Friday, February 12, 2010

A Scene From the Love Story of Minnie and Jake

A generous grant from 4Culture is currently funding the digitization and cataloging of several archival collections, include the letters of Minnie Wilson and Jake Schomber, Issaquah residents and sweethearts. The couple corresponded during World War I, when Jake was serving in the Army. This post is part of a series of posts about their lives and letters.

In honor of Valentine's Day, I thought it appropriate to write about one of Issaquah's infamous couples: Minnie and Jake Schomber. During WWI they diligently wrote each other while Jake was in the Army and Minnie remained in Issaquah - and their love letters could put any young couple to shame.

A lot of their story seems like a romance movie, with just the right amount of uplifting moments and missed opportunity. After reading all of Minnie’s letters and currently making my way through Jake’s, there is a moment in the letters that has become my favorite.

Prior to Jake leaving for boot camp, Minnie tried to convince him to marry her – as they were already engaged. Jake hesitated, not wanting to leave behind a wife who, after the war, could be a widow. He left for Camp Lewis (now Fort Lewis) for his first phase of training.

Jake only remained in Camp Lewis for a few weeks, and throughout his entire stay, Minnie pestered him to let her visit. Finally, Jake caved, thinking that his company would remain in Camp Lewis for the duration of their quarantine – of which they had a few more weeks. After getting the go-ahead from Jake, on August 15th Minnie boarded the stage bound for Tacoma.

But, as Minnie’s letter describes, when she arrived at the bus station Jake wasn’t there. She headed to Camp Lewis only to discover that Jake’s company had left the day before - without warning. And as Jake’s hastily scribbled letter on August 14th describes, he doesn’t know where they are going.

It’s hard to imagine this scenario playing out in our lives now. We are all instantly connected by voice or email with our Blackberrys and iPhones. But in the time of Jake and Minnie, this classic movie scene of missed paths is not so unbelievable. What is amazing is the coincidence that a couple of days after Jake allows Minnie to visit, no doubt with the idea to finally marry, the Army decides to move the company.

Jake ended up in Camp Fremont in California and was eventually shipped over to France. He came home safe and sound and married Minnie.
See their marriage certificate here.

You can read a portion of the letters below – Minnie, in all her heartbroken tragedy, writes him one of her longest letters at 12 pages typed. Jake’s hurried apology before he boarded the train is below as well.

(click to enlarge images)

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