Thursday, March 30, 2023

Finding Pieces from the Past

The old adage states that if we cannot learn from history, history will repeat itself... 

For this reason, the past is important... yet we should never live IN THE PAST.  It is a fine balance to achieve this.  My interest in history, specifically my family's history, has extended to those that have participated in in my various sew along events.

Recently, I had a notification that one of the letters written to my Grandparents, Phillip & Katie Schleich had been written by the reader's grandfather.  The comment that was left on the original story did not have an email address, so I replied on-line and waited with fingers crossed for a response via email.  

I didn't have to wait long... within a few hours, I did have a message!

With the help of google translator, we have had a conversation...

Hi Melva,

that's so easy to hear from you. I forwarded the link to my wife about 5 hours ago. For her part, she immediately wrote a comment. 

So to me, my name is Uwe Dybus, I am 52 years old and I live in Germany, in Magdeburg. Unfortunately my English is very bad. That's why I'm writing to you on German. Sorry! My grandfather spoke English so well, to my surprise! He must have liked it very much in America.

My grandfather is Gotthart Hauswald (the farmer Max Julius Gotthart Hauswald), which is my mother's father. Unfortunately, I don't know much about my grandfather. I only saw him 1 x, that was in autumn 1999.

We had no contact with him. When we met together, he told me that he was a prisoner of war by the Americans. When he returned home, he was arrested and interned in the Sachsenhausen concentration camp. There he had to do forced labour. He really wanted to go home to help with the reconstruction. In 1948 / 49 he met my grandmother Erna Käthe Hauswald née Nitzschke. They got married and my mother was born in 1950.

(I enclose the birth certificate with you) Unfortunately, my grandmother Käthe did not get along with my grandfather's mother, according to tradition. For this reason, the marriage was divorced in the 1950s. 

My grandfather told me that he would have liked to study chemistry. However, he was not allowed to do so in the German Democratic Republic (GDR) for political reasons.

With his 2nd wife he has 2 daughters. As far as I know, these daughters still live in Oberseifersdorf, in his house, in the house of his ancestors. You have the address on the letter on the Internet. (Hauptstraße 90, 02763 Oberseifersdorf)

We would love to hear from you again. We will try to get more information about Gotthart Hauswald. 

You are also welcome to contact me via WhatsApp: (number removed for privacy)
Many greetings from Germany to America,

Wajd Dybus and Uwe Dybus

Thanks for contacting me. I have been able to translate your messages by using an on-line translator. 

So many of the men that were held at the Prisoner of war camp and worked at my grandparents farm had a very difficult time when they returned home.  Your grandfather included.

I’m sorry to hear that you did not have a chance to get to know him.  It is interesting that he may still have family living at the same address as he used on the letter he sent to Phillip & Katie Schleich. 

If you read through any of the other stories and letters I have, you would know that Gotthart’s father, and mother-in-law wrote to my Grandparents.

You can read those letters by following the links:

Pieces from the Past- Owl Block

Pieces from the Past- Pride of Ohio

If you are interested in reading all of the letters Phillip & Katie received, you can follow this link:  Pieces From the Past.  I found them all very interesting and eye opening to the real and hard living conditions they faced upon their return home.  I also enjoyed reading of their recollections of memories from the camp and the local farms.

I have never used WhatsApp, and given the fact that we would probably need a translator to communicate in that manner, I think email is the best option.

Thank you for reaching out to me.

Melva Nolan

Thank you very much for everything. I was speechless when I learned that there were also letters from my great-grandmother and my great-grandfather.

It's great that you kept these letters and put them online. My utmost respect. I am deeply grateful to your family that my grandfather had a good time with your grandparents on the farm and that you treated him very well.

I will continue to deal with the subject. Thank you for everything, see you soon

Uwe Dybus

So... as I wait for another reply, I feel like the girl of my childhood as I waited for a letter from my pen pal...

I've passed the time by working on getting my book ready to upload for printing and quilted and finished the binding on quilt #6/8 of my customer's.  She recently received three more of the quilts and loves them just as much as she loved the first two. 

I also finished another mini using some practice smocking pieces and the little bits that had been carefully cut out...

My pen pal was found through a gymnastics magazine when I was in junior high.  That was what we had in common.  Her name was Ann and she lived in Illinois.  I don't remember much more than that...

Have you ever had a pen pal?  What did you have in common?  What did you write about?

Leave a comment... I'd love to hear from you.

Keep Piecing,


Linking with:

Put Your Foot Down at For the Love of Geese 
Needle & Thread Thursday at My Quilt Infatuation
Free-Motion Mavericks at Quilting & Learning
Little Things Thursday at Good Random Fun
Off The Wall Friday with Nina Marie
Brag About Your Beauties at From Bolt to Beauty
Peacock Party at Wendy’s Quilts and More
Friday Foto Fun at Powered by Quilting
Finished or Not Friday at Alycia Quilts
Scrap Happy Saturday at Super Scrappy
Patchwork & Quilts at The Quilting Patch



  1. How wonderful that you found each other and can share Information!

  2. How wonderful that you have had this communication continue! I don’t think I ever had a pen pal, or it fell apart quickly. Quilt #6 is a lovely finish, as is the fun little piece you did. Thanks for linking up to TGIFF.

  3. I wrote to a girl in Japan (from Canada) for many years.

  4. Hi Melva, it's so great to hear about your family adventure. I'm still in touch (about every second year) with a pen pal that I originally met in grade 7 on a trip to Moosonee, off James Bay. It's really cool to hear from her. We don't have tons in common but it's still great to hear from her. Thanks for linking up to Free Motion Mavericks. That green quilt is lovely!

  5. Isn't amazing how connections lost, even unknown can be reassembled. Yes, I wrote to a pen pal briefly. It was a collaboration between my school in Cambridge, MA and her school somewhere in France. The only thing I recall is her first name - Marie Claude. I was in 8th grade and my French, starting in 7th grade was very basic. Along the lines of Je m'apples Gwyned. Je suis treize ans.

    1. It is amazing how technology has helped to bring people from around the world together. A dream come true for me!

  6. How wonderful for you to hear from ancestors of the person who wrote those letters so long ago, Melva! Pen pals? I had two from junior high through the 2nd year of college. I was one day away from meeting one of them in London in 1985. Unfortunately, she was scheduled to go back to Sweden the day before I arrived.

  7. Melva that is fascinating! What a treasure and the chance to connect with folks and hear their stories - I love it. I look forward to the rest of the story.
    I had a pen pal in 5th grade. It was somehow associated with our class but I don't remember how. She was from Ireland and had red hair, but I can't remember her name. It was a revelation to me at the time - the fact that another girl around the world had the same thoughts and feelings as I did!

  8. Quilt #6 is beautiful! I don't remember having a pen pal when I was young, It's nice for you to remember Ann;)
    Thank you for sharing this story, and linking up.

  9. I'm a little late to the conversation but I think this is fascinating! I had 2 penpals in junior high: one from NSW Australia and the other from Perth, Scotland. I may still have the letters somewhere but remember almost nothing about them. I did spend a summer in Finland (my heritage) while in high school through Youth for Understanding and we are still in touch 50 years later! I was fortunate to see her again about 10 years ago and it was wonderful.

  10. THAT!!! is so cool!!! Who knew that you could reach out across the world and - wow - what a cool thing!!! Thanks for sharing this with all of us too - what amazing history you have!!!