Why I Picked A Swiss Grandfather
Being on good behavior has its compensation in heaven the same on earth. I remember a time way back, about the middle of the last century, up in the never, never land.
I’d been on pretty good behavior for quite awhile when one fine day, my Guardian Angel said to me, “I want you to study the countries of the Earth.
Because you have been good, I’ll let you pick out the one where you think you’d like to live. In about three score years from now I’m going to send you down to Earth for one lifetime.
“Countries change so, how will I know what they will be like in the next century? I queried. “That’s a good question,” said my Guardian Angel, “no country is any better than the people in it, or their ideals, and ideas. Rather, pick a man who will one day be your grandfather. Pick him for the country that is his background now and be satisfied to let the future bring what it may.”
Picking out a Grandfather from a country whose ideals were impressionable was a tall order. I thought I would never finish studying the countries of the Earth until one day I came upon Switzerland.
To me, it was the most beautiful of all countries that I had viewed. But we had been taught that is beauty is sometimes only skin deep. Perhaps, I thought the beautiful sky-pointed Alps, the profusion of wildflowers below the snow-capped mountains, the lakes, the quaint Swiss houses, the cleanliness and preciseness of the towns was only a thing of beauty. Perhaps, the people were not as fine as the beautiful countryside; but I determined to find out.
First, I studied the background of Switzerland and found to my delight that it was the oldest democracy in the world, in ancient days it was called “Helvetica.” Like most European countries, Helvetica went through its primitive period, with its domination by Imperial Rome. But, one day chosen delegates from the three countries of Uri, Schwyz and Unterwalden, formed a political and military alliance to maintain independence against the Duke of Austria. This was on August 1, 1291. Through the centuries that followed, August 1st remained a Swiss National Holiday, because the document formed then contains ever the principle of its later constitution, even the one that governs Switzerland today. The document is called the Deed of the Confederation and is what dates Switzerland as the world’s oldest Democracy. Before another century had rolled around, five more Cantons were added by various treaties and Switzerland was hailed as a European power.
I studied this background reverently, and thought, “those people must have what it takes.” In a small territory, hemmed in by antagonistic larger countries, that had the determination and the fortitude to establish their independence.
Studying Switzerland’s background further, I found that she had suffered several centuries of hardships. The Reformation took its toll and subsequent internal political dissension weakened the little democracy, and I found myself worrying for her—forgetting that I was studying history that had already been written. Then I came upon the last part of the 18th century when the roar of the French Revolution rolled across the Alps and for the first and only time overturned the Confederation. The period of 1798-1804 was known as the Helvetica Period, I learned.
But, I saw that the Swiss were not to accept the new arrangement—although it took them until 1815 to restore the confederation. By that time, the twenty-two Cantons of which still make up the country had formed the Confederation and the system of the Cantonal sovereignty set up then and still exists today in a circle of Federal Union.
So much for background history, Switzerland inspired me, next I wondered about her achievements artistically. It didn’t take much study to find that their famous Abbey of St. Gall, laid down 1,200 years ago, was a hearthstone of the Arts in the middle of a barbarous Europe; that Calvin had founded the Geneva Academy of Arts in 1558 and that sculptors, painters, and musicians abounded in the little Democracy.
I saw the industries of the busy people of Switzerland, the herdsmen, the watch makers, the cheese and chocolate makers, and heard the happy peasants yodeling on the mountain sides, saw the St. Bernard dogs, beautiful, gentle, efficient. I read about the William Tell and his apple and was impressed. I got a fleeting glimpse into the future and say that this little country would be the seat of the Universal Postal Union, which would govern the mail service of the World.
By this time, it was quite apparent to me that Switzerland was as great a country as it was beautiful. I was convinced of its beauty, of its history, even of its aesthetic side. But, no truly great country can be great unless its people have compassion. Were there any great men or women in this beautiful spot that sacrificed their lives and their finances to help their fellow man? I didn’t have to go very far to find such names as Johann Pestalozzi, whose love of children and personal sacrifice for them, became a symbol of guidance to other countries throughout the world and of Jean Henri Dunsant, young man of a wealthy Zurich family, who devoted his life to helping the afflicted, who reduced himself to a state of poverty to help those in need, who founded the International Red Cross Society, which today has spanned to the four corners of the Globe, with its humanitarian program.
