Letter from Karl Nagel to Jessica Andersen Evans

August 17, 2010 at 7:40 pm (Nagel Roots) ()

Sorry about some of the blanks. The handwriting is very shaky, and I can’t make out some of the words…

2nd November 1979

My dear Jessica,

Thank you very much for your letter received. It was re_____ed from Birmingham. As you have been informed already, I had a slight heart attack on the 24th August, when I was with Pauline. I got over that and went to spend a week at Birmingham. On Sunday evening, the 2nd September, I spent the day out with a nephew and everything was alright til after 9 o’clock that night. We were getting ready for bed and I was reading the Bible for prayers. Suddenly, at about 9:30, my speech became blurred. They phoned for an ambulance and took me to the hospital. After various tests they told me that I had a mild stroke. They kept me about three hours in the hospital, by which time by speech was more or less normal. They told me that I had got back my speech, that I could go home, but I must rest for a few days. They wrote to the doctor to keep an eye on me. Fortunately nothing happened after that. I returned here from Birmingham on the 18th September. So here I am in the ____ of recovery.

Yes, I can quite understand how you all must miss your Mum and Dad, especially as they were taken so close together. What has happened to the house at El Cajon? I am glad to hear that the children are doing well in school.

Pauline was here for the whole of last week with her two children. They had what is known here as the half____ holiday, so she took advantage to come. Virginia will be 4 years old in a few days, but she started at nursery school a few weeks ago. Abigail is just over two. She will be 3 next March.

Here are the dates you wanted:

Harriet Sabina Nagel, born 15th November at ?
Volbrecht Nagel, born 3rd November at Stammheim, Germany
Samuel Frederick Nagel – 1st January 1898 in Kunnamkulam, Cochin State, India
Theodore Ernest Nagel – 10th March 1899 in Kunnamkulam, Cochin State, India
Gotlob Volbrecht Nagel – 8th August 1900 in Parur, Cochin State
Karl Heinrich Nagel – 17th November 1905 in Cochin, Cochin State

When you have finally completed the family history, could you please send me a copy? Have you got the date my father and mother were married? And the place? I think they were married at Kunnamkulam. I have just written a long history of my father’s life, and also how I came to _____ his _____ . I shall send you a copy when it is finally finished.

Is Alvy still working in the same job? May the Lord prosper him in it!

What church do you attend? We attend the Baptist Church. We gave a good pastor. A Godly man who preaches the “old” gospel.

The Lord bless you all abundantly with ____ love.

Your loving
Uncle Karl and Auntie Esther

Please excuse my shaky handwriting. It seems to have been affected by my recent stroke.


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Letter from Karl Nagel to Olive Nagel Andersen

August 13, 2010 at 7:35 pm (Nagel Roots) (, )

Newton Abbot
Devon, England
16th September 1977

My dear Olive,

I forget when we last wrote to each other! Never mind. Only the present matters!

This letter chiefly concerns our beloved father, who is now in the Glory. Ever since coming to England, it was my wish to see his grave in Wiedenest. I had nothing more to go on, however, than that he was born in Stammheim. Auntie once told me this when I was in India. I wrote to the German Embassy in London, asking them if they could tell me where this place was. They replied stating that there were 4 “Stammheims” in Germany, and unless I could tell them the district, they could not help! So I was stuck there, but the Lord worked things in His own way and time.

When I was working in Madras, there was a Muslim named Shah and a girl named Daphne Fernandez working with me. They married each other and left India for Dar-es-Salaam (now Tanzania), where Shah got a good job in the government. They were both converted and received into fellowship in the local Brethren Assembly, where Shah became an elder. We were in touch with them through correspondence. About five or six years ago Shah gave up his job owing to the political changes in Tanzania, and came and settled in London, where he is now working in the income tax department. I once informed him that my father was buried in Wiedenest and that I had a desire to see his grave. It was then that he informed me that when he was at Dar-es-Salaam, he met Wilhelm Kunz, a missionary from the Bible School at Wiedenest. He wrote to Mr. Kunz about me. Mr. Kunz is Deputy Secretary of the Bible School, in charge of the missionary work of the school. Eventually I got in touch with Mr. Kunz and he welcomed me to visit the school.

