Saturday, December 27, 2014

Kosti, Sudan - On board the Nile Steamer - November 25, 1945

In which Coralee tells her daughters about Cairo, and the Nile Steamer. 

Kosti, Sudan
On board the Nile Steamer [1]
Sunday, November 25, 1945

Nile Steamer, about 1936
Photo from the Library of Congress. Photographer G. Eric Matson. 

Dear girls,
There are so many reasons why I am longing for you and wishing you were here ready to travel up the Nile with us.  We have very lovely cabins, and everything we need for comfort.  We know the river trip will be interesting, and we wish you could enjoy it with us. 

The Lord has wonderfully blessed as we have journeyed. We have made connections at each change and if no unforeseen delays come we ought to be in Aba by December 7th

Those traveling with us are Misses Short, Cribbs, Greene and Koscher.  Mr. & Mrs. Giddings flew to Kenya. The Feltons stayed in Cairo expecting to leave in a day or two by air for Tanganyika. The train trip was tiring but interesting too. Dad will tell you details. It was so nice yesterday to reach Khartoum.  The SIM folks met us at the train and helped in the many details regarding our luggage. 

Then we went to a hotel for lunch. While there a Greek we knew, Mr. Crassas (Parilo who took your doll, her uncle) came in [2]. He was so glad to see us and gave us lots of news about Greek folks we know. Then he insisted on paying for all our party’s lunch. We were eight. After lunch we went to the SIM home and had a lovely visit there until train time.  Our train was due to leave at 5:30. We were so surprised to find Mr. & Mrs. Sharland  [3] and Mr. Cook from Yie (the telescope man) [4] traveling on to their stations. They are here on the steamer with us. It is so nice to have fellowship together once again. They left England November 10. They have had a speedy trip.  Mr. Allison, the man we stayed with at Juba, went on to Juba by air yesterday.

Now let’s go back to Cairo for a bit.  We dislike Egypt and cannot understand why the Israelites wanted to return there.

One day we went to the Zoo just to see what they might have. It wasn't much. A very good variety of birds. The lions and leopards were very nice and sleek. I thought of you when I looked at one who had a very “gentle” soft look, like a big pussy, as he lay resting. One mother lion had three cubs about the size of a small native dog. They were so cute.  The only other thing worth mentioning were the HUGE HUGE turtles there. They were enormous, almost big enough to ride. [5]

The Stoughs and Klines expected to sail on the Gripsholm from Alexandria on November 22nd. We were so happy for this definite answer to prayer. Mrs. Stough was very well and Philip was improving. They ought to get home about the days before Christmas. 

Our stay in Cairo cost a lot of money for everything is so expensive in Egypt. Our hotel bill for two weeks was $150.  Daddy had such a busy time there seeing to all arrangements.  [Illegible] and endless details enter into traveling these days. We didn't buy a single thing but post cards and stamps. Oh yes Daddy bought me a box of candy and he got a billfold, a better size for Congo money, which is bigger than American bills.

Yesterday as we were coming along we saw herds of goats and sheep. The goats had long black hair, the sheep long tails, they almost touched the ground. There were lots of camels too. We didn't see a tiny baby one. The people ride donkeys a lot too.  They remind me of pictures of Mary and Joseph escaping into Egypt.

There were flocks of those white cow birds. And what do you think we saw – two big storks flying toward the train. We teased Daddy saying they knew he was coming. They were like them we have seen at Aba. [6]

The Nile here is very wide and blue. It is pleasant to see the green on each bank after the bare black desert. The dust, even with the windows closed, was awful dusty and hot.

We can hardly wait to get to Aba and receive mail.  It seems so, so long since we heard from you. We were especially thinking of you on November 21, just a year ago we arrived in USA. Then on Thanksgiving Day we were, [illegible] last Thanksgiving and remembering all that the Lord has done for us during this year. He has wonderfully blessed and supplied all our needs and guided us each one. We hope it has been a blessed thanksgiving for you both and that you have been conscious of our prayers for you. 

Remember that there are those praying for you all around the world. When I read in the morning at six AM and pray for you I often think it would be 11 PM with you. [7] Perhaps you’re weary and getting ready for bed.  Then at night when I go to bed I think of you again and try to think what special needs may be yours. So all thru the days you are constantly remembered. So many folks ask about you. It makes me very proud to have two daughters like you who love the Lord and are seeking to live for Him.

On the Gripsholm there was a couple, Mr. & Mrs. Redhead, SIM missionaries [8] who were graduates of Taylor University. They told us lots about the school (Marjorie Trout was there for a while when she was going to study medicine.) It sounded so interesting and since we thought it might be a possibility for you girls we have asked him to write to his friend who is the Dean to send literature to you girls and to us. When you receive it, carefully look it over and let us all pray about it. This might be a college possibility for you after you leave Du Bose. [9]

Now my paper is finished and so I will close here with lots of love to you.
Your Mother

1.  She makes it sound like there was only one, but it appears there were several that operated along the Nile from various ports.  Here is a wonderful link that gives a narrative of the journey from around the time that Ralph and Coralee were making this trip.  Great old photographs and a map with Aba on it! 
2.  It is very unclear who this person is, and I'm not sure I've transcribed the name correctly. Mom does not remember the name.  She does remember that when she and Edith left Congo they gave some of their dolls to various local children, and Parilo might have been one of them.  
3.  Very likely this was Leonard Sharland.  I'm confused about the "Mrs." since Wikipedia doesn't list him as being married until 1951.  UPDATE! Thanks to Roger, the son of Leonard Sharland (see comment below), I now know that the Sharlands referred to are Charles and Freda Sharland, who were with CMS in Loka, Sudan. 
4.  Mom doesn't remember who this person might be, or the reference to the telescope. 
5. The Giza Zoo is still operating, and I wonder if these African Spurred Tortoises  pictured are the ones that Coralee wrote about. It's possible!  (Here is the Wikipedia link if you want to know even more! They say that the oldest in captivity in the Giza Zoo, and is 54 years old, although I don't know when the entry was written.)
6. This is a reference to the obstetrical practice which Ralph was obliged to do. Mom remembers that he said that it was his least favorite specialty in medicine, and yet the one he practiced a great deal. Many of the missionary children were born at Aba.  The storks were the White Stork, which migrate through Africa.   
7.  The time change would not be this great, so I'm not sure what Coralee was thinking here.  The difference between Aba and Florida, where the girls were, would have been perhaps 8 hours.
8.  I believe this could have been Paris and Marjorie Reidhead, who were traveling to Sudan-Ethiopia border to do a survey of tribal languages.  See this link and this one
9.  Edie and Esther were at Hampton Du Bose Academy to complete their high school education.  Mom remembers that for Christmas this year (their first in the US alone), Coralee and Ralph arranged for a $15 extra allowance for each of the girls to get a pearl necklace for Christmas. She said that those pearl necklaces were their only jewelry until sometime in college.  In the end Edith and Esther didn't go to Taylor.  Because they both wanted to be missionaries, and they were short of funds, they decided to take Bible training at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. 