I felt numb with happiness. I felt sure that I had found the country that I wanted my Grandfather to come from. I sat down on my crossed legs and hummed softly, I looked down again into Switzerland, and as I did I suddenly saw a young boy walking the street of Schaffhausen. I heard my Guardian Angel say softly, “Have you made up your mind?’ Yes, I said, “I want a Swiss Grandfather.” She pointed to the young man in Schaffhausen and said, “Some day along about sixty years from now he will be your grandfather.”
I looked again, and heard the young boy, Conrad Bollinger was his name, saying Good-bye to his friends for he was leaving for America. I jumped up quickly. “But, he’s going to America,” I said to the Angel.
“That’s right” she answered, “there’s a new county over there—it needs the best that the rest of the world can give so that it can grow. Your Grandfather will have the ideas and ideals of the oldest democracy in the world as he establishes his home and family in a new democracy, which is trying to get over it’s growing pains.”
I must have fallen off to sleep then and it was some thirty years later when I awakened. I looked down again and this time I saw America. It took no time to find the young Conrad, but was much older now. He had fought in the American Civil War and was working for the Government of the United States.
My Guardian Angel appeared again, “Now,” she said, you can even see your mother.”
I looked carefully until I saw four children in their teens, three girls and a boy. They are your Grandfather’s children,” said my Guardian Angel, “the second from the youngest—Margaret is her name—will someday be your Mother.”
I rocked and hummed again, I felt good. I wondered if I would look a little like Margaret when I became an earthly child. I thought, who could have picked out a better country than America in all this world, with a better background than one stemming from Switzerland. In fact, I felt pretty lucky. I had already seen both my Grandfather and my mother.
Again, I must have fallen asleep and the next thing I knew I woke up in Flatbush, Brooklyn, New York in the United States of America and someone said, “It’s a girl”
Note #1: August 9, 2013.
I am Alice Margaret Fisher. I was named after my grandmother and great grandmother Margaretha Bollinger. I am the granddaughter of Edith Margaret Fisher/Faulstich. I am the great-great-granddaughter of Conrad Bollinger, from Beringen, Switzerland. I retyped this article, written by Edith Fisher more than 60 years earlier, and furthered the family lineage into our Swiss ancestry as a result of her early work.
Our Swiss grandfather’s family now dates back to Hans George Bollinger, Born about 1588.
I am proud of this rich history and our deep roots. As a result, when I completed a study abroad to Europe in 1994, and thereafter I took my two young daughters with me and we traveled to Beringen, and Schaffhausen Switzerland.
We landed in Beringen on July 31, 1994, it was my youngest daughter’s 12th birthday. We being the first to return as a direct line descendant of Conrad Bollinger. The village was exactly as my grandmother wrote, and they opened up the little museum and bought my girls an ice cream on Sunday pouring their history and lives out to us in earnest while we spoke a triangle of me with my broken French to the women in the village who then in turn spoke Swiss-German, to the Museum curator.
Note #2, May 14, 2009
I’ve begun contributing to a Beringen, Switzerland History Project
With much pride and love to my Nana, you and your work will not be forgotten!
Alice Margaret Fisher
- (A Personal Note: Memorial Day May 25, 2009)
This postal history (military history) research effort to find mail from veterans who served in Siberia, and the subsequent article was originally reprinted in 1963, as written by Edith M. Faulstich. (If you find typos or mistakes please take this blog with a gentle hand and understanding of the volume of work before you. We are human, not a machine trying to preserve her type written work).
As a result of this previously published article, “A Find!” and many years of Edith (Fisher) Faulstich’s personal, unwavering research, time and money, there was an eventual writing of the Siberian Sojourn, but it happened after she passed away from cancer.
Citation: Faulstich, Edith M. The Siberian Sojourn. [Yonkers, N.Y.]: Faulstich, 1974-1977.
There were to be four books, originally. But time ran out, and my grandmother passed away in 1972. Book One and Book Two were edited by my father and uncle as the completion of these two books was the final wish from their mother, or “Dee,” as many knew her.
The Siberian Sojourn is and was her life’s work. And, I refuse to let that work die and become buried in some trunk.
Her book, The Siberian Sojourn was only limitedly published once and was later mailed to the direct family members of the A.E.F. veterans she worked with, after her passing in 1972.
I am 50 plus years old. And, again I state that I becoming acutely aware of the passing of time, the passing of entire generations since WWI, and the new generations who knew not of her, her work, her efforts and contributions nor our WWI A.E.F veterans who were forgotten in Siberia from 1918-1920.
