My Memoirs

August 9, 2010 at 11:31 pm (Andersen Roots) (, , , , )

Complied by: Edith Jessica Bonneland Andersen Evans (my mom), 2009/2010

The Theodor Bonneland Andersen Family

The Morten Andersen Family
Ellen, Morten, Tante Johanne (Morten’s sister)
Richard, Julianna, and Theodor

Theodor Andersen has passed on a legacy for his family and I think it needs to be written down for the next generation.

My memories of India are seen and remembered through the eyes of a 12 year old. That is the last time I saw the land of my birth.

I do not want to get ahead of myself, as I need to recall the ancient past as to how the family was born in India.

Theodor’s father, Morten Datter Andersen, came to India as a missionary from Denmark, under the Danish Lutheran Mission. As his faith grew, Morten realized that there was something missing with the Lutheran beliefs. He left the Mission. He knew that God had something else for him. He got on a bullock cart and told the driver to go and God would lead. From what I know he must have been up in Northern India. He homesteaded a 3000 acre farm. The area was covered in cactus and all of it literally had to be burned out so he could start planting the rice fields.

Theodor’s mother, Ellen Barbara D’Abreu, had deeper roots in India. Some of her relatives were from Portugal and were commissioned by the king of Spain to set up trade with the Spice Islands. Bombay, now Mumbai, was one of the ports they stopped at and settled in the area.

Ellen Barbara has the distinction of being one of the first lady doctors in India.

Some of the relatives were railroad engineers and helped construct some of India’s railroad system.

Ellen Barbara was one of many sisters and also brothers and they were involved in public education. Delphine was also a doctor, and Phoebe and Edith worked in the postal service. Delphine, Phoebe, and Edith all went to Perth, Australia and died there.

Theodor graduated from Cornell University in Iticha, New York, with a degree in Agricultural Engineering.

I do not know how my grandparents got together, but I do know that Ellen Barbara was his second wife. His first wife died.

The Olive Margaret Nagel Family

The Volbrecht Nagel Family
Volbrecht and Harriet Nagel, with Josephine Mitchell (Harriet’s sister) in the background
Children are; Samuel, Theodor, Gottlob, Olive, and Karl

Olive father, Volbrecht Nagel, came to India as a missionary as well, but under the German Lutheran Mission. As his faith grew, he also became discontent with the Lutheran Mission and went to work with the Plymouth Brethren. They had a mission along the east coast of India, near Cochin. The Mission House he built is still there today, and the work continues. I have heard that there is a Bible College in the area and it is named after him. Volbrecht Nagel wrote many songs and they are being revived and sung in the college and mission.

Olive’s mother, Harriet Sabina Mitchell, was of Anglo-Indian descent. Harriet’s father was Joseph Samuel Mitchell. There was another daughter named Josephine Caroline. Ellen, my sister, and I have been talking and we possibly think that he served in the military. Ellen has recollections of him being a Viceroy. At this time India was a British Commonwealth Nation. Mother did tell is that records were destroyed in a fire and all went up in smoke. Mother was a very private person. I’m sure a lot of it had to do with her childhood.

Mother went on to college and graduated from the University of Madras with a BA to teach high school math.

The Volbrecht Bible Institute in India is doing very well. The many hymns he wrote are being revived and sung at the mission.

Over the past few months I have learned so much more about Volbrecht Nagel. I stand in awe and just thank the Lord for being part of this wonderful heritage that is still seeing souls brought into the Kingdom. I just wish I could have known my grandfather.

Early Recollections

I am assuming again, but I think my parents met in the town of Bangalore, which is in the Southern Central Plateau of India.

There was a high school there, with a boarding school. English children stayed at these boarding schools so they could get their education. My parents must have been at the Baldwin High School at the same time.

My parents were married in Bangalore on December 9, 1933, they were 31 at the time.

Theodor and Olive Andesen
Saturday, December 9, 1933

In the early years of their marriage, Dad was the overseer of a coffee plantation called Hullacarry Estate at Conoor. Conoor is a town up in the hills of the Western Ghats. I have some vague memories of this place. There was a factory there for making gunpowder. It is here that my Dad taught me all the names of the flowers in the garden, and I was only 2 years old. I get the love of flowers from my Dad. I have been told that one day my dad found me turning the eggs in the incubator like you are supposed to do. I do not know if I successfully completed the task, or whether some of the unborn chicks met their doom. I have vivid recollections of seeing a bandicoot. It is a huge rat. I know I ran out of the room very quickly!

Recently my brother was able to go back to India and visit the old places. His daughter took him while he was still able to travel. They brought back so many pictures and it was wonderful to see and now we have pictures to really jog many memories. The house we lived in is still there, with the same tiles on the floor.

Theodor and Olive’s children
Gottlob, Jessica, Ellen, and Konrad

From Conoor we really moved into the jungle. Dad became the manager of a Cincona Plantation. The drug Quinine comes from the cincona tree. We lived in the loft of the barn for a time while the house was being built. At nights you could hear the elephants trumpeting loudly and the snapping sounds of the bamboo. Dad would fire the rifle in the direction of the noise to make them move on. One night a black panther came up on the front porch and took our dog. While mother held the lantern, Dad tried firing, but was afraid of hitting the dog. He followed the tracks the next morning, but lost the trail at the river.

I have vivid memories of Tom Turkey. I would carry out a can of rice to feed the chickens, but Tom had other ideas. He would grab the can out of my hands and run off with it and enjoy the whole can for himself.

Mother was always uneasy living in the jungle. We moved to Fern Hill. It was a little town near Ootacamund. My older brother and sister had started school and they had a four mile walk. They rode the train home and had to make sure they got to the station on time as the train only went once a day. Our house was right by the railroad tracks. By this time Dad had gone back to Danishpet to run his share of the farm. Mother chose to stay with her children, rather than put us all in a boarding school. I am sure her memories of boarding school loomed high with her priorities. It was not long before we moved to Ootacamund and it was here that I started school and have lots of memories.


Ootacamund, or Ooty for short, is a town nestled among the Nilgiri Hills. The elevation is 5000 feet so it has a very temperate climate. The average temperature is 72 degrees, but during certain seasons we could get some frost.

By this time I was ready for school and I am assuming that is why we moved to a town, so we could be closer to Breeks Memorial School.

Ooty is always very green and we were still surrounded by jungle. We were not allowed to roam very far from our compound to play.