Last year my brother-in-law, Sam, who lives next door with his wife and two children, and is a bus driver, decided to spend part of his annual holiday on a visit to Seefeld, a health resort in the Austrian Tyrol. Both he and his wife suggested Esther and I go with them, so that from Seefeld, I could run in to Wiedenest. We and they spent the first week of August in Seefeld. When we got there, however, I found that Wiedenest was too far away, and would probably take me about two days to go and return. As we were in Seefeld for only a week, I had to give up the idea, much to my disappointment, but I told Esther that we must try to do the trip direct from England by air, if not in 1977, then in 1978. However, we enjoyed that week in the beautiful Tyrolean Alps, and went on excursions to the famous Dolomites in Italy, Salzburg, etc.

After we returned, I wrote to Kitty about the trip, and how I had to give up on the idea of going to Wiedenest. Kitty and I have been keeping in touch with each other. I have no doubt that she and Ted loved each other very deeply, and although she is now married for the 3rd time, her love for Ted is not dead. A few weeks after I wrote to her, I was very surprised to receive a cheque from her for 100 sterling, to enable me to make the trip se Wiedenest! This was surely a token of the depth of her affection for me as Ted’s brother. I took her love-gift as a gift from the Lord. Both Esther and I went by air to Cologne on the 9th of July and stayed at the Bible School. Wiedenest is about 50 miles west of Cologne. Mr. Kunz picked us up at the airport.

Karl Nagel by Volbrecht Nagel’s grave

We spent a very happy week at the Bible School. The school itself was closed for the summer holidays, but they were having a retreat for parents and any others. It was a very happy atmosphere. Although we did not speak German, a few could speak a little English and so we managed. Wilhelm Kunz and his wife speak English well, and they certainly looked after us. I am enclosing a photo of me at father’s grave. The cemetery is next door to the Bible School. I met the widow, Frau Warnes, who knew father personally. She was about 25 at the time father died, and her husband was one of the directors of the school. When Father got the stroke, she used to visit him every day with her guitar and sing to him. She is now 82, but quite active and alert, and speaks English well. She has a visitor’s book in which there is our mother’s writing of the hymn “Blest be the tie that binds” and a verse of Scripture text in Malayalam. There are also entries concerning father’s burial. One is signed “W. Kocher”, and I can only presume that this is the Kocher who was in charge of the boys’ orphanage at Irinjalakuda. He was repatriated when the war broke out in August 1914, and repatriated when hostilities ceased. There was also an entry by “A. Bindewald” of Friedberg, near Stammheim. Frau Warnes said that the Bindewalds attended Father’s funeral because Father was an orphan and they took him under their care, and he was the one who led them both to the Lord, and it was out of gratitude for that, that they attended his funeral. There is also an entry in the visitor’s book in Father’s own handwriting, dated Berlin 10.6.14. The Bible School was in Berlin when the war broke out. After the war, the school moved to Wiedenest. Father, as you know, had moved to Switzerland in the meantime. When the war came to an end, Father went back to the Bible School at Wiedenest, because he was not given permission to return to India.

After we returned from Wiedenest there have been subsequent developments. Mr. Kunz remembered that a “Kurt Nagel” had once visited Wiedenest to see Father’s grave, so he wrote to him about me. This resulted in Kurt writing to me. The letter was in German, and I enclose a translation. It revealed our relatives in Germany. I sent a copy to Pauline, so that she could contact Kurt’s daughter, mentioned in the letter. Susanne visited Pauline on the 3rd, on her way to catch the plane back to Germany, and this established a good link there. I have since written to Kurt, giving him information about our family. I am now keen to visit our relatives there, and am looking to the Lord to help me accomplish this, as He did in the case of Wiedenest. Esther and I have decided to learn some German in the meanwhile, and have enrolled for evening classes in German at the Adult Training Centre here. It was not essential to know German when we visited Wiedenest, because Mr. and Mrs. Kunz both spoke English well, but it’s a different matter visiting the relatives! We are not likely to go till next year (D.V.), and this should give us time to speak the language reasonably well.