Therefore today, on Memorial Day 2009, some 91 years after the A.E.F Siberian Campaign, I am posting my grandmother’s work on the Internet as a living body of her work, so that it is not lost in time, and so that is does not ever get seen nor read… because it too became buried in some old trunk in a basement or attic somewhere, or even worse becomes discarded or burned like so many of the covers she mentioned in the following article, about finding the old letters from Siberia.
It is my personal hope and wish that with the advent of modern technology, social media groups, Facebook, Twitter, and Web 2.0 that her painstakingly hand typed research, work and some of her articles will endure and develop a life of their own and organically grow outward to reach others.
It is my personal hope and wish that Veterans, their families, military historians and postal historians may benefit from the body of knowledge garnered from her life’s work (without trying to turn a profit from it).
All I ask, is that you please cite her work appropriately and give her what she and the Veterans are due which your profoundly deep and unending respect. I and many loved my Nanna dearly. Mine are of the highest and utmost best intentions in her behalf. I hope others will see this effort in the same light.
And finally, as a Veteran myself, I understand all too well the value and personal time taken from anyone who sits down to write and mail a letter to anyone, but more importantly to a soldier currently serving.
And, yes, I am of the opinion that even today this thing called “letter writing” is still very important in our very modern world. Why might you ask? Well…
1) A hand written letter lives on in between the days and days of no news from home, it ties us together, keeps one going, it can be reread, folded up and taken out again, carried in a pocket into the field and read for strength and encouragement and savored like home cooking. It can make a difference in the quality of the life of a soldier in the field.
2) And, then such letters become our printed living history from the eyes of the soldier in the field with their boots on the ground and with a perspective which can endure for generations so that we may not ever forget them, their sacrifices for us…even some 91 years later.
And, now on to my grandmothers original article, “A Find!
Mail To the American Expeditionary Forces in Siberia; 1918-1920
(Citation: Faulstich, Edith M. A Find. [Yonkers, N.Y.]: Faulstich, 1960-1963)
(Retyped below as it was originally reprinted by the
Twenty-ninth American Philatelic Congress Yearbook, 1963)This article represents a study of mail sent to a soldier serving in the Siberian Campaign. However a brief background seems to be indicated by way of an introduction.In 1918 the Allies were urging the United States to send forces into Siberia. President Woodrow Wilson did not acquiesce until the summer of that year. In July, 1981, he wrote his Aide de Memoire and had Secretary of State Newton D. Baker give Major William S. Graves his outline of policy to be followed in Siberia. General Graves. then stationed in California, was instructed to meet Baker in Kansas City to receive the orders.
By August 1918, the first American troops landed in Vladivostok. They were not alone. England, France, Canada, Italy and Japan also officially sent troops in one great allied effort. Belgians, Serbians. Arabs and Chinese were also in evidence. And there were hordes of Austrian, Hungarian and German prisoners-of-war who had been released after the November 1917 revolution. In addition, there were some 100,000 Czehoslovakians in Siberia. They were ostensibly our reason for intervention. Unhappy about with their association with the Central Powers, these Czechoslovakian had defected on the Russian front and had hoped to assist the Allies.
According to President Wilson who sent instructions to General Graves, who was placed in command of the troops in Siberia, we were to help the Czech troops
reach Vladivostok safely; were to maintain the railways to keep our stores of stocks in Russia on the move and were to assist the Russians. But we
were, in no circumstances to interfere in the political problems of the Russians. All of this was about three months before the signing of the the Armistice of World War I on November 11, 1918. After that date conditions almost changed as rapidly
did the various governments in power in Russia.
With the declaration of peace the Czechs were now anxious to get home. Their exodus was hindered by the Bolsheviks and by the many released Austrian and German prisoners who did not look favorably on this group of hardy soldiers who had defected to the Allies. In addition, the Japanese, who had sent many times the troops they had promised to send to Siberia were causing as much disturbance as possible. They pretended to cooperate but managed to play one faction against the other in an effort to realize their fond hope nf an expanded empire. As if this were not sufficiently confusing, the Allies themselves did not not agree in the unified reason for intervention! The British and French sought action to wipe out the Bolsheviks, but the Americans under Graves had strict orders to maintain a hands-ff policy in internal Russian affairs. Graves was a West Pointer who had been indoctinated with the fact that orders were orders to the end of the line, and so he endeavoured to keep clear of any involvement.
