Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Fall Morning

I'd planned to work on a writing project - a little family history book, From Anna Maria to Zea Lilliana, - while wife and doggies were still snoozing cozily and quietly on this chilly fall morning. But my eyes kept drifting to the window framing a view of the garden, where the trees have been becoming more brilliant every day. Finally, when a shaft of sunlight illuminated the trunk of the canyon live oak, its branches stretching into the blue sky, I had to put the camera to work.

I'd intended one shot through the window, then back to work, but the morning pulled me outside to stumble around the damp pathways enjoying the miraculous way the leaves played with the sunlight.

Our garden is built on bones of stone and wood in a design esthetic that mixes Japanese with Arts and Crafts. There's also a touch of the Japanese esthetic of wabi sabi that celebrates aging natural materials and the passage of time. But mostly it is a bunch of plants pretty much left to their own devices.

And just so my Typospherian friends don't despair, here is my beloved Royal 10, which has been
living a life of luxury ever since I rescued it from a neighbor's trash can back in about 1967. Lately it has been busy in the sunshine out on the balcony, where it has been helping me keep up my Postcrossing activity. Its compact elite typeface is perfect for slapping messages onto postcards.

So much for this morning's writing project. Now it's time to roust out the snoozers, bring the place to life, and get on with our fall project of painting our bedroom and nailing down a new floor of solid, 3/4-inch red oak. Hilda has promised a crock pot stew to warm our bellies and refresh our souls after a day of home improvement yoga moves - bending, lifting, twisting, etc.


Tuesday, October 13, 2015

A Letter to Granddaughter Zea about her GGGgrandmother, Anna Maria (Peters) Mindling

October 10, 2015
Cool, California

Dear Zea,

Here's Grandpa Tony's shot at that homework assignment you asked help for a couple of months ago. You'd asked for a bit of information about our ancestors. Although I didn't see your email in time to get anything to you then in time for your assignment, your question did inspire this project. I've been interested in our family's history since way back when my dad, Leo, placed the Jacob and Carl Peters grandfather clock into my care - the tall clock that you have helped me wind the last time you visited.

That clock has inspired me to accumulate many file drawers full of family records. But also many letters, photographs, and handed down treasures. As a scientist I kind of enjoy organizing data, so compiling a database of genealogical data - the raw facts of dates of births, marriages, and deaths - has come kind of naturally. But what I enjoy most are the hints at the stories - things that put us in touch with the people who, like us, have grown from childhood to adulthood, had brothers and sisters, and enjoyed reading, music, and art - the things that rounded out life just as they do for us today.

So what you will find here, besides the names, dates, and relationships that are the core for any family history, is a narrative where we trace the story of the connection between you, Zea Lilliana Mindling-Werling, now 14, and your great-great-great-grandmother, Anna Maria (Peters) Mindling, when she was 12 years old 155 years ago back in 1860. Yikes - there we go with numbers and relationships already. Lets get on with the story.

Note: Clicking on any of the photos will bigify them.

A steamboat on the Muskingham River at Marietta, Ohio. See that gazebo on the riverside - do you suppose your GGGgrandmother Anna Maria may have hung there with her sister and other buddies - maybe even boyfriends while watching the moon reflect in the river?

Imagine that you have hopped into a time machine - you have set the dial for 1860 and pushed the "Go" button. 

Are you up in your cute attic bedroom? Well, it has just disappeared – along with your entire house – poof – and you have tumbled 12 feet or so to the ground. Fortunately you have not been bruised too much, because not only is there no 303 Avery Street in 1850, but there is no Avery Street, just an open meadow with tall waving prairie grass that cushioned your fall. Better peek carefully up over the grass, because there could be Indians about.

Settlers cabin, Rogue River Valley - 1800's
In 1860 the Rogue River Valley was just beginning to become settled by white folks. They’d been arriving from the east in wagons along the Applegate Trail for several years. The indigenous folks, the Shasta people, were not at all happy about it and were still pushing back. But a mill had been built down on Ashland Creek and was churning out boards to build churches, hardware and grocery stores, homes and barns – the beginnings of the town of Ashland.

