Old Family Letters     

Sr. Sigmunda to David Nieland, 18 March 1965
Sr. Simunda an David A. Nieland, 18. März 1965

This letter is from the collection of David Nieland. It was apparently written by Sr. Sigmunda (Mary Magdalene Nieland, 1892-1972) after David had sent her a draft of his family tree book for proof reading. Stammbaum der Famile Nieland was published the same year. In the letter she mentions David's father Louis Nieland (1901-1985), her parents Henry Nieland (1854-1949) and Anna (Koester) Nieland (1863-1933), and her older sister, Catherine Nieland (1885-1889), who died at the age of three. She also makes reference to David's German cousin Josefa Nieland (1907-1982), who helped him with his genealogy research in Germany.

Marycliff Convent
West 815 Seventh Avenue
Spokane 4, Washington

March 18, 1965

Dear David,

You did a very good job on translating the baptismal record. On page 3 the spelling is Dülmann – it could be in English Duelman as Uncle Hoebing used to be spelled “Höbing.”

The family name, Nieland has suffered no where. It is remarkable. (See note 1 ) It was interesting to note the repetition of given names. Louis might like to know that father suggested Ludger for him. Did you note that name? Mother prevailed with Louis and B.C. Nieland, god parents, suggested Christopher. I heard it.  May I suggest that in the preface you change “individual” to “man” or “person?”  To me it would suggest closer or warmer feeling.

About Catherine who died early. Mother had a decided phobia for death. The coffin had been placed in the bedroom and for months mother could not sleep downstairs. She told me this instance. I can understand this because some things appall me, also.

Father was a noble character. Honest to a fault, sincere, fearless — “Do right and fear no man.” Religious: When mother died, his reaction was expressed in, “What God does (or permits) is well done.” The German he used is better and more expressive. (See note 2)

I have practically guarded your pages with my life. I needed only to think of the hours that were spent by Josefa and by you. The envelope will be mailed as educational material and be insured or registered.

The Dominican Sister on our faculty is German born. During Hitler’s purge of Jews, and of their descendants, her family traced their ancestry to the 10th century. No Jewish blood could be traced.

It is most edifying to note on Josefa’s pages that the Catholic faith was preserved. Both parents were fortunate to live in an area ruled by Catholic princes. It was the time when rulers determined the faith of their subjects. Luther’s faith filtered through many areas of Germany. We have much to be grateful for. (See note 3)

You recall what Eichman, the master-mind of the purge repeated in self-defense: Orders are orders (Befehl ist Befehl). He valued his life, too.

Recently a book in German was handed me. It traced the Catholic faith and living in beautiful strong German. It truly celebrated the faith and accomplishments of the German Catholics. The German was exquisite — but the almost stubborn German methods, “dare and do” is truly predominant. But they did work for and with the Church.

Excuse me this comes from my pen — almost inadvertently. I’ll close as my father did always abruptly,


Sister M. Sigmunda

Click image to enlarge


1) We have found several variations of spelling for the Nieland surname in the early records, including Nilandt, Nilandes, Niland or Nilant, and later Nieland.
2) Henry probably used the phrase, "Was Gott tut, das ist wohlgetan."
3) Our research has shown that in earlier times, when our Nieland ancestors lived in Gemen, the local nobility was protestant and so we find the Nieland birth, marriage and death records in the Evangelical-Lutheran church books.


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