Tuesday, October 4, 2016

April 1&2, 1941: The Affidavit, Is It Good Enough?

Letter from President of McPherson & Citizens State Bank to American Consul in Berlin, Germany


The McPherson & Citizens State Bank
Capital and Surplus $170,000.00
McPherson, Kan.

April 1, 1941.

The American Counsel,
Berlin, Germany.

Dear Sirs

Mr. and Mrs. Wilson G. Shelley (Mrs. Blanche) are responsible customers of ours, have been for many years. They reside on their land close to McPherson, Kansas.

Any statements that they make to you on the application for the support of Mrs. Ella Doeppner, we know that you can rely upon.

Yours very truly,


(I couldn't decipher the signature.)

Affidavit (confirming Shelley's ownership of land) 


State of Kansas )
               Affidavit in RE:
          Matter of support of Ella Doppner
McPherson County )

Milton Hawkinson, being first duly sworn according to law deposes and says, that he has been a resident of McPherson County, Kansas for more than 50 years last past; That he has known Blanche Beatrice Shelley for more than twenty years last past; That the said Blanche Beatrice Shelley is the wife of Wilson G. Shelly whom this affiant has also known for more than 20 years last past; That this affiant is now engaged in the business of abstracting of land titles in McPherson County, Kansas and has so been engaged for more than 25 years last past; That this affiant knows that the said Wilson G. Shelley is the owner of two hundred (200) acres of farm land adjoining the City of McPherson, Kansas, which affiant knows is clear and free from encumbrance; That the said farm of Wilson G. Shelley is generally know as a good farm in an excellent farming community.

Affiant further states, that Blanche Beatrice Shelley and Wilson G. Shelley, her husband are absolutely responsible persons and affiant knows them personally to be the type of people that can be depended on to fulfill any agreement they undertake; That they are good American Citizens and the type that will care for anyone entrusted to them.

That the Shelley's are careful and thrifty folks and the kind that their financial status is not liable to change over a period of many years to come.

That this affiant has no personal interest in making this affidavit other than to supply information for those interested in the facts set forth herein of which this affiant believes he has personal knowledge.

Further affiant saith not. 
               Milton Hawkinson
Subscribed and sworn to before me this 1st day of April, 1941.
                       Notary Public. 
My Commission expires June 12, 1941.

Letter from Blanche Shelley to American Consul General in Berlin, Germany


The Consul General of the
United States of America

My dear Sir:

Although not personally acquainted with Mrs. Ella J. Doeppner, we think of her as our friend because her son Thomas has become practically as dear to us as if he were our own son. Thomas Doeppner is a junior at McPherson College and has been a frequent guest in our home during the past two college years. Besides this he stayed with us the greater part of last summer's vacation, working wherever most needed, either on the farm or in the house and fitting into our home life so nicely that we grew to love him dearly. He has told us much about his mother and we have had a little correspondence with her. For these reasons my husband William G. Shelley and I are glad to invite Mrs. Doeppner to make our home her home while she is establishing citizenship and finding employment.

Mrs. Doeppner knows the German, French, English, Hebrew, and Russian languages; with the aid of refugee committees it will be easy to find employment for her as tutor or translator or something of that sort.

If Mrs. Doeppner secures employment which requires residence elsewhere but provides insufficient income for her support, I will supplement said income with such part of the interest on the $6,000.00 (about $200 yearly) as may be needed. This pledge to be good until Thomas, having graduated and secured a job, is able to support his mother or if necessary until she has had time to establish citizenship.

As stated in the affidavit of support, our own maintenance comes from the income of our 200 acre farm which is without encumbrance. We also do not have any other debts. While Mrs. Doeppner is with us, her maintenance will come in part from the farm income, or if necessary from the sale of some of the bonds. These bonds were inherited from my mother who died in 1939 and are therefore in addition to our previous means of support.

Hoping that our plans for the support of Mrs. Doeppner in the United States will meet with your approval, I am

very truly yours,

Mrs. Blanche B. Shelley

Subscribed and sworn to before me Harold N. Tolle, a Notary Public, in and for the County of McPherson, State of Kansas, U.S.A. this 2nd day of April 1941.
Notary Public
My Commission expires January 28 1943

Offical Affidavit Form for Ella by Shelley's


United States of America
Affidavit of Support

State of Kansas
County of McPherson
(1) I Blanche Beatrice Shelley being duly sworn, depose and say:
(2) That I am 54 years of age and was born at Woodston, Kansas
(3) The my present address is Rural Route 1, Box 82 Street, City of McPherson, County of McPherson, State of Kansas
(4) That I have resided in the United States for the past __ years having been legally admitted for permanent residence at the port (station of) __---__ (month, day, year); holding American Consular Visa No. _---_ issued by American Consul at __---___ on _--_
(5) That I am a citizen of the United States by birth or holding Certificate of Naturalization No. _---_ Issued by ___Court at __ on (month)(day)(year)
(6) That I have declared my intention to become a citizen of the United States and hold Declaration of Intention Certificate No. __ Issued at __ on (month)(day)(year)
(7) That it is my intention and desire to have the following Friend (X) at present residing at ___ come to the United States for a temporary visit not to exceed __ months and that I am able and willing to furnish a bond of $500 to the United States Immigration Authorities to insure (his)(Her)(their) departure at the expiration of such period should bond be required.