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Cairo, Egypt - November 17, 1945

In which Coralee and Ralph detail the complications of ocean travel just after World War II, and complain about conditions in Egypt.  (Be sure to check out the map link at the bottom of the post.)

Cairo, Egypt
November 17, 1945

Dear folks,

The first letter from Africa!  But this doesn't seem at all like Africa, and I’m certainly glad our part is not like this.  We have been in this noisy dirty hole for 10 days now and will be mighty happy when the time comes to leave it. That, we hope, will be day after tomorrow.

This is a borrowed typewriter with a lazy carriage, and that, with “seek and ye shall find” typist is a bad combination. Take your choice as to which to blame for the results.

The last few days before our sailing were a dizzy round of getting visas and other papers in order, for we didn't know we would be able to sail until the Friday before the Tuesday of sailing. However, the ship really sailed on the scheduled date. It was quite a rush to get aboard by 9 AM as was required, and then we didn't actually leave until 7 PM. All the way across to Naples, and from there to Port Said the sea was unusually calm, more so that we have ever experienced for so long a time. As there were around 100 missionaries aboard among some 800 passengers we made lots of new friends and renewed acquaintance with some old ones who had passed through our home at Aba years before, and we had a really good time.  There was a prayer meeting every day and a Gospel service on Sundays, and morning and afternoon meetings for children.  The passengers made up an interesting mixture of folks representing many nationalities and callings. Among them were some Arabs and some Jewish rabbis, and that during the trouble in Palestine; but fortunately all remained calm on the Gripsholm. There were teachers and college professors, engineers and oil people, doctors and nurses, and men on business of many kinds going to places like Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, Irak, Iran, Egypt and India. Most of the missionaries were going to various parts of Africa, Egypt, Sudan, Nigeria, Congo, Kenya, Tanganyika, Abyssinia, and the Rhodesias [1]. Most of the others were going to places in the Middle East. It would have been interesting to know how many different languages were spoken by those on board. It certainly was a motley crowd, and that made this trip so vastly different from that of our return to the States last year where there were 5 passengers besides ourselves.

Another thing that made this trip different was the very poor quarters to which we were assigned. We were among the very last to be booked and so although we paid the same as all the rest we had third class cabins which were miserable holes compared with the de luxe quarters we had on the freighter. Among other minor annoyances the refugees of the last trip left us a heritage of bedbugs! But the food was fairly good and plentiful and the sea was very kind to us, and so we really had a good time after all.

We reached Naples on time, but soon after arriving we learned that our ship had developed serious engine trouble, which might mean an indefinite delay. We were thankful the delay was in beautiful Naples Bay and not in the middle of the ocean, especially when we heard that a ship a couple of days behind us had had a couple of days of very rough weather – a part, probably, of the big storm that was raging around England while we were serenely sailing along around Gibraltar. At Naples we were not allowed on shore – an order of the War Shipping Administration. But from the ship we could still see plenty of evidence of the havoc of war. We docked at the nearly ruined famous Mussolini Docks, and all around the harbor area were the remains of bombed out buildings, and in the harbor or bay quite a number of wrecked or half submerged ships. The American Army of Occupation was in evidence all around the place with their trucks and Jeeps and all manner of odd vehicles. We got into conversation with some of the soldiers who came aboard and found that one of them was from St. Louis and used to live on Lee Ave., near Grand, just opposite the car barns [2]!  I think his name was something like Niehaus. He spoke of Eliot School and Gast the barber, and swore that when he gets back to St. Louis he will never, never leave it again. They are all fed up with Italy, and no wonder, especially in its present state of poverty, confusion and disorder. 

USS General M.C. Meigs. This photo
taken July 1945 in Brazil. 
After four days at Naples it was decided to transfer us to another ship and eventually we were taken aboard the U.S.S. Gen. Meigs, a Troop Transport run by the U.S. Coast Guard [2]. It was a very large ship and made strictly for business, with all the fol-de-rols left out. First of all we were all herded together in a small room and given a little initiation talk. There was no “it is kindly requested of the passengers” but “you will be prompt at meal times, anyone more than 10 minutes late will miss that meal” or “you will wear your life belts at all times except when asleep; anyone caught without it will be sent to his room.” The ladies slept in rooms of about 15 beds, arranged in layers of three, and no ladders to reach the top with. This section of the ship was “out of bounds” to all men, they had to kiss their wives goodnight on deck. The men had another part of the ship for their territory. Some slept in rooms with 8 or 10 beds, but some of us chose to sleep in a “compartment” which when carrying troops accommodates around 500 men. With only about 50 using it there was lots of room and plenty of air. You were given an armful of bed clothes, chose your own cot, and made it up yourself. Every morning there was inspection, but nobody was put on K.P. The trip on this ship lasted only 4 days, as it was very fast. The Gripsholm had been scheduled to stop at Piraeus, the port of Athens in Greece, and possibly at Salonika (Thessalonia) and we were looking forward to seeing a bit of Greece even though we knew we would not be permitted to land. But the troop ship skipped all that and went direct to Port Said instead of Alexandria.