At this period the entire world was pretty much chaos and all kinds of rumors drifted across the world to far off Siberia. The men heard that their brothers were being shipped back home, from France as fast as possible, but in Siberia they were told to prepare for a long hard winter. Christmas, 1918, came and went, and they still received no orders to go home, Many of them froze in that 1919 winter and before too long the first anniversary of the Armistice was being celebrated everywhere except in the barracks of the A.E.F.
(page 2 of original reprinted article from 1963)
in Siberia. In 1919 Christmas came again and another hard winter set in. It spent its vengeance from Lake Baikal to Vladivostok. It was not until April 1902 that the last found themselves on their way back to home and loved ones.
During this long wait the men had been concerned with political and military aspects of the intervention; perhaps they were also interested in what new maps were being made and what new countries were born; perhaps too they were wondering daily when they it would get home, but during the twenty months that many of the men stayed in Siberia they had one paramount thought. Were there letters from home? When would they come? How would they come? Mail call was a a big moment in life of every soldier that slept on a cement floor with winds raging and the mercury around 50 degrees below zero most of the time. Mail, mail. It was the one bright spot along with vodka, to nearly every soldier who lived in the far country.
Most collectors realize mail from Siberia is considered scarce, but mail to Siberia, often overlooked by the postal historian, is perhaps even harder to find. There are no special military military markings to indicating the campaign scene but no one should say they are not of interest. Few , soldiers carried their mail back the States with them. As a matter-of—fact they were often told to unload vervthinng but essentiails, so the collecting of them provides a treasure hunt for the collector.
It is hoped that this article may ,stimulate more collecttors to search for mail to the mystery campaign when the American Expeditionary Forces served in Siberia.
Postal historians have long urged stamp collectors to leave the stamp on the cover to study the cover and its postmark; to know how the letter travelled;
to ascertain if t he address was a prominent person, and if a letter exists to investigate the possibility of a the pictorial or an officially imprinted letterhead. Finallv. they are told to see if someone of fame has signed the letter and whether or not it is a holograph.
Sometimes it is wise to go even further.
Collectors are wont to restrict themselves to a phase of a subject that
interests them and to overlook the importance associated material, or of some as yet unrecognized aspect, that may be of postal interest.
Mail to Siberia is a striking example. It has pointed out time and again that such mail is extremely difficult ot find, but of no special philatelic value. The “hard to find” part seem logical to me. hat soldier in all the world, I thought, would save his mail and bring it back with him to the States? No such covers had come to my attendtion but I was consoled by those specialist who stated that such mail was not too important. They said that no agency postmarks would be on such covers, nor would thre be any censor marks. It has been reported that no mail ever going to Siberia was ever censored. Therefore the consensus of opinion was that such covers would have no significance in relation to postal history. But, I was curious, and hoped one day to find covers addressed to members of the AEV in Siberia.
In the course of my search for first-hand information over a period of years, I had occassion to write to the late Kenneth Roberts, the historian whose novels have stirred so many of us. He was most helpful with information but did not have a single cover to or from Siberia. However, he suggested a Mr. Ralph Baggs might be able to help me. I lost no time in writing to Mr. Baggs, a former Lieutenant in Siberian A. E. F., and a correspondence of several years ensued. He, too had nothing but memories and one lone envelope.
Nevertheless, through the years our association became friendly and when he retired to his New England home my husband and I were invited for a visit.
(Page 3 of original reprinted article from 1963)
This article is based on the mail to Lt. Ralph Baggs. He is shown here in a photo (left) with a “Russian Friend.” At the right he is seen with a group that points up the international aspect of the campaign. The photograph was taken at General Lovsoff’s headquarters in the Hotel Select. Chita, Siberia. Included in the group are the General (who was chief of staff of Semenoff’s army), Mme. Lovsoff, two English officers, two Belgian officers and an Arab prince who was serving as a
Major in the Russian Forces. Baggs is at the extreme left in the picture.
We had a most enjoyable time , were fascinated by his stories of happenings in the land of ice and snow but our knowledge of postal history was not enriched. On another visit, a year of so later, I asked him shamefacedly if he wouldn’t search the house for some Siberian memoirs. “Surely, you must have something,” I said.
“Not a darned thing, ” he replied in characteristic style, “except maybe in the cellar-if I ever get to it and the thing open, there might be some of my notes in an older trunk down there.