Although this is a different Mindling family, the scene we
are imagining of Anna Maria riding to church in a wagon
with her family would have looked a lot like this.
(note that you can click on any of these images to enlarge them. Try it.)

It's early 1860 and an Ohio immigrant farm family is on their way to church ...

At about the same time that you were on the anxious lookout for Indians, two sisters about your age might have been sitting behind their parents in the family wagon trundling along a dirt road through the green hills of southeastern Ohio on their way to church. Their Lutheran church was several miles from their farm, so it would have been a significant outing. 

Your great-great-great-grandmother (GGGgrandmother) Anna Maria Peters, 12, and her sister Elizabeth, 15, would have been in their best Sunday dresses, all frilly and lacy. Their brother, Charles, was on the wagon seat next to them, or since he was just five and perhaps to prevent squabbles he may have been up front next to their mother, Mary. Their mother was holding their baby sister, Margaret, who was just two, and was also due to have another baby in a few months. It was a big family! Their father, Carl, was holding the reins. The grandparents, Jacob and Katharina probably drove ahead of them in their buggy – as the family elders they got to go in front and avoid the dust. They would have been 76 and 69 years old, respectively.

On that long drive Carl may have been thinking about the farm chores needed to be completed in the coming week. Or, perhaps because he was watching his parents up ahead on the road, he was reminiscing with his wife about how he, his father and mother, and some siblings emigrated from Germany to America 27 years earlier in 1833 when he was just 16. The children had heard his stories of that adventure many times, always asking, “More Daddy, tell us more!”

The story of the Peters family's journey from Germany to America ...

A steamboat on the Rhine river. This is a 1900's excursion boat. Probably it
was a smaller craft that carried the emigrant Peters family. But
tthe towns, cathedrals, and castles would have looked much the same in 1833.
Carl Peters, Anna Marie's father, and his family had lived in Durkheim, Germany. In 1833 rivers and railways were the most efficient ways to travel. So their journey began with a voyage up the Rhine River from Durkheim to Cologne by steamboat. During that trip Carl stood at the ship's railing from dawn to dusk, marveling at fantastical castles and busy ports. In Paris the noise and white clouds of escaping steam startled him as the family hurried past a steam engine searching for their seat on the train that would take them to the port of La Havre. There they boarded a sailing ship for the month’s voyage to America.

The Peters family journey in 1833 from Bad Durkheim up the Rhine River to Cologne, then via train through Paris to the sea port off La Havre, where they embarked for America
The Ocean voyage via sail from La Havre, France, to Baltimore, Maryland, would have taken several weeks.

The journey in search of farmland from Baltimore to Wheeling, West Virginia, would have followed the National Highway, AKA Cumberland Road. From Wheeling, the two brothers and 16-year-old Carl then hiked down the Ohio River, exploring as far as Marietta, Ohio.

This map shows the Cumberland Road, and also gives a sense of the nation at the time of the Peters emigration.

The Ohio River near Marietta, Ohio
Painting by Henry Cheevers Pratt, mid-1800's

Father and son went on a six-day exploration down the Ohio River, looking for land where the family could settle and begin a farm ...

After landing in Baltimore, Maryland, the family travelled to Wheeling, West Virginia. They would have traveled on the Cumberland, ot National, Road. There they met Jacob's brother, Charles, who had travelled to America at the same time. The brothers left their families in Wheeling, and with 16-year-old Carl, explored down the Ohio River looking for land where they could settle their families and begin their new lives in America.

After a five- or six-day journey down the Ohio River on foot they arrived at Marietta, Ohio. During that trip they could find no one who spoke German, so it was with relief to find that the woman whose husband ran the hotel in Marietta spoke it fluently. She was also able to direct them to land they could settle. Thus Jacob, his wife Katharina, and their children Carl, John, and Margaretta, eventually settled on about 100 acres in Watertown Township in Washington County. That farm was to remain in the family for at least 100 years.