Esther, Karl, and Kurt Nagel

Have you any information about Father’s birth, marriage, going out to India, etc? I think he went out as a Lutheran Missionary, somewhere about 1890 and started in Cannanore. He left that mission and joined up with the Brethren at Kunnamkulam, where he was married. Then he went on to Parur, then British Cochin, where I was born, and ended up at Trichur. You were born at Parur, weren’t you? I would like to have whatever information you have, if any, as I want to write a short history, if I can.

And now for some family news. Pauline now has two daughters. Virginia was born on my birthday in 1975, so she will soon be two years old. The second, whom they have called Abigail, was born on the 10th March this year. We spent a week with them on our way to Wiedenest, and they very recently came and spent three days here. So Pauline has to give up all ideas of going back to teaching for the present, anyway. Andrew, who is now 27, is still unmarried. He lives close to Pauline.

Esther could be in better health than she is, but the basic affliction – angina – is always there. She gets pains, severe at times, generally in the back or in the chest. However, she manages to keep going with the Lord’s enabling. I am now having trouble with my left ear. My ear is “dead” and I have been wearing a hearing aid in the left one for a few years now. It has now “sprung a leak”, as it were, with a hole in the ear drum, and there is some oozing. The doctor has been watching it, and I may yet have to have a small operation. The other afflictions are still with me – diabetes, high blood pressure, and anaemia, but they are well under control, praise the Lord.

How many grandchildren have you now? The last time of census (!) it was Ellen 5 (Lorraine, Danny, Gary, Patricia, and Roger), Gottlob and Eva 1 (Jonathan), Konrad and Patricia 1 (David), Jessica and Alvy 2 (Rudy and Sabina). Have there been any additions? Please let’s have an up-t0-date list!

I am still in the Baptist church here. Praise God our pastor is one of the old type. He is now 64, so of course he was called to the ministry when quite young and has had considerable experience. His preaching is Christ centred, aimed at winning souls. He has an Indian daughter-in-law and an Anglo-Burman son-in-law. His first wife died and he married again, a missionary nurse from Zaire. We have had him for nearly 2 1/2 years now. Which church do you go to? And the others. There is certainly a slackening of “denominationalism” and more willingness to show the love of Christ to others who may not think quite as you do. It is nice to see from the signs of the times that the end of this age is rapidly drawing near to that wonderful day of rapture. Even so, come Lord Jesus!

Hope Tedo and you are keeping well.

With love,

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The Story of Volbrecht Nagel

July 24, 2010 at 1:57 pm (Nagel Roots) (, )

By his son, Karl Heinrich Nagel

This account of Volbrecht Nagel was found in an exercise book belonging to Karl Heinrich Nagel and was probably written in the early 1980s when Karl was in his 70s, was ill and his memory was failing. It has been written up by Karl’s daughter, Pauline Munns. February 2007

Volbrecht Nagel

Volbrecht Nagel was born to Heinrich Peter Nagel and Elisabeth May Nagel on the 3rd November 1867 in the village of Stammheim, Hessen, Germany. He was baptised on November 17th in the Lutheran church and Volbrecht Nagel II was his godfather. He appears to have lost his parents at a young age and to have been taken over by a Mr and Mrs Bindewald, who educated him. He was brought up according to the Lutheran Church. He appears to have been ordained as a Pastor at the early age of 20 and to have been sent as a Lutheran missionary to Cannanore, Malaba (now Kerala State). He served the Lutheran Church until about 1892 when he left them owing to doctrinal differences. He had no money at the time and began to walk barefoot, trusting the Lord to lead him to the place where he could start a work for Him.

Volbrecht Nagel

Harriet Sabina Mitchell Nagel

Eventually he came to a place called Kunnamkulum, in Cochin State, where he met a small group of Christians, who called themselves Brethren, and worshipped God in a simple manner without a pastor. He believed that this was where the Lord would have him work for the time being. It was while he was here, building up the church, that he met and married Harriet Mitchell, on 1st April 1896, who gave him his first two sons, Samuel Frederick (1.1.1898) and Theodore Ernst (10.3.1899).

When he saw that the believers were well established and capable of carrying on by themselves, he moved with his wife and two sons, to a place called PARUR, also in Cochin State, and began a work for the Lord there. Here his third son, Gotlob Volbrecht was born on 8.8.1900 and his first daughter Olive Margaret on 31.12.1901. About this time my mother decided that she should take a nurse’s training so that she may be more qualified to work as a missionary’s wife, so she went to Madras and qualified in a short midwifery course, and returned to the family at Parur.

