LETTER FROM Fritz Walter MULLER [b 1874] copied by Carl Godfrey MULLER on 7 Apr 1951

Johann Ludwig FELIX

had been my mother's great-grandfather and lived about 1760. My mother remembered him well and told that he had been a very martial gent and often talked to his grand children about his adventures when with Napoleon, as general in Russia and later on when at the battle of Leipzig (1813)the Saxon army passed over to the German and Austrian camps.

Johann Carl August MULLER

had been married twice. My father had no reminiscence of his own mother, but a very vivid one of his stepmother who had been very hard towards him. Whether Johanne Schrappe had been my father's real mother or stepmother I don't know and have no official certificates on that point.

Frederick Christian SCHROTH

- my motherly grandfather - has been a very keen businessman and has managed to make his firm a well-known one throughout Germany. He was highly esteemed in public and was on the town council of Wurzen. A curious incident took place when he was 40 years old. Viz: A gypsy girl told his fortune against his wishes that disaster would overcome him by the time he was 50. And although he did not believe in the prediction, it bothered him considerably. When on his fiftieth birthday he remarked to his wife he had reached 50 without the mishap just as he was going to bed. At that moment he heard shouts and looked out to see his whole place of business (a large tannery) going up in smoke. He found himself pennyless but with the help of friends started up again. (No fire Insurance those days). And in 2 or 3 years time his business was bigger than ever. When he died he was a wealthy man and his firm "Wurzener Wollwasherie" had world renown fame. His son Hermann ran the business and I called on him in the '90s several times. Hermann finally made it a limited company and when he died was worth 2 or 3 millions.

Christine Henrietta FELIX

was my grandmother and the daughter of a son of old General Felix, but beyond that I know little about her. She was a very stern woman and my mother talked of her with the highest respect. I don't remember ever seeing her. (Those days people did not travel much.)

Carl Gottfried MULLER

- my father. Had a very hard stepmother and was punished most severely for the least misbehavior and sent to bed without supper. Father had to get up at 4 a.m. to walk to Leipzig on his father's business and be back for school at 8 a.m. It was a 3 hour trip there and back. (My father told us of some of the punishment they used to hand out those days, such as kneeling on a bag of beans for hours at a time. Carl [?Carl Godfrey MULLER comment])

Later on he became a rather intimate friend of Carl Russ, who was 7 years younger than father and had many fights with him in his younger days but their friendship lasted until Carl Russ died.

When father had finished his school he was employed in his father's trade as an apprentice and after 4 years apprenticeship was promoted to journeyman. Before that he that he had to furnish some work called the "Gesellenstuck" by which the young craftsman showed that he has learned the trade thoroughly. My father made a roll of fine" extra strong string and I still have a good part of it in my possession and you would admire it for its accuracy and beauty of work.

At that time every young man had to wander from one town to another asking craftsmasters if they had any work for them and so they had to wander for some years before they were allowed to return home and be promoted to mastership. I still have my father's "wandering book". In this book every one of his masters had written down a testimonial saying how long my father had stayed and that he done his work to the master's satisfaction. The book also contains entries from the burgomaster or police chief by which he was allowed to move to the next town. The name of the town was mentioned and also the time allowed to get there and the young fellows had to do a good big march every day in order to get to the town named by the allotted time. Unless they could prove that they had been ill they were punished severely and it was presumed that they idled on the way.

My father's wandering had all been to Bavaria and his favorite place had been Markbreit, near Wurzberg and he always returned to his old master there when he had been at neighbouring towns. So that a real friendship sprang up between them and the master's children and one of them, Margaret, came to visit my father in 1905 40 years after. I met her. A very fine lady.

In 1863 my father was again wandering from Bavaria to Taucha in order to see his own folks and when he passed through Chemnitz he read in the paper that an old ropemaker in Frankenberg wished to sell his outfit. So father set out the same day, for Frankenberg. About 4 hours walk and saw the old ropemaker but found the price too high, he having only 2 Thaler(6 shillings)above what he must have for food for a couple of days. Father was very sorry he could not make the deal as the outfit was in very good shape. As he was about to leave the old ropemaker turned to him and said "I like you and have confidence in you and so I will let you have the outfit and you will see God's blessing will be with you." And so my father returned to Chemnitz happy for having the outfit but not knowing where money wou1d come from to live and buy hemp until he could expect returns from his work. However some good people lent him some money as they had faith in him and he began his ropemaking business on a street called "Sonnenberg"in Chemnitz and was very succesful.