Name of Alien/Age/Sex/Relationship/Place and Date of Birth
Doeppner, Ella Judith, 51, Fem., friend, Gustrow, Germany, 8-4-1889

Special remarks: Neither myself nor any member of my family is dependent upon the amount listed under (11), because our maintenance comes from the income of my husband's form of 200 acres, located in McPherson township.

(9) That my husband's occupation is Farmer; that my (his) average weekly earnings are $__. Bank Account: $___
(10) That I possess property aggregating: Real Estate $__, Mortgages on real estate $__;
(11) Cash value insurance, mortgages, stocks and bonds, etc. __MS Bonds $5500. Coffer Pub Co. bonds__$500__. Total $-__$6000__
(12) That my dependents consist of _none_
(13) That I hereby agree and guarantee to send to school those herein named who have not reached the age of sixteen, and that they shall be kept at school until they have reached such an age, and that no aliens herein named shall be placed at work unsuitable to their years.
(14) That I am willing and able to receive, maintain and support all those herein mentioned, and do hereby guarantee to save harmless the United States or any State, city, village or township thereof against any aliens mentioned becoming a public charge.
(15) That this affidavit is made by me for the information of the American Consul in connection with the application for visas filed by the above mentioned aliens and for the information of the immigration Authorities at the port of arrival in the United States, and I do solemnly swear that the facts stated herein are true to the best of my knowledge and belief.

Mrs. Blanche Beatrice Shelley

Subscribed and sworn to before me, a Notary Public in and for said County on this 1 Day of April, A.D. 1941 (signed)
My Commission expires 3/17/45

(PAGE 2)

In this document the relative must show his income, what his obligations are, how many persons he has to support, his net cash assets, such as bank balance, cash value of stocks, bonds or insurance policies, value of real estate, mortgages, etc. Some consuls require special affidavits in which the affiants set down income or resources, expenses and other obligations, the net remainder of savings and what amount of these savings the affiant is willing to contribute for the support of the immigrant, for how long a period the affiant is willing to make this contribution and the reason why he is willing to assume this responsibility.


Often affidavits from friends of prospective passengers are given careful consideration by the Consul provided the affiants indicate the reason why they are willing to guarantee support, namely, friends from childhood, or girl friend of wife from childhood, etc.



If employed, a notarized letter from employer, on business stationary is required. This letter must show length of employment, whether employment is of permanent nature, also amount of weekly wages received.
If the affiant is in business, in that event, a Dun and Bradstreet individual report Form No. 98 is required showing income for the past year. Income can also be certified by a public accountant who must prepare a statement showing assets, liabilities, and income for the year preceding the date appearing on the affidavit of support.
Copies or photostat copies of income tax returns, for the past two years showing amount of income tax paid for each fiscal year, preceding date appearing on the Affidavit of Support, and photostatic copies of both sides of the checks or tax receipts used in payment of the tax.


A motorized bank letter is required showing deposits and withdrawals for the past twelve months. If the affiant has any difficulty in securing such a letter photostat copies of the bank book is satisfactory. The American Consul in Czechoslovakia requires transcripts of bank accounts for the past two years.


Current tax receipts or photostat copies, should be forwarded as proof of real estate ownership; mention should be made whether or not it is unencumbered. If mortgaged, the amount of mortgage should be stated.
Photostat copies of mortgages should be forwarded.
Letter from insurance companies should show the cash surrender value of insurance policies.
Letter from broker should indicate current value of stocks and bonds.

Very often American Consuls require proof showing relationship of the affiant to the prospective passenger. This can be provided through birth and marriage certificates of the affiant.


When affiants making out affidavits are not yet American citizens, many Consuls require that they prepare and file form 575 to show that they were legally admitted into the United States. This form was originally prepared for the wife or minor children of an alien resident, but its use has spread to other relatives.
Often a personal letter from the affiant, addressed to the American Consul is helpful. In this letter the affiant should review his financial status, showing his income, obligations, or expenses, the net amount remaining, and what sum he is willing to contribute to the support of the immigrant and why he is willing to do this.


Petition form 633 must be prepared in duplicate and should be filed with the commissioner General of Immigration, Washington, D.C., when American citizens wish to send for wife, husband, minor children or parents.

Letter from Mayor affirming Shelley's character, addressed to American Consul in Berlin, Germany


McPherson, Kansas

                                April 2, 1941

The American Consul
Berlin, Germany

My dear sir:

Mrs. Blanche Shelley and Mr. Wilson G. shelley are well known to me, and have been close friends for several years. They have resided for many years on their farm close to McPherson. It is probably as good a farm as there is in the county. They are good, substantial people, and have no bad habits. They are of very high character, honest, and industrious.