My hear leaped, and I immediately recalled tales of finds in old attics and barns.
Mr. Baggs ac cured me, however, that there would be no great find, if there was anything at all. He explained that this was an old trunk which was full of souvenirs and notes that he had acquired but that there would be nothing at all written by him. – He had been unmarried when he served in Siberia and had no idea what had happened to letters he had sent to friends. “Burned,” I guess he said and laughed. But it was no laughing matter to me. Fire had all to often claimed mail that collectors would have cherished. Nevertheless, I encouraged him to have a look. “Well,” he said, “Maybe next time you come up”.
I waited a decorous few months before I requested another visit with him, “Come up as soon as you can” he said on the telephone. “We are always glad to see you.”
“And the trunk”. I asked, “may we look at it this time?”
His, “We’ll See” did not sound to encouraging. However. when I arrived at his lovely old farmhouse it was during a cloudburst and he said he said upon greeting
me, “It‘s too nasty to sit on the porch today. Come on down into the cellar. A rainy day is a good time to look at old trunks.”
At last, I thought, thrilling with delight and anticipation but trying to subdue too much optimism. Mr. Baggs remarked, as we descended the stairs, that when the floods played havoc the year before they had ruined many things. “Maybe the old trunk is ruined too.” he said discouragingly.
We spoke about it a bit and finally located the object of our search and
pulled it out under the light – I saw immediately that it was rust with age. After considerable banging and nudging the lid finally sprang open. Great heaps of miscellaneous material including letters, photos, college news, and clips popped out like the contents of a a jack-in-the-box. I don’t believe they had seen light of day since Mr. Baggs returned from Siberia in 1919.
It took hours of sorting to separate the letters from the souvenirs and photos and then to disentangle the Siberian letters from the others. Finally this was accomplished and I was offered all if the Siberian material.
There was not a single cover letter from Siberia, but the ones I use as reference in this To Siberia Article, were all from this one find. How glad I am that I did not stop the study of postmarks from Siberia., or that I did not sneer at mail sent to the campaign. Had I, I would not have gone home that night with my arms full of mail to a man who had served with the expedition. Much has been learned from this find which otherwise have been lost.
Like many another collector. I too believed, as mentioned above, that mail to Siberia did not compare to the veritable wealth of interest one could find in mail from there; but the more I studied the Bagg’s covers, the more I began to wonder – about this. Finally I became convinced that they are an important factor that should not be overlooked when one studies the aspects and postal history of the A.E.F in Siberia.
After considerable time and study, I established preliminary categories of this mail, which others may use as a guide if they wish, when they too discover mail written to Siberia. Bear in mind, however, that this is based solely on letters
to one man. As other covers are located, the gaps may one day closed. Such is the joy of research. Before turning to the mail itself, it may be of interest to some of the varying reports on to the receipt of mail.
HOW THE MAIL WAS TRANSPORTED
There were two supply boats which operated between United States and Vladivostok each month. Service started shortly after the arrival of the American troops in
Siberia and continued to in March 1920. Mail was also received from the United
States by other means. Some mail went to Japan where it arrived on regular mail
steamers and was sent on from there. Some left San Francisco in mail sacks which were not opened again until arrival at Vladivostok. All mail for the A.E.F. in Siberia was handled through the A.E.F. post office.
Mail from all over the U.S was directed to San Francisco for forwarding. Hence neither postmark nor stamp has any Siberian identity.
Kenneth Roberts wrote that he continually damned the security of mail and especially the postal clerks who persisted in sending to North Russia a large part of his letters and packages which were clearly addressed to him., c/o A.E.F. Siberia.
Mrs. Roberts, about a month before he returned home. They had taken such a three way trip and finally reached him with some twine around them and just enough of the wrapping left to hold his name.On the other hand, Mrs. Ralph Fletcher writes that her husband, who was personnel Adjunct of the 31st infantry, censored the outgoing mails and does not recall that there was any difficulty with the mails that came from the United States. The transport service in the Pacific was quite regular, according to this source.
Baggs like Roberts, recalls difficulties in the receipt of mail. On one occasion he was required to stop on of the Trans-Siberian trains to uncover a spy suspect in China.
