Churchyard/Orr Family Museum (Genealogy) -- D: Immigration Trip Diary of Friedrich Nohl, 1849 (Westphalia, Germany - Wisconsin, USA)
2 November 1995                555                            D24
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Memoirs of the Nohl Family
Trip Diary of Friedrich Nohl


Friedrich Nohl, born in Remlingrade August 7, 1807, to the Pastor Johann Friedrich Nohl, was also a pastor, in Herscheid, and then was the founder and director of the Werdohl School of Agriculture, which was the first of its kind in Prussia. Even before he gave up his pastor's job, he was asked in 1838 to be a director of Altena Agricultural Council, a group encompassing many agricultural organizations, and had made proposal for the agricultural betterment of the area.

He was mainly interested in the young agricultural workers and their schooling in a model program. For this program to be realized he acquired in 1844 for 20,000 Talers a farm that was on the newly built Lenne Road to Plettenburg (today, Friedhofstrasse), the Gut Riesenrodt and soon thereafter the Gut Wintersohl along the other side of Lenne site, 430 morgens (morgen = .6 acre) in its entirety.

Young farmers, from about fifteen to twenty-eight years of age would take a two-year course of study. Instruction would include soil science, agriculture, cattle-breeding, pasture cultivation, forestation, gardening, orchard growing, drafting, land surveying, mathematics, keeping account books, fertilizing, and knowledge and management of cattle diseases. The institute was an agency of the aforementioned agricultural council under the supervision of the government, which also furnished financial support.

It is assumed that such an extensive undertaking was too much for one person alone responsible for leading it. In Autumn 1846, Nohl became ill with a high fever. The illness forced him to retire from the directorship, which his assistant teacher and administrator took over and then transferred the school to Brugge (1886).

The proceeds of the sale of the Gut Riesenrodt and Wintersohl to his successor enabled him in 1849, with his family, to emigrate to the U.S.A. Before he emigrated, he was elected, together with Carl Rentrop of Bochelob House, to the Prussian Parliament. With his wife, Louise, née Weinhaus (1807-1885), whom he married October 13, 1832, he submitted to the fate of emigrants. He bought a farm in Ripon, Wisconsin. Evidently he also followed Carl Schurz, whom he regarded highly (later Secretary of the Interior) and others out of disappointment over the resignation of the Prussian King from the German crown. He also died in Ripon (1882).

Friedrich Nohl left behind a diary of the six weeks' crossing and the prosperous new beginning, which is reprinted here with the permission of the owner, Fritz Boecker in Saarbrucken, a great-nephew of the Riesenrodt school director, and is published for the first time [in a Werdohl newspaper]. Because in the middle decades of the last century many inhabitants of the Werdohl area (Sauerland, Westphalia) emigrated overseas, it has more than a personal interest.

We want to alert you to the entry of 13 October 1849, in which Nohl tells the reasons for his emigration. That for him it was the "misery" of political developments which led to his very bitter resignation from his life's work. The distress he was undergoing is betrayed in the note of 15 October 1849 in which he says: "The birthday of the King of Prussia is today, but no one intends to celebrate it." Not by accident, then, was the ship on which the Nohls traveled to America named "The Emigrant."

Trip-note from Herne-Bochum in Westphalia, Prussian Kingdom, on the way to North America, from Friedrich Nohl, former Pastor to Herscheid and after that Director of the Agricultural School of Riesenrodt of Westphalia.

On the morning of 16 September 1849 at 1:30 we went with the blessing of our Herner relatives and friends, then before we left, brother Louis and his sons gave farewell to us in the afternoon. We arrived at Prussian Minden at three in the morning and traveled towards Bremen, where we arrived at two in the afternoon. (My group was, after me and my wife, 41 years old, my daughter 16 1/2 years, my sons 14 1/2, 12 3/4, 11, and 10, and a little daughter of 9, in total eight persons [note: he counts his nephew Ludwig, actually a few days short of 10, as a son, probably to simplify exit procedures -- JNC]). At Minden, we didn't have to do anything at the Customs House; we were happy to be ready with our seats and luggage before the departure of the train. At Bremen, we lodged in the Vorwerks Hotel -- cheap and good. On Monday afternoon, after we had sent our luggage ahead, more purchases had to be taken care of through H. H. Meier and Co. Everything was in order. On Tuesday, we sailed with the steamer to Bremerhaven and boarded our "Emigrant" sailing ship, a ship of 900 tons. With this, I want to point out that any luggage which you don't wish to carry with you, must be sent ahead at least 14 days before departure to Bremen or to whatever your departure location is. If you don't wish to be hindered at departure, the best is that you hand-carry it. Also, I advise everybody not to take too much luggage and to learn English before the departure. We have, except linens, only bedding and tools and we really use them here. But we can get them here also, but they are much more expensive.

