Emigration paths into the USA

Emigration ship "Allemania "
Emigration ship "Allemania "
Typical emigration ports

The emigration from Wuerttemberg happened mostly via the following ports: Le Havre (France),  Antwerp (Belgium), Rotterdam (Netherlands), Bremen and Hamburg (Germany).

The crossing of the Atlantic was already an adventure for itself.  Friedrich Kemmler (born June  11, 1848 in Wankheim) arrived with the ship „Allemannia“ on January 11,.1869 in New York  (picture above).

From some of the emigrants we now that they didn’t survive the trip on the ship.

The children  Anna Maria Grauer (1833), Anna Margarethe Schwarzkopf (1854) and  Katharina Gutbrod (1862) died on sea.. 1883 the ship  „Cimbra“ sank on the Atlantic and with it Johann Georg Digel, his brother Johann Ludwig Digel and Johann Georg Riehle (all from  Maehringen)

Arrival ports in the USA

The arrival ports in the USA have been New York, Philadelphia, Boston and New Orleans.

Settlements in the USA

I’m aware only of a few emigrants who settled directly in the large cities where they arrived. This worked out only if they were craftsman with dedicated professions which allowed them a reasonable income in the city. However as most of the emigrants had a farming background they immediately moved on to  the edges of civilization at that point in time to settle on available land.

During my research I became aware of several cases where the emigrants build their first primitive house in the woods and started to reclaim the land in order to plant fruits, vegetable or grain and raising cattle.

If you look on the settlement areas on a time scale it its very obvious that the first emigrants mainly settled in Pennsylvania. The next waves went on to Ohio, Indiana, Iowa and Michigan. The latest emigrants then moved west into the states of  Washington, Oregon and Nebraska. The reasons were the gold rush on the one side but also the accelerating availability of the railways connecting the Atlantic with the Pacific. Connecting new areas required also new settlers for the production of goods and food.

Early travel routes

From New York they either took the railway or the ship on the Hudson up to Albany. From there the  Erie canal connected Buffalo on Lake Erie with Albany.  From Lake Erie several canal systems lead in the south in the heart of Ohio  e.g the  Ohio-Erie-canal from Cleveland to Akron  or later  New Philadelphia. The Miami and Erie canal build a connection from  Toledo, via  Defiance, Dayton south to Cincinnati .

Historical drawing of a canal boat
Historical drawing of a canal boat

The transport on the canals was done via special boots which very often were pulled by horses or mules.

From New Orleans it went up the Mississippi to  St. Louis  or via the Ohio River to  Cincinnati.

The remaining part of the trip was then done via railway or plan waggons.

For me these people were real pioneers and it was an extraordinary performance to find their way without knowing the local language nor have any geographical knowledge of the country. Especially as you have to consider that they may have not get further away from their hometown than 5 – 10 miles. It is still a miracle to me how they found their way and where they got the necessary instructions for their next targets.

Dangers on the trip

Beside the risk of an Atlantic crossing there was always high risk to get ill either in epidemic diseases mainly in the larger cities or in the swamps of the new settlements.  Anna (Schettler)  Scherz reports in one of her letters to her siblings how her family survived a cholera epidemic in Sandusky City, Ohio.

Excerpt from a letter written by  Anna (Schettler) Scherz on Nov 19, 1849 to her siblings:

Beloved brother and sisters I have to write how difficult it was, when the cholera came over Sandusky. It was eerie to regard this and even harder to see how the death have been draggled around. You even couldn’t go the streets up and down, as the malodor and the flavor of the death let you draw back.

You couldn’t make enough coffins and graves. It was really bitterly for those, who had this decease. Because they have been thrown in the coffin immediately after their last breath to avoid an infection. Sometimes they were even buried alive.

But the Lord has spared us as we hold out and didn’t rely on the city as so many did and believed they could escape the Lord. Everybody’s heart was beating and thought to live better, because you didn’t which heart beat would be the last one.

But now the people are godless as before. Brother Jakob has been ill with the fever longer than a month but now he is well again thanks God. I don’t know to write more because I didn’t receive any answer from the other siblings, although I had written so often….

4 Comments

  1. This letter from Anna (Schettler) Scherz is amazing! I have lived in Sandusky, Ohio, for most of my life, and have read often about the dreadful cholera epidemic. Would it be okay if I include a link to your site, on my website? I hope to soon write a blog post about Anna Scherz. Thank you so much!

    • Hi Dorene,
      you can naturally include a link on your website. I will check out the other letters I have whether there is more to find.

      Kind regards
      Ruediger

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