For some time I have been planning to write a story to go with my legacy, which is a little German book, "Pilgrim's Progress", which was given to my grandfather, Christian Hartman, who was born in Brunswick (Braunschweig?), Germany, August 26, 1803. As today is August 26, 1931, the one hundredth and twenty-eighth anniversary of his birth, I have decided to celebrate his honorable birthday by beginning to write about him such doings as I have heard from his daughter, Wilhelmina Hartman, who was my mother, Wilhelmina Moeller.
Second Part of the story
Click to go to Part 1 or Part 3 or Part 4
The entire family agreed to save all they possibly could of their meager earnings in order to accomplish their desire of finding a new home in a new country. Thus, each one denied many luxuries and worked willingly with the one great goal in view. Now word was received, that some friends of the Hartman family, by the name of Sanders, had decided to go to America as soon as they could arrange for their passports and transportation. This family consisted of a young man, his wife a small child, perhaps a year old or less. Wilhelmina counted her savings, as it could be arranged that she could share their cabin on the ship and in this way lessens the expense of the trip for all. She found her little bank did not contain enough, as she must not only pay her transportation on the ship but also have a stated amount of cash with her when she arrived in America. There remained still some time before the ship would sail. She labored longer hours and sewed faster than she ever. She, as a last resort, decided to put on a sale, selling everything she could spare, which included many yards of linen material for which she had spun the flax into threads herself and then taking it to the weaver it was woven into cloth for various uses. Her clothing also was carefully sorted over and various trinkets as well as bedding. In this manner she reduced her belongings to what one large chest and a trunk could accommodate.
Now the little village of Oathfrasen buzzed with the news. Wilhelmina Hartman would accompany the Sanders family to America. She was 25 years old when she came to the U.S.A. Many were the friends and neighbors that came to wish her a safe voyage and a happy and prosperous home in the new country. Some brought small gifts of remembrance and asked her to write to them. One of the gifts she received was a beautiful sewing box from her brother which she kept many years. It had been equipped with needles, thimble, and a small pair of scissors, pins, and a small carved bone cylinder in which to care for loose needles, after they were taken out of their original packages. The box itself was about the size of the ordinary cigar box of our day and was beautifully decorated. It finally fell to pieces after many years of use, and also being handled by the many small hands of her children. The small bone cylinder no doubt still exists, as Wilhelmina gave it to her daughter Lydia, who took it to Canada. It no doubt has been handed down to one of her two daughters.
At last the day for their departure came, many were the sad farewells. How little could these young immigrants know what this, their great adventure would bring. With stout hearts they set out, determined to do their best, to find their place in the New World. They left Othfrasen, Hanover (Hannover), traveling over land, but I cannot say whether by wagon or train, till they reached the river Elba (Elbe). Then in a small boat, were carried down stream to Hamburg, and there were transferred to a large sea going sailing ship. Their bags and baggage were all stowed away in the cabin or room that they occupied as living quarters.
Sometimes the ship would rock so badly as to tip the tables enough to spill all the food in the laps of those sitting on the down side of the table. That meal was lost to all that were at the table. Some stood up and held their plates and cups in their hands. They were the only ones that had food that meal. Meals were served in the large dining room to such as were able to sit at the table and eat. Drinking water was rationed out, one quart in 24 hours to each adult. For a few hours all went well, to begin with the waters were reasonably calm though, there was breeze enough to propel the ship rather slowly out of sight of land. Then many of the passengers began to be ill, Mrs. Sanders being one of those most seriously affected. The seasickness struck her so suddenly and so seriously she could not remove her wearing apparel for days. In fact, that dear lady was bedfast all the way over. It was well that Wilhelmina occupied the cabin with them for their sakes as there was the small child to be constantly cared for and she loved children and did enjoy caring for the child.
Wilhelmina seemed to thrive on the voyage as she had no seasickness at all during the entire journey and she gladly did whatever she could for the help and comfort of those less. Sometimes the sea would become very rough. Passengers on deck, not thinking the waves could reach them, would be suddenly drenched by a great wave and return to their cabins weighed down and drooping over from the deluge. This had happened to Mr. Sanders one day and Wilhelmina had a good laugh at the comical aspect she beheld as he entered the cabin, but the next day when she, with the child in her arms, got a drenching he had his turn to laugh at her. At times they would see a school of whales spouting water that looked like many fountains out in the deep. They encountered some small storms, but not severe enough to damage their ship.