Ritchie Cottage

In our compound were two houses. One was Ritchie Villa and we lived in Ritchie Cottage. As you entered the front door, you were in one long room which was divided into three sections; the dining room, the sitting room, and a bedroom for the boys. There were two bedrooms and off the big bedroom was a little room where we hung our clothes and the bathroom was off this closet room. There was also a bathroom off Ellen’s and my bedroom, but Gottlob had turned it into his dark room. He had become interested in photography and we had lots of pictures put up on our mirror to dry. Ellen and I had brass beds and we would wrap our hair ribbons around the rails so they would not be wrinkled for the next day. Our rubber bands were cut from old bicycle tubes. The only chore we had, was to make our own beds. Mother did not want to deal with the problem of lice. All the other housework was done by the servants. There was also a tiny room between the two bathrooms and this was where I played with my dolls.

We had a big fireplace in the sitting room and also in the big bedroom, which was connected to the one in the sitting room. During the Monsoon rainy season, the fireplace was put to good use. It was the only means of heat. I can remember huddling by the fire to deep warm from the damp cold. I remember shivering many an evening as I crawled into bed between the cold sheets. I know we had a fireplace in our bedroom, but it never got used. We wore heavy mackintosh canvas capes to keep us dry. On the really rainy days we would take off our shoes and walk home barefoot while we carried our shoes under the capes along with our books. When the cyclone wind blew and the rains came down in solid sheets it was so difficult to walk. We would hang up our capes in a room by the kitchen, but with no central heat we would have to put on those damp capes and trudge off to school the next day. We were always glad to see the rainy season end and the sun come out and dry things out. Mildew would be a huge problem.

Lush tropical growth surrounded us and it was always so green. I can remember the silver oak trees. Their leaves shimmered silver in the sunshine. The rhododendron trees were huge and the burgundy blossoms were breathtaking. Another tree was the flame of the forest and each petal was orange and yellow, and each blossom looked like a fire. Guava bushes grew everywhere on the hillsides. We loved to pick and eat the fruit.

The Botanical Gardens in Ooty, India

One of our favorite places to go was the Botanical Gardens. The flower gardens were always a mass of color and neatly trimmed. The lawns were lush and green, and you could go boating on the quiet, pristine lake.

In the center of the town was a placed called Charing Cross. A little white gazebo stood in the middle of the intersection, and a policeman (or bobby) would direct traffic. He always wore his uniform and had white gloves on his hands. I can still hear the sound of his whistle and see his hand signals as he directed traffic.

Ooty had many shops where you could get everything you needed, and Indian restaurants to please the palate. We even had a movie theater which we attended a few times. I can remember seeing Bambi there for the first time. I can remember munching on Plantain Chips. There was no popcorn. The chips were very delicious.

The market place was always a frenzy of people going from open stall to open stall to purchase meats and vegetables. Mother would take our servant, who was also our cook, along so she could carry home the purchases of the day.

Girls Sunday School Class

Montaban was a quiet, serene place where missionaries could come and rest and get away from the heat of the plains. It was run by the Brethren and we came in contact with many missionaries from Canada and England and a few from the United States. There was a Chapel on the property and this is where we went to church. Sunday School was in another church called Union Gospel Church. Mother would wait for us at Montaban while we went to Sunday School. We would go back to Montaban just in time for lunch. All of us would be seated at a long table. It was always a gracious time given to us by our hosts. After lunch we would have the long walk home.

View of Ooty, India from the top of Doddabetta Hill

We had our favorite place for our walks. The hill above our house was called Doddabetta. We enjoyed the view from the top. One day my brother, Gottlob, and some friends were walking up on the hill and they came upon a sleeping cheetah. The three of them sure ran down the hill to get away from the sleeping animal! It was a miracle that the animal did not wake up at all.

Eucalyptus trees grew everywhere on the hillsides. You could smell the oil as it was being extracted in the distillery. It is a very pungent odor.

One of the sights you saw all over the hills were the shrines that would be made to worship the Hindu gods. A little spot would be very carefully cleared and stones placed in a circle and sometimes they were painted white. There would always be flowers placed on the rocks. The Hindus worship everything in nature.

We did not have a lot of toys, but Konrad and I always found ways to entertain ourselves. We each had a rubber ball and we would see how long each of us could keep the balls bouncing. We also each had a wooden spinning top. We got to where they would spin for a long time. I can also remember making tractors with empty wooden spools of thread, a piece of candle, a lollipop stick, a rubber band, and a button. When wound up just right, the tractors would move quite a distance. As a family, we would play badminton and tenniquoit. Tenniquoit is played with a rubber ring tossed over the net like volleyball. The object of the game was to keep the ring from landing on the ground. Konrad and I also loved to catch pollywogs from the stream near the compound and keep them in a jar of water. I cannot remember what happened to them.

As a girl, I had a few dolls and can remember tea parties on the lawn with my girlfriends. We would use my little tea set and a low stool as our table. Helen was the girl that got my dolls when we left India. Mother explained to me how we could not take everything and I had to be grown up about it. I still wish I could have kept my Naomi. She was a little rag doll with a china head. She had been broken once and mended and I took very good care of her, as she was so beautiful. Mother was a wonderful seamstress and she fashioned the most beautiful wardrobe for Naomi. She was only about 8 inches tall and would not have taken up much room in the trunk. As a little girl playing with dolls, it always bothered me that no matter how many blankets I wrapped around my dolls, they never got warm. I would hold and cuddle them as close to me as possible.

The twins, Ellen and Gottlob, were five years older than me, so Konrad and I were buddies. Because of the way things were, Ellen and I never had the chance to bond as sisters and share that sisterly love. I will explain more later.

Konrad and I each had a sling shot and we would go on hunting expeditions, even though we just shot at targets. One day I did kill a bird and it made me so sad about what I had done. We did aim for the crows, but they are very clever and sneaky birds, and we never ever got a shot at them.

In our yard we had some huge, tall cypress trees. My older brother, Gottlob, and some of his friends climbed up one tree and out on a branch and tied a rope up there. We put a pillow between the ropes and that was our swing. Mother always watched in fear as we swung on the 50 foot rope. None of us ever got hurt on our swing. We had to hang on for dear life so we would not fall off.

Mother was never one to celebrate birthdays. One year she did. It was a little while before we left, and it was to celebrate all our birthdays. A big table was spread with all kinds of goodies and many friends were invited to the party.

We had electricity in the cottage, but no running water. One faucet behind the house was all we had and many a time we washed our hair out there. Baths were taken in the bathroom and we sat in a big galvanized tub. Our servants would heat the water in the kitchen and bring it into the bathroom. We took turns and had to be quick so each one could have a hot bath. Chamber pots were emptied every morning by one of the low-caste servants.