The Peters-Mindling farm about 1920
The children had remained silent during their father's often-heard tale of the family's journey to America. It was a warm spring day, and they may have dozed a bit as the wagon slowly made its way up and down and around the hills of Ohio. The dusty road was overhung with hickory, black and white oak, and walnut trees, and a bright blue sky pierced through gaps in the cover of green leaves passing slowly by overhead. But when papa's tale told with his strong German accent paused for a moment, Anna Maria, who loved the stories, said, "Tell us more, Papa - please?"

The Jacob Peters clock. The works
were brought to America in 1833.
The case was built by Jacob and
his son Carl on the homestead farm
in Washington County, Ohio. It
resided on the farm for many years,
then in the home of my Dad's Aunt
Anna and her husband Will Jones
in Beverly Ohio. On her death she
had the clock shipped to my Dad in
Novato, California. Grandma Hilda
and I have been caretakers since
the 1980's.
But is was grandpa Jacob and grandma Katharina who picked up the tale later that evening, as they sat around the fire in a cozy room warmly lit by a kerosene lamp. They told how 27 years earlier they had chosen about 100 acres, balancing their savings against the quality of land they could afford. With help from neighbors and relatives, Jacob and the children's father Carl, who was then 16, turned the land into a farm. Trees were felled to open up fields for cultivation, while retaining a sizeable "woodlot". A home, barns, and a workshop were built, and a good well located near the house which was soon overhung with a grape arbor. A forge was set up in the workshop to repair the metal parts of farm equipment, and even used to manufacture parts on occasion.

With the family settled in, and some time available, one of the first projects Jacob and his son Carl undertook in the workshop was to build a case to house the works for a clock which had been brought all the way from Germany. Since the clock was run by a pair of weights, it had to be tall to allow the weights room enough to drop, allowing the clock to run for eight days before re-winding. The weights were made of tin, curved and soldered into a cylinder, and filled with scraps of metal from the forge. Apparently at first the weights were not heavy enough to keep the clock running and turn the chiming mechanism, as an additional few inches were added to each one, together with more rusted nuts and bolts and odd bits of metal.

Zea, you will remember helping me to wind that clock a couple of years ago. Why do you suppose the clock was so treasured that it was carried all the way to America and the lovely case then hand crafted with such great patience and effort? My theory is that in a way it was as important a tool for connecting with the world outside the home then as our smart phones, tablets, and computers are today. Time was how you knew when you had to leave to get to church on time, when the train would arrive bringing visitors of farm supplies and equipment, when friends were expected to call. Plus, it was very cool - an imposing sign that your home was settled and comfortable.

Drawing of a German officer, by Jacob Peters.
From the Peters family we get much of our urge to learn, make art, 

and make music. Jacob and his son Carl were both avid readers, musicians,
and craftsmen. 
The care and skill that Jacob and Carl put into
crafting the case for the clock carried from Germany is one example.
The family maintained a library, and several books have from it
have survived to be handed down in our care. Jacob was also a 
musician, and we have a clarinet he once played, together with
some beautifully drawn sheet music. Carl was well known in his 
community for the children's toys he made in his woodshop, and
elegantly hand lettered aphorisms. NOTE - find Carl's paintings
of soldiers.
Soon it was time for the children to go to bed, but Anna Maria and her sister Elizabeth lay awake for some time, listening to and comforted by the muted voices of their parents and grandparents as they continued to talk about "the old days". There may have been tales about Carl's courtship with Anna Mary Henry, their marriage 13 years earlier in 1847, the births of their children, and the expected birth of another child.

But life was a bit harsh then - medical care was scarce, and drugs to treat infections not as available - and childhood mortality was high. Their first child, a daughter, Anna Catherine, had lived only three years. And as the family enjoyed their cozy Sunday evening in the spring of 1860, they could not know that Anna Maria's mother would die while delivering her fifth child, Margaret, in August of that year.