Later on he made the acquaintance of my mother, who was a widow. Her name was Mrs.Lessig then and she was about 30 years of age. They were married and moved to a village named Gablentz near Chemnitz. There my father bought a little grocery business in addition to his ropemaking and this business too was a good one. One night my father came home from a little party where some drinking had been indulged in and my mother told him that a cask in the basement was leaking (spirits)and as he lit a match on his way down she tried to stop him but the whole place immediately burst into flames and everything including the house burned to the ground. Father's beard was burned right off and he was lucky to escape alive. Next day when he realized that this would not have happened had he been sober he swore never to touch liquor again and kept that oath until his death.

Later on he bought a piece of land at #7 Neue Dresdner Str at Chemnitz in order to continue his ropemaking business and was very successful there. He built a fine home and when it was nearly completed it collapsed one night; the cost had been 100,000 Marks. Again he was ruined in one night. He brought suit against the contractor in court but it was proved that my father had given the foreman a sum of money in order to hurry the job up and be able to move in sooner and the verdict went against him and he had to pay the costs of the lawsuit as we1l (That is the house I was born in. Carl). He raised enough money through friends to enable him to finish the house and continue his ropemaking business.

His house was situated near a Jewish scrap metal merchant and he observed that this man, named Joachimthal, grew very rich. So my father took up this line as well as his ropemaking business and the scrap metal business was a big success and in 1878 my father bought a large garden on the outskirts of Chemnitz and built a fine country residence there. Later on he gave up ropemaking entirely and transferred the scrap business to the new location at 41 Ausere Dresdner Str. Later he build a smelter there(for pig iron) and done a good business with English customers. In 1884 he tired of business as he was nearly 50 years old, and bought a farm near Gablentz near Chemnitz.

As my brothers Otto and Carl were too young to run the business my mother attended to that very eagerly. My father still had not retired but supervised the business until l888 when he transferred it to Otto and Carl and moved to the farm. Wishing to bring home to them the value of such a business he thought it right not to let them have it too cheap and so they had to pay him an annual lease of 12000 marks. Realising that this was too much he reduced this to 10000 and after another six months to 10000 or 8000. But times had altered altogether and Carl and Otto were really too young to meet all business difficulties and to see the risks clearly enough and so they sustained big money losses through some of their customers going bankrupt and they got into financial troubles themselves. My father raised 30000 Marks for them by taking a mortgage on his farm.

In 1891 Otto had married your mother; in getting aid for his financial difficulties borrowed money from your grandfather Mr.Russ. I am not sure of the amount but it was several thousand pounds. It was all no use. Otto had extended too far. He had bought a Chemical works at Radebeul and had established a branch office in Klingenthal, Saxony and a Central office in London, England, leaving Carl to handle those 3 establishments in Germany. Carl was older than Otto by about a year but was too complaisant and whatever Otto thought right he carried to the point and heeded not others opinions. And so in 1894 they went bankrupt.

Just in the beginning of that year Otto had realized that the central office in London was a failure and that he was much more needed in Germany. But he had bought a house on Cavendish road in London. In that house May was born. It was in March 93 that Otto came to Germany and not wishing to leave his London office unguarded he sent me to London, although I was only 19 years old then. My task there was rather an ugly one. Mr Russ had lent Otto that money against Bills of acceptance and whenever one of those bills fell due and Otto could not pay them I had to intercede and these affairs upset Mr.Russ very much, also myself. In the summer of 1893 Otto called his wife over to Germany having decided to remain there. His house was sold but the London office was still maintained and I moved to Stockwell and was the only man in the office then. Otto wished me to stay there as many bills were coming due.

About the beginning of Nov.93, Lena sent me a telegram to come to #27 Clifton Hill, Mr.Russ's home and was told after celebrating one of the children's birthday the night before, Mr.Russ had a stroke. Your grandmother, Mrs.Russ, was in Germany at the time with Emily as she had just had a baby (Carl). I was led into his bedroom and found Mr.Russ still living but breathing very heavily. In about of an hour he gave three deep sighs and it was all over. He was the first man I had ever seen die and it shocked me very much.

We wired Mrs.Russ and she came to London immediately. The London office was closed and I returned to Germany, before Xmas. Bankruptcy could not be avoided and Otto and Carl separated. My father gave Otto some money to start up again and also to Carl. Otto was enormously industrious and fought hard to bring his business up again and people had good faith in him but again he undertook too much. He bought an iron foundry at Chemnitz and a lead works in Olderau [?] and also a brick factory at Gablenz and having his smelter and scrap business besides. He used to get up at 4 a.m. in order to call on all places of business and having developed the brick factory to a high standard through the aid of his bankers who had given him a loan of 100000 marks. These bankers wished to get hold of this plant in their own name and called the loan on short notice and Otto was unable to raise the money in the: allotted time and he was declared bankrupt again. (I remember the brick-plant well. Dad modernized it and put up a factory of the latest design. Carl.)