He came across a large package of Christmas mail addressed to him on the train. “Had I not been on that particular mission,” he said, my yuletide greetings would no doubt have landed thousands of miles away.” (see figure 9)
P.J. O’Dea tells me that. where he was stationed at Selenga, Siberia, he saw much of the mail which came to the Company office he had charge of its distribution. “I would dump the sacks and make de1ivery to the bovs,” he advised. The Army had established a courier car which operated on the Russian railroad, according to O‘Dea. It went through from Vladivostok about once a week. There was usually an enlisted man in charge on the courier car and he would be met at the railway srations along the line by another enlisted man to take off the mail and other parcels which had been sent through on the car.
“As for myself,”’ 0‘Dea says. “I was always anxiously awaiting the mails as once in awhile a letter would come through from a little thatched cottage in the hills of Eastern Clare County, Ireland, from my Mother and Dad. Of course I was interested in seeing letters come to the other boys———from the Kentucky Hills, from the Bronx. from Texas or Florida, from little obscure towns all across the American continent.
Like Baggs and Roberts O’Dea tells a story of a much travelled letter. “I recall,” he says, “a letter to a corporal in our outfit. It took one year to reach him. He had served in France, reenlisted for a year and went to Siberia. This particular letter was sent to France, returned to the U.S., forwarded to a few military bases and finally reached him in a mail sack at Selenga.”
Others tell similar stories. And, there are some sad stories about the mail which went to Siberia such as: “I recently burned all the letters after over 40 years, because I am moving in with my daughter and need to save space” and “I wish I knew you were interested, I threw my Siberian stuff out about a year ago” and “I had a big box full but they must have been thrown out; I can’t find them” These are the sad stories that every postal historian must listen to, and then weep. And, they are the reason it seem neccessay to set down, now, anything we know before the letters that exist are scattered to the four winds in the form of ashes.
In the following categories, I have used what weems to me to be suitable initials to indicate the type of mail. For example:
FTS- Indicates that this mail is in the Forerunnners To the Siberian Campaign mail.
TS-— Indicates that this mail was directed To Siberia to those who participated in the campaign.
FTS-Forerunners to Siberia:
Forerunner in any field are always of interest to the postal historian as they itten divulge stifle intert-ting phase that might otherwise be overlooked. Forerunner- to the Siberian Campaign are no exception. As there would doubtless be wide diversification in this phase, depending on where a service man had
TS-1 Mail addressed to the St. Francis Hotel. San Francisco, California, With a two line purple handstamp reading: Hotel Fairmont/San Francisco Ca.
Apparently the men, ready to leave for Siberia had informed their friends that they would be staying at the St. Francis; hence, the mail listed in this category is addressed there. However, plans were obviously changed and men stayed at Hotel Fairmont instead. The handstamp seems to have been used to facilitate forwaring of the mail.Fig. 3. Examples of TS-1 and a categories.
dare in this category was August 26th, 1918 from Chicago, Ill. Arrival date is
August 29th, 1919.Covers in this category emanate from Washington D. C. Ithaca. New York; New York City; Atlantic City, New Jersev: Chicago, Ill. and Lake Placid Club, N.Y.All covers have both the postmark of the city of origin and the San Francisco handstamp on the front. This would lead us to believe that the mail went to the St. Francis and was sent back to San Francisco post office where it received the handstamp before going out again, this time to the Hotel Fairmont. It also seems safe to atssume that the handstamp used to readdress the mail to the Hoel Fairmont was applied by a clerk at the St. Francis.
(Page 9)TS-1A- Mail identical to category TS-1, except with an additional additional purple handstamp ‘HOLD’ (See Fig. 3)
One cover, from Chicago, dated August 18, 1918, has an additional handstamp in purple reading “Hold”. Why this particular handstamp was applied is not clear, especially as it appears on the cover with the latest date in the category. Had it been applied to the earliest cover we might have assumed that the letter arrived before the addressie.
TS-2- Mail addrssed directly to the Hotel Fairmont, San Francisco, Cal. (See figure 4)
In this category we have mail addressed directly to the Hotel Fairmont. It would ????
: Lt. Baggs had notified his friends that he was staying there instead of at the St. Francis and had urged them to write him again directly, to save time, so that that he would receive mail before he left the U.S.Fig. 3. Examples of TS-3 and 3A categories.
The only cover so addressed is dated August 27, 1918 and is from Chicago, IL.
It may be of interest to call attention to the fact that this cover shows use of our 2 cent stamped envelope with the addition of a one cent adhesive to make up the first class rate. Also, as the corner card indicates, the letter is from the Lieutenant’s father. He wishes him vell before he leaves.