When nearly across the Atlantic Ocean smallpox broke out on the ship and everyone had to be vaccinated, and on reaching Ellis Island the ship with it's entire cargo was held in quarantine until all danger of transmitting the dreadful disease was over. All passengers were fumigated and landed safely in New York. Many of the passengers had made friends on the long journey which had taken six weeks to accomplish, but now each person or family must go their way and face their own problems, and if not better fortified, earn their own living.
What a great land this seemed to Wilhelmina, and strange indeed, for she could speak only German. On board ship she had met a man who had been in the U.S.A. before, and he had entertained groups of passengers telling them about how people lived here; how women here needed little more than an hour to prepare a full meal, bread and all. This seemed impossible to these people who knew nothing of baking powders and soda and quick baking ovens. It seemed little less than miraculous. Then he told how, with work quickly done, they visited with neighbors. As they sat in rocking chairs and rocking to and fro seemed to be nodding to each other continually.
As they had met a ship on the high seas they had been hailed, halted for communications, which seemed to be a custom in those days. They obtained fresh fruits and vegetables among were some fine ripe tomatoes, the first of these that those German passengers had ever seen. They thought them very beautiful and as they were called 'love apples' they were very anxious to taste them. On biting into them they were badly disappointed and wondered how anything so pretty could taste so bad. This was also a good chance to send mail back home to let the dear ones know that to that date they were all safe from harm.
Now that they had safely landed, and all passed inspection, the next thing was to find employment. I do not know whether through agencies, or in what way, jobs were obtained, but if I remember correctly, Wilhelmina's first position was in New York City. She could not speak or understand English and none of the family for whom she worked could speak German. What an awful plight this was! She learned American cookery and liked to do house work this new way. She had known how to mix and make good yeast breads and sweets, but now she learned to use baking powder and soda and also to use the oven. The Mrs. was kind and patient and took an interest in the young woman, teaching her gently, and soon she had learned many words, mostly names of objects, but found it quite difficult to make herself understood. With a great determination to master her difficulties she succeeded.
Her next work, as I remember, was in Le Claire, Iowa. While still living in Le Claire she found a German Baptist Church. This was a consolation to her. When she could attend she heard her native tongue used and found friendly people with whom she could communicate freely. Heretofore she had been so very lonely and homesick for her family and friends. Sometimes she would think she could bear it no longer. Then she, in her mind would say, "I cannot go today, but tomorrow I am going home. Yes! I'll go tomorrow!" But when tomorrow came it was the same thing over again until at last, now that she had found a German congregation, she felt somewhat encouraged and soon found friends here also.
In some way she met a young man from Muscatine, Iowa. His name was Fred Holtz. He was also a German and a Baptist. He was born in Macklenburg, Germany. His mother had died and he and his father were living alone. He clerked in a store in Muscatine, Iowa and had a brother and sisters living near there also. I do not remember definitely about their courtship, but hope to find out something later if possible. I do know they were married and lived in Muscatine. His father lived with them. They were very happy and to them two little girls were born. Lena Lucy Holtz was born May 28, 1860 and Lucy Rebecca Holtz, June 17, 1862.
Time sped quickly by for them until our nation entered the Civil War. Mr. Holtz being a naturalized citizen had learned to love the country in which he lived. He volunteered and joined the Army. He came to America in 1850. His name, Fred Holtz, 35th Infantry, is now recorded on a monument erected by the Woman's Relief Corp, dedicated July 4, 1875 and rededicated on July 4, 1925. Fred Holtz died in 1865 at Cairo, Illinois, in service, of dysentery. His request in some of his last letters was to bring his body home if they saw fit, but if the cost of bringing him back to bury would amount to more than $100 for them not to do so. He was buried in a soldier's grave in Cairo, Ill. We also found the name of Charles Mockmore on this monument. Boardman Mockmore's father had also belonged to the 35th Infantry.
Before Wilhelmina left Germany she had agreed with her parents
to write them all about America, in order that they might know
conditions here and what their chances would be to come and establish
homes here also. As they were all intending to leave Germany and
go to some new country where they felt they would have greater
freedom and better living conditions in general. She faithfully
kept her promise. Telling them the drawbacks as she saw them,
as well as the advantages. This time being just before the Civil
War when conditions were not so good here.
(Second Part of the Story from
the writings of Elizabeth Griffith, daughter of Wilhelmina &
Charles MOELLER, entitled "From Then Till Now")
Typed by Sharron (Wetmore) Dexter
I would be interested to hear from anyone who has any information or photgraphs on any of these families. You can write to me at . <jvbryant at halenet dot com dot au>.
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