My father had moved to Radebeul in 1894 and I had started business on my own account there in 1898 and so Otto came to Dresden and lived in Oberloesmitz, 0berbergstrasse, which house the older ones of you will still remember. My father gave Otto some money again and having learned from that the scrap rubber business was good he started in the same line in Dresden and later sold bicycles on a rather large scale. This was in 1901. Again he undertook too much and sold bicycles to almost anybody on credit. These were sold on notes which often were not paid when due and his bankers declined to take them above a certain amount. So Otto came to me to help him discount them with my bankers. This went on until 1905 when Otto was forced to declare himself bankrupt for the 3rd time. Then my father could not help him any more as he had lost much money through Otto, Carl and a man named Lorenz who had borrowed heavy against mortgages. ,br>So all he had left was 40000 marks and a state annuity of 2400 marks annually which was just enough with the interest of the 40000 for them to live on. As my sister Liesel and myself had only had a few thousand marks and Carl had 20000 and Otto 50 or 6OOO0 my father wished to leave the rest of his fortune to us three children at his death. So all he could do was to pay the fare for Otto and family to Canada which was about 5000 marks. After that my parents lived very plain and father died Nov.9th 1913 from Apoplexy. He had just come from the garden and wished a neighbour "Good-night" when he dropped dead.

Henrietta Louise MULLER [nee SCHROTH]

Beyond what you already know mother's first husband was named Lessie. They had one daughter who died when she was about 4 years of age and it was very hard for mother to get over that loss. Later she married my father and was a great help to him in business as well as the home. She often travelled for him to see customers and was highly esteemed for her ability. She was a good mother to us especially during sickness. During the last years of her life she suffered a lot from asthma and died on Dec.14.1914. My sister Liesel and myself were with her at the end.

Father also had a brother Julius Muller of whom I know very little.

Mother's great grand father was knighted and had the title of "von Felix".

Carl RUSS

After his childhood at Taucha he had learned the furrier trade at Leipzig. Later on he went to Paris and then to London where he opened a furriers shop at New Bond Str. He made excellent goods and was soon one of the leading furriers of London. I have admired him always and to this day am thankful to him for having given me that polish of education which is so essential in life and which I did not have from my parents, being plain folks.

He was a stout gentlemen and rather stern although kind never the less. He always laid great stress upon good appearance and one of his oft repeated words to me was: "Never forget - a top-hat, a clean collar and clean boots make a gentleman." He had bought a nice house, called Clifton Villa at 27 Clifton Hill, St. John's Wood, N.W. with a fine garden attached to it where in summer we used to sit after luncheon smoking our pipes or cigarettes.

The Russ's lived on a rather grand style and always had 2 female servants. When I came there for the first time at Easter 1890 I was a boy of 16 and was greatly impressed by the style of living of the Russ family. On every Sunday they went to church twice and no meal was served without prayers and saying grace. I was always greatly pleased when he offered me one of his fine Egyptian cigarettes. He gave me many a hint especially valuable for a boy of 16 and was like a second father to me.

In 1892 he retired from business and together with his wife and eldest son Charles made a trip to Vienna, Venice, Budapest and Dresden. It was on this trip that the first symptom of his disordered mind were noticed. After returning to London his condition grew gradually worse ending in his death in 1895. Just as much as I admired Mr. Russ, I worshipped his wife.

Mrs RUSS

To the best of my knowledge she had been a lady-help in his furrier shop at New Bond Str, and. later on Mr. Russ had married her. She must have been a very pretty girl with her sparkling black eyes and curly black hair and her well-developed figure. She was always very well dressed and was a stately woman when I first saw her in 1890. She had surprisingly deep voice and the way she moved about in public and her household and the way she spoke was always impressive and suggested that she came from a very respectable family accustomed to giving orders and to live on a high standard. She always spoke kindly to the servants but a few words from her were sufficient to make the servants obey immediately and always very demurely.

I have never seen her in a temper although by nature she was very lively. I shall never forget how composed she was when we met her at Victoria station on her return from Germany after her husband's death. During those years 1890-2 I had seen how dearly she loved her husband. Her son Charles was with me and she said "What terrible news" and we took a cab home. On arrival there she said "let us have supper first and then I will go, and see my husband." After supper she went to se the corpse and stayed with him an hour or more and although she had shed her tears freely she was quite composed when she returned to her home.

At his death Mr. Russ left his widow the house on Clifton Hill and 10,000 and to each of his children 3500, as near as I can remember.

(The above is a copy of Uncle Fritz's letter made by me. I have omitted some pages which I deemed not important to us. We are all very grateful to him for giving us this information. Carl.)