But despite the tragedies, the family lived a full and rich life, far from simply scratching out a living on hilly farmland. The family enjoyed music and books, and was known in the community for being among the early pioneers and for assisting their neighbors when needed. Carl remarried a second wife, Elizabeth Meister, in 1861. Unfortunately Elizabeth also died, in 1874, and Carl remarried a third time a year later. Working a farm required a partnership of a man and a woman, as well as the support of many children.

Carl Peters and his then wife, Anna (Starlin) with their
horse and buggy in 1896
Now we continue to move on from that Sunday afternoon and evening in 1860 with the Carl Peters family. In 1870 Anna Maria's sister, Elizabeth, married a young man, Nicholas, from the neighboring Mindling farm. The Mindlings had also emigrated from Germany, but that's a whole 'nother story. And then in 1875 Anna Maria and Nicholas' brother, Jacob, are married. I love this part of the story - it reminds me of the great old movie, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers - a favorite of your grandma Jean's/

Anna Maria and Jacob Mindling remained on the farm to help with the labor and management, and in 1877 when Carl turned 60 he deeded the farm to them. Part of the arrangement was that Carl and his then wife, Anna Starlin, would continue to live on the farm and be provided with a horse and buggy. In his long retirement Carl Peters continued with his music and reading, and enjoyed making elegantly drawn mottos and wooden toys for his grandchildren.

Anna Maria's grandfather, Carl Peters, in
1896. Zea's GGGgrandfather.
When Carl Frederick Peters was born on
September 8, 1817, in Bad Durkheim, Rhineland-Palatinate,
Germany, his father Johan (Jacob) was 33 and his mother,
Katharina, was 25. Carl was marrried three times, and
had one son and five daughters between 1848and 1860.
He died on July 23, 1907, in Watertown, Ohio, having
lived a long life of 89 years.
And there were quite a few grandchildren. My dad told me about them many years when my mom and dad sold ago their home so that they could travel in their trailer. That was when dad passed the Peters clock into my care. So I sat turned on a tape recorder and asked him to tell me the story of the clock. . In telling the story of where the clock came from and how he had come into possession of it, he also told me about all of the children who were born to Anna Maria and Jacob Mindling on that farm in Ohio. There were three girls and three boys, including my grandfather, and your Ggrandfather, John Mindling.

Anna Maria and Jacob Mindling with their six children in August, 1911. The annotation is by John's wife, Amertt Mindling's - bless her soul for passing on so much information like this on so many family photos! Her reference to "our Daddy", indicates her husband, and your GGgrandfather, John Mindling

The Mindling family in 1925
Your GGGgrandparents, Jacob and Anna Maria (Peters) Mindling sit in front of the man with the dark suit. Their son, and your GGgrandfather, John Mindling, stands second from the left. His wife, Amertt, is to his left. Their son Leo, your Ggrandfather, is sitting on the ground at the far right. Taken at Jacob and Anna Maria's 50th anniversary celebration, July 4th, 1925.
July 4th, 1925, was a big day on the farm for the Mindling family. By then the children had moved away and started their own families or professions. But all six children returned to the farm with their families for the celebration of Anna Maria’s and Jacob’s 50th wedding anniversary. It was quite a gang, and must have been a wonderful party.  Anna Maria, who we first met as that 13 year-old girl riding in the wagon with her family, is now 73 years old. In the family photo taken that day she sits surrounded by her children, grandchildren, and a great grandchild. Among her six children in the photo is your GGgrandfather, John. 

Amertt Mindling shares a laugh
with Anna Maria and Jacob Mindling
while doing laundry on the Peters-
Mindling farm

When John Lewis Mindling was born
on January 18, 1883, in Washington County, Ohio,
his father, Jacob, was 30 and his mother, Anna Maria,
was 29. He married Selma Amertt Ward
on March 16, 1909. They had two children
during their marriage. He died on October 9, 1965,
in Santa Rosa, California, at the age of 82.
John and Amertt’s children at the celebration were Helen, 14, and your Ggrandfather, Leo, who was 16 at the time. They had traveled from Washington DC, where John was the secretary for a government railroad board. He had risen to a pretty high position through education and studiously applying himself to self-study. He was so proud of his accomplishment with Gregg shorthand, that he made it his son Leo’s middle name!

