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Wednesday, September 4, 2013

A Borchers' Diary

In my attempt to find out more about my great great grandfather, Henry Borchers, I resulted in my finding out more about my great grandfather, his son, Herbert Herman Leonhardt Borchers, Sr.   I recently read through his diary that started on December 23, 1916 and went through December 18, 1918.  He was 19 years old when the first entry was written.  Everyday, he wrote a few lines to describe the basic events of the day.

While most of the notes were about the daily weather, there were other notes about his job, friends, and other activities.  My copy of the diary is typed and I am wondering if it was transcribed and by whom. Maybe my aunt typed it up or maybe my great grandfather typed it himself.  I will have to find out someday.


While this diary does include rather mundane entries about his daily life, there are some more interesting comments along the way that are true "discoveries".  It is clear that letters were written to family back in North Dakota.  Above, he writes a letter to H.L.B.  That would be Henry Ludwig Christian Borchers, one of his older brothers.

A few entries really struck me.  Herb mentions taking his violin to be tuned and taking lessons.  He also indicates playing the piano and buying an organ.  These entries surprised me.  I did not know he could play piano.  Generally, only good pianist who have mastered piano playing even try to play an organ.  Other entries demonstrate his inclination toward music.  He was in the choir for his church.  I wonder if he was the accompanist for the choir.  Interestingly enough, his own daughter plays piano, organ, taught piano, and accompanied many a choir, wedding, and bell ringers.

Herb Borchers, Sr. circa 1918

I knew that my great grandfather was a jeweler, watchmaker and repaired clocks for a living.  He was working for Noack's in Santa Rosa during the time of this diary.  By the beginning of 1917, he had been there for two years.

The diary mentions the war.  WWI begain in 1914 and ran through 1918.  The U.S. joined the war in 1917.  An entry on April 6, 1917 is written as follows:

"Very beautiful day.  Went to church.  Card from Emil G.  War declared.  Was all at J. Wurts in the evening.  Clara was at our house in the P.M." 

The war is mentioned here and there throughout the diary.  Mainly, he mentions when people are drafted, troops from the area left for war, and he even mentions troops leaving from the Presidio in San Francisco.  One entry indicates his brother, Albert Borchers, being drafted into the military.  Herb never did get called up for duty.  He registered for the draft in WWI.  My mom has always indicated that they probably did not want him in the military because he was flat footed.

During 1917, Herb was seeing a lady named Anna.  At one point, he indicates seeing Anna in the evening and the next line states "romance over".  Months later, he is corresponding with Mary, his future wife.  She would write him a letter and he would return correspondence with two letters.

This diary is amazing while it is actually brief in comments and information.  I will read it again in the future.  Who knows what I might discover on a second pass.

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