At Port Said we had to go through Customs, and that was the most awful scramble I've ever seen in my life. I’ll spare you and not even try to describe it, for you wouldn't believe it anyway, and it makes me mad every time I think of it. It took us a day and a half to get 7 pieces of baggage sorted out of the pile and through Customs, and then we had to pay down a large deposit on it even though we were merely going through Egypt in transit. If we’re clever enough we may be able to recover most of the amount when we leave Egypt. When that glad day comes we’re going to join the Israelites in singing the Song of the Redeemed (Exodus 15).  Why on earth they ever hankered to get back to this land once they had got out is more than I can figure out. If you ever go on a tour skip Egypt!  I don’t deny it’s interesting to see the many different kinds of people and their ways of doing things. They still plow with a forked stick like their father Abraham must have done. Old Abraham surely made a mess of things when he begat Ishmael. He little realized what he was letting the world in for… Then too the pyramids and the Sphinx are worth looking at if you are nearby anyway. The only thing that’s decent is the weather, which is perfect, but they can’t help that. 

From Port Said to Cairo is 5 hours on the train, and on that trip we saw a number of British military camps on the edge of the desert. That certainly made us feel sorry for the poor fellows who had to live and fight here a short time ago. And some of the soldiers say Egypt is fine compared to Iran and Irak.

We have been in Cairo for 11 days now and almost every one of those days I have been running around town trying to find some way to get out of here. And every day there has been frustration and uncertainty and change. But now at least it really looks as if we will leave here tomorrow evening and that we will be able to get right through to Aba without any long delays en route. We go by rail to Assuan tomorrow night and stay in the hotel there the following night. Then we go a short distance to catch the boat on the Nile which takes us as far as Wadi Halfa in the Sudan. 
Matson Photo Service
"Sudan Wadi Halfa RR Hotel From Garden 1936" by
Matson Photo Service, photographer.
(G. Eric and Edith Matson Photograph Collection) 

There we get another train to Khartoum, change to still another there, and go to Kosti to get another Nile steamer. From here to Kosti takes 5 days, and from Kosti to Juba takes 11 days on the steamer provided the boat does not get stuck in the floating islands of papyrus and “sud” that grow in the river.  From Juba it’s only 5 hours by car to Aba. If all goes according to schedule we should be at Aba around December 8, which will be just 22 years to the day since we first sailed from New York for the Congo. Until a few hours ago it was still uncertain as to whether we would be able to get booking on the steamer that goes from Kosti to Juba. But this morning I heard that places that had been reserved for some others would be available for us.

Two of our party, Mr. and Mrs. Giddings, left Cairo by plane this morning to go to Kenya, and Mr. and Mrs. Felton expect to leave by air next week going to Tanganyika. One other of our party, Miss Kosher, will go with us as far as Juba, and then branch off by another route to Kenya. That leaves only five of us to go to Congo; Misses Cribbs, Green and Short, besides ourselves.

Much to our surprise, when we had our first meal in this hotel, we saw Paul Stough walk into the dining room with two of his sons. He is the man who married Rachel Winsor, who died some time last year [4]. Paul married again recently (Miss Quackenbush [5]) and not long ago they started home on furlough, going down the Congo and hoping to catch the Gripsholm on its way back to America.

A day or two after they reached Cairo his wife developed appendicitis, with perforation and peritonitis. An operation was done in the middle of the night, and what with penicillin and Sulfa she has recovered and is going to leave the hospital today after having spent nearly 3 weeks there. And then shortly after the wife was taken to the hospital the youngest son, aged 11, became ill with some peculiar sort of paralysis and has been in hospital ever since, unable to walk. No definite diagnosis has been made as yet, although they do not now think it is Infantile Paralysis [6]. However, he is steadily improving, and since the Gripsholm is going to be late because of its engine trouble, the Stoughs will probably be able to catch…[illegible]… so good for the Klines who also came this way to get the Gripsholm and have been held up all this while, paying high hotel bills while waiting for it. But at that they are far better off than the Stoughs and our two weeks wait here is as nothing compared to the time the Stoughs have had.

That’s all I have paper for, and about all there is to say anyway, so here we stop.

Ralph and Coralee

Forgot to say we're well, and lonesome.

Map created by George Meyers, Map Wizard.  Thanks!  

1. Abyssinia was an older term for Ethiopia, and the Rhodesias were Northern (now Zambia) and Southern (now Zimbabwe).  
2. My mother and dad agree that this would refer to street cars, or trolleys.   
3. Here is an additional source of information on the Meigs, which was laid down in September 1943, served in WW2 and the Korean War, and then while being towed to salvage in 1972, was caught in a gale and broke up on the rocks at Cape Flattery, Washington. 
4. Rachel Winsor Stough died in March 1944 according to the Billy Graham archives.
5. Elizabeth Carolyn (Quackenbush) Stough. See her biographical sketch at the Billy Graham archives.
6. Infantile paralysis is an old term for poliomyelitis (polio).  Phil Stough was later diagnosed with polio.  

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Passage on the Aquitania December 1923

I recently found this passenger listing for Ralph and Coralee Kleinschmidt on the Aquitania. This would have been their first trip out to Congo.
Aquitania passenger list, December 1923
This is the ship that got them from New York to England.

They went from England to Ost-end, Belgium and there got a ship to the Congo port of Banana.

Here is the link for the Wikipedia entry on the RMS Aquitania.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Naples, Motorship Gripsholm - October 28, 1945

Part of the continuing letter written to the girls during the voyage on the Gripsholm.  

Dearest Darlings,

Mother speaking.  Here we are again in this beautiful harbor of Naples. When we got up this morning we could see the islands at the entrance to the harbor. It was beautiful as we came slowly in.  There is evidence of great damage in the harbor. Several sunken ships partly out of the water; the modern dock building where our ship is berthed is nearly a complete wreck from bombs[1]. We can see other buildings that are wrecked too. The dock is swarming with Jeeps and all sorts of American war vehicles as well as American soldiers; for Italy is still under military rule. We are not to be allowed ashore at any of the places we stop. It's a State Department order for all passengers. We're sure sorry about this. Our next stop will be Piraeus, Greece. This morning a Flying Fortress[2] and two fighters gave a real welcome as we came into the harbor. It was very thrilling as they circled low at top speed several times.