The Andersen Family in Danishpet
Ellen, Gottlob, Olive, Theodor, Jessica, and Konrad
with Looby Loo and Iris

Dogs were always a part of our family in those growing up days. Mother’s favorite was the pure white bull terrier. Looby Loo was with us at Ritchie Cottage. She was quite the dog. If mother scolded her, she would go sit on her bed facing the corner. It would take a lot of coaxing to get her to come out. Iris was the red setter and she was a loveable dog.

There was only one time I remember people living in Ritchie Villa. It was usually empty. One year some missionaries, the Gettys, came to Ritchie Villa. Mr. Getty was ill and needed a cooler climate to rest and get well. They had a son, Wayne, who was at Breeks. Later we visited the Gettys in Canada and renewed old friendships. Mrs. Getty gave me a card table sized tablecloth with embroidery and I still have it packed away.

Jessica, Wayne, and a friend in Canada

We missed Dad very much, but we knew he had the farm to run. He would come to visit as much as he could and the time spent with his was very precious.

As I reflect back on those days, I know we had a good life with friends and many adventures. Mother sacrificed a lot to give us that life.

Breeks Memorial School

Breeks Memorial School was the only English speaking school in the town of Ooty. We went to school with Missionary children. They were in the boarding school. There was one for the boys and one for the girls.

School day began with us having to walk 2 miles to school. Going was downhill, but coming home was uphill about half of the way. School always started with Chapel, and then we would go to our classrooms. Kindergarten and Standards 1 and 2 were in one building on the half of the school yard. The rest of the Standards were on the upper section of the school grounds. By the time I was in Standard 4, I was taking French, Latin, Chemistry, and Physics, along with Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic. School was hard for me, and I struggled to get good grades. One of my teachers was really stern and mean. I remember her whacking the back of my hand with a ruler because I did not understand. I just stood there crying. I had been very sick. I was the last one to get the measles and as I began to get better, I begged Mother to let me go out and play. She gave in but then I ended up with a high fever for the next two weeks, and was miserable. I had just gone back to school when that happened. The other teachers were good and I do have fond memories of school. My Standard 4 teacher, Miss Morten, was my favorite. She was from Canada and we had the privilege of meeting her again while we were living in Canada.

We had a piano in the sitting room and in the evening Mother would play hymns and we sang along and also had our devotional time. I love the old hymns and they are engrained in my soul. I had piano lessons as a child, but practicing time was a chore and I just wanted to go out and play. So the lessons came to a screeching halt. Of course, I deeply regret it and wish I could play. I can still play the treble clef notes, but have to really think about the rest. I remember the little Piano House on the school grounds where Mrs. Atkinson would teach music.

Everyone wore uniforms to school. The girls wore navy blue denim tunics with a white blouse and red and white striped tie. We also had a beret and blazer to complete the uniform. The boys wore black pants, white shirt, and the same red and white striped tie. They also had blazers.

For the Andersen children, lunch time was an adventure. Our servant would bring us hot rice and curry in a tiffin carrier. We would sit out on the lawn and enjoy our hot lunch. The missionary children had sack lunches. I have to admit that we were spoiled and did a little gloating.

Some time during the school year we would have a sports competition. There were three teams, Pentland, Stanes, and Stevenson. Pentland had purple ribbon rosettes pinned to their uniforms, the others were blue and yellow. I wore the purple which was Pentland, but I do not remember which teams wore the other colors. The competition was held on the ground of the Lushington Hall, which was the boys boarding school. There was a big field on which the competition was held. I also remember watching some cricket matches on the same field.

Another of my school chums was a girl named Eunice Anderson. She was also from Canada and I had a chance to renew old acquaintances when we were in Canada. Time now has blurred things, but some of the memories are still there. Helen, the girl who took my dolls, was another good friend. She and her family were of Indian background. We had dinner with them on occasion. Her father, Mr. Joseph, played the violin and he would entertain after dinner. Niramala was another good friend and the three of us had great times together.

Bonnelan Farm

The house on Bonnelan Farm

Bonnelan Farm was a very special place for me. We were together as a family and, of course, there was no school.

We had our long school holiday during December and January, as this was the cooler time of the year. Despite that the days were still very hot.

Some of the time we would take the train and others Dad would come in the car, gather us up, and take us to the farm. It was only 160 miles away, but it was an all day journey. It was a long, winding road down to the plains with many hairpin turns to navigate. Once down from the hills, we had to contend with potholes and slow moving bullock carts.

The train ride always held a fascination for me and still does. We would board the small train pulled by a steam engine. The engine pushed the cars up the hill and pulled them down. In Conoor, the engine would hook on to a third line called the Cog Line. This would keep the train from becoming a runaway train because of the steep hills. The decent through lush tropical forests had many spectacular views. A big overhanging rock called Lamb’s Rock was one of them. I loved to stick my head out of the window to get a better view. Often I would end up with a cinder in my eye from the billowing smoke of the engine. That did not deter me for long, my head was soon out again, taking in the sights. The engine and rail line were designed by the Swiss.

View from Lamb’s Rock

Once down on the plains, the scenery changed dramatically. Now coconut palms and shrubbery dotted the scenery. There were also rice paddies. The temperature change was amazing. We had to change trains twice before reaching Danishpet. Dad would meet us at the station and we would walk to the farm, which was just a short distance. Servants would carry our luggage.

Dad had built a big rambling house with a thatched roof. There was a space between the walls and the roof so that the air could circulate and keep the house from becoming too hot and stuffy. There were 3 big bedrooms, with a bathroom off each bedroom. A narrow hallway connected two of the bedrooms and the bathrooms. There was also a small verandah between these bathrooms. Sometimes we would sleep out there because it was just too hot in the bedrooms. Another small hallway connected the sitting room and dining room with the rest of the house. A big verandah surrounded two sides of the house. The kitchen and pantry were at the end of the house to make it the shape of an L. We had no electricity or running water. Dad was very creative and he had his own septic system. The cement toilets were flushes with buckets of water and it all ran down into a septic tank. The master bathroom had a big cement tub and sink, the two other bathrooms just had galvanized tubs. Water was heated in big pots on fires in the back yard and carried in for us to use. One time Konrad and I got very itchy from playing with fuzzy caterpillars and we got to soak in the cement tub to get rid of the itch.

Behind the house was a deep well with a cistern that held the water for the house. The well was also used for irrigation. With ropes and pulleys and oxen, the water was brought up to be used in the rice paddies. The oxen would walk up and down a ramp and lower a big leather pouch into the well. It would come up full and the water was channeled into the irrigation ditch to be used where it was needed.