A bit of relaxation during
a visit to the farm in 1912.
On the left are your GGgrandparents,
Amertt and John Mindling
then John's sister, Anna,
and their parents, Anna Maria
and Jacob Mindling.
Leo and my mother (your Ggrandmother) were married in June, 1939. There is a wonderful story about their courtship which I will tell you someday, that involves a telegram, long-distance telephone call (a big deal in those days), another grandfather clock, flowers, and … well, that will wait until later.

John and Amertt Mindling in about 1938 at Niagara Falls

Tessie Mindling, Zea's Ggrandmother, in 1938
Tessie Mindling in 1938 on the Shenandoah Parkway, Virginia
When Theresa Natalie Tallitsch was born on October 30, 1914, in Chicago, Illinois, her father, Sebastian, was 24 and her mother, Elizabeth, was 20. She married Leo Gregg Mindling on June 3, 1939, in her hometown. They had two  children during their marriage. She died on February 15, 1995, in Auburn, California, at the age of 80.

Leo Mindling in 1928, age 16.
When Leo Gregg Mindling was born on March 26, 1912, in Richmond, Indiana, his father, John, was 29 and his mother, Selma, was 21. He married Theresa Natalie Tallitsch on June 3, 1939, in Chicago, Illinois. They had two children during their marriage. He died on May 14, 2001, in California, at the age of 89.
Tony Mindling, 1969
When Anthony Leo Mindling was born on August 23, 1940, in San Francisco, California, his father, Leo, was 28 and his mother, Theresa, was 25. He married Jean Hughson Howard and they had two children together. He then married Hilda Ann Torkelson on April 11, 1981, in Susanville, California. He has one brother.
Grandma Jean in 1969

Grandpa Tony and Jean Mindling, with Eric and Ian, 1969

Eric at Drakes Bay, California, 1975
When Eric Sebastian Mindling was born on September 13, 1968, in Reno, Nevada, his father, Anthony, was 28 and his mother, Jean, was 23. He married Rachel Werling on October 1, 1996, in Phoenix, Arizona. They had two children during their marriage. 
Those two children, as you know, included Sonora Theresa Mindling-Werling, born in Phoenix, Arizona, on September 17, 1996, and yourself, born in Oaxaca, Mexico, October 9, 2001.
So here you are, 14 years old and safely back in your Attic, 155 years after that day when your 12-year-old GGGgrandmother,  Anna Maria Peters, was riding down that dusty road in Ohio next to her sister.

Zea Lilliana Mindling-Werling

Someday you may be be someone’s GGGgrandmother – imagine that!

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Sailing Polywog for the First Time

Polywog is a 17-foot, swing-keel trailerable daysailer with a little cuddy and bunks which puts it into the class of small sailboats called “Pocket Cruisers”. Which means something like boats capable of poking around coastal waters and nipping into cozy coves for the night. She arrived in our driveway within about 24 hours of a brain explosion in early August on the order of, "Goddamit, I'm turning 75 and if I'm going to realize the dream of a real sailboat, so if not now when, ask me - huh?!! And anyhow, it's my birthday, so ..."  I was very fortunate in that a Holder 17 was among the two or three boats on Craigs List as I feverishly perused it one night in bed with the laptop. it turns out they are well-made and well-respected boats, with a good online following.

When I went to see it the next day I was surprised at how roomy and comfortable-looking the cockpit was. The boat was in immaculate condition - not a project boat as most that old (built by Hobie in the early 1980's) could most likely be. The owner had purchased her earlier this year with the idea of teaching himself to sail and then going around the world. But he'd recently inherited two other boats, and storage was becoming an issue, thus the Craigs List ad. But in the short time he had her he had polished the decades of oxidation from the nearly immaculate hull, bought a new 6-horse outboard (4-cylcle, reverse gear, and capable of charging an on-board batttery), and made other improvements. I knew she was perfect. I handed him 25 hundred dollar bills and pulled her home that day. She became "Polywog" based on her short and fat build, and as a remembrance of the fun my wife, Hilda, and I have had this spring and summer raising a bevy of polywogs in our fountain.