We took a cabin on the ship and had to pay for six adults (four children on two adult tickets) 450 Talers gold and 24 in gold per person for medical care, and we didn't regret having done it. On the ship were 196 people on the B Deck who had to pay only 39 gold talers per person, but they even got food, which was simple but good. But we were very happy with the food and our three cabins. In addition to my family, there were three ladies with five little children and three single men in the other cabins. It is very convenient when no little children are present. On September 20 we set to sea with a good wind. In three days we were through the notorious Channel. We had hardly sailed several hours, when almost every passenger became seasick and nobody appeared at the dining room in the morning or evening. I had given to the pilot a letter to my brother. After three days everybody was alright, only to get it (seasickness) again later. The best is to be in the fresh air; moreover, the mattresses in the cabins are damned hard and I didn't want to stay longer in them than absolutely necessary. Fritz and Eugen sleep in the bunk above us. In every cabin there are two bunks. The other cabin -- Mama, Ludwig and Louis. In the third cabin -- Marie and Mathilda. Although the cabins are small, they are well furnished, particularly because each of them has a window that can be locked up. The food is simple, but hearty and good. For the ladies it is uncomfortable that the evening tea and morning coffee are served without milk. My spirits and appetite are good.

On 23rd September, Sunday. I remember all my loved ones and I only wish that we'll be out of this water desert soon. Today, on the 24th of September, we have good weather again. The wind is good and we sit on deck almost all day long. Yesterday we finally got out of the English Channel and we passed by the southernmost tip of England, called Land's End. We are very content with our journey since from Bremerhaven to this point usually takes three to four weeks. In the morning I read some history with the boys. In the afternoon I played chess, and in the evening we played Whist. There are still lots of other ships passing by. By the way, life on a ship is very boring and we soon will have it up to here.

25th September. Yesterday and today we saw swinefish next to the ship. They are three or four feet long and are supposed to mean a "restless sea." At night all hell broke loose and everything went upside down. One had to hold on to something not to be thrown overboard. The whole ship crew is in motion and has to work very hard. On September 26 is Ludwig's birthday, but he can't enjoy his birthday presents because he is very seasick like everybody else except me. The rough sea lasted until today (28th of September). On the 26th we passed by an English ship. We hoisted our flag and number 21, they responded that they would report us to Bremerhaven. Soon after, another English ship passed by and we exchanged information about longitude and latitude. The English ship had 12 deg 58 sec, we had 12 deg 50 sec; so that proves that we were correct.

We are proceeding well and today on the 28th of September we already have done a fourth of the journey. We have a total to go 74 degrees (74 x 60 miles). On September 27, we saw five to six 15 and 18 foot long whales. On September 29, the sea has calmed down. The wind is bad and we proceed very slowly, but at least the seasick people are recovering. This afternoon the wind was totally still, but the ship was tossed up and down heavily several times. The absence of wind is a very uncomfortable feeling. In this big water desert we don't proceed one step. September 30th, today, Sunday, after I had done a short prayer with my family, I went up on deck and am happy to see that the wind is better.

Till today, October 7th, nothing special happened. In the last week we several times had gusty winds and were afraid of a hurricane. It was raining without stopping. The passengers were very seasick, Louis and Marie the worst. The other children took turns being sick. Today we have covered 37 degrees, or half of the way, but the degrees are smaller here than in Newfoundland or New York, and the distance from Bremerhaven to Greenwich or London was not counted. From this place, the degrees are being counted. Every day the captain and mates measure the degrees with the octant and jot them down.

October 8th -- The wind is constantly changing between west, northwest, east, and southeast, but we are still proceeding well because the Emigrant is a good ship and the captain an excellent seaman. Every evening after dinner we play Whist till 11 p.m. and then I sleep on my hard mattress pretty well till 6 a.m. Also I play chess every day. Because the chessmen don't remain on the board because of the ship's movement, we have asked the ship's carpenter to make a chess board with holes for the chess pieces. Teaching the boys is very difficult because they are too seasick. One doesn't feel like reading, either. Life here is mostly dull and boring. I wish we will be over the big pond soon.

