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Pvt. Herbert Hocamp

Letters Home

from Port Townsend, Washington



Port Townsend

Apr. 17, 1918

Dear sister & brother,

Your letter of the 11 received today.  Herbert was over here awhile this afternoon, but had to be back for school tonight, but is trying to get back tomorrow night.  He came over to see the ship off, which took the body of his brother and comarade [sic].  He said they were like brothers all the while they have [been] here.  Last winter if you  remember Dick said some of these days you will hear that Emil is out there alone, the other two will be back, but God had different ways in view.  Herbert is left alone.  Ernest in a foreign land and Emil has gone home where he will know no more sorrow or suffering. 

I am sitting here writing I donít know what for you will see Mrs. Wedemeyer if the Lord wills it long before this letter can reach you.  Herbert said today I miss Emil as he was a true friend, but I donít wish him back.  He wonít have to go through what perhaps I will have to.  I may be buried in a foreign land without even a friend around me and I know Emil went to a good place.  We often read our prayers together and Emil will no longer have to get up at the sound of the bugle.  He will only hear one more bugle and that will be the one that calls him to ever lasting life.  Would God we were all where he now is.

The 63 Co. are all equipped ready for France.  When they are gone they will make up a new battery, will draw out of the other companyís.  That may mean Herbert.  I ask the Lord to be with us and grant that Herbert wonít have to go to France and I want you also to remember us in your prayers.  I feel so lonely tonight.  It isnít realy [sic] night yet, the sun is still shining, but I have been writing since I came up from the dock.  I first saw Herbert off his boat.  The gov. boat left about 15 min. before the civilian which took Mrs. W. and Emil.  Write me all about it   The funeral.  There was another body (soldier) shipped to Wisconsin.  He died yesterday also in the same hospital Emil died.  The man next door just told me they were having an average of 3 deaths a month out here in the army.

When you see Mrs. Wedemeyer you tell her the man next door in this house, Mr. Grimes that had his tonsils taken out yesterday, told me this evening that Emil did not have scarlet fever.  He says I helped move his body to the basement and he died with pneumonia and appendicitis and the boy from Wis. died with scarlet fever.  And I says well they told her (Mrs. W.) all the time that he had scarlet fever and Mr. Grimes said they are crazy.  So I donít know what to believe, guess we never will know the truth.  And those Doctors and so on tell one anything but the truth.  I think God that I came out here.

[5 or 6 handwritten lines whited out/erased]

He has a place in view for me over there.  Will know in a few days if he gets it or not.  The climate seems to do him good.  He is heavier than he was but of course he hasnít the strain that he did on the farm.  But he is sure homesick for the good old home in Iowa.  I donít know if I like the climate or not it seems awfully chilly to me but the people that are here all the time donít mind it.  They wear white stockings and dresses but believe me I feel comfortable with my woolen socks on and can stand a fire nearly every day.  Today was a dandy day.  The sun shone all day and when it shines then itís real warm. 

You ask if I get any papers to read.  Well yes sometimes a fellow in the restaurant gives me some when I go after them but I got the Adair News Apr. 5.  It was sent to Emil but he was where he will do no more reading before it got here so Mrs. W. gave it to me and it sure looks like home.  And I see they have Herbertís name among the list but must have got Emil and Ernest S. names together or something.

Got a letter from Sallie the other day and she wanted to know if Herbert was tired of lettuce and radishes.  Well I have not seen any radishes yet and lettuce they have that for sale at the stores but it did not grow here.  Only a little garden made here and that is not up yet or just coming through.

Met some Ia. girls yesterday, a Mrs. Fredricksen and sister-in-law from Audubon.  She was aquainted [sic] with Edna Hocamp at Exira.  And today two Ia. women moved in this house upstairs.  One by name .of Jorgensen or something has a baby girl 7 weeks old.  Brought it all the way from Audubon Co. to see its papa.  I am going upstairs now and get acquainted with them, as itís only 7 oíclock and this letter wonít go before 9 in the morning so can finish later.  Have a mail box just around the corner of the house so if I have stamps it donít take long to mail my letters.

The people here especially those of the red cross and National league are real kind.  They have done everything they could for us and helped Mrs. W. all they could.  One lady a Mrs. Bailey went to Seattle with her and is going to see her on her train before she leaves her.  And she will have to stay in Seattle all night and she told me at the dock that when she gets back tomorrow she will stop and tell me how she left Mrs. W. 