The first sailing of "Polywog" was a complete success, despite some previous misgivings. Although I had raised the mast and fully rigged the boat once on the driveway, I had concerns about whether I would have the strength and energy to get it rigged and carry out all the other launching chores, and still have something left to enjoy the sail. 

Mostly I was hopeful that my wiffe would enjoy the day. To say she was less than fully "on board" with my sudden purchase would be an undersatement. Although I had involved her with things done over the last weeks to improve the boat, and she had shown moments of positive interest, there was an explosion last week on the order of, "You are spending all your time on that boat and taking time away from help I need with things I want to do". So i was kinda sweating out how the day would go, and determined to stay calm, happy, and uncranky as I sorted out the rigging and launching.

We'd planned to leave 11-ish for Lake Englebright, a reservoir built to capture sediment back in the hydraulic gold mining days, now managed by the Corps of Engineers as a recreation lake, and kept brim full year round. We were fortunate with the weather, which has been cooling from the near 100's to the mere mid- to upper-80's. This helped to drop the anxiety meter one notch.

Despite long to-do lists fully checked off, our outings always require time-consuming chores at the last minute, chores which often could have been done earlier, but somehow not thought of until the final throes of preparation. This time it was gassing up the truck, getting some deli sandwiches, icing the ice chest, and hooking up. We left about noon.

You can click on this and the other images to bigify them.
It's about an hour and a half to Lake Englebright, on the map about 7 miles NW of Grass Valley. Despite its nearness, somehow we had never explored it, and the turn to the launch ramp, after a long twisty road, came suddenly. Rigging took nearly two hours in the hot afternoon sun, and I was beginning to wonder if it was worth it. And Hilda had apparently disappeared into the truck after at first seeming interested in helping. Uh-oh - I assumed she was sitting there fuming. But it turned out she had spent a long time chasing down a handful of pills which had left her little pillbox, and were making there colorful way rolling and bouncing happily down the ramp toward the lake. Once they were corralled she had to chase down our day-use ticket which had blown from the dashboard in the gusty winds and of course ending up beneath the truck.

Finally we backed her into the water, Hilda following along the pier clinging to a mooring line. We were both excited to see Polywog afloat after her interminable stay on the driveway while we had waited on a window in the calendar between doctor, dentist, personal maintenance, and work issues. Hilda parked the trailer, hit the restroom, and made her way down some steep steps and the ramp while I arranged the boat on the dock for our getaway. There was a moment of panic as I worked her around the dock to a better position when the winds caught her, I made a grab for the deck, and feeling the force of the wind and momentum thought for a moment that I would be stretched further and further between boat and dock, leading to an inevitable dunking. 

But all went well, Hilda stepped easily aboard, and we were soon motoring out of the marina past a shanty town of a variety of houseboats. With the wind behind us we shut down the motor, raised the main, and soon the joy of the boat began to come over us. Sitting on the comfy bench cushions we poured iced tea and snacked while we slipped past a foothill shoreline of lovely oaks and gray pines. The long, narrow lake has about 200 boat-in only campsites along the shore and tucked away in little coves. At some point we worked out the timing, and realized that if we turned around then we wouldn't be home until 8 pm. And then we kept going, grinning the while. Finally the cliffs closed in and we set the jib, headed back to the marina, and began to learn how to work Polywog to windward. The motor was a huge drag, nearly stalling us on comeabouts, and it took me awhile to figure out how to raise is to catch the notch which would hold it out of the water. Finally It caught, and we sailed on, delaying starting the motor despite the dying breeze, both enjoying the peace of quietly slipping through the water as the sun slipped behind the hills. 

