Bertha Hoffman Junker Moon was born in Bavaria, Germany, in 1892. Her home was in Bonne, and she was one of five children. As she used to say, “A brother and sister older than I, and a brother and sister younger”. They were all six footers too --- only I was the short one.” This was explainable since Bertha was born crippled in both legs. After years of painful operations, doctors were able to straighten the legs and a normal growth pattern developed. She never, however, grew above four feet, ten inches tall.When she graduated from High School, she requested from her friends and relations, money gifts instead of the usual trinkets a girl wants because she wanted to come to America to visit. Her father, a wealthy man in his own right, who owned much land and vineyards, was skeptical of this request. Her mother had died when she was but three years of age. Furthermore, only a year before, the “titanic” has sunk. However, even then, when Bertha made up her mind to do something, it was usually accomplished. So it was agreed that she should come to America, and travel for one year. After that, she was to return and take up her studies at the University of Berlin.
Being a very tiny person, she drew attention to herself, traveling alone. In New York, the authorities held her at Staten Island until confirmation could be gotten from her father that he knew of her whereabouts. Of course, everything was cleared up quickly, and she got accommodations at the Y.W.C.A.
Not long after that, she met Paul Matthew Junker. They were married, but five months before their baby was born, Paul was robbed and murdered while on his way home from work. This left Bertha entirely alone. By now, War had been declared (1914) with Germany, so there could be no correspondence with her home. She could neither read nor write the English language, and a baby to support.
With a determined spirit, she set out to do what had to be done. She got employment, learned to read and write, raised and educated the baby, and for eleven years, lived a pretty normal life, always striving to learn more, and be helpful to her fellow man. She was never too busy to help someone in need and kept little for herself. Her greatest ambition was to educate her little girl and help her to be a good citizen and take her rightful place in society.
It was while she was employed in an orphanage, taking care of babies, that she met Carl Moon. She learned that he had six children in the orphanage, and three of them were babies in her own care. Mr. Moon’s wife had died when the youngest baby was born. He was a southern farmer and had a small farm in Georgia. Not being able to make a living for his large family there, he came to Kentucky, where he got employment with the railroad.
There was nothing for him to do, but put the children in the orphanage, and try to pay for their upkeep. Visiting day at the orphanage was Sunday. Bertha’s heart went out to these motherless children, and she became acquainted with Mr. Moon during his weekly visits.
By now, Bertha was in contact with her family in Germany, and it was all planned, that the following year, she was to come home and bring her daughter, whom they had only seen by photographs. How eager they were for her coming, but when she wrote her father, saying that she was going to marry a man with six children, and this would probably end all that had been planned, her father cut off all connections. He was furious, and never wrote to her again. Letters became fewer to and from relations, and finally, not at all.
So Carl Moon and Bertha were married. Together, they made a new home for his children, and a year later, they had a son of their own, called Bernard Paul Moon.
When World War II came along, the four Moon Sons went into service. The fifth son, Bernard could hardly wait to be seventeen, so he could enlist.
John, the oldest son went into the Sea Bees and is last known to be in an institution in Tennessee.
The Next oldest boy, Carl Jr. served in the Army Medical Corps, and now lives with his wife and two daughters in Mt. Healthy, Ohio.
Next was Calvin. He served in the Army Signal Corps, but he was killed when landing in Germany. He left a wife and daughter, now living near Tampa, Florida.
The next was Clyde. He served in the Navy during the war, and was injured by shrapnel, but recovered. He later married, and moved to California.
The youngest child, Bernard, was killed while serving in the Navy, at seventeen years of age. This was a very hard blow for Bertha to take. She adored this child. He received The Purple Heart and other honorable recognitions, but no amount of consolation, on the part of the Navy personnel could quite erase this loss for her.
She soon delved, headstrong into community work, Girl Scout work, International Denomination of King’s Daughters and Sons (where she held several high ranking offices); Church work, school activities, and wherever she felt she was needed. This I think was the key to her life, to be needed.
Carl Moon Sr. died in January 1947. Bertha Moon died November 15, 1961. They are buried side by side in the Cemetery of Independence. She loved that town. All her fondest memories in later life were centered there. She had many friends, and I’m sure she will be remembered by all in this generation, and perhaps, a few in the next.
This article was written by Bertha Moon’s own daughter, Ella Mae Junker Crow. This is the way my mother told it to me over the years, with, perhaps, a few personal comments added. I am grateful for the recognition given her by The American Legion in Independence. I am sure that many years ago when she received her citizenship into this country, she never dreamed that she would have a part in this great organization. For all this, I humbly thank you.
Ella Mae Junker Crow
July 26, 1962
Mrs. Carl Moon has been the backbone of our auxiliary from the very beginning. She held Child Welfare and Community Service Chairmanships continually. She was always there when needed by the needy. She participated, actively in every fundraising project we endeavored. She was twice a “Gold Star Mother”, and the Post is her namesake. She didn’t care to hold an office, but instead, worked diligently to aid the officers. She never refused to help anyone. We all dearly loved and admired Mrs. Carl Moon.
Ethel Barhorst, Secretary The American Legion Auxiliary Unit 275 Independence, KY