I will enclose a clipping from the Townsend Leader.  It was quite an accident that happened and just about half an hr. before Herbert came over Sat.  Had I known he was coming I would of probably been at the dock.  I canít understand that.  There wasnít any one drownded [sic].  It sure is a wreck.  We went down and seen it there after Herbert got here.  You canít imagine what a dock is like.  Itís different than I thought.  Itís something like a long bridge built out into the water but itís as wide as a street and there are buildings all along just like a street and a building.  I donít know what the real name is but I call it depot.  Has waiting room, ticket office, freight & express rooms and so on.

Say by the way where is that Park going to be in Adair.  Yes and I hope and pray to that we both can be back in Ia. for the picnic but it donít look much like it now yet.  But we donít know what is in store for us.  I can see ships going up and down the bay all the time.  This is Puget Sound and Flagler is not where I thought it was.  Itís just across the bay from Pt. Townsend.

If you wish you may send us the Adair News or tell some of the rest that have more time than you to send it, it looks good even if there isnít much in it.  How is Eleonora and the doodle dus.  Have you any little chicks yet.  Say those potatoes down there you take and let them taste good.  And please set that soap in the house to dry. 

I washed Monday.  Had quite a wash as Herbert had all his clothes dirty and saved up as it costs like the dickens.  The gov. washes for the boys at 1.50 a month but they can only send 12 pieces then there are under pants and shirts, upper shirts, handkerchiefs, towels, pillow slips, sheets, and so on that it donít take long till there are 12 pieces. 

Talk about army Doctors, they donít know enough to doctor a cat let alone a person.  All they give is salts and castor oil and that is good for everything you know even rheumatism.  I am scratching away here, donít believe I can read it myself if it stands awhile.  I intended to write Geo. & Marie a letter but I just couldnít write this morning so I sent them a postal and tonight I canít quit writing.  Guess Iíll have to have my visit out before I quit.

Is Fred and Alf.  going to live on the road.  Love to all.  Write soon and often


Well I have been upstairs and visited.  They are 2 nice ladies danes.  Their husbands are at Ft. Casey and only get over on Saturdays and Sundays.  I can see the Casey lights from where I am sitting and when they turn the flash light on it shines right in my window.  Also have an electric light just across the street.

Fruit is high here.  This is no fruit country.  Herbert got away with quite a bit of the lunch after we got here said it tasted so much better because it came from home.  We sure had plenty for a few more days journey.  Well I guess Iíll quit scratching as your eyes will ache when you get this read.  I am getting careless with my writing.  Used to could write pretty good but whatís the dif.  Just so itís a letter.  Well, goodnight.  Your sister, Emma

Thur. Apr. 18

This is another fine morning.  The sun is shining bright.  I had a good nightís sleep but I had to get up in the night and put my stockings on as I could not get my feet warm.  It was the first night that I was alone in bed since Iíve been here.  There are 9 rooms in this house and bath, and there are now 4 women and a baby living here.  So you see I am not alone in the house.  I almost forgot to tell you Herbert thanks you for the tobacco.  He said good old Ia. horseshoe when he opened the package.  Itís hard to get horseshoe tobacco here.  It is cheaper here than in Ia. but can only get it once in a while  Star is the leading tob. here and Herbert donít like that as well as Horseshoe. 

They fired the big guns the other day at Flagler and believe me it shook the house and rattled the windows.   Could also smell the powder.  Made me think the Germans were around.  Herbertís crew were best marksmen.

Wish I could hear Emilís funeral sermon.  I know it would do us good.  Write me all you can and also if they opened the casket and tell me who were pall bearers.  Would like to enclose a few leaves but this letter is so long afraid I canít get them in envelope.  Emma

Am feeling  fine.  Tell Ma I think of them even if I donít write.

-source: Cheryl Siebrass. Letters from her Grandmother's sister Emma and Herbert (brother-in-law) while stationed stationed at Fort Worden, WA.


-Submitted by Cheryl Siebrass
Iowa GenWeb County Coordinator, Cass http://iagenweb.org/cass/ and Audubon counties http://www.iagenweb.org/audubon/