The original Andersen Homestead

The orignal Homestead was about 2 miles from our house. We loved to go there and spend time with Auntie Julie and Uncle Phil. Uncle Ben (Richard) and family would come for short visits. Konrad and I would play with Bernie, their youngest son. Gottlob and Ian would go off and do their own thing. Auntie Julie was Dad’s sister and Uncle Ben was his brother. Uncle Ben was pricipal at Baldwin High School in Bangalore. I do not remember meeting the oldest daughter, Joan. The main crop was rice. So at the Homestead rice and curry was served for lunch and dinner every day. Breakfast was hot cereal called ragi. It was a brown cereal and tasty, but I do not know what grain was ground into the cereal. Mother made sure we got something different for dinner, so we ate quite a variety of dishes.

Dad loved to experiment and he grew cotton, sugar cane, yams, papayas, bananas, and, of course, lots of rice. Close to the house was the vegetable garden and he loved growing tomatoes. I loved to go out and eat fresh tomatoes. We also had a big mango grove and to this day mangoes are one of my favorite fruits. There is nothing better than a freshly picked ripe mango. A refreshing drink was from the milk of the coconut. The husk keeps the liquid inside very cool. The top of the coconut was cut off and we drank right from the coconut. Then the coconut would ne cut in half and we would scrape out the soft white pulp, which was so delicious. This was often our soda pop on trips, instead of warm pop.

Konrad and I had many adventures, especially when Ian was visiting. He and Gottlob would take us on walks and pretty soon they would become quite alarmed and told us to stay where we were and they would go and get help. How gullible we were and we fell for the prank each time. After waiting for what seemed like an eternity, we would cautiously head for home. I’m sure those two were hiding and watching and giggling when we arrived home. They always made sure we could see home from where they left us, but with the danger os snakes, we took them seriously… Ellen told me that she is afraid of spiders, thanks to the pranks of Gottlob and Ian. One day they threw a big spider on her, and to this day she does not like spiders. The spiders in India are not little, they are huge. Some of them are about 2 to 3 inches in diameter.

One thing that scared me was crossing the bridge that led to the Homestead. Two railroad lines were placed on their sides across the river, and you would have to straddle the tracks to cross the river. One time some heavy rains came and before we could get home, the river had risen above the tracks. One of our servants came and held our hands and walking backwards, guided us across the rushing river back to the safety of our home.

Snakes were a constant danger and to this day I still freeze when I hear a snake in the grass or see one. Our evenings were spent playing games by the light of kerosene lamps. One evening while we were playing Carom, I happened to look down and saw a snake stretched out along the parapet wall. Needless to say we scattered until the problem was resolved. Another time we were playing Pick-up-sticks and a scorpion fell out of the thatched roof right into the middle of our game. Believe me, we scattered very quickly until things were safe again. Peter Pan was the only game that Dad would play with us, and we would have hours of fun. The rest of the time he just sat in his armchair, snoozing.

Breakfast time was early on the farm. We could them go our and play, but had to be back in the house by 9 o’clock as it was getting too hot and the rest of the day we had to stay indoors. We did not go back out until the cool of the evening. Konrad and I found ways to amuse ourselves. One of our favorites was building houses with empty kerosene tins. There were enough to build big houses. One day a storm blew in and you know what happened to our house. It was scattered all over the verandah. We also had our color books and I had some paper dolls.

Jessica, Konrad, Gottlob, and Ellen

In the evenings we would take walks or go swimming in “The Tank”. It was a small lake and we would swim where the water flowed over the dam. You could stand up in this spot of the lake. Other times we would go swimming in one of Dad’s wells. It was big and deep. Here we used our inner tubes. This is where I learned how to swim. Dad tied a rope around my waist and promised he would not let me go. Before ling he let the rope go slack and I was swimming.

Rice has to be planted in water when what they call paddy fields. The fields are ploughed and leveled and the women are bent over all day, planting the rice, one plant at a time, into those soggy fields. The fields are not dried out until it is time for harvest. The rice has a very pungent odor when it is ready to harvest.

Getting fields ready for planting rice

Harvest time is always busy and we were allowed to ride on the back of the tractor or stand on the flat bed trailer used for hauling in the rice. The cut stalks are brought to the threshing floor where the rice is beaten off the stalks. The empty stalks soon become haystacks. The grain is scooped up into little flat baskets and gently shaken so the chaff will blow away in the wind. Then the rice is put away in gunny sacks and stored in the grainery. Some of the rice is ground into flour, which is used in Indian cooking. One the threshing floor there is a narrow trench in the shape of a circle and at one spot there is a round grinding stone. Oxen are used to pull the stone around the trench, slowly grinding the rice into flour. After all the excitement is over, Dad would always have some of the hay brought into our compound and we would have loads of fun playing in the hay. One summer a chameleon made its home in the bouginvilla bush by the grainery. Some days he was very hard to spot. He stayed there a long time.

I had a big fright one day as I was walking into the bathroom. I saw a huge snake coiled around the lower door hinge. I ran for help and this time the snake met its doom by being squished in the hinge and then removed and thrown out.

Because of the threat of malaria, we had to take our weekly dose of quinine. Those pills are so bitter that you learned to swallow quickly or else get that bitter taste in your mouth. Another precaution was a mosquito net on every bed. We had to make sure that the nets were really tucked in under the mattress so no mosquito could come and bite us. The mosquito nets also proved to be a great shelter when a big old bumble bee would come into the house and try to dive bomb you. Those bees are huge and about the size of a ping pong ball.

Yercaud, by way of Shevaroy Hills

Sometime, when the days seemed extra hot, Dad would take us up to the Shevaroy Hills to cool down. The hills are just behind the train station. We would go visit the Marshalls who lived in Yercaud. This was the little town where my Dad was born. The Marshalls had come from Denmark and settled in the hills.

Mother would always try to make Christmas time on the farm a special event. It was the only holiday we celebrated. There was no fir or pine trees, so any big tree would do. It would get decorated and we even put candles on the tree. Each candle had its own holder with a clip that could be attached to a branch. Each candle was carefully placed so the tree would not catch on fire. One Christmas Eve Dad disappeared from the sitting room. Of course, we wondered what he was doing. Some time later we heard this Ho, Ho, Ho, from the other end of the house. It got louder and louder and then in came Dad pushing a wheelbarrow load of presents into the sitting room. This is one Christmas I will never forget.

