The collected letters of Edward, William and Herman Winterer [1884-1890] document the relationships of three brothers in the late 19th century.
Herman Winterer was born on January 1, 1857, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to Otto and Francisca (Kohlifraith) Winterer, both natives of Ellenheim Grand Duchy of Baden, Germany. Otto, a locksmith, relocated his family to Sibley County, Minnesota, in 1858; here Herman took full advantage of every educational opportunity afforded him; it was his ambition to practice law. He taught so he could financially afford to attend high school in Le Sueur, Minnesota, and entered the University of Minnesota in 1877. Herman graduated from the law department of the University of Iowa in the spring of 1883. In the same year, he moved to Valley City, Dakota Territory and, after a few months, entered a practice with Judge Seth Mills, who died soon after. The practice went through a series of changes: Winterer and Ritchie was the first partnership followed by Winterer, Combs, and Ritchie. His younger brother, Edward, later joined him practicing law. Herman served two terms as the State Attorney and was the chairman of the board of the First National Bank. He was also the president of this bank. In 1890 or 1898, Herman was admitted to practice in the United States Supreme Court. He belonged to the State Bar Association, the American Bar Association, and served as the president of the District Bar Association. Herman also was the vice president of the Middle West Fire Insurance Company which managed several real estate properties in the Dakota Territory. He was an active and dedicated member of fraternal societies, belonging to both the Elks and the El Zagal Masonic Lodge. He was also a member of the school board. According to the Minnesota Death Index, Herman died on August 4, 1920, in Otter Tail County, Minnesota. A second source, Great Judges and Lawyers of Early North Dakota, reported that he died in California about 1925.
On January 1, 1887, Herman married Emma A. Myrick (1862-1954); Emma was the daughter of Cyrus Guardner and Margaret (Kuechenmeister) Myrick of Le Sueur, Minnesota. Emma was active in all musical and literary events in Valley City. She was appointed by the Board of Education as one of the first five members of the Library Board; she served as the secretary of the Board for 26 years. As a member of the Tuesday Club, Emma got an Andrew Carnegie grant to build Valley City Public Library. She was a member of both DAR and P.E.O. Both Emma and Herman were active in the congregational Church. The Herman Winterer's had four daughters: Franceska-Mrs. (Lafayette) Fay Knox, Florence Nightingale-Mrs. L.S.B Ritchie, Hermione-Mrs. W. Loring Pierce, and Harriet-Mrs. Ward Olmstead.
Edward Winterer is the primary recipient of the letters. He was the younger brother of Herman and during (most) of the correspondence, he was a student at the University of Minnesota. After he completed his education, he joined Herman's law practice in Valley City, Dakota Territory; Winterer and Winterer was known as a successful and growing law firm. In 1896, Edward succeeded Herman as the state attorney for Barnes County.
William Winterer was the author of the majority of the early letters. William had myriad health problems (later identified as consumption) and had left the Dakota Territory on September 21, 1884 for a "more favorable climate" in (Orange and San Bernardino) California and (Yuma and Tombstone) in the Arizona Territory. He spent the rest of his brief life working various, low-paying jobs between bouts of illness. The last letter sent by William was to his brother, Herman, and dated March 6, 1886. He died in the summer of 1886 in Tombstone, Arizona Territory. In a letter to Edward (dated August 5, 1886), Herman wrote that William "should have been home [when he died]."
Sources: Barnes County History. Dallas: Taylor Publishing Co., 1976. Great Judges and Lawyers of Early North Dakota: Reminiscences of Joseph Addison Montgomery, Clerk of the United States District Court for North Dakota, as Told to and Written by Usher L. Burdick. Williston Plains Reporter, 1956. A History of Foster County. 1983 History of the Red River Valley Past and Present. Grand Forks: C.F. Cooper and Co., 1909
The collection was purchased from Vigilante Rare Documents (owner, Gregory H. Bock) in Fullerton, California; Acc.2003-2622