TS-2A- Mail addressed to Hotel Fairmont, San Francisco, Cal., via Special Delievery. With forwarding to the A. E. F . Siberia. (See Fig. 4)
Special delivery, which hastened this cover to the departing Lt.Baggs, is from Chicago. It left there on August 30th. However, the Transport Sheridan was already on the high seas carrying the addresse to Siberia when the letter reached California. Hence, it was forwarded to the Lieutenant there.
TS-3- Mail addressed to the A.E.F. Siberia, c/o Intelligence Officer, Western Dept., San Francisco, Cal. Without any forwarding indication to Siberia. (there is some slight variation in the addressing, but most is as above)
Naturally the mail would differ depending on the branch of service in which the soldier was serving. There are more covers in this group than other.The earliest date is August 20th, 1918, THe lates is March 21, 1919. Most interesting is the fact that of the 23 covers in this category, there are 13 which have a penciled notation indicating the date they were received in Siberia. They are listed as a basis for study of the time taken from date of sending to date of receipt.
Date Postmarked From Date Rec’d Approximate Time Elapsed
August 22. 1918 N.Y. Nov.5.1918 Ten and 1/2 Weeks
Oct. 3 Buffalo,N.Y. Nov.5 Four and 1/2 Weeks
Nov. 25 N.Y. Jan. 21, 1919 Eight Weeks —
Dee. 5 N. Y. Feb. 2 Eight Weeks +
Dec. 5 (again) N.Y. Feb.2 (again) Eight Weeks +
Dec. 12 N.Y. Feb.16 Nine Weeks +
Dec. 22 N.Y. Feb.16 (again) Eight Veeks
Dec. 23 N Y. Feb. 16 (again) Eight Weeks —
Jan. 6, 1919 N.Y. Feb.16 (again) Six Weeks —
Jan. 27 N.Y. March 11 Six Weeks +
Feb. 9 N.Y. April 1 Seven Weeks +
Feb. 10 Wash. D. C. April 24 Ten Weeks +
Feb. 13 N.Y. April 1 Seven Weeks —
Feb. 5 N.Y. April 24 Eight Weeks ÷
March 21, 1919 N.Y. April 24 Five Weeks —
Distinguising characteristics of some of the letters are:
1) A September 7th letter was origionally addressed from from New York to the Lieutenant in Washington D.C., where he received his orders’ it was forwared.
2) A September 11th letter, also from Washington, D.C. shows use of an envelope with a Navy Dept./Bureau of Construction and Repair./Official Business corner card is rulled out as is the penalty indciation over which a three cent stamp has been placed.
3) An 0ctober 1st letter, is from a Corporal at Carlstrom Field, Florida and has a Carlstrom Branch Cancellation.
TS-3A- I Mail From Europe (See Fig. 5)
A.E.F. Siberia. There is also a backstamp at New York dated Sept. 2, 1918.Fig. 6. Examples of TS-4, 4A and 4B categories.
(Page 12)TS-4– Mail addressed to the A. E. F. Siberia c/o Intelligence Officer, Western Department, San Francisco, Cal. ( or similarly addressed) with part of the address ruled out and the location point of the addresse written in, usualy with bliu pencil. (See Fig. 6)
Here again the rank and branch may differ, but the type would he the same for for any mail similarly addressed.
The earliest date in this group is Aug. 22, 1918; the latest, Nov. 21. 1918.
Letters emante from from New York City; Chicago. Ill.; Provincetown. Mass.;
Providence, Rhode Island and 5t. Paul, Minn.
Again in this category we have enough covers to permit us to study the time which elapsed between the sending and the receiving of mail. The list is:
Date Postmarked From Date Red’d Time Elapsed
Aug 22, 1918 New York City Nov.8 1918 Eleven Weeks
Ott. 24th Chicago, IL Dec. 20 Nine Weeks+
Oct. 29th Provincetown,Mass. Dec. 3O Nine Weeks-
Nov. 9th New York City Dec. 30 Seven Weeks +
Nov. 11th Chicago, IL Dec. 28 Seven Weeks —
Nov. 13th Providence, R.I. Dec. 28 Six Weeks +
Nov. 19th St. Paul. Minn Dec. 28 Five Weeks+
Nov. 21st New York City Jan.7, 1919 Seven Weeks —
TS-4A- Cover with censor label and two censor markings. (See Fig 6)
You may remember that we mentioned at the beginning of this article, that the psotal historians were urged to look beyond the obvious in the hope of finding unusual information. We hav a striking example of the result of this in the cover that falls into this category.
