Of the German-American leaders in Illinois politics none deserves more general recognition than Gustav Koerner. Coming to Illinois in 1833 as a result of the revolutionary uprising in Frankfort, he never lost his affection for his fatherland. Yet he was equally loyal in the service of his adopted country. He insisted always that it was the duty of the German-American to work with his neighbors for the promotion of sound ideals in politics and higher standards of civilization. This attitude won him the respect of the community in which he lived and he held a series of important public appointments. He was successively a member of the legislature, judge of the State Supreme Court, lieutenant governor, and United States minister to Spain.
During his long public career he gained a wide acquaintance among the public men of his time in Illinois and elsewhere. He was an active correspondent and left to his family an interesting collection of letters, some in English and some in German, written by many of his most prominent contemporaries. Through the courtesy of his daughters, Mrs. R. E. Rombauer of St. Louis and Mrs. Henry Engelmann of Lakewood, Ohio, I have been able to present for the annual volume of the transactions a few of the letters written to Koerner in English. The copies were carefully prepared for this purpose by his grand-daughter, Miss Bertha E. Rombauer, of St. Louis.
Brief accounts of Koerner's life may be found in Ratterman, Gustav Koerner, Ein Lebensbild; in the Illinois Historical Society's Transactions, 1904 (article by R. E. Rombauer); in Deutsch-Amerikanische Geschichtsblätter, April, 1907, (article by E. B. Greene); also in Koerner's Deutsche Element, Chicago, 1884. Koerner's autobiography, which contains much matter of great interest, still remains unpublished.
EVARTS B. GREENE.
Letter from W. H. Bissell.
CAMP AT BUENAVISTA, MEX., April 25, 1847.
FRIEND KOERNER. —
Our mail is just closing and I have but a few moments in which to write. I have just returned from town (our camp is 5 miles distant from it) where I went expressly to see Adolphus. He was severely wounded and has suffered severely in consequence. Indeed, he has
237suffered a dozen deaths — but he is greatly improved within the last week. There is not the least doubt of his recovery — nor is there any reason to fear the loss of his arm, the joints of which he can move quite freely even now. He is much reduced, but he is in fine spirits, has a good appetite and is gaining strength every day.
We expect to start about 4 weeks from this time for home — but you need hardly expect to see us till the 10th or 15th July. We shall have no more fighting here. Adolphus will be able to accompany us home — and you may rest assured that I shall not come without him. He acted nobly upon the battle field. Col. Morrison has left us for home. He first went to Monterey for the benefit of the warm springs there (having the rheumatism) from thence he started for home as we have just learned. He got leave of absence from Gen. Taylor at Monterey. He will tell you the news.
This makes the 4th letter I have written you from Mexico — two of which were very long ones — and I have never received a line from you since leaving the U. States. Adolphus tells me that you say you have written to me. I have never got your letter. Wish I had. For I am as ignorant of everything which has transpired in Ill. as if I had been in the moon all this time. I have written several times to Mr. Kinney — and if he has taken the trouble to answer any of my letters, I am ignorant of it. I will not judge harshly, however, for I well know the difficulty and uncertainty of all communication between us. You cannot imagine how I long to be on the circuit.
Errors etc. etc. must be overlooked for I have been allowed but about one minute to write this scrawl.
W. H. BISSELL.