When we passed through the Straits of Gibraltar it was so lovely. The sea was calm and blue, and our first glimpse of Africa (home) were the lovely Atlas Mountains.  The view of the Rock of Gibraltar was disappointing as we didn't go very close to it. There were school after school of porpoises playing that afternoon, a special exercise put on for our benefit I think. We have been wishing for you every time there was anything of interest. We miss you at every turn.  My birthday was a secret between us[3]. It was a happy day. I'm feeling younger instead of older, that's a fact!  Maybe it's because I'm leading such a lazy life.
As soon as you can get some films send us some snapshots.  I'm longing already for a picture of you. Would you like to have your picture taken for us and have some cards made like we did last year?  If so, do, and send the bill to the Mission office. Send Christmas cards to all our friends. Even though the ocean is now between us nothing can ever separate you from my heart. I love you more than ever and think of you daily and pray for you and rejoice in all that God has enabled you to do. I marvel when I realize just 2 months and 5 days ago we left St. Louis. God has wonderfully undertaken and my heart is full of praise and thanks.

With oceans of love, and a kiss on every wave,


  1. According to Wikipedia, Naples was the most bombed city in Italy during World War II. 
  2. The Flying Fortress, a nickname for the Boeing B-17, a heavy bomber used in World War II. This one was probably with the Fifteenth Air Force.
  3. Coralee's 45th birthday was October 26th.    

At Sea, Motorship Gripsholm - October 22, 1945

Part of the continuing letter written to the girls while the Gripsholm was at sea.  

Dearest girls,
Daddy speaking this time.  I don't want the trip to slip by without a note to you even though Mother is writing to you. Certainly we can't complain of lack of time for the days are very long and we hardly know how to pass the hours away. But the ship is not always quiet enough to make writing an easy job for me. So far however we have had a quiet smooth trip of it so that Mother and I have been more or less able to enjoy every meal. Some folks it seems were made ill by some bad food but we escaped that.

With so many missionaries aboard we have been having some good meetings. Every morning at ten there is a prayer meeting. It was my turn to lead it this morning (Monday). There is another prayer meeting on Wednesday nights, and a preaching service on Sunday mornings. Last night we had a song and testimony service and an interesting feature of it was when the various groups told what fields they were going to. Most were going to various parts of Africa, some to Egypt and Palestine, Syria, Turkey, Irak[1], Iran, and India.

Among the passengers are Mr. and Mrs. Phillips[2] of SIM. Maybe you remember them  as they came to Congo with their little boy named Henry years ago. Henry is now at Stony Brook and I believe he is a roommate of the Stam boys. Miss McIntyre is also aboard. She is a missionary in the Sudan with the United Presbyterian Mission. She is a friend of Miss Quinche, and we met her also when she came to Congo on vacation years ago. And there are a Mr. and Mrs. Foster who are returning to S. Rhodesia under the S.A.C.M. Mrs. F is a sister of our Miss Frost, and they will probably be seeing her on their way south. Miss Pollock a close friend of Murray's family (Wheaton) is going to Ethiopia.

This morning at 7 we passed the Azores and some of the folks saw a couple of the islands. We didn't as we were still in bed. In a few days we will see Gibraltar and later Italy and Greece, but we will probably not be allowed to go ashore.

We miss you more than we can tell, but we are glad that we know you are in a good place and are having happy times together.  We pray for you daily and we're sure the Lord will continue to meet your every need, and we praise Him for the peace He has given us about it.

I'll stop for now and maybe later will find something else to write about.



  1. Earlier variant spelling of Iraq. 
  2. possibly Geraldine Julia Phillips?  Can't find a reference to her husband's first name. 

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Motorship Gripsholm - October 21, 1945

Another in the series of letters written on board the Gripsholm, which sailed on October 16, 1945 from New York, and didn't arrive in Port Said until November 6th.  

Dear girls,
Constantly you have been in my thoughts, as we came on board, and have journeyed.  Walking around on the steamer, looking at the sea sometimes, in the dining room, in dozens of ways, I'm reminded of you. The ocean has been very calm and the ship is nicely ventilated so we have both been good sailors so far.

It is so different traveling with so many people.  There are 850 passengers. There people everywhere.  Miss Kosher [1], the AIM girl going to Kenya has been having children's services every day. Sometimes there are as many as 50 children in the service. Each day we have prayer meetings at 10am. It has been a lovely time of fellowship. There are over 100 missionaries on board. As we get to know them it has been interesting to  learn of their work.  Some of the passengers are foreigners. Lots of Italians and Greeks, also some Jews and Egyptians. They are truly a strange lot.

It has been nice to get acquainted with our own AIM group.  Mr. and Mrs. Felton and their two little girls Charlotte and Linda are going to Tanganyika. We don't see so much of them because they eat in the first sitting.  All the rest of us eat in the second sitting. Since we don't have children it is swell, for our breakfast is not until 9:15 so you see we are being very lazy. Actually the days have seemed endlessly long. The motion of the ship has taken away our desire to study and it's hard to read without getting a headache. I think it is a little better now so maybe we'll get our sea legs and be able to get some things accomplished. The voyage stretches endlessly ahead.  They tell us it will take 22 days from NY to Alexandria.  We stop in Naples and in Greece but I'm not sure just when as yet.  It would be a nice change if we could go ashore and see these places.

We are dreading arriving in Egypt as it has not been possible to make arrangements ahead. we'd like so much to find steamer connections for the folks going to East Africa. There are a large number of missionaries wanting to go that way. Then too we'll probably have an awful crowd trying to get accommodations to go up the Nile like we want to journey. Wish you girls were with us, then we'd be more interested in seeing sights in Egypt.  But we'll try to take an extra look at interesting things for you and at least tell you about it.

For several days we have been seeing lots of seaweed which tells us we're travelling in the Gulf Stream. Yesterday we passed a ship but no sharks or fish and the waves have been so "muke muke" you'd be disappointed. Even the sunsets have been minus due to clouds although it has been nice and sunny each day.

Much love,


  1.    E. Geneva Kosher. 

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Motorship Gripsholm - October 23, 1945

In which Ralph describes life at sea on the Gripsholm, traveling with 850 other passengers to Alexandria, Egypt.   

Dear home folks,

There's no excuse for not writing now - a quiet sea, an hour and a half before supper, and nothing to do.  It's a lazy life and pleasant enough as long as the sea behaves, but we have more than two weeks longer after 5 days at sea and it will be a great day when the trip is over.