October 9 - 12. Yesterday we already arrived at 44 degrees. Although it was raining horribly, we proceeded at 9 1/2 English knots per hour. The day after tomorrow we hope to arrive at the Grand Banks of Newfoundland. To avoid the Gulf Stream we have sailed very much north and we want to take the route between the coast of North America and the Gulf Stream. We hope to be in New York before the end of October.

With the other travelling companions, we are very happy. Mama and Marie are feeling better for the last two days and are rather serene. We all wish to see land soon, but our thoughts are very often with our loved ones in Europe, as their thoughts are with us. We are looking forward to letting them enjoy our first letter from New York. The health situation on the ship is rather satisfactory. On October 10th all passengers were registered as to age, social class and destination, and the luggage was registered, so that in New York the American immigration officials will be informed. It turns out that the greater half of the passengers come from Bavaria. The other half from Westphalia, the Rhineland, Saxony, Bohemia, and Hesse. By the way, there were a lot of trashy passengers. The baggage in total is very little. Many passengers travel only with a rucksack. It would be interesting to write the life histories of all the passengers, although the backgrounds of many of them don't seem impressive. If you look at these people, you shouldn't be surprised that the Germans in America don't have a good reputation. Food and service is satisfactory. The people on B Deck are also content with food and service. It would be better for those people if one or two candles could be left burning from evening till morning; a mate or a sailor could supervise them. For a little money it could be done. One can't assume that on a 900 ton ship, in which captain and crew and passengers total 250 persons, that everything can be perfect. The captain and the crew are very efficient. I regret the most that during the constant movements of the ship we can't walk very much. I fell two times without injuring myself. By the way, other people fall a lot too. People on the B Deck spill their meals often. But its no wonder that they fall so often because every day the floor is scrubbed and it is very slippery.

October 13th. Today is my wedding anniversary. Three years ago, I was very sick on this day. If I hadn't been sick and if the political situation hadn't become so miserable, I wouldn't be here. But I thank God that it has turned out this way because I have the firm faith that I and my family are under His protection. Unfortunately there is no wind.

14th October. Today is Sunday. The wind is better. Two-thirds of the way is behinds us, and so far it has been a very fast trip. Tonight we will arrived the Grand Banks of Newfoundland. Today we looked at the nautical chart and discovered we are at about the 49th meridian and the 45th parallel. October 15th -- today it is raining without end, but the wind is very good, so we proceed with 10 to 10 1/2 knots per hour. The captain, who has made the trip to New York forty-three times, says he has never had this much rain on other trips. Seasickness still comes to some, but not that bad anymore. Yesterday afternoon a 1 1/2 year old child died; with prayer the mate threw him in the ocean. I hope there won't be any more sacrifices for Neptune. As far as politics go it is best to be on the sea -- nobody feels like talking about it. It will be strange, for us, after five or six weeks, to see a newspaper again. Today is the birthday of the King of Prussia, but nobody feels like celebrating it. Now we can see ships daily. This morning a large North American ocean liner passed by.

October 16 -- Today is a lovely day, but it is cold. The wind is weak, but it is good for us. October 17 -- the day is beautiful weather and so warm that, in the morning at 1:27, I could stand on the deck in my bathrobe. October 18 -- the temperature is 72 F with a south wind. Although the ship is not moving, we are proceeding well and hope to be in New York soon. Three gentlemen who climbed up to the crow's nest were tied up by the sailors and only when they gave them a tip were they loosened. Everybody had fun. We are already at 70 degrees longitude; in two days we could be in New York.

It is like a dream that we have been on the sea for four weeks. October 20 -- the sky is clear, the ship is sailing nicely and we could have the pilot on board this evening. Tomorrow evening or night we could be in New York. Everybody is in a good mood because the pilot came on at 1 o'clock midday. October 21 -- We can already see land! Everybody is happy about this fast trip. From all of the ships that left Bremerhaven on September 1, none of the others had arrived when the pilot departed. We had almost always good wind, and no hurricanes, but New York had thunderstorms while we were on the trip. At this moment, we are dropping anchor at Staten Island and I can see a lot of friendly lights on the coast. In the evening the wind howls fearfully and we are happy to be protected. After dinner, the whole group of passengers got together for punch. Everybody laughed and sang and the happiness lasted until 1 a.m. October 22nd -- in the early morning everybody is on deck. The B Deck passengers are cleaning themselves up. Straw and old clothes are being thrown into the ocean. It is almost impossible to recognize them, because everybody has dressed up so much. The doctor came on board to check the health situation. This is satisfactory, and so, after an hour, we are towed by steamer into New York. Unfortunately it is raining terribly and we can't enjoy the beautiful sights of New York. About 10 o'clock we are in New York harbor. Suddenly, one hundred seedy fellows (sharks) climbed on the ship and tried to meet the passengers. Many are welcomed by relatives and friends, and there were several touching scenes. In the afternoon I debarked from the ship and was happy to have firm soil under my feet. It is a strange feeling after many weeks without solid ground to have it under your feet. I ran around in the immense but terribly dirty New York till evening and found the houses for which I had addresses. New York is much more lively than Hamburg and Brussels, Berlin, etc. In the main streets there is so much dirt that the passing vehicles sink in to the axles. In New York you find many beautiful buildings and squares and vitality as only London and Paris have. The harbor is a forest of masts and you have to remember exactly the place where your ship from the homeland is if you want to find it again.

