Immigrant Ships

Immigrant Ships
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A Partial List of

Ships Which Brought the Neffs to America

Most of These Ships Landed in Philadelphia, PA

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     Mayflower    arrived 1620 from England, UK; No Neffs on board, in spite of popular lore to the contrary; read passenger list, below
     (unknown ship)    "Trelawney Expedition" arrived 1633 in New England area from England, UK   (T-Line: Thomas Dustin, Sr.)
     [ ed note: The ship may have been the Lyon which made several trips between the UK and Massachusetts in 1630-1635 ]     
     London    arrived 1635 from England, UK   (William Nesse?)
     (unknown, may be the ship London, above)   arrived in New England area prior to 1685 from England, UK   (T-Line: William Neff, Mary Corliss)
     (unknown ship)   arrived in New York in 1709 from Holland   (K-Line)
     (3 unknown ships)   3 Ships arrived Sept 1717   (B-Line from Ibersheim, Germany on one. A2-Line and D-Line: Neff brothers Hans Heinrich and Jacob, from Bonfeld were on another with the Heinrich Funk family and son Martin Funk and his family.)
     (unknown ship)   arrived in 1719, left Europe after 4 Apr 1719   (A1-Line: Francis Neff from Gemmingen, Germany with more Heinrich Funk family and Funk brothers.)
     James Goodwill   arrived 11 Sept 1728 from Germany   (C-Line: Michael Neff from Michelfeld, Germany.)
     Snow Lowther   arrived 14 Oct 1731   (Anna Helena Neff Visinand, d/o Conradt Neff of Germany)
     Hope   arrived in Philadelphia 28 Aug 1733   (Katherine Flory, w/o Jacob Naff of VA, was born during trip.)
     Mercury   arrived 29 May 1735 from Holland after stopping at Cowes, Isle of Wight, U.K.   (G-Line and P-Line from Wallisellen, Canton Zürich, Switzerland: Jacob Naf age 39; Jacob Naf age 24; Jacob Naf age 7; Conrad Naf age 22, Conrad Naf age 52; Anna Naf age 19; Anna Naf age 22, Elizabeth Naf age 4) Read about this trip below.
     Friendship   arrived 20 Sept 1738   (several Jacob Näf's and one Sebastian Nees on board)
     Jamaica Galley   arrived 7 Feb 1739   (M-Line from Zell, Switzerland, Hans Ulrich Nef)
     Frances and Elizabeth   arrived 30 Aug 1743   (G-Line, P-Line and S-Line from Wallisellen, Canton Zürich, Switzerland.)
     Robert and Alice   arrived 1743 (?-Line, Oswalt Neff)
     Lydia   arrived 19 Sept 1743 from Rotterdam, Holland via Cowes, Isle of Wight, UK   (F-Line from Germany: Johann Christian Neff, age 25)
     Nancy   arrived 1743   (Johan Christian Neff)
     [ ed note: the ship "Nancy" is not listed in the arrivals at Philadelphia in 1743. This is probably a repeat of the "Lydia" above, with the wrong ship name]     
     Priscilla   arrived 11 Sept 1749   (H-Line: Jacob, H1, and Rudolph Neff, H2, who were brothers of the M-Line from Zell, Switzerland.)
     Phoenix   arrived 15 Sept 1749 from Rotterdam, Holland via Cowes, Isle of Wight, UK   (Anthony Nieve, also several Kauffman's and Miller's)
     Dragon   arrived 26 Sept 1749   (E-Line? from Germany: 14 yr old Jacob, E1, and 4 yr old Sebastian, E2, were too young to legally sign the oath )
     Nancy   arrived 16 Sept 1751   (Johann Jacob Neff)
     Phoenix   arrived 2 Nov 1752   (M-Line: Urich Neff and son Bernard who were returning from their visit to Zell, Switzerland. Only Bernard signed the Oath of Allegiance because Ulrich had sworn an Oath of Allegiance to England in 1739. )
     John and Elizabeth   arrived 7 Nov 1754   (I-Line?)
     Pennsyvania or Neptune   arrived 1755   (Jacob Naff of VA may have been on one of these two)
     Minevra   arrived 10 Oct 1769   (Oswalt Neff)
     Betsy   arrived 1785   (Jacob Neff)
     Jacob   arrived in Philadelphia 17 Nov 1802   (Hartman Neff)
     Venus   arrived in Philadelphia 31 Aug 1805   (Christopher Friederich Neff)
     Liberty   arrived in Philadelphia 11 Aug 1808   (Lewis Navs)
     Broderschap   arrived in Philadelphia 16 Aug 1816 from Germany(?)   (Jacob, Johanna, (Tronna?) and Wilhelm Neef/Neff)
     Vaterland Sliebe   arrived in Philadelphia 16 Aug 1817 from Antwerp   (John Neff and 5 children)
     Susan   arrived Sept 1818 from Amsterdam   (Johann "Michael" Neef, Jr., of Moehringen, Germany, with wife Eva and 4 children)
     Charles Miller   arrived in Philadelphia 16 Aug 1819   (George Neffer)
     (unknown ship)   arrived in Baltimore, MD 30 June 1830, from France   (Luke Naff 25y, Maria 28y, Henry 3y )
     (unknown ship)   arrived in Baltimore, MD 30 Sep 1832,   (Geo. F. Neff 47y of Germany, a farmer; Ester 47y; Margaret 24y; C. 10y; J. 8y; Joseph 1y)
     (unknown ship)   arrived in Baltimore, MD 30 June 1834,   (Peter Neff 30y of Germany, a farmer)
     Lucilla   arrived in Baltimore, MD 01 Sep 1834,   (Peter Neff of Gadernheim)
     (unknown ship)   arrived 1844 from Germany,   (Ignatz Neff, wife Mary Bower, son Pius)
     Lewis   arrived in New York in 1847 from Germany   (AE-Line)
     Brooklyn   left New York in 1847 for California taking Mormons westward. Ship was partially financed by John Neff, Jr.
     Elise left Rotterdam, arrived New York January 18, 1848. (John and Margartha Neff with dau Elisabeth, of Hesse, Darmstadt).
     Duc De Brabant   arrived in New Orleans, LA 16 Dec 1851 from Germany   (AB-Line)
     Zurich   arrived in New York 1 May 1852 from Harve   (Mathias, Elisabeth & Johann Ness of Baden)
     Bremen   arrived in New York City, NY 20 May 1854 from Bremen, Germany   (Xaver/Xavier Neff)
     John Williams   arrived in New Orleans, LA 23 March 1854 from Veracruz   (Melchoir and Paul Naef/Näf)
     S.S. Neckar   arrived in New York 14 Apr 1879 from Bremen via Southampton   (August, Wilhelmine, Johann, Emma & Bertha Nafs of Germany)
     S.S. State of Georgia   arrived in New York 17 Apr 1879 from Glaskow Larne, Scotland   (Ann Nave of Scotland)
     S.S. Southwark   arrived 13 May 1903   (AD-Line)
     La Gascogne   arrived in New York 28 Sept. 1907 from Havre, France   (Conrad Naef)
     U.S. Mail   S.S. Lapland   arrived in New York 26 May 1920 from Antwerp   (John Neff)