Thanks  for your letter received a little before we sailed. Sorry we didn't get it answered before leaving, but we weren't sure of leaving until three days before and that gave us very little time to get a thousand and one last minute things done, especially as one of the days was Sunday. Our passport arrived from Washington on Friday, a holiday. The Belgian and Egyptian consulates were closed that day and open on Saturday only from 10:00 to 12:00. Friday evening we drove out to Connecticut and spent the night there and came into New York the next morning for our visas. Saturday afternoon we had to spend in Brooklyn on business.  Sunday we had to speak twice, having a farewell service in the evening at the church in Hawthorne in whose missionary home we had been staying. Monday was another rush day, ending with a trip from New Jersey to Brooklyn for a farewell at the AIM home and then returning to New Jersey. We were required to be on the boat at Jersey City at 9:30am, but we didn't sail until 7:00pm.  In the end we had to leave some matters of business undone, to be finished by correspondence after sailing.

But we are glad for this chance to get over, for opportunities to get passage nowadays are very few and far between. our going this way via Egypt is not ideal for us as it means sending our freight including the car another way and means a long journey up the Nile with many changes from rail to boat en route. However we save a good deal of money this way and get out to the field months ahead of the time we would arrive by the next passage in sight, which would be in January.

Our ship is carrying a motley crowd - well over 100 missionaries, a great many business people,and Jews going to Palestine, a lot of Greeks going to Greece and Cyprus, some Italians and Egyptians and a bunch of deportees - 850 passengers in all. That makes it a very different kind of trip from the one we made coming home with only 9 passengers in all. But all in all it is pleasant and interesting.

We passed the the Azores this morning and some of the folks saw a couple of islands.  In a few days we will be at Gibraltar and according to rumor will later stop at Naples, Piraeus near Athens, and at Salonica or Thessalonia, then getting off at Alexandria in Egypt.  We hear that we will not be permitted to leave the ship in Italy or Greece. We have seen Naples but would enjoy a trip to Athens which is just a few miles from the port. I suppose we should visit Palestine too, but I doubt if time and funds will permit or if we will have the necessary permits.

In our party are 8 of our mission going out for the first time - two young couples and four young ladies, some going to Tanganyika, others to Kenya and the rest to Congo. There are also some missionaries from the Sudan on board with whom we had got acquainted while they were on vacation in Congo years ago. We are having daily prayer services on board as well as daily services for children and church services on Sunday. The Catholics and Jews have their services as well.

[Personal portion redacted.]

According to latest word from our girls they seem quite happy where they are and we trust they will remain so.  These long days on the ship with little to do makes us think about them a good deal, especially as so many things remind us of our trip home together.

I just got out of the swimming pool and had a fresh water shower - a real treat on this boat. I guess that is what makes me so pepped up and long winded. I'll stop for the present and perhaps add to this a few days hence sine it can't be mailed for a long time anyway.


Friday, May 9, 2014

Motorship Gripsholm in NY Harbor - October 16, 1945

In which the Kleinschmidts say goodbye to their girls and to the supporting churches on the East coast, and give us a short description of the conditions on board the Gripsholm. 

Motorship Gripsholm
New York Harbor

Tuesday, October 16, 1945 (about 4 pm, sailing about 8 pm we hear)

Dear girls,
Here is a surprise - another letter! A friend of the Feltons [1] is here on board – by special permit. She works for the man who supplies [illegible] on the ship.  She will take the letter back for us.

We have been thinking of you especially today. It has seemed strange not to have you with us, as we came on board the ship, and have been watching the ships come in and looking at the NY skyline.  It has been nice and clear, a bright sunny afternoon, so pleasant up on deck.

We marvel at the Lord’s enabling, and that here we are on board going back home. I know you are here in thought and prayer and so we are really together in Him, you with us and we with you.  In Him we have such riches untold, One who meets our every need.

The farewell meeting (in Brooklyn) last night was a precious time of fellowship.  All the folks who have recently returned gave a word of testimony, then we who are sailing today. There wasn't time for much visiting but it was nice to greet many.  Miss Wambold [2] was there and I had a little chat with her. Miss Quinche [3], Mrs. Jacob Stam, Mrs. Peter Stam from Wheaton, the Cooks [4], Mrs. Stevenson [5], Mrs. Schuit, Aunt Marty [6] were among those we especially were happy to see. Mrs. Davis [7] was there and she said Bob [8] was home last weekend.  He is liking Providence Bible school now.  Guess he was pretty homesick at first. 

Longman expects to go to his people this week I think. The girls have grown so much. We all went to the farewell in our car. Father Schuit went along and Eddie and Nellie, and Aunt Marty returned with us. We had a nice time.

This morning we had breakfast at 7 and left the (missionary) Home about 8:15. Eddie and Nellie brought us down in our car. Our trunk and 10 pieces of baggage. I marvel that we have so much stuff. The screen, briefcase, basket of fruit from Mrs. Shortiss, a trunk, medical bag, and six suitcases. 

They wouldn't let anyone come beyond a certain point, so we had to say goodbye to Eddie and Nellie there.
We met Ruth Grimshaw [9] among the crowd and had a minute with her. She is in the SIM (missionary) Home now.  There are 28 SIM folks on board. We are 10 AIM. Misses Roscher, Short, Greene, Crabbs, and Mr. & Mrs. Gittings [10] and Mr. & Mrs. Felton and their two little girls. Mr. Deans [11] said we were their Mother and Father – so you see we have a family. They all seem so nice. We are looking forward to lovely times together.

Now about the ship. It seems strange to have so many folks aboard. There are about 800 aboard. We are in third class, and our cabin is very small, like a closet without a porthole. But we do rejoice that we are together. (We only got our tickets on Saturday noon!) Some folks have been separated. However we hope we may wrangle it to get better accommodations, but if not we can manage this way.

We met the Phillips from Sudan, remember them and their son Henry, that bit you?  He is now roommate with Paul & Neil Stam in Stonybrook. They are returning to the Sudan so we’ll travel all the way with the Lord’s children.

Miss McIntyre who came from near Khartoum – remember her?  She visited Hortense [12] years ago and then later came back. She is on board returning to the Sudan. 

Rumor has it our first stop is Naples. Then in Greece but we will probably not be allowed ashore.  But we’ll probably be able to send letters from there.