Time for some iced tea and snacks
Finally the wind died completely and we slowly motored into the marina, drifting up to the pier for a perfect landing, cranked up the keel (some 200 turns on the windlass), got the boat onto the trailer on the second try (the keel needs to slip into a narrow "U" channel). Happy and relaxed, we spent an hour unrigging, watching deer, and noticing the brilliant stars and the milky way. Thank goodness for the launch area lights. We were home and in bed about midnight, happily chatting about the fun day. Now we are looking forward to other outings, Tahoe most likely, and even perhaps the Bay once we learn and get used to Polywogs wiles. And mostly looking forward to sharing her roomy cockpit with kids and grandkids. 

On the relaxing downwind leg
Hilda searches for the best jib setting as we learn to work Polywog to windward

Sunday, January 11, 2015

The Glade of Compiègne

The little stereoptican card that inspired a
little mystery fun and opened the door to
some historical research.
Thanks to input from Typospherian friends, the big picture of "who, what, when and where" related to the Glade of Compiègne has emerged from this little photograph. Robert G suggested the "when", and Miguel provided some translation and a hint at the "what". Richard P crawled from the trenches of the Typewriter Insurgency long enough to identify the source of the image and a bit more of the circumstance, and finally Robert Messenger topped it all off (as usual) by identifying William F. Shirer as the war correspondent pictured facing the camera. That was enough to get me started on some enjoyable research into the story of the Glade of Compiègne

General Foch in 1921.  

The Short Story

In short, the glade is located where railroad tracks once met deep in a forest near the town of Compiègne, about 50 miles northeast of Paris. The site became memorialized by the French after WWI as the location of the signing of the armistice ending the war in November 1918. French General Ferdinand Foch is credited with the military defeat leading to the German request for the armistice. The signing took place in Foch's private railway carriage, which eventually became part of the memorial, housed in the building shown behind Shirer in the photo in my previous post

Twenty two years later the German army raced across France essentially unopposed and occupied Paris. It was France's turn to ask for an armistice, and Hitler took dramatic satisfaction in demolishing a wall of the memorial building, moving the car a few yards to the same location it had occupied in 1918, then sitting in the same seat that Foch had used as the terms of the armistice were read to the demoralized French representatives. Shirer observed the proceedings and made a dramatic radio broadcast, somehow not only scooping the other news services by several hours, but the German broadcast of the event as well, to the fury of the German high command.
November 11, 1918 - German representatives arrive in Marshal Foch's private railway carriage parked deep in the forest of Compiègne to accept the terms of the armistice ending WWI

The Rest of the Story

Amistice of 11 November, 1918

Marshal Foch stands withother French officers and representatives
in front of his private railway carriage just prior to the
signing of the armistice ending the hostilities of WWI
Despite the ravages to families here in the USA as our soldiers return damaged in one way or another from the wars in the Middle East, it can be difficult for us to imagine the strong feelings of those who have experienced war within their own country's boundaries. So high were the feelings of the French as a result of WWI, that French Marshal Ferdinand Foch had his private train, which was to be used for the signing of the armistice ending the war, placed in a secret and secluded glade within the Forest of Compiegne, lest locals attack the German representatives to the signing. Foch's train wold be met there by another French train bringing the German representatives to the signing site.

Logo of Compagnie Internationale
des Wagons-Lits
Foch's private railway carriage, later to be known as the "Compiègne Wagon", had been a dining car operated by the Compagnie internationale des wagons-lits, the historical operator of the Orient Express. It had been converted into an office for his use between October 1918 and September 1919, when it was put back into regular service. However it was soon donated as a museum piece, and was eventually housed within a building, the Clairiere de l'Armistice, adjacent to the location of the armistice signing at Compiègne

The site became a memorial to the defeat of Germany, and included a statue of Foch, the building housing the railway carriage, the Alsace-Lorraine Memorial, and a granite block in the center of a circular concrete slab marking the actual location of and commemorating the signing of the WWI armistice.