Making the Christmas cake was always a family project and the one time we were allowed to help prepare the food. I would sit cross legged on the floor with a big bowl between my legs. With a big wooden muth, which is half a wooden ball with a stick, we would have to cream the sugar and butter. Mother had to make sure it was right, before any other ingredients could be added. Our arms would get tired, so we all took turns in making the cake. The muth was an amazing utensil. I wish I could find one here.

Our servants just did not understand our Christmas tree. Dad had tried to explain, but they were sure it was our idol and we were worshipping it.

One Christmas we had hung an aluminum foil star above the tree and forgotten to take it down. I had a little calico kitten, called Panda, and she loved to sit and watch that star sway in the breeze. One morning I could not find her. She had died. The only thing that the servants could think had happened was her eating a dead scorpion that they had forgotten to dispose of properly. I missed Panda for a long time.

We always enjoyed walks in the evening, after being in the house all day. You could see the Hillock from the house and we liked to go there. Mongoose had also make the Hillock their home.


Vegetation was so different from the Hills. This was desert and very arid country. Cactus was abundant and the blossoms to beautiful. The deadly night shade also had a very fragrant white blossom which looked like an upside-down lily. You had to be careful as you walked along the paths or you could end up with some nasty scratches. The big trees gave some welcome shade. The Rain Tree, when in bloom, was a mass of pale pink blossoms. The tamarind tree also grew very tall and spread out, giving us shade. The fruit, when ripe, looks much like the pods of the locust tree. I think they possibly may be of the same family. I think the blossoms were white. The pulp inside the pod is like a brown paste and can be used in curry. I have also seen pop made from the fruit of the Tamarind tree. I love the big Jacaranda trees. The blossoms are dark lavender and the leaves have a feathery look. I have seen them growing in California and it always brings back memories of the ones in India. Lantana bushes grew wild, many circled “The Tank” and there was also verbena and the touch-me-not plants. The touch-me-not plant had pink blossoms. When the leaves were touched they would fold up, which reminds me of the prayer plant. They had lots of little leaves down a stem and it was fascinating to watch them fold up.

The Rain Tree

On our walks I would love for ‘gundamuni seeds’. They were red and black and would make such beautiful jewelry. I don’t think I ever made jewelry, but I had quite the collection of the seeds.

One year Mother made two butterfly nets, one for me and the other for Konrad. We had a grand old time looking for butterflies and what we caught we put in a bowl and left it on the ground. Upon our return we saw that the ants had devoured the whole collection. We did catch other butterflies, but let them go so they would not meet the same fate.

The farm did have some really frightening times. One day Dad insisted we stay indoors and not go out at all. We soon learned that a wild boar was on the prowl near the compound. I think Dad did kill it, as I remember some very tasty curry. In India the cow is sacred, so we never ate beef. However, we did eat a lot of lamb. We had chickens and roosters and we dined on them from time to time. There was usually a bunch of little chicks following their mother. If ever a hawk hovered above, the mother hen would make frantic clucks and the little chicks would run and hide. It always amazed me at how well they could hide. Ginty, one of our dogs, got a love of hens and started killing them. Dad had to end up shooting her.

The monkeys proved to be such a nuisance. If you did not keep them at bay, they would soon overtake your compound, which included the house. Behind our house was a row of government houses with an avenue of trees. The monkeys would start at the end and slowly move closer and closer. The only was to get rid of them was to shoot one of them. They are very family oriented and if one is killed, the whole bunch would leave to find another territory. One day my brother fired both barrels of the shotgun and killed two monkeys. I remember the day a monkey got into the house and Dad cornered it in the bathroom and killed it. The rest moved away. They are such noisy creatures and the sound of their chattering can be deafening.

One of our dogs came home one day with his ear ripped open from tangling with a monkey. Dad’s medicine was putting tobacco in the wound and it healed up very nicely.

Each holiday at the farm ended much too quickly and we would have to head back to Ooty and school again for another year. I loved those carefree days and look back on them with such fond memories.

The servants and the Tiger Dance

At the end of our last vacation on the farm, all of our servants got together and performed the Tiger Dance for us. We were given brass and silver tokens of their love and affection for us. They had been very loyal and faithful.

The Andersen Family
Jessica, Gottlob, Theodor, Olive, Ellen, and Konrad
with the servants

Farewell to India

India was a British Colony until 1948, when she gained her independence. BEcause we were all born in India, we had to file for Indian Passports to leave the country.

Mother and Dad had purchased some land in California, sight unseen, trading Indian money for American money from the missionaries.

In 1952, Ellen and Gottlob had finished school and there was no real future in India for girls. Mother and Dad were anxious to get us out of the country. This began an incredible journey into the unknown.

The quota for Indians immigrating to the States was filled for years ahead. We were British subjects, so we were allowed to leave the country and go to England.

Dad had some special trunks made, about 30 of them, and we packed up and left. Dad had already sold his share of the farm. My parents were both 50 years old when they left family and friends behind. The day we left Ooty, friends and some family gathered to say goodbye. Most of them thought Mother and Dad were crazy and that the purchased land would be in the ocean.

As the engine whistle blew and the train slowly began to move away from the station, the group began singing, “God be with you till we meet again.” To this day, when I hear that song, it brings a tear to my eye. This was the last time for my sister, and me, and Mother and Dad to see our homeland. I know we will meet many of those friends and family again in our Eternal Home.

The train took us across India and we boarded a ferry that took us across to the Island of Ceylon, now Sri Lanka.

It was the first time for me to see the ocean, let along be sailing on it. The ferry docked at the northern end of the island and we boarded another train that took us to Colombo. There we would set sail for England.

We must have been quite a sight to see. Our luggage had to be unloaded and reloaded for the next leg of the journey.

The bond of Christians ties us together. That night a doctor welcomed us into his home and the family was so gracious to us, who were total strangers. The next morning we boarded the HMS Otranto and we were on the next step of our incredible journey.

HMS Otranto

As we arrived at the port of Colombo, there was this huge ocean liner docked at the pier. I had never seen anything so big before. I could not believe that we were going to be on board for the next three weeks. Once on board, we were too excited to stay in our cabin, as we wanted to take in all the excitement at the pier. There was hustle and bustle everywhere. We watched all our trunks being raised up in huge nets and lowered into the cargo hold of the ship.

Time of departure had arrived. The whistle blew and the engine motors started running. Tugboats slowly pulled the liner out into the channel. The liner was now under her own power and headed out of the harbor. The buoy lights became smaller and then dropped out of the horizon. All around was nothing but this huge expanse of nothing but water. The sea was calm and the ship glided smoothly across the water.

