What follows is a copy of a seven page letter. This letter was written by my grandfather, Fred James Lewis, aka, James Lee Showalter on January 24, 1970 and explains his life. The original letter is hard to read but my transcription follows below the link.There are a few words I just couldn’t figure out.
This is the original letter: james showalter journal-pdf
Here is the translation:
January 24, 1970
To Whom It May Concern:
I, Fred J. Lewis in name only which is James Lee Showalter was born in a log cabin at Allegheny Furnace, near Altoona, Pa to Solomon and Margaret Showalter on November 1, 1898. Mother’s maiden name was Kelly daughter of Charles and Candis Kelley. There was 2 sisters-Pearl and Bessie which I am told died at birth and a 3rd sister, Grace, who died in Florida in 1965-Mrs. Kline who is buried in Altoona. My mom and dad are buried in Colier’s Cemetery at Mill Run, as are my grandparents the Kelleys. My Showalter grandparents I do not know. May I say my child life was not too good. Mom died when I was 3 and dad when I was 7. I do remember dad and I was sent to an orphan’s home in Williamsport for a year, with my expenses paid by Uncle Jim whom was the top banana to settle dad’s estate.
To his liking he did so. Grace and I did not get1 red cent. To top it off, I James Lee Showalter was adopted to a farmer in PA who I think was named Lewis, hence the name, but the adoption was not legal and grandpa Kelley (God Bless Him) came and took me to his home in Altoona where my sister Grace was since my mom died. The time my mom died till dad’s death was as follows, Granma Showalter and Aunt Sis kept a home in Altoona. Well as I said, Grandma Kelly was old and she did not like me, as I guess a bad boy at least my sister said so. I went to school in Altoona till Granma Keley died and then the fireworks started. Aunt Nettie Snavely took Grace and I went with Grandpa Kelley to the coal mines where grandpa was a foreman and part owner known as Kelley & Flanagan of Altoona. This was in 1912. This coal mine was at Doughterty’s known as such. Things happened and grandpa got a housekeeper and bang I went again. Left home went to Sandusky with Uncle Bill Kelley, which was not much better as he had a second hand store and I had lots to do. Which I think I must have been lazy, so I went back to Altoona and the mines. Got hell. So I went to work skinning mules in the mines. That was something looking a mule in the ass and hollering HA WHO. So I left and went to Akron and worked in the rubber works. Got sick and went back home to Altoona and the mines. Come spring I was on the loose again, going to Coal Port to see some friends and then to Punsseytona, I joined a circus? (Welsh Bros. Lessie) Had a good job, not much pay, but I liked it, no mules to look in the ass and free. So I worked all summer long and never got out of PA. This was not seeing the U.S.A. So I went back to the mules and grandpa who said this is it, when you leave again don’t come back. Which I didn’t. He didn’t mean it. I know with all our faults I love him still and may his soul rest in peace. I never went back but may I say I am sorry as I changed my name to Lewis and went to Ohio to Toledo where I have been since. That I think was in 1915 or 14 was a news buck on a train and that was no good. So I went to work in a Hustter Wagon for a Jewish family known as Max Zimmerman. Where I stayed and ate. May I say I slept in the barn with the horse, but it was not bad as I was used to such things. When the war was declared against Germany. Enlisted the second day telling them that I was 21 (what a liar) as I was not 18, but they said ok and I was a Private Fred J. Lewis 1539550 Co. C 112 Calvary & Signal Corp 37 Div. USA of which I am very proud to have been a member. As I said I am in the army and the books which I am enclosing will tell all.
Back home in Toledo after all the things happened. Went to work. Met the one who was meant for me Eunice Misson which I had met before the war a nurse for the Zimmermans. But the feeling was mutual, when we met again we wer for each other and were married on November 21, 1919. May I say that was the most 42 years of my life on this earth, as I loved her very much as that was all. May her soul rest in peace.
May I say on this 24th day of January 1970 that I love all of you, Robert, Bernice, Jean and Jim and to all grandchildren and great grandchildren, Mary, Ginnie, Norm and Clem.
Love to All