October 23 -- This morning the luggage of the cabin passengers was checked after yesterday's checking of the B Deck passengers'. The checking itself is very smooth. The customs officers didn't bother looking at the rucksacks. I had a big bale which was impossible to open, but I told the customs there was nothing dutiable. We had our luggage place on the nearly 650 foot long steamer "Hendryk Hudson," and sailed at 6 p.m. on it to Albany. The fares on the ship were moderate in price, but that is reasonable because whole mounds of goods and whole armies of passengers on it. In Germany you couldn't imagine the traffic on American steamers and trains and the speed with which everything is unloaded.

On the morning of October 24th about 6 a.m. we arrived in Albany. When the steamer docked, an immense mass of wagon drivers and salespeople ran onto the ship to get people and merchandise. Among the sellers we found a German, Franz Schadell, who was very helpful and who sold us things very cheaply. At 1 p.m. we traveled to Buffalo. We were persuaded to use the emigrant train, but regretted it soon, not only because the train compartments were totally overcrowded, but also because we had to pay overweight fees, about twenty dollars, which is not the case in gentlemen's trains. We liked the scenery very much and we enjoyed moving fast. On this bad train you travel so fast your hair stands on end. There are no stopping places or stations. One can't dare to get out and one is sitting caged in although the doors of the compartments are almost always open. At 12 midnight we had breakfast out of our hands -- apples, nuts, bread, etc. While we were asleep, our food sack was stolen. Lots of Irish people were on the train -- they are known as thieves. At 4 p.m. we arrived at beautiful Buffalo; a city of 50,000 inhabitants on Lake Erie. We had recommendations to a German host, Ernst Eggers, who put us up good and cheaply. We stayed with him for two days to rest and to await for an answer to our telegram to Milwaukee, which arrived on time. Most of the United States has wire service. The telegraph goes right through immense forests and is convenient and cheap. We left Buffalo at 10 p.m. on October 27 on a ship on Lake Erie. We had reservations for steamer to Detroit, for train to New Buffalo, for steamer on Lake Michigan to Chicago, Southport, and to Milwaukee. The food was delicious on the steamer. The rooms were very elegant and the service was excellent. The train compartments were wonderful and the attitude respectful. We paid $10 a person -- this means the four smallest children were counted as two adults. On our overnight luggage we had to pay only $8. The journey lasted two nights and two days. On October 28, we arrived in Detroit, a city of 40,000 people. There we had to stay till the next evening because we couldn't get ready with all our luggage (sixteen pieces for my family). Our travel companions had in addition eleven pieces. Our goods were barely loaded as the train left. In New Buffalo, next afternoon, we found the luggage that we had sent ahead. If we had been terrified by the train from Albany to Buffalo, we were twice as horrified up to the highest degree as the train flew through the "jungle." In the next evening, we traveled across Lake Michigan to Chicago and the next day to Milwaukee, where we arrived in the evening. Here, we had to pay 6$ just for carrying the luggage over a small pier. Milwaukee has 30,000 people as is located at the edge of Lake Michigan. Fifteen years ago there was only one hut, for lumberjacks. The city is very large; within a few years it will have eighty to one hundred thousand people. The streets are 100 to 150 feet wide. We stayed here with our travel companions who left a day and a half at Bauer in Schwabenhause, where it is good and inexpensive. From now on, we lodged only in Yankee inns, where it's better and not more expensive. By the way, I advise everybody who can speak a little English to lodge in Yankee inns. In Wisconsin, the Germans are still respected very little, but it will get better when more come here and if not so many hoodlums come.

