Shenandoah County Library Archives

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Letter from Gus to Mollie Foltz



Dublin Core


Letter from Gus to Mollie Foltz


Foltz Family
Forestville (Va)
Bottineau (ND)


This letter to Mary (Mollie) Foltz of Forestville VA was written on December 13, 1904 by “Gus,” a man who we know very little about. Records indicate that some of Mary’s family, including the Charlie Foltz mentioned in the letter, had moved to North Dakota during the beginning of the 20th century for new jobs and cheap land. It appears that Gus was among them. It was most likely mailed from the Bottineau ND post office.

In his letter, the author mentions his community’s Christmas celebration. This included entertainment, most likely a children’s play/musical, and the Ladies Aid bazaar and supper. The proceeds of the latter, and the funds they raised by selling a piano and Minneapolis Journal subscriptions would go to buy a pipe organ, something an emerging community in the northern plains would have been extremely proud of.

Gus also references holiday events in Forestville that Mollie would have been involved in. Apparently she helped organize the collection of evergreens to decorate her church (St. Mark’s Lutheran Church) and community, and the children’s Christmas program. The similarities between the two communities’ events are striking and highlight the connection between the two areas launched by Shenandoah County residents who moved west.

Unfortunately not all of Gus’ letter was joyful news. He also reports on the amount of “sickness” in his area. Apparently an epidemic of an unknown disease had struck the community and had infected him, though he was recovering. Illnesses like these were common in both North Dakota and Shenandoah County before the emergence of many modern health practices. They occurred on almost a regular basis, claimed lives and terrified residents until they passed.


Mary Ann Williamson Collection, Foltz Series


Shenandoah County Library


December 13, 1904


Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial (CC-BY-NC)


“Letter from Gus to Mollie Foltz,” Shenandoah County Library Archives, accessed April 17, 2024,



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