So many folks have asked for your address.  Mrs. Stevenson (Mrs. Cooks’ mother) said she’d like to have you girls come in the summer. Also Pastor and Mrs. Mouw.  I thanked them and said you’d probably be staying there in Florida [13] until you finish in 1947 then if you could come east before going to St. Louis and entering Moody or Wheaton we thought that would be so nice. We’ll pray about this with you.

The box of cookies we mailed to you were given by the Africa Prayer Circle of Hawthorne. Mrs. Miller said they were for you girls. I returned the clothes brush to you for we have one in Aba. I meant to leave it, but somehow it didn't get in among your things for Florida.

We saw the Queen Mary pass today. Her decks were lined with troops. Forty airplanes flew over in V formation and then an E on their return. I’d better close here for I may miss the lady going ashore. 

Now goodbye until Naples,

  1. Possibly the Harold Feltons, who were missionaries under the Africa Inland Mission in Kenya.   
  2. Burnetta Wambold – teacher at Rethy.  Possibly from the Lancaster, Pennsylvania area. The boys at Rethy played tricks on her, including letting a mouse run through the classroom. She was so scared that she jumped up on her chair.  Mom remembers doubling up with laughter. Mom remembers her as being a very good teacher.   
  3. Hortense Quinche
  4. Herb and Muriel Cook started out at Aba and were reassigned when the mission press was moved to Rethy, a more central location. 
  5. Mother of Muriel Cook. 
  6. Marty Pontier
  7. Ralph and Ellen Davis
  8. Bob Davis became an AIM missionary in Kenya. During childhood Edith and Esther went hunting lizards together with Bob. 
  9. Mary Grimshaw’s sister. The Grimshaws were AIM missionaries at Todro and Mom thinks that both Ruth and Mary were born there. Ruth was an SIM missionary in Nigeria for 40 years. She died on Easter Sunday, 2014.  
  10. The Gittings and Feltons were AIM missionaries in Kenya. 
  11. Bill Deans, stationed at Nyankunde at the printing press. Plymouth Brethren, out on the field many years. Mom remembers that he served as a chaplain to some Congolese troops who went to Palestine in World War II.  
  12. Hortense Quinche.
  13. At Hampton Du Bose Academy, Zellwood, Florida. 

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Hawthorne, New Jersey - October 15, 1945

In which Ralph tells his daughters about the imminent sailing, and the proposed route.  

Hawthorne, New Jersey
October 15, 1945

Dear girls,

Well, here we are, spending our last evening in America for a while, and all ready to get on the boat tomorrow morning. Everything is in order, passport, visas, vaccinations, etc. We are supposed to be on the boat before 10AM, and to set sail soon after. The boat will take us to Alexandria, and I think it may stop at Greece on the way. We have just come home from the farewell meeting at the Brooklyn home. There are ten altogether in the outgoing AIM party besides two small children. There will also be many other missionaries on board from other missions – 27 from the Sudan Interior.

From Alexandria we will probably go to Congo by train and Nile steamers. I think it will take us six weeks or so to get to Aba. We will let you know when we arrive.

The Trouts are in Brooklyn waiting to sail. They area awaiting their re-entry permits.  Eddie and Nellie (1) have not received their permits as yet, but we expect they will be able to follow us within a few weeks.

[Personal portion redacted.]
And so – goodbye for now, and the Lord bless you!



  1. Eddie and Nellie Shuit. 

Monday, April 21, 2014

Hawthorne, New Jersey - September 21, 1945

There is a long gap in the letters between 1940 and late 1945.  Surely most of the letters were lost during the war or possibly just not kept.  On October 31, 1944, the family returned on the Titania to the United States to bring Edith and Esther to finish their schooling at Hampton Du Bose Academy in Florida.  The story of that crossing is not recorded by letter as far as I know, but I will attempt to get it documented through conversation with my mother and aunt. Several letters in September relate their speaking engagements at various churches. Their return to Congo was delayed by document troubles, but finally they began to see progress by mid-September 1945.  

September 21, 1945
Hawthorne, New Jersey

Dear girls,

[Lengthy personal comments.] Well, since returning to Hawthorne we have been having busy days, and it looks as if things are really moving as far as our sailing is concerned. Yesterday I went to New York and showed our old passport to the Belgian Consul’s secretary and was told the re-entry permit was good and that there would be no trouble or delay in getting it fixed up for our new passport and in getting a visa for the Congo. And so that was another real answer to prayer and we do praise the Lord for it. Then I went to a Shipping Agent and learned that it would probably be possible for us to sail on the Gripsholm (1), which leaves New York October 16th for Alexandria. 

Today I went again to see Mr. Davis and after talking things over with him he said he would arrange to have us booked on the Gripsholm and he has telegraphed to Washington for our new passport, and that should now be here within a day or two. And so it looks as if the Lord has really opened the way for our return. There is still some question of whether we will have enough money on hand or not, but if we use all we have for passage and none or little of it for outfit I believe we will have enough. Anyway I’m sure the Lord will send in the rest that we really need before sailing time.

If we go on the Gripsholm our freight will probably have to go separately via Matadi. In that case we don’t know as yet what we will do about our car. We might sell it and try to buy another one in Congo, or we might leave it here and then have it sent to Congo after we arrive if we have enough money left then. Or we may have it sent to Stanleyville via Matadi at the time we sail. It will be interesting to see how the Lord works it out.

[Personal portion redacted.] So far the reentry permit for Eddie and Nellie(2) has not arrived, and that is the only thing that is holding them up. We fondly hope it may yet arrive in time for them to sail with us.

We began our typhoid inoculations last Wednesday, Eddie and Nellie also.  We felt pretty punk yesterday but today it's only the soreness at the site of injection that bothers.

With love,

P.S. Klines enroute home, telegram said. 


  1. The motorship Gripsholm.  See this link for further details. Interesting to note that the Wikipedia article says the Gripsholm was used as an exchange and repatriation ship between 1942 and 1946.  But here we have an example of the ship sailing with American passengers to Alexandria.  
  2. Eddie and Nellie Shuit, fellow AIM missionaries. 

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Aba - October 9, 1940

The war affects the mail, the girls get new swimsuits, and twins make a delayed entry into the world. 

