. We do enjoy her so much, she is so jolly and so typically a normal baby. The natives love her and she is so fond of them. She is good friends with any black that comes along.

You will be surprised to know that we are expecting Edith’s little brother to arrive in Sept.  About the 22nd (2). It seems so soon to expect another baby when Edith is so tiny. However we know that the “Lord doeth all things well” so we are glad and know that this is according to His plan. It will be lovely for Edith to have a playmate so near her own age. Especially away out here where there aren't any other white children near her age.

Edith on a leopard skin, about September 1928
When I look in the future I wonder how on earth I’ll ever be able to take care of two children, care for our home, and help in the medical. It surely looks difficult and hard. But my best assurance is to remember that this is the Lord’s work, and we are His servants, and that He will never expect more of us than we can do.

[Personal portion redacted.] I haven’t been a bit well since the little “brother” has been on the way. It is late and I am so tired so I will say goodnight. Again many, many thanks to you for all you have done for us. We surely do appreciate it all very much. [Personal portion redacted.]


  1. Edith grew up to be petite and very small-boned.  
  2. In fact, the "brother" turned out to be a sister, my mother Esther. She was born August 7th, six weeks early.  

Monday, November 4, 2013

March 26, 1928 - Aru, Congo Belge

In which Coralee discusses the pending arrival of a new Kleinschmidt (1) and describes the packing process to move to Aba. 

Aru, C.B.

March 26, 1928

Dear Home Folks,
As before I've intended to write you for some time now and it just hasn't gotten done. It seems like lately most of our letters home have been because of business necessitating them but this one I wanted to write ages ago when I wrote for the things we need for the new member of the Kleinschmidt family that is expected to arrive in Congo. [Personal portion redacted.] We wanted you all to know and wanted to write you also but lately we have been so busy as I say, it seems only business letters have gone.

You will have heard that we are moving to Aba. Nobody will ever know how I hate to leave our lovely home here and start in all new again. Especially now when we are expecting.

Ralph is away now. He has taken our first load to Aba. Poor kid. It is a big day to drive a truck 200 miles. I am keen to know how he got along.

I am still packing the remainder of the boxes. For out here everything must be packed in boxes or bags when one moves. It is sure some job. I just pray that the Lord won’t ever have us move again (2). I hate it so.

Ralph has been very busy working on the truck and motorcycle so he hasn't been able to help me much. Poor kid he has worked so hard. He is looking tired and thinner now. I hope when we go to Aba he will be able to have some of these machine jobs done in the Poste there as there is a big machine shop there in connection with a big commercial company. We will have a lot of their employees as patients so they may be sport enough to return favors as no fees are ever charged for treatment given.

I am more surprised all the time how well Ralph does these mechanical jobs. If I do say it myself he is very clever at them and good at doing neat carpentry work too. I think he must have inherited the mechanical turn for he never had any experience along these lines at home. [Personal portion redacted.]

We have just had a real tropical storm. The rainy season has begun again and so we are having much cooler weather for which we are indeed grateful. It rains nearly every day and sometimes several times in one day.

Now I must go as today has been a very busy day, for I've done the medical and packed every minute that could be spared so I’m good and tired. So far I’m very well though there are some days when things seem to be down to rock bottom and I get tired so quickly – but know this is rather the usual run of things.

Hope you are having much joy in the Lord. 

With lots of love,


  1. Edith was born in August 1928, at Aba. 
  2. Her prayers were answered. The Kleinschmidts served at Aba together until 1964.