It has been stated that no mail going to Siberia was ever censored. Yet we see that this cover was very definitely so treated. It has both the censor labe-strip, which resealed the envelope, With “Opened By Censor” and two circular purple handstamps on the back.
So far there is no explanation to why this one leter was censored. It especially gives us pause to wonder as the letter was addressed to an officer, and to an officer in the Intelligenec Department, at that. He would be the last person in the world who would have his mail censored.
Fig 7. Example of TS-5 category.
TS-4B- With a “Via New York Post Office” on the cover (See Fig 6) or any other unusual directive.
(See Fig. 7)There are only three covers that fall into this category of mail addressed directly Siberia and we wonder how many more may come to light. The ones in the Baggs collection are:August 22, 1918, addressed to: “Lt. Baggs, Intelligence Officer, Western Dept..
A.E.F. SIberia.” It was received on Nov. 5, 1918.
February 13, 1919, addressed to Lt. Baggs at “U.S. Army, American Expeditionary Forces, Siberia.” It was reeeived April 1, 1919.
March 10, 1919, address the same way. It was received April 24. 1919.
TS-6- Mail Addressed to San Francisco to Returning Soldiers
(see Fig 8)
Covers in this category are extremely interesting. There are five such covers in this group. Apparently the Lieutenant had written that he planned
arrive in California in June 1919. Two of the covers are addressed to the Transport Sherman. One has in brackets “Arriving about June 12th”; the other
says simply “arriving.” and “From A.E.F. Siberia.”
Two are addressed to the Hotel St. Francis. One has a “Hold Until Arrival” and the other a ”Please Hold” ;both in manuscript. The fifth cover is addressed to the Fairnmont Hotel. It is a local 1etter with a two cent rate. A “Please Hold” also appears in manuscript on this cover.
TS-7- Mail Sent to Siberia on Christmas Packages. (See Fig. 9)
No outer envelopes exist in the Baggs collection but a category has been included for two reason ,1- Someday someone else may find Christmas cards or letters with outer address and 2- It seems as though these cards and tags with the unaddressed envelopes in which they were pocketed deserve place in the collection of mail to Siberia as they were sent to a service man and were received by him while there.
How wonderful it must have been receive mail from home at Christmas time, and yet Lt. Baggs nearly failed receive his on that cold Christmas some six weeks after the war to end all wars was finished and the Armistice for Peace had been signed. It was a time when he and others should have been at home with their loved ones.
TS-8- Official Mail to Siberia (See Fig. 10)
Some official mail was included with this find. These were letters and covers sent from Washington. D. C. to Lt. Baggs in Vladivostok. There are several items in the group and all are dated Dec. 10, 1918.
Included is a Window type penalty envelope with Treasury Department corner can (we are amused ath the “return after five days” on this letter addressed to V1adivostok); and envelope handstamped “Telegram,” – and an official letterhead of the Office of the Auditor for the War Department.
Fig.8. Example of TS-6 category.
Fig. 9. Example of TS-7 category.
Mv intellect curiosity has been stimulated in an endeavor to sort and classify
this mail and decide what I think it might mean to the postal historian. However, it must be stated that this entire preliminary article is based on mail addressed to one man. Mistakes may have been made, but the only way
It would not have been possible to compile this information without the devoted assistance of many who understood a bit here, about the situation in Siberia during the intervention.Although the study is one of original research, I feel I must express my thamks to those who helped me put the puzzle together, who answered my questions and who volunteered information. Ralph Baggs, deserves my very special thanks for putting at my disposal his collection of letter and covers which had been preserved for nearly 25 years.Others who helped include the late Kenneth Roberts and the late General Robert Eichelberger who served in the campaign; C.D.Brenner’ The Rev. Flyod Leach; Mrs. Ralph Fletcher and the following soldiers and nurses who also served in Siberia: P.J. O’Dea, Harold Metzger, Laurie Kent, J.H. Whitehead, Eugene Streed, Henry Fry, and Lillian Stark. Others, far to many to mention, have also contributed in some small way. My thanks go to all.
Although the introduction was compiled from a digest of several dozen books there are far too many to list for such a brief mention of the background.
(Citation: Faulstich, Edith M. A Find. [Yonkers, N.Y.]: Faulstich, 1960-1963)