(TRIVIA: "NAVE" means "Ship" in Italian and is the base for our word "Navy")


Conditions on the MERCURY during the 3-month Trip to America

On 29 May 1735 the ship Mercury, William Wilson, master, last from Rotterdam, Holland arrived at Philadelphia, Penn., with 186 passengers. Most of these passengers were from Zurich and nearby Swiss towns. These people were members of the Reformed Church in Switzerland.... This colony is one of the few whose history can be traced from origin to destination with some detail. On 7 Oct. 1735, The Nachrichten von Zurich ( a newspaper), published the account.... The journey of the colonists from Zurich to Basle is told by Ludwig Weber, one of the emigrants who later returned from Holland. His notes were published in Zurich . The following is taken from his notes.

"...The main body consisting of 194 persons, embarked in two ships [on the river to the ocean, in winter weather]. They suffered intensely thru rain and cold and were poorly protected with scanty clothes and provisions.... the nights were wet and cold. Moreover the ships were crowded so badly that there was hardly enough room to sit, much less lie down. There was no opportunity to cook on the ships; and as they were compelled to remain on the ships day and night, the cries of the children were pitiful and heartrending. ...Quarrels between men and women were frequent."

... [They transferred from the two river ships to the single, larger ship Mercury in late February, so] after leaving Mainz their journey was a little more comfortable as they could at least cook on board the ships.

... When they reached Neuwied, Weaterwald Canton, in Bavaria four couples were married by a reformed minister. They were as follows:

     1. Hans Conrad Wirtz and Anna Goetschy 
     2. Conrad Naff, of Walliselen and Anna N.--- 
     3. Jacob Rathgeb and Barbara Haller both of Walliselen 
     4. Conrad Geweiller, a gardener and ---

...186 passengers in all on the ship Mercury that reached Philadelphia 29 May l735....

In a letter from John Henry, the son of Rev Goetschy, to Zurich dated 21 July 1735 wrote in part the following: "After we had left Holland and surrendered ourselves to the wild and tempestuous ocean, its waves and its changeable winds, we reached through Gods great goodness toward us, England. After a lapse of two days we came to the Island of Wight, and there to a little town named Cowes, where our captain supplied himself with provisions for the great ocean trip. We secured medicines for the trip and then with a good East wind we sailed away from there. After a day and a night with the good wind we were buffeted with a terrible storm and the awful raging waves as we came into the Spanish and Portuguese oceans.

For 12 weeks we were subjected to these miseries and had to suffer all kinds of bad and dangerous storms and terrors of death. With these we were subjected to all kinds of bad diseases. The food was bad for we had to eat what they called "galley bread". We had to drink stinking muddy water, full of worms.