There was one last thing we had to do, to break our tied with India. We had to throw our sun hats into the ocean. We gathered on deck and all the hats went sailing at the same time. I still wonder where the ocean current took them.

There were lots of activities aboard ship to keep one busy. There were deck games and a swimming pool. A lot of passengers just sat on the deck chairs and sunned themselves. We had perfect weather for our journey.

The first port of call was Aden. It is a port at the tip of Arabia and is very dry and arid. This is the port where one of our Navy ships was rammed. We decided to stay on board, instead of going sight seeing. There was really not much to see at this port.

We left Aden and headed up through the Red Sea for the Port Said and the Mediterranean Ocean, and this meant we had to go through the Suez Canal. The ships had to take turns as it was too narrow for two ships to fit side by side in the canal. We started up at night, but still did get to see some of the land of Egypt. Pyramids could be seen in the distance and palm trees grew along the canal. It fascinated me as to how slowly the ship glided up the canal. There was hardly a ripple to be seen.

Every time a ship came into a harbor, plenty of vendors come in their small boats to try and sell their merchandise. There is a lot of bartering that goes on. At Port Said we stayed on board and did not go ashore.

We left Port Said and headed up into the Mediterranean Sea. Our next port of call was Naples, Italy. On certain days the sea was an ultramarine blue and so calm. The weather was absolutely perfect. Some days you would see dolphins swimming along with the ship. The captain took us on a little detour on the wat to Naples. We sailed past the Island of Crete. We saw Fairhavens, where Paul at one time had taken shelter from the storm.

The Island of Crete

One late evening you could look ahead and see bright red embers lighting up the sky. Mt. Etna, on the island of Sicily, was erupting. It was my first sight of a volcano and I watched until it was out of sight.

Mt. Etna

After docking at Naples, we disembarked and took a tour of the Bay of Naples. At Naples, vineyards were everywhere and grown right down to the ocean on terraced land down the rocky slopes to the ocean. We toured a factory where they make hand carved cameos. The work they do is absolutely amazing and so intricate. We also walked on the ruins of Pompeii. You could see Mt. Vesuvius in the background. It was one of those solemn moments when you realize so many died from this disaster.

The Ruins of Pompeii, with Mt. Vesuvius in the background

Marseilles, France was the next port of call. We took a guided tour of the city. It was a beautiful city with beautiful gardens and all were neatly trimmed. The area was flatter and more open, not like the rocky hillsides of Italy.

Marseilles, France

Gibraltar was the next stop on our journey. The big rocks stands guard at the entrance to the Atlantic Ocean. If you look across the inlet, you could see the coast of Africa. At the base of the rock is a cement revetment that catches all the rain water. Water is a very precious commodity in this part of the world.


We got back aboard ship and soon we were on our way. Once out in the Atlantic Ocean, the ship started to head north. The temperatures began to cool the farther north we sailed. Konrad and I had to get our shoes back on. Up till now we had been barefoot aboard ship.

The ocean voyage was soon coming to an end. Now we were sailing up the English Channel and viewed the White Cliffs of Dover. Soon the liner turned down into the Thames River and we docked in London. Upon disembarking we boarded a train and headed for Newton Abbott. The Brethren Assemblies found us a place to stay. Newton Abbot is in Devonshire. This was to be our home for the next 6 months.

The White Cliffs of Dover

Newton Abbott

After living in the tropics, this was a drastic change for us. We lived in a house on the corner and the whole block had houses connected together like an apartment. The only source of heat was a fireplace in every room. We spent most of our time in the kitchen area and kept the fire going in this room only. We used coal for the fire. One day the area we kept the coal caught fire and I ran out and got help from friends and soon the fire was out. It really did not do much damage to the house. Mother used to say that by the time you got your front end warm and turned to warm the back, the front was cold again.

After growing up with servants, Mother was now washing clothes in the bathtub and hanging them out to dry. I remember helping a little, but I soon rubbed sores on my hands.

As I have said, I really did not like school. It was always a struggle for me. I did make friends with a couple of sisters and soon we were friends with the whole family. The dad played drums for a local band. My parents led the mother and dad to the Lord, and later they followed us to Canada. They eventually bought a house in Calgary. They also had twin boys while living in that house. Now we have lost complete track of the family and do not know how to try and locate them.

The three of us girls spent a lot of time together. We would ride the train down to Exeter, which is by Plymouth Harbor. This is the harbor where Mayflower the 2nd set sail for America. We also picked lots of primroses as we strolled through the woods of Devon.

We did take one trip back to London to see the sights. We took in Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament, the Tower of London, and, of course, Buckingham Palace. We watched the changing of the guard in front of the palace. I know we must have done some shopping, but I cannot remember any stores.

The Tower of London

It was wintertime in England when we were there. So we really did feel the cold. One morning we woke up to some snow. That was a real novelty for us. Konrad, who usually loves to sleep in, was up and out and playing in the snow.

Dad had a difficult time finding work in England. The only job he got was growing tomatoes in a hothouse. Here was a landlord, stooping to do the labor himself. More money was going out than coming in and Dad knew we had to make some drastic changes.

The United States was still the goal, but immigration still would not allow entrance. So Canada was the next logical move. It is a British Commonwealth nation and passage was granted. Once again we had to pack and begin the next leg of the incredible journey.


Arrangements were made and once again everything was packed up and we boarded the train for South Hampton. This was the port of departure for us.

Mother’s brother, Karl, was living there, so we went and stayed with the family before leaving. We had not seen Uncle Karl and Auntie Esther for quite some time. They have two children, Andrew and Pauline. I know they visited us on the farm, and I think Andrew was just a baby at the time.

The Georgic, which is the ship they sailed to Canada on (departing in Halifax in April 1953)

The voyage to Canada was so different. After the beautiful azure blue of the Mediterranean, we sailed on a choppy, windy, stormy, gray sea. We had our coats on all the time, trying to keep warm. This was a ship that was used to transport troops during the war, so it was not fancy like the Otranto. The last day at sea was especially stormy. The waves were splashing up on deck and it was much safer to stay in our cabin. The ship had stopped in Ireland to pick up passengers. The Irish are not sea worthy people. Most of them were really sea sick for the entire voyage. It took about 5 days to cross the Atlantic Ocean.

We docked in Halifax, Nova Scotia and boarded a train for the long trip across Canada. Our destination was Three Hills, Alberta. It was still wintry weather and snow was everywhere. The St. Lawrence River was frozen over. I had no idea a big river like that could become a sheet of ice. We had on our warm coats and gloves to keep warm.