I consider Mr. and Mrs. Shelley fully dependable, and any statements they make to you on their application for the support of Mrs. Ella Doeppner will be fully complied with.

Yours sincerely,

C.E. Boos, Mayor

The Consul General of the United States of America, Berlin, Germany

Dear Sir:
Mr. Tom Doeppner of Germany has been a student in McPherson College during the past year and a half. We have found Mr. Doeppner a young man of the finest type of character. He is industrious, intelligent, cooperative and in every way almost an ideal student. 

Mr. Wilson G. Shelley and his wife, Blanche B. Shelley are interested in providing a home for Tom Doeppner's Mother. Judging from what I know of Tom and what I have been able to learn about Tom's Mother I feel certain that Mrs. Doeppner would be a desirable person and would make a worthy American citizen.

This letter is also to certify that I know Mr. Wilson G and Mrs. Blanche B. Shelley personally. They reside very near our college on a farm just outside the city of McPherson. They have had their son in our college for the past four years and I have had repeated occasion to meet them. 

Mr. and Mrs. Shelley are good, upright, honest people, thoroughly reliable and dependable. They are trustworthy and will fulfill the pledges they make. 

Yours very truly,
V.F. Schwalm

Miss Annelise Thieman
20 S. 12th St.
Re. Ella Doeppner - #3340

Dear Miss Thieman,

    Enclosed you find the affidavit I was writing about. It has been giving to me by Mrs. Shelley, the wife of the farmer, for she owns 6000 dollars in bonds which are, as you see from the affidavit, additionally to their means of maintenance.

   The letter from Mr. Milton Hawkinson has been written instead of a photostatic copy of the tax receipt, because they would have had to send the receipt to Kansas City for this purpose. Since Mr. Hawkinson is abstracter, I believe, this letter will do.

    I would be glad if you would look these papers over and send them to Berlin, or whatever is necessary. I keep looking for additional affidavits.

   I am in touch with Mrs. Kathleen Hambly Hanstein of your committee in regard to my visa. I am considering a trip to Cuba, but I doubt whether I shall be able to do it, because I do not have the necessary money.

   Thank you again very much for all your help. Please let me know if there is anything else to do for me besides looking for other affidavits.

Sincerely yours,
Thomas Doeppner

Whew- I hope you got through all those- please do read it because it gives us a real glimpse of the nuts and bolts of what it meant to provide an affidavit. It was a lot of work! Here's the kicker- they aren't even sure it'll work. I was reading over this and so many things came to my mind. First-  the Shelley's main job in this affidavit is to convince the American Consul that they are capable and willing to provide and care for one woman. One. Not a family, not children, ONE woman. And the AFSC is concerned that they may not be strong enough. What in the world was expected?!?! 

The Shelley's have 200 acres of farm that has survived the dust bowl. We know they more than survived because they are still there, and because they have NO debt. They own the land (my guess is the land was homesteaded), they have made a living off of it, and all accounts have attested it is a good farm. They have no debt, and they have no dependents. They sort of fail to mention their son, but President  Schwalm does. Their son, Hubert, has graduated from college and is on his own. (We'll chat a little more about Hubert later- Opa had a really neat relationship with him.) Mrs. Shelley has inherited a total of $6000 in bonds, which Opa mentions in his autobiography. I've quoted it before, but I'll do it again here now that we have better context for it:

There were some friends who tried to help: the parents of one of my fellow students in Kansas, Wilson and Blanche Shelley, offered to have her live with them on their large farm, and in addition would provide $5,000 from their savings, which was a lot of money in those days.
So Opa wasn't perfectly accurate in his memory- the $6,000 were in bonds, which had about $200 yearly interest that they were willing to contribute to Ella's salary if she was unable to make a full living. However, in the affidavit they also mentioned a willingness to sell the bonds completely in order to provide for her. So in essence, what Opa said was about right in concept. This helped me understand why Blanche Shelley was the official affiant; because she was the one who had inherited these bonds, which were above and beyond their regular income from the farm. 

I know that American finances look very different right now- but I am pretty sure that someone without debt, with a 200 acre farm, a house, and with money in the bank, are able to take care of one woman, who is technically "elderly" and not expected to live more than ten more years. What on earth do the American Consuls need?!

Oh- how about a letter from the bank, a letter from the guy who is the abstracter of the land (he can tell the government if they really own the land), a letter from the mayor, and a letter from the President of the College that borders their farm? ALL of those people have known the Shelley's personally, some for nearly 40 years, and all of them say the same thing: these are good people.

If I were Opa- this would make me so hopeful- it seems so solid! He knows the caution by the AFSC to keep looking for more affidavits, so he's continuing on. He also is trying to figure out his own visa situation and pretends to consider going to Cuba, though I'm pretty sure everyone is clear he isn't going.

If you had to guarantee your life here in America would not be a burden on the state- how difficult would it be by these standards?

1 comment:

  1. How in the world did Tom ever have enough time for his studies, letter writing, research, working in the library and on the farm and securing documentation necessary for Ella. He was truly an "industrious" young man. Very impressive. It is easy to see how proud of him you are and this is as it should be.


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