German representatives to the signing were carried overnight on a French train, which arrived at dawn at the glade. One can imagine the crunch of boots in the snow and the icy breaths as the German officers with spiked helmets walked to Foch's carriage in the adjacent train, while the steam engines hissed and chuffed.

The final treaty drawn up, known as the Treaty of Versailles, was a disappointment to Foch. Because Germany was allowed to remain a united country, Foch declared, "This is not a peace. It is an armistice for 20 years". The second world war began 20 years and 65 days later.

Armistice of June 22, 1940  

William L. Shirer (left center) and other war correspondents on
June 19, 1940, in the memorial glade in Compiègne. The
building in the background houses the railcar used
for the signing of the 1918 armistice, which is
about to be pulled by Hitler's troops for use in
signing the June 1940 armistice.
William L. Shirer, a war correspondent for CBS radio, arrived in Paris on June 17, 1940. In his book, Berlin Diary, Shirer describes a city deserted on the otherwise lovely June day, "which, if there had been peace, would have been spent by the people going to the races at Lonchamp or the tennis at Roland Garros, or idling along the boulevards under the trees, or on the cool terraces of a cafe". But the Germans had entered the city a few days before, after sweeping nearly unopposed across France, and it was "utterly deserted, the stores closed, the shutters down tight over all the windows." Parisians had fled in panic at the approach of the Germans, choking the roads leading from the city. A huge swastika floated from he Eiffel Tower.

The Compiègne Wagon being removed from theClairiere de l'Armistice on June 19, 1940.

But the arriving German soldiers turned out to be not rapists, but generally polite, acting as tourists with cameras around their necks, and even taking off their caps at the tomb of the unknown soldier. Germany encouraged and assisted foreign war correspondents, eager that their exploits be reported to the world. So on June 19, Shirer and other correspondents were taken to Compiègne - an armistice between France and Germany was to be signed in the same place as the signing of the 1918 armistice. 

My view of the timing of events is a bit murky, based on comparing Shirer's book to the photograph. He says that when he arrived at Compiègne at 6:00 PM on June 19, "German army engineers were feverishly engaged in tearing out the wall of the museum where Foch's private car in which the 1918 sarmistice was signed had been preserved ... before we left, the engineers, working with pneumatec drills had demolshed the wall and hauled the car out of its shelter". And yet the photograph of him typing does not show the wall as having been demolished. On the other hand, there are differences in the appearance of the building from the photo showing the car emerging. Perhaps we are looking at different ends of the same structure. Shirer also puts the date of the signing at June 21, whereas all other sources use June 22, 1940.

At any rate, by June 22, 1940, the famous railway carriage, now to become even more renowned, had been removed from its museum and placed on the spot where the WWI armistice had been signed in 1918. Hitler arrived in the afternoon with others of the high command to stomp around, looking with scorn at the various monuments and memorials. The scene was reported by radio by Shirer that evening, and a transcript may be found at http://www.eyewitnesstohistory.com/francesurrenders.htm. Shirer's dramatic radio broadcast somehow not only scooped the other news services by several hours, but the German broadcast of the event as well, to the fury of the German high command. Following the signing the railroad car was moved to Berlin where it was eventually destroyed. Hitler also had all the monuments and memorials at the glade destroyed, with the exception of the statue of Foch.

Left to right: Joachim von RibbentropWalther von Brauchitsch,Hermann GöringRudolf HessAdolf Hitler, and Walther von Brauchitsch in front of the Armistice carriage
Hitler at the Wagen von Compiègne
Hitler (hand on hip) looking at the statue of Foch before signing the armistice at Compiègne, France (22 June 1940)

After WWII

The glade of the Compiègne memorial was eventually restored by France after the end of WWII. An identical Compagnie des Wagon-Lits carriage, no. 2439, built in 1913 in the same batch as the original and present in 1918, was renumbered no. 2419D (the number of Foch's original railway carriage), and installed in a new Clairiere de l'Armistice.

Marshal Foch statue

A granite memorial marks the exact location of both armistice signings.
The building in the background is a museum housing a replica of the original railcar.