Considering that the believers were well established in the faith, my father moved, with his family, to British Cochin. Here his fourth son, Karl Heinrich was born on 17.11 1905. Two [other]children were also born, Wilfried Adolf and Elsa Hope but they died as infants and were buried in Hosur Road cemetery, Bangalore.

The Volbrecht Nagel Family
With Harriet’s sister, Josephine Mitchell

Seeing that the work was well established at British Cochin, my father decided to move, with his family to Trichur in Cochin State. The time had now come for the education of his children, and as there were no English schools in Trichur, he made arrangements for the four older children to go to Bangalore for their education. I was sent to school in Bangalore in January 1914. During these years my father developed the work at Trichur. Besides the assembly work, he opened a girls’ orphanage, which still flourishes.

As my brother Samuel and Theodore’s futures had now to be considered, my father took them to London, presumably about March 1914, to apprentice them there as engineers. That was the last his three younger children saw of him. On his way to London he called at Stammheim with my brothers for a few days. After seeing that they were settled in London, he went to the Bible School at Berlin, intending to visit his relatives once more before returning to India. Unfortunately for him, World War 1 broke out, and, being a German, he was not allowed to return to India. The problem now arose of joining the German army, which was compulsory, a thing he said he would never do, being a Christian. He prayed about the matter and asked the Lord to open the way for him to cross over into Switzerland, which was neutral. He made the attempt one night, and the Lord undertook by making the frontier guards very sleepy, so that they carelessly examined his passport and allowed him through.

Volbrecht Nagel

When the war ceased in November 1918 my father sought permission to return to India but was refused. He therefore went back to the Bible School. (The Bible School had moved [from Berlin] to Wiedenest. He obtained a position on the staff until about February 1921 when he had a stroke of apoplexy. They cabled to my mother in India and she left immediately. Ironically the English government gave him permission to return to India just then but it was too late. My mother nursed him until he passed away on May 21st, 1921. He was buried in the cemetery adjoining the Bible School. My brothers Samuel and Theodore went from England to attend his funeral. Mr and Mrs Bindewald,who brought him up also attended because, they said, he was the means of their salvation. A Mr. Kocher, a missionary from India, also attended as he was in charge of a girls’ orphanage at Irinjalakuda, very close to Trichur, during my father’s time there. After the funeral my mother visited his relatives at Stammheim and stayed with them for a short while before returning to India.

Ted, Harriet, and Sam @ Volbrecht’s funeral

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Letter about Harriet Nagel’s Death

July 23, 2010 at 5:45 pm (Nagel Roots) (, )

South India
March 1935

My dear Volbrecht,

You will have heard of my dear sister’s home-calling. It is hard to understand, nevertheless, His ways are right. I am just resting in His love, leaning on Him only, for I have no other to lean on, no brother or sister after the flesh to turn to. My helplessness is my strength, for I have a greater claim on Him who has promised to be everything, and not to leave us ‘orphans’ (the beautiful rendering in Malayalam of John XIV, 18) for humanly speaking, this is what I literally am at present.

My sister and I were always together from childhood, and all in all to each other. We shared our joys and sorrows and talked over our difficulties and perplexities. In the last letter I had from her, 2 or 3 days before her illness, she asked me to meet her at Cochin on 28-1-35 to talk over certain matters. She left me in the 27th to speak with her Lord face to face, and to me it is still by faith.

Although she had been ailing for years from diabetes andAugina Pectoris, and altogether broken down the last year or two, she never gave in, but tried to do all she could to help those around her. Often I persuaded her not to go about and do so much, but she always answered: “I can only do it till I die, so let me work while I can.” Truly her life was not a bed of roses, she had much sorrow and trouble, but she tried to hide it from others and went though it all uncomplainingly. Others only saw ger smiling face, as a lady, one she had led to the Lord, remarked in her letter of sympathy to me: “Mrs. Nagel always looked cheerful.” Nor was she the only one who thought so.

