Crossing the Atlantic

Bremen“Paul Follenius went to sea with the first division under Captain Exter, on the Olbers on March 31, 1834 departing from Bremerhaven. Shortly before, he met with Schmidt and Müller, the two emissaries who were chosen  by the Society during the original meeting in Friedberg and sent to Arkansas half a year ahead to investigate the terrain. They could only advise against it! The climate there was insupportable; the land was boggy and unusable in many places. The best territories were already in the hands of the slave owners.

Follenius immediately sent a message to Muench, St. Louis and not Little Rock, was now to be the new meeting point. Presumably the seductive portrayal by Gottfried Duden was the deciding factor in this situation. In any case, Missouri was now the declared goal for the second division as well.”

The Olbers reached its destination on June 2, 1834 with 354 passengers after a difficult crossing. One passenger, Neyfeld, later wrote that while still near the French coast, disease broke out. It spread so quickly that within two weeks over 30 people had been afflicted with the disease. Fear was widespread, that as they reached New Orleans they would fare even worse when held in quarantine. But worse news came, as they passed ships departing New Orleans, and learned that the cholera epidemic had broke out there.

With the second division, Karl Runckwitz, a bookbinder from Altenburg penned

“Farewell, farewell unto distant shores

You may soon hear, long before,

The call of the land of the free

Farewell unto faraway seas”

The second division had arrived in Bremen, only to learn their ship chartered was not in port, and no one knew what had become of it. Funds would not support a lengthy stay in the city while waiting for a ship, as they were needed for purchasing land in the U.S. and setting up their homesteads. Desperate to keep their group together, their leader Friedrich Muench, was able to negotiate a temporary lodging for his division on the Harriersand Island in the Weser River, near Brake. The “temporary” stay turned into a stay of over five weeks, with dissent breaking out amongst the division. Diaries and reports of Cornelius Schubert, Friedrich Haupt, Friedrich Muench and Gert Goebel give us hints of the events.

Muench was able to secure passage on the Medora,  a ship launched by the Beacham Shipyards in Baltiore in August 1832.  The ship left on June 4, and arrived in Baltimore on captained by David Griffith.

Giessen Emigration Society boarding the Medora at Bremen in July 1834
Giessen Emigration Society boarding the Medora at Bremen in July 1834

Aboard the Medora, Schubert’s diary tells us

“Wednesday July 2, We happened upon such a storm in the night that the waves forced their way into the steerage area and in the same instant, as I wanted to stand up, came such a wave as we had not yet seen, and drowned the whole floor, such that any objects which had fallen to the floor during the night were absolutely soaking wet, including my cap and shoes. The most rearward mattress in the berth was reached and soaked through. The fork upon which the yard is attached to the main mast was broken by the storm’s violence and had to be replaced by a strong rope.”

Utopia - Revisiting a German State in America: the book
Utopia – Revisiting a German State in America: the book

Quotes from the book Utopia – Revisiting a German State in America available in the U.S. from Amazon.

The Utopia container is crossing the Atlantic and the exhibit will soon arrive in the Baltimore harbor!  Join us on September 1, as a German emigrant,  Esther Steinbrecher, and the container arrives at the  Baltimore Immigration Memorial Garden in Locust Point, at the bottom of Hull Street at water’s edge (meeting point) and at the nearby Immigrant House on Beason Street. PDF for more information: Muss I denn in Washington,DC

Advertisements