The correspondence in the Weinhardt Family Letters centers on the experiences of John V. (Hans) Weinhardt, who immigrated to the United States in 1925. In 1923, Hans, then a fifteen-year-old student doing an apprenticeship at the city hall of his hometown, Schwabach, Bavaria, began researching his family's history in old city records. He eventually discovered that a branch of his family had emigrated to Indiana, and within a year he had made contact with William W. Weinhardt, a distant cousin who ran a detective agency in the city of Lafayette. William Weinhardt and Hans Weinhardt's father, Johann Weinhardt, were third cousins; William Weinhardt's father and grandfather had emigrated to Indiana from Schwabach in 1848.
William Weinhardt encouraged Hans and his family to consider immigrating to the United States and promised to sponsor them. Eventually, in February 1925, Hans departed Germany on the White Star ship Arabic and made his way to Lafayette. There, he came to be known as John, rather than Hans, and he lived with William and his wife Carrie, who had no children, until his marriage in 1936. John V. Weinhardt became a United States citizen in 1930. He later wrote that William and Carrie, whom he came to call Uncle Bill and Aunt Carrie, “were like parents to me and most people thought I was their son... I shall always be grateful to them.”
The collection includes correspondence between the Weinhardts in Schwabach and William Weinhardt before Hans left Germany, and Hans' correspondence with his parents and other family members after leaving Germany, dating from 1923 through the 1930s. As a U.S. citizen, John V. Weinhardt later sponsored the immigration of his younger brother Philipp and his family to the United States after the Second World War, much as William Weinhardt had done for him. The letters presented are drawn from the family collection of John V.'s son William J. Weinhardt.
Our thanks to John G. Weinhardt, the son of Philipp Weinhardt, for spearheading the inclusion of the Weinhardt Family Letters in the project and for generously sharing his transcriptions and translations of the letters as well as the background research for this collection description.
Contributors: William J. Weinhardt and Sandra Weinhardt