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The translated letter is here! It seems that French wasn’t the writer’s language. She also used punctuation sparingly, making the translation even more of a challenge. I keep looking at bits and pieces to determine if I can find more clues, reading between the lines. The letter was written in 1929 and sent to my great grandmother Clemence Mary Defruytier Van Houtte who was born in 1871 in Belgium.  The letter is from a young woman named Zoe that I am guessing married her brother’s son. It was addressed to just Clemence and her children because she was seperated from her husband, my great grandfather at the time.

Dear Aunt and cousins,


How is your health since I last wrote you? Since then, I will tell you that this last year I have had many sorrows and troubles and to make it worse I lost my poor mother who I did not know was sick. They wrote me and told me she had died and I could not go to see her. This has been very hard for me. I have had a very difficult year with lots of sorrow, but finally you have to take heart because I still have my son who expects me to provide him with bread. I hope that you will send me news of how you are doing though it has been so long since I have written you. I hope that you aren’t too mad at me because I have wanted to write you since January to send you my good wishes but I have been recovering from an illness. I caught a [the illness is not legible] and the flu from which I still have points of pain in my back and in my chest, but I believe that I’m starting to feel better now and I have to tell you that I have moved. I’m the door person in a new house that is 7 stories. I’m starting to return to myself a bit. Tell me if you would like to have a photo from Madeleine’s wedding. I can send it to you through return mail. You’ll see the whole family, so tell me. Tell me, my dears, if there have been any marriages and your updates, I will be so happy to hear of them. I have to tell you that Madeleine is in Rades. Here is the address: Mr. and Mrs. Guillot Laubin Cottage, Kulsek Mascula Rades, Tunisia. If you can go see them you can tell me if they are doing well. She writes me that everything is still going very well but, Cousin, it is always going well when health is good and work too this is what is best when health is good. This is all for the moment, my husband is doing well, my son too, it’s me who is starting to do better. We’re hoping that I get better and better. Your niece, who thinks often of you all and who hasn’t found the time to write you because of my worries about my daughter and my sadness and all. Please tell me if we are going to see you this year if you do decide to come to France, because I would really like to see you and to talk to you. It would make me so happy. Finally, I will wait for your response for the photo and to know if anyone is sick because I believe that this letter will find you and the family in good health and tell me if you son is still far from you. My husband, my son join me in sending you kisses from afar.


your niece and nephew Zoe Lambin Defruytier Rue Valceck Rousseau 36 Lyon Rhone 

I found a photo of what I believe to be the Madeleine mentioned in the letter. Madeleine, from what the letter states, moved to Tunisia in North Africa in 1929 after her marriage to Guillot. I am also assuming that her husband’s name was Guillot Laubin and that Cottage referrers to where they were living and not a last name. Once again the lack of punctuation leaves me puzzled.



Her photo has writing on the back which I can make out the signature as Madeleine. I am not sure if the person writing the letter is Zoe Lambin Defruytier or if it is Zoe and Lambin Defruytier. Punctuation would have been a big help here.



Zoe mentions that Clemence’s son has moved away. From census records that only son that would have been at any distance would Be John Van Houtte, he was living about 90 miles from where Clemence was living at the time.


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