November 2 -- We traveled in two open two-horse carriages where we had loaded all our boxes and luggage. We travelled through Summit, Watertown, etc. to Ceresco, which is one hundred English miles from Milwaukee in County Fond-du-lac, not far from Green Lake and Rush Lake -- more or less twenty miles from Fond-du-Lac on Lake Winnebago. In Ceresco, five years ago, a Fourier-type company was founded, but which dissolved before Fall. About 2,000 acres -- land and buildings -- belonged to this company and were sold on April 22, 1850. This way Ceresco will blossom. Already there are three big stores next to the post-office. Four miles from Ceresco, the former mayor, Everz von Buederich from Wesel, lives with several Germans on a big beautiful prairie. This prairie borders on a forest and marsh and meadowland. It was here that I put my family for six weeks into a small inn and soon bought a well-equipped farm of 80 acres and 80 acres of a clearing. Of these 80 acres, 60 are fenced. Of these 50 acres are cultivated. Twenty five of these are planted with winter wheat -- this winter wheat is almost the best of the whole prairie.

On the farm there is a good farmhouse. (These houses are made of wood, built with double boards and covered with wooden shingles. There are also log houses and brick houses in the area.) There is a good cellar under my house and in front of it a well which always has water, and there are barns also. Next to the house are lots of fruit trees. The location is beautiful and now (May 20, 1850) it looks different because I planted lots of trees and 1 1/2 acres of garden in front of my house. Also in front of the house, two well-traveled roads pass by. Three minutes from the house there is a school in which I, only the first day of Pentecost (1850) gave a sermon and the holy communion. I paid $1200 for my house, land, wheat, wood, and meadow, and I'm very happy with this purchase. On December 20, 1849, we moved in and now we have lived here already five months, in good spirits. We have two oxen, two cows, dogs, chickens, one cat, etc. The Spring work is already done. For several days we had several horses for help and now about seven acres with summer wheat, five with oats, eight with corn, and two with potatoes. My wife tends the garden, my oldest daughter the house, and I and my other children tend the fields. I have no maids nor hands and I don't want any.

Around us there are lots of Germans and Yankees. The area is very lively and the population is rising. We like it very much here and my wife and my children are in good spirits; no one regrets the immigration so far. But I have to emphasize again that nobody should emigrate who doesn't have money or can't work and hasn't the firm resolve to never lose his courage no matter how terrible the sacrifices are. And nobody should think that you can loaf here or that you can make it easily. The American works much more than the Germans and with a perseverance and efficiency which is unknown in Germany. But, for this, the daily wage with food is $1 or 1 Thaler and 30 cents. And for a whole month it's even less. But it is not so special if one has seen what these people accomplish. Carpenters and cabinet makers earn much more but they have to work in a different way from Germany. There's enough wood here and wooden boards are not expensive, although the consumption is immense. Horses are very expensive, although the stable gear and cattle don't cost any more than in Germany. As far as groceries is concerned, I haven't seen a difference from prices in Germany. As far as stable gear and tools are concerned, everything is more practical here. All I have seen is much more efficient than in Germany, as you can see that for Americans time is money, and the reason that everything in the homes is so efficient comes from the fact that the American is all by himself and without human help. As far as practical things are concerned, Europeans can learn a lot from the Americans. The behavior of Americans is extraordinarily informal. They aren't fussy, particularly in trading and social exchanges, they are very accommodating. There is no haggling. I'm convinced that after many years of staying here I and my family will like it more and more here and will long for Germany only to see our relatives and friends.

Ceresco Prairie, County Fond-du-Lac,           May 22, 1850
State of Wisconsin

                                               Friedrich Nohl
translation by Eva Krutein
some corrections by James Nohl Churchyard

Family data

Karl Friedrich Eberhard Nohl, to give his full name, was born on 7 August 1807 at Remlingrade. He died in August 1882 in Ripon. His wife was Friederike Luise Weinhaus from Burscheid / Achen. She was born in 1807 and died in 1885. They were married on 13 October 1832, but not in Herscheid. They had five children born in Herscheid as follows:

Henriette Maria Louse Constanze
born 5 July 1833
Carl Friedrich Ferdinand
born 23 April 1836
Ludwig Eberhard (called Louis)
born 10 February 1837
Eugen Wilhelm
born 2 November 1838
Mathilde Louise
born 13 January 1847

Traveling with this family was Ludwig Nohl, the son of Ferdinand Nohl (3 March 1805 - before 1842) and his wife Johanna Kassenberg. He was born 26 September 1839 in St. Albans, Missouri. His parents died when he was young and the children were returned to Germany. Ludwig left his sisters there and migrated with his uncle as related above.

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