October 9, 1940

Dear folks,
It has been so long since any letters arrived that we have forgotten the date of the last one – it’s at least several months. But we still have hope that a lot of letters will turn up somehow one of these days. And one big event that has served to stir up our hopes is the arrival day before yesterday of the parcels you sent! More of them later. We are still enjoying the thrill of realizing that it is possible for parcels to reach us, and if parcels certainly letters should arrive eventually too. Mail routing has changed and that partly explains the long time necessary for mails to come. For the present it would be better not to address mail of any kind via Egypt as that route is probably completely closed at least as far as American mail is concerned.[1] There are several other routes available and it would be interesting to try to see which proves the quickest.  Our address would be the same as before, i.e. c/o A.I.M., Aba, Congo Belge, but in one case the words “via Matadi” should be added; and in another case “via Mombasa, British East Africa”. Then there are two Air-Mail routes available. The first is by American Transatlantic Clipper by way of New York, Durban, and Juba. Another way, and the one by which this letter will be sent is by way of the Pacific. As addressed from your end it would be: “… c/o A.I.M., Aba, Congo Belge, by Transpacific Clipper via Hong Kong, Manila, Entebbe and Irumu.” I rather think the transatlantic route is quicker and it is cheaper, but we are going to try the Pacific Route this time anyway. Another thing – parcels sent “via Egypt” require more postage in America, and if they would really go that way the total mailing charges would be less by the time they reach us here as there is additional transport charge to pay for all interior transport in the Congo, but in the case of Aba there is no such charge on parcels coming through Egypt and the Sudan as Aba is on the Sudan border practically. When parcels are sent via Matadi the original mailing charge in America is less but the additional charges on this end are very high as they cover the distance from Matadi to Aba, all in the Congo, a matter of several thousand miles, so that the total cost by the time they reach here is higher. Of course now via Matadi is probably the best way for parcels, but the point is that if they go via Matadi anyway there is no use marking them via Egypt and then paying the extra high postage for that route.

Now for your parcels. They produced the climax at the end of a perfect day, a day that brought us relief from a long period of strain and tension due to a native case at the hospital. For last Saturday I was called very early in the morning by Akulu, a native workman on the station who for years has been a great help to all of us as an auto mechanic doing much of the routine upkeep work on our cars as well as giving help in actual repair work. He said he had just brought his wife to the hospital as she had been in labor since the day before without making any progress. Examination revealed that there were to be twins, and one of them appeared to be in poor condition so that we began to make preparations for operative delivery if necessary. However we watched things closely and the first baby was born spontaneously in the evening. But the second baby failed to arrive soon after as is ordinarily expected, and finally labor stopped altogether. The circumstances were such that any kind of operative delivery would have been very dangerous for the mother, and as she and second child appeared in good condition we decided to wait. The waiting time, however, proved very long and we had nearly reached the point of despair for both mother and child, when, almost suddenly, the second child was born and in perfect condition, 45 hours later than his sister!

Such a case is nothing to be proud of and so long a delay would not have been permitted at home[2], but the conditions and circumstances here in this particular case made waiting even so long the only justifiable procedure. Best of all it was all clearly answer to prayer, and so the more glorifying to the Lord and the more blessing to all of us. The twins are now two and four days old and they and the mother are getting along very well. Today the old grandmother arrived, having walked a hundred miles and having no doubt expected to find her daughter dead.

Well, all this is still just leading up to your parcels. I got home a little while before Coralee, and found on the table some local letters and among them the most lovely ones from Edith and Esther whom we had taken back to Rethi just a few days before.  Then in the next room I found piled on the table all three of the parcels from you! It was just like Christmas and you can be sure it was a happy evening we spent together opening them.

First of all Coralee wants to say that she is very highly pleased with her dresses. They certainly are pretty and will be most useful to her. The shoes for the girls too are just right and I know they will appreciate them a lot. The hat for me is swell and fits perfectly. It will go well with my grey flannel trousers and light grey sweater, as well as with the grey suit. And I wish you could know how welcome the shirts are. I had almost no decent shirts left and so these have come just in time. Please pass on my warmest thanks for them and for the pretty pillow cases and the Chinese Checkers. We played last night and Coralee wants me to especially tell you that she beat me – though just why that should be such a feat I don’t know. You will probably never realize what a joy such things as the tacks, the waxed paper, and the real American candy bring to us.

The girls have not yet seen their swimming suits but it needs little imagination to see how tickled they will be with them. Coralee has just finished embroidering a yellow duck on Esther’s. We saw them in swimming in Rethi a few days ago and can testify that they have thoroughly outgrown their other swimming suits. They can really swim now and are very pleased with themselves. The pond is a great boon to the kiddies at school. I paddled around in it myself that day and was surprised that I did not freeze nearly as much as I had expected. The water is cold but the sun is warm and that makes a good combination. I had to puff quite a little though what with the altitude of 7000 feet and me getting “aged in the middle”. 
My mother's caption on the back of the photograph:  At Victor's Pond, near Rethy. Coffee plantation. Victor had dammed the local stream for his plantation and allowed Rethy Academy to bring kids to swim. Very cold. Mud at bottom. Front to back: Esther Kleinschmidt, Edie Kleinschmidt, Jacques Closset, Carl Becker Jr. Possibly taken 1943. 

To get back to the things you so kindly sent, once more our heartiest thanks to all of you for all you have done to get them out to us. We realize a little something of what is involved in the shopping, the packing, and the mailing, and we appreciate that as well as the fact that many of the things were gifts besides. But we do hope you have felt free to apply to the Mission office for the remainder and for the postage. Only so can we ever feel free to ask you to do shopping for us.

The occasion for our going to Rethi near the end of September was partly to take the children (ours and the Stams) back to school, and partly to see the doctor. Coralee was in need of a small operation and I felt it ought not to be done by her husband and so we asked Dr. Trout to do it. The stay in bed was only a few days and so she didn't get much rest out of it. But we did enjoy the few days with the children while they were attending school and over the weekend, as it helped us picture the various phases of their life there, the work and the play as well as the spiritual side of it. They are certainly well situated there and we are very happy about it all. An especially fine feature now is the fact that they, together with Ruth Stam and Mary Grimshaw who are now in the “older” group at school are living in what they call the “Annex”.  This is really Miss Brown’s [3] home which she has cleverly adapted for their use as a place to sleep and study. They still have their meals at the Dormitory with the other children, but Miss Brown’s place has been made a real home for them. Miss Brown herself is especially well adapted to give them this care because of her previous experience as well as her exceptionally fine quiet spiritual life. Our girls’ room is fixed up like a ship’s cabin with a double-decker bed, and appropriate pictures and decorations. The living room is light and cheery and has a nice big fireplace, an important feature at Rethi. The impressions of these years will mean real blessing for them throughout their lives.