She took bad on Friday morning (25th January). She attended to all her duties, inside and outside, on Thursday, and sat sewing till about 11 pm. Early next morning, about 4 am, she called her servant, Naomi, and complained of severe pain in her chest. The woman stood rubbing her till about 12 noon, but she got worse instead of better. Naomi asked her to let her go and call some of the Christians to which she said: “No, I shall soon be better. Why trouble them unnecessarily?” Inspite of this, the woman let some of them know and they soon gathered around her. They wanted to send for me, but even that she would not allow. They sent for the nearest doctor, from the Leper Asylum about 7 miles away. He came with a Salvation Army nurse and attended to her. She could not lie down, but sat the whole night through, asking for water constantly. Seeing her restlessness, they had to yield to her, even though the doctor said that she was not to drink so much. They ahd to give her hot fomentations for she was getting cold.

Next day, Saturday, they took it upon themselves to send for us. Misses Sundgren abd Wallace arrived about 11 am and I a little before 3 pm. Mr. and Mrs. Noble came in the night. She was pleased to see us all and answered quite sensibly any questions we asked her. As in life, so also in death, she was so patient and resigned, and gave no trouble to anybody by persisting in having her own way.

She seemed to get betetr after we came. Dr. John Thomas, one of our believers, was with her the whole day (Saturday). He took her temperature in the evening and said she had improved much. Another doctor, an old friend of hers, came on Saturday night with Mr. and Mrs. Noble. He gave her an injection and other medicines, and thought she would sleep, but she did not. On Saturday afternoon, by all she said, we feel that she must have begun to realize that she was going, although at the time we thought she may have been delirious. Just a few days before her illness, she got rather disquieting news from her daughter, which seems to have been much on her mind. The following are some of her last words, as much as we were able to make out and remember. Had we known she was going, we might have paid her more heed, but we really did not know the end was so near. Everything she said, she repeated over and over again.

“Lord bless my boys. Lord bless my boys. Is she all right? Forgive me.” (to Miss Wallace, who was holding her) “Lord bless them. Forgive me Lord. Is she all right? There is that evil one again. The enemy. How he tried to worry me. That evil one. There he is again. Lord bless them. Oh, the work, who will do it? There are many souls. Grant that she may come through all right. He is our all sufficiency. God bless His motherless children. They are blessed. We are all blessed. I am going. I am going. They are blessed forever. We are all blessed forever.”

Miss Wallace often urged her to sleep. “Yes, I shall sleep,” she would say, but the last time Miss Wallace said, “Mrs. Nagel, do try and sleep,” she quietly answered: “In Jesus. Lord bless them. I am coming. I am coming.” The last she was heard to say was: “I hop she is all right. Yes, she is all right. It’s all over now and she is all right.” A few minutes after this, she laid her head on the pillow, breathed as naturally and quietly as a child going to sleep, until the last breath left her frail body at 2:15 am. It was not death as we imagine it, but a quiet falling to sleep on earth and awaking in Paradise. Oh what triumph! What glory! What exeeding joy! She has entered into her well earned rest. God grant that the time will not be long before we are all united again.

The dear people here and her fellow-workers, both Indian and European, ministered to her so willingly and lovingly to the last. Crowds came to see her till her body was taken to it’s last resting place. How much they valued and esteemed her and miss her now, is more than I can write. Not only our own people, but even those outside are mourning her loss. Women, Hindus, and Christians of all communities, placing their hands on their breasts, with eyes filled with tears exclaim: “Our Amma (mother) has gone, all the good we had has gone. We shall never get another Amma like her. Who will care for us and help us as she did?” A Jacobite Christian, passing by after her death, said to one standing near him: “Look at the trees in that compound; even they are drooping now, mourning her loss.” An old R. C. man who came to see me, after speaking much about her and all that she was to them, said: “Alas; our gold has gone.”

There is no hospital or doctor in the place. They have to go miles to get to a hospital, so all the medical work, apart from native physicians, was done by my sister. So you can imagine the comfort she was to the people. This is a real need and how it is going to be met, I do not know.

I have to make Angamally my headquarters at present, but I have not the slightest idea of medical work, so will not be able to do anything in this line as she did. Please bear me up in prayer and remember the people too, who are just crushed with sorrow.