We made one stop along the way. Mother and Dad had some friends in Ottowa that they knew from India. So we stayed with them for a couple of days. We had our first look at television and the broadcast was coming from America. We were really amused with the American accent. It was so foreign to us.

The time went by quickly and we boarded the train again and headed off across Canada. The destination was Edminton, Alberta. Some one from Three Hills met us at the station and drove us down to the Prairie Bible Institute. When you enter a country like we did, there has to be someone to sponsor you. The people at Prairie Bible Institute were our sponsors.

The Tabernacle at the Prairie Bible Institute

As we left Ottowa, we saw the scenery change, from rolling green hills and farmland to the open vastness of the prairies. It was an amazing change.

Three Hills is just a tiny little town in the middle of the Alberta prairies. You could see for miles because it was so flat. The town gets its name from three tiny hills, or bumps, near the town.

We stayed at the Institute and Dad got a job as a night watchman. Mother insisted that Konrad and I attend school. I was going to have to make new friends again. It was different here, as it was a Christian school on the campus.

Grace Murray soon became my friend and Mother would even let me spend the night at her house. This was something else that I had never done before.

Ellen enrolled in the Institute and had one year there. During that first year, we attended a wedding of one of our neighbor’s children from India. Truly it is a small world. During that year, Ellen felt the Lord calling her to go to Quebec to become a missionary to the French people there. So she went to a French Bible School near Montreal and soon became fluent in French. She met and married Melvin Schmidt, one of the students at the school. Both of them have been in Quebec ever since.

Melvin and Ellen Schmidt

Our stay at Prairie Bible Institute was short lived. Dad needed a good paying job, so he went down to Calgary. At first all he could get was digging ditches, but soon ended up getting a job as a surveyor.

The house in Calgary

While we were in Calgary, we learned how to ice skate and as children, we adapted to the cold. The north winds can really drop the temperatures below freezing. It was just too much for Mother. Every once in a while you would see a bright spot on the horizon and a warm wind, called the Chinook, would blow in and raise the temperatures to above freezing.

Jessica on ice skates

From Calgary you could see the Rocky Mountains, and we took a couple of trips to Banff and Jasper National Parks. What a beautiful scenic place to spend a day. We were also able to witness the Northern Lights. There is just no way to describe them. It just makes you stand in awe at their beauty.

Mt. Rundle and Echo River, in Banff, Alberta

During the long, cold winter, we made our front lawn into our own private skating rink. We did have a creek behind the house and down a hill, but we preferred the front yard. The boys loved to toboggan down the hill and end up in a heap down at the bottom. I loved to skate at the rinks and especially when it snowed. The music would play and it was just so relaxing to glide around the rink.

Konrad and I had about 15 blocks to walk to school. The only days it was hard was during the blizzard winds, which make walking very difficult. I learned how to play ice hockey on the rink at school. This world is truly a small world. My daughter-in-law’s Dad attended the same King George School in Calgary. It was not at the same time, as he was there a few years later.

King George Junior High

While in Calgary, I also experienced my first wiener roast and roasted marshmallows. The church we attended had things like this for the young people.

We lived in Calgary for about 2 years and then immigration regulations changed. Dad was now able to enter the United States under racial origin. He was Danish and things moved very quickly. I learned later that the United States would not accept my sister as a citizen, because she suffered from epilepsy. So God was working things out and knew the time was right for us to get to our destination. Mother and Dad just waited patiently for God to take care of them. Ellen was settled in Canada and they could leave knowing that God was taking care of her. God always knows what is best, and His timing is perfect.

The Theodor Andersen Family
Ellen, Gottlob, Theodor, Konrad, Olive, and Jessica

My older brother had a job working for the Swift Meat Packing Company, and he followed later. His dream was to become a pilot in the Royal Canadian Air Force, but those dreams never materialized.

So, once again, it was packing time and we were finally ready for the last leg of our journey. Dad had gone ahead and gotten a good job as a surveyor and map maker. Now it was time for us to go and this time the trip was by Greyhound Bus.

San Luis Obispo, California

When all the formalities had been dealt with, Dad came on down to San Luis Obispo to look for work and find us a place to live. The first thing he had to do was see the land they had purchased while still living in India.

The lots were in a little seaside community called Baywood Park. They were prime lots and about a mile from the ocean. God had really taken care of them and rewarded them for their faithfulness. Dad never did build a house on those lots, but sold them a few years later for quite a profit.

Dad did find a job as a draftsman and he was working for a Christian man from the church we attended. Elmer was such a good piano player. He played for the church and everyone enjoyed his solos. He got carried away with his songs and forgot how long he was playing.

Dad did find a house that he bought. It was an old house and needed lots of repair before we could live in it.

Then came the time to pack and we boarded the Greyhound bus and headed for California. We had to stay in a motel for about 3 weeks until the house was livable.

Mother, of course, made Konrad and me go to school. There was only three weeks of the school year left, and we did some complaining. Mothers always have a way of winning.

I can remember how lonely I felt. I was sitting on the cement slab of the flag pole, looking sad and dejected. I looked up and there was a girl looking at me and she said hello. From that instant we became fast friends and she still is my best friend today, after all these years. That bond that formed has lasted for 57 years.

Jessica and best friend, Pat Tupac, in 1981

I am glad that Gottlob came down to California to stay with us. He got a job working at the Bank of America. We finally began to bond as brother and sister. Konrad had found his circle of friends and we drifted apart. After high school, Konrad left home and got a good paying job in the field of radio and eventually settled in San Diego. Gottlob and I got involved in church activities, events, and retreats, and it was good for us. We joined a group called the Navigators and this is where I really began to mature spiritually. We had so many good times together with our circle of Christian friends.

Konrad Andersen

Mother was a math teacher, but all our younger years she stayed with us and did not work. After getting to San Luis Obispo, the urge to teach became strong. She got a job as a substitute teacher at Cal Poly, the college in town. That one day lasted for 16 years. She was teaching trig and calculus. She had to always study hard and keep a few days ahead of her students. Mother, along with teaching, ended up getting her Masters Degree in math.

When I was in high school, someone got wind of our family story. We ended up on the front page of our local newspaper with our Thanksgiving story of coming to America to seek a new life.

After I graduated, I spent a year at a Bible College in San Francisco, and it was a wonderful learning experience for me. I only did this one year, and them came home for the summer. I ended up getting a job at the Child Evangelism office as the secretary. That was the best job for me. Those two spinster ladies must have seen my potential and very patiently guided me into teaching Bible stories to the children. I ended up doing this all the years my children were little.