There is little evidence of the war to be seen in these parts. Of course some conditions are changed, prices higher, longer delays in correspondence and in getting supplies from the homeland. Through certain difficulties about banking arrangements, and poor management at the Mission office allowances have been held up for some months but now that is better. We have no radio of our own but there are two others on the station which we can listen to whenever we like – which isn’t often, as it takes out practically a whole evening every time – and so we can know something of what is going on. We are glad that we are at least spared all the excitement of the election campaign just now![4]  We are sorry to hear that missionaries who are on furlough will probably be delayed in returning until next spring at the earliest.

[Personal portion redacted.] If you see any of the Gospel Center folks please give them our greetings and tell them we remember them in prayer with thanksgiving constantly. Let them know that all is well with us and that the Lord is blessing in the work in many different ways. Now the night is far spent, and so is the five grammes of letter space, so must close. Coralee promises to write before long – and we hope you will do the same! 

With lots of love,


  1. World War II started in September 1939, and mail routes through the Mediterranean would have become problematic after Italy declared war on Great Britain and France on June 10, 1940. There is a comprehensive and fascinating history of the Clipper routes here.    
  2. Apparently this has changed.  From a brief review of “delayed twin birth intervals” it appears that the present approach is to allow the second twin as much time as possible in utero, to encourage development. The incidence of twins in the United States is much higher due to the prevalence of in vitro fertilization, and I saw reports of delays of up to 93 days! The instance reported here is unusual though both for the time frame, and the fact that these twins were probably full term. 
  3. Eugenia Brown, sister of Paul Brown who served at Banda.  She was a single woman who finally married after she retired in the U.S.  She loved orchids and grew lots of them, and painted them too.  Mom remembers her with fondness. 
  4. The presidential campaign of 1940 was between Franklin D. Roosevelt (running for an unprecedented 3rd term) and Wendel Willkie.  Roosevelt won handily.  

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

July 27, 1928 - Aru, C.B.

We step back a few years (1) as Coralee describes the mail route, children and their nurse-boys, and the usefulness of waxed paper. 

Aru, C.B.
July 27th, 1928

Dear home folks,

It is ages since I've written so it's about time I got busy. The letters we have had from you people have been so interesting and fine. They mean much to us. When the mail comes it sure is fine to find several home letters falling to our lot. Sometimes there are no letters from any of you and then our mail days are very blank.

Perhaps you'd be interested to know that we only get mail once in every two weeks. The mail is carried from the ocean liner up the Nile by river boat and train. From Rejaf it is brought to Aba by truck and from Aba to Aru it is carried by native runners. It is a five day journey.(2)  It arrives here in a sealed canvas bag and there never ceases to be lots of excitement and confusion when that bag makes its appearance.  We're all so keen, it's most like Christmas every time.

[Personal portion redacted.]

There are several children on the Mission station here. Mr. and Mrs. Kemptner have three, two girls and a boy. Also Mr. and Mrs. Pontier have a little boy. They have fine times together. They play mostly just by themselves with their nurse boys.  Usually the white children have a so-called nurse boy who goes with them when they go out to play. His chief job is to see that they keep on their helmets and that they don't get into mischief.  For usually the mothers are busy with their departments of the work.

The children keep very well and here at Aru it seems to suit them very well. They of course have to take quinine every day just as we do and sleep under mosquito nets. They learn to speak the native languages very quickly and they use it a great deal, especially on their nurse-boys when the nurse boy keeps them from wading in mud puddles or some similar disastrous attraction.

We are having heavy tropical rains now and the gardens and roses are doing very well. I have been trying to get a rose garden growing near our house, also to get lawn in too.

The men are pounding the anthills into powder for the floors in our house now. I hope soon the veranda floor will be in so I can get some porch boxes started. They are going to be made of bamboo, it is very plentiful here, and then will be lined with banana leaves, then filled with dirt. We will try and get some pictures when the house is done so you all will have a clearer idea of this "grand" palace of ours.

We are so anxious to get moved into our new house for where we are living now it leaks like anything every time it rains. Our bedroom floor is wet nearly all the time it leaks so badly there. The grass roofs we use at present out here do not last very long especially if they are not carefully done.

The medical work still goes on and is very interesting to us. Lately we have been badly in need of supplies and medicines but even in spite of this we have enjoyed meeting those poor sick folks and doing what we can to help them.

I have been busy today sewing curtains for the guest room. They are very fancy, perhaps not stylish but they at least look fresh. They are made from blue chambray I got from Montgomery Wards for 10 cents a yard. They have a bias striped strip going down one side.

[Portion redacted including discussion of a list of items Coralee requests from the home folks.  I include this portion because of her comments.] I would like about six packages of wax paper, just roll it together like a magazine and wrap it so and mail it that way, just mark it paper. Some folks have it sent just in an old magazine a package at a time but perhaps it will be less trouble to send it all at one time. I want it to use for lunches.  I have to put up so many lunches and out here in this hot sun the sandwiches get very dry unless they are wrapped in wax paper.

The other things just mark as "notions" and don't put a high value on them - mark less than they cost because the duty is judged according to the way they are listed on the outside slip. You'll notice on the slip there is a "neck-tie". Ralph say he'd like a new one - his are all so old and faded I guess he thinks he'd like a change.

Now I must go along as it is getting near bedtime.  [Personal portion redacted.] Again many many thanks for all that you folks have done for us and we pray God will richly repay you all.

With love,
Ralph and Coralee


  1. This letter is out of order - it was previously marked as being in 1939, but internal evidence places it more likely in 1928.
  2. The entire journey from Rejaf to Aru is mapped by Google at 385 km, and should take 7.5 hours. The journey from Aba to Aru is (depending on the route) between 164 and 200 km, duration about 4 hours.