I think I have written enough and will end this by saying: “Our Jesus has done all things well.” I am sorry I had not the pleasure of meeting you all, but Rita has told me a lot so that I feel I know you. May God bless you all, though we may never meet on earth, we can look forward ____ glorious meeting in the clouds. Come Lord Jesus! Come quickly!

Sam is exercised (?) about coming to India as a missionary, pray much for him. I would like him to come and see you all before he leaved Europe. Please write and invite him. I shall give you hs address in this.

Much love to you all.

Yours lovingly,
Jospehine C. Mitchell
Harriet Nagel’s sister

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Letter from Harriet Nagel

July 23, 2010 at 5:34 pm (Nagel Roots) ()

Travancore State
18h September 1933

My Dear Sister in Christ,

Since my visit to you in 1921, many and many a time have I wanted to write to you but the language difficulty has come between and stopped me. I am compelled to write now because of an urgent need and I hope and pray that you will find someone to translate this to you. I have not forgotten you all and I trust you have not me either. My visit to you and the happy time you gave me is still fresh in my memory and how I long to pay you another visit. The Lord may yet help me to do it.

The work of the Lord has been going on steadily and encouragingly and souls are being added to the church. Several new places have been opened up for work and Assemblies formed. In this place especially the numbers have increased very much since my return in 1922. So much so that now we have to build a larger meeting place. For nearly twenty years we have been meeting in a shed which is too small to hold all who come. And as we are also in need of a Girl’s School, we want to put up a substantial tiled building large enough to serve both purposes. There is a convent here for girls but our believers do not care to send their daughters because of the religious instruction freely given. So they have to send them each day by train to a Government school 6 miles away which means extra needless expense to them. For some years now they have been begging of me to open a Girl’s School but I could not do so for want of a proper building. Even the Hindus and Jacobite Syrians have joined in the request as they too do not care to send their children to the Roman Catholic Convent.

About 3 years ago the believers themselves, who are mostly from the poor, out of their great poverty collected some money but it was only enough to finish the foundation work. Just the great worldwide econonic struggle began and they could not go on. This unfinished building lies along the roadside to the open gaze of passers by and our enemies. The Roman Catholics point their fingers of scorn at it and taunt and ridicule our poor believers about it. Seeing the very urgent need of this place I have taken it upon myself to write to a few select friends and ask for a little help to finish it. I do hope you will be able to send a small gift to these poor brethren. I am sure the smallest gift would be gratefully accepted by them. You may have noticed the announcement in the “Offene Luren” but I am awfully sorry to say that I have not received anything toward it yet. Dear sister, you are one who have taken an interest in this work of the Lord in Malabar from its very beginning. I am sure you pray for it still. Do not lose interest in it because my husband is gone and do not forget his wife altogether because she is still going on with the work. This building is urgently needed or I would not have written about it, so do not fail us at this critical time.

How is your family? I am sure Anni and Minni are married and have families of their own. I have their photos hanging in my sitting room. I wish you would send me your family group. I am longing to hear some news of you all. Don’t your sons-in-law know English? If so, ask one of them to write.

I daresay, you must have heard of my beloved Gottlob’s Homecall. He was my best and the most spiritual of all my children and he came from New Zealand to help me in the Lord’s work. Oh, how I miss my precious darling. The Lord saw it fit to take him. I am enclosing a copy of the circular letter I sent round at the time.

My Samuel and Theodore are still in England. Theodore is married and has a son and daughter. They are very clever children. The boy is 8 and the girl is 5. My daughter is a teacher and my youngest son is a clerk in an office in one of our large cities.

I myself have not been in good health for some years. I am suffering from not too strong an attack of Angina Pectoris and Diabetes. For the latter I keep strict diet and so I am going on without very great trouble. But I am not able to go on long walks and visit houses as I did before. But I am thankful that I am not worse. Please pray much for me.

Do you ever meet the Stammheim people now? If you do will you tell them about the need of our Meeting Room? I know they cannot do much but though you may not be able to send money, you can all pray that the Lord might send us the needed amount.

The Lord bless and keep you all by His grace and power. With affectionate love and greetings.

Yours in Christ Jesus,
Harriet Nagel

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