Jessica at the Child Evengelism Office

Soon after Gottlob came to California, Uncle Sam decided that he needed to be drafted. They promised that he would automatically become a citizen when he enlisted. However, he did not get his citizenship until after he was out. We became citizens on June 16, 1960. This adopted land is now our home.

Gottlob Andersen

One summer I went to a Christian camp near San Luis Obispo. It was called Camp Talaki. The missionary speaker was Mr. Olsen. Mr. Olsen had been a missionary in India and we knew him from Montaban. He remembered me and it was good talking and catching up. He had a saying that I have never forgotten, “Why stand when you can sit, and why sit when you can lay down.” Truly this is a small world when you meet someone you know from India in a little remote campground in California.

Jessica with friends at Camp Talaki, 1957

San Luis Obispo will always have a warm place in my heart. I learned so much and grew so much spiritually. God knew I needed to be there. It was my training ground.

Mother and Dad eventually ended up going down to El Cajon, California. They liked the warmer climate which reminded them of their home in India. Both of them died in 1979 and are buried in the El Cajon Cemetery. Their final resting place reminds us much of India. God honored them and took care of them, and I know some day we will be together again in Heaven.

Theodor and Olive Andersen


As I look back over the years and that incredible journey we embarked on, I have to thank the Lord for my parents. They protected and guided us and taught us well. As I was growing up, I never wanted to stray from those principles. Friends tried to encourage me to drink and smoke, but I refused. I knew it was wrong and I wanted no part of that world. I have tried to instill these principles in my children.

We were able to see and do so much on that voyage. Now, with air travel, people are just in a hurry and miss so much of the beauty around us. We saw things that most people will never see.

One of my favorite verses in Psalm 46:10 “Be still and know that I am God.” I watched God lead, direct, and work out every detail as my parents waited. God has done some miraculous things in our lives.

Theodor and Olive Andersen

My parents moved to El Cajon, California, but did not live there for too many years. My Dad got liver cancer and died on September 1, 1979. My mother had a heart attack and she died on May 27, 1979, just three months before Dad died. Her last letter to me spoke of being so tired. She had been taking care of Dad and the strain took its toll. After Mother died, Dad just gave up his struggle with cancer.

My only regrets now are that as a family, we are scattered across the North American continent. We never had a chance to always live together as a family. The only time we did that was while we were living in England, and that was only for 6 months. Ellen and Melvin got married and came to San Luis Obispo for their honeymoon, and that was June 1958 and the last time we were all together as a family. We grew up and moved our separate ways. Ellen is in Qubec, Canada, Konrad is in San Diego, Gottlob is in Arizona, and I am living here in Oregon. Health reasons keep us separated and I know we will all never be together again here on this earth.

The Andersen Children in 1991, after the funeral for Jessica’s husband, Alvy
Jessica, Konrad, Ellen, and Gottlob

God blessed me with 4 children. I now have 8 grandchildren and my family is getting scattered. My oldest son, Rudy, has moved to British Columbia, Canada and is a children’s pastor in Fort St. John. Julie is near Portland, Oregon and I am here living with my older daughter, Sabina, in a little rural community in Eastern Oregon. Phillip is here with us in Imbler.

Jessica with her 4 children, two of her children-in-law, and her 8 grandchildren in 2005

There are times when I wished I could have gone back to the land of my birth for a visit, but that dream has ended. The “Old Homestead” has been sold and is now the Andersen Memorial Trade School. There is no family left in India, as all have passed on. The siblings are scattered all around the world. Now, with the internet, we are getting acquainted with them after all these long years of separation. I have my memories, and that is all I need.


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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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Harriet Sabina Mitchell Nagel’s Line

July 23, 2010 at 4:06 pm (Nagel Roots) (, )

Joseph Samuel Mitchell
     b. about 1840 in the United Kingdom

Married to Philippina


1) Josephine Caroline Mitchell
     b. unknown
     d. abt 1945

2) Harriet Sabina Mitchell (2nd generation … married Volbrecht Nagel)
     b. November 15, 1878 in Cannonore, India
     d. January 27, 1935 in Angamali, India

3) Lawrence Robert Mitchell
     b. about 1887

Josephine Caroline Mitchell

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Charles and Charlotte Groblebe

June 29, 2009 at 12:44 pm (Cline Roots) (, , , , )

Charles and Charlotte would be Joe’s great, great grandparents…

Generations … 1st :: Charles Groblebe, 2nd :: Sarah Groblebe (Cline), 3rd :: C. Marie Cline (Toepfer), 4th :: Elvina Toepfer (Johnson), 5th :: Joseph Johnson (hubby), 6th :: my kids; Jared, Josh, Alicia, and Amanda.

Charles Isaac Groblebe by you.

Charles Isaac Groblebe

Charles Issac Groblebe
Born: March 1844 in Germany
Died: 1933 in Eureka, Arkansas

Charles was born in March, 1844, in Germany, from which country he emigrated to the United States in his youth and settled in St. Louis. He served in a Missouri regiment in the Confederate army during the Civil war. After the war he went to Arkansas and engaged in the lumber business at Eureka Springs, and became a well known lumberman throughout northwestern Arkansas.

Oral legend has it that “Groblebe” is actually the origional name spelled backwards. A member of the family is said to have shamed the family name, so the rest of the family used the name backwards to avoid the association. “Ebleborg” or something along those lines may have been the original name, or a place in germany where Charles came from.

Charlotte was Charles’ 2nd (possbly 3rd) wife…

His first wife was Mary J. (Mitchell) Groblebe

b. August 24, 1850
d. September 12, 1883

Their children:

George William Groblebe
b. April 4, 1870
d. February 15, 1953

Earl Franklin Groblebe
b. July 7, 1877
d. June 17, 1960

Charles Isaac Groblebe II
b. October 2, 1879
d. April 10, 1966

Henry Edward Groblebe
b. August 6, 1881
d. April 21, 1963

Acording to one site I found when I googled Charles Groblebe, he married another Mitchell girl named Rose Mitchell, and had four children; Della, Bill, Dan, and Mae… But this hasn’t been confirmed by anything else… BUT… I found somewhere that Charles and Charlotte were married in 1883, which is the same year that Mary died, so he couldn’t have married someone else… Don’t know…

Charlotte Ann (Sectes) Groblebe by you.

Charlotte Ann (Scates) Groblebe

Charlotte Ann Scates
b. 1866 in Arkansas
d. 1928 in Eureka, Arkansas

Daughter of William and Sarah Scates.

They had one daughter:

Sarah Ellen Groblebe
b. May 14, 1891
d. August 28, 1992

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