We had an evil tyrant and rascal for a captain and first mate, who regarded the sick as nothing more than dogs. If one said "I have to cook something for a sick man", He replied "get away from here or I'll throw you overboard". "What what do I care about your sick devil?". In short, misfortune is everywhere upon the sea, we alone fared better. This has been the experience of all who have come to this land and even if a king were to travel the ocean it would behave no better.

After being in this misery sufficiently long God, The Lord, brought us out and showed us the land, which caused great joy among us. But three days passed, the wind being contrary, before we could enter into the right river. Finally a good south wind came and brought us in one day through the glorious and beautiful Delaware river which is a little larger than the Rhine, but not by far as wild as the Rhine." [They landed at Philadelphia, PA]

[ ed note: The Neffs on this trip were of the G-Line and P-Line from Wallisellen, Canton Zürich, Switzerland: Jacob Naf age 39; Jacob Naf age 24; Jacob Naf age 7; Conrad Naf age 22, Conrad Naf age 52; Anna Naf age 19; Anna Naf age 22, Elizabeth Naf age 4 ]

(Original OCR scan and editing by James E Rothgeb)


Excerpts from "Mittelberger's Journey to PA in 1750"

"This journey lasts from the beginning of May to the end of October, fully half a year."

"During the voyage there is on board these ships terrible misery, stench, fumes, horror, vomiting, many kinds of sea sickness, fever, dysentery, headache, heat, constipation, boils, scurvy, cancer, mouthrot, and the like, all of which comes from old and sharply salted food and meat"

"The water which is served out on the ships is often very black, thick and full of worms, so that one cannot drink it without loathing, even with the greatest thirst..."

"Many sigh and cry: 'Oh, that I were home again [even] if I had to lie in my pigsty!' "

"The lice abound so frightfully, especially on sick people, that they can be scraped off the body..."

"... children from 1 to 7 years rarely survive the voyage... no less than 32 children in our ship [died and were] thrown into the sea."


Food, Conditions, and Social Division On Board

© 1998 by Don Neff

- Crew and Passengers:

The ship's crew did not live or eat any better than their passengers during their trip. Crew and passenger alike slept in hammocks in the dark, damp, cold areas below deck. These were cargo ships not passenger ships, so there were no cabins or walls for privacy; there were no portholes to admit light and fresh air. They all shared the communal "outhouses" at the head of the ship. The privacy of the outhouses was the only concession made to female passengers. (Regular cargo and military ships, having only men on board, had no outhouses, just seating boards with their holes situated over the bow wave at the head of the ship hence, the term "head" for a ship's toilet.) The living area in the ship had to be an odoriferous environment; they had no fresh water for washing clothes or bathing, no deodorant, no toothpaste and no toilet paper. The worst of these ships were denied a place at their arrival dock in America because of the strong stench the ship gave off. These ships were forced to anchor downwind of the city and had to use row boats to take the passengers from the ship to the dock. (Sailors on whale ships in the middle of the Atlantic claimed they could smell upwind immigrant ships when they were miles away.)

The crew and our ancestors shared the same spoiled food and filthy drinking water. Their meat was heavily salted pork, mutton and occasionally horse, but rarely beef, which was stored in wooden barrels in the hold. The meat had to be soaked in water to get the salt and mold off of it before it was boiled to cook it. The grease and fat were skimmed off while the meat was boiling and used as lubrication ("slush") between the mast and spars. No cooking could be done when the ship was in rough seas because the fire in the cooking stove had to be extinguished, sometimes for days, to eliminate the fire hazard in the wood ship.

Their drinking water was untreated river water stored in wooden barrels in the hold. The dark interior of the barrels allowed bacteria, bugs and worms to grow (free from the predators which normally would have killed them) turning the formerly clear liquid into a rancid brown jelly full of crawling vermin. Cholera microbes thrived in these conditions resulting in death of the weaker passengers. (The British Navy mixed Rum and Lime juice in the foul water, creating "grog" to make it more palatable. Minor infractions were handled by withholding the offending sailor's rum ration so he had to drink the foul tasting water straight as his punishment.)

Uncooked flour could not be stored in the humid conditions on board a ship so it was mixed with water and salt and baked into biscuits called "hardtack" which could be stored on board in barrels. Rats liked hardtack and chewed their way into the barrels to eat the biscuits, leaving their dung among the biscuits. The name hardtack was fitting; the biscuits were so hard that they had to be broken with a mallet or the butt of a gunstock before they were usable as food. People with teeth loosened by scurvy could not bite or chew the hardtack so it was used to make soup by cooking the biscuits in water with salt, vinegar and fat skimmed from the boiled meats. The soup also had an extra protein ingredient - hundreds of bugs. As the stored hardtack aged it developed a putrid odor and filled with maggots and beetles, many of which ended up in the soup when the biscuits were added. The procedure for opening a barrel of hardtack included the routine of placing a piece of rotted meat on top of the biscuits to draw out the maggots. When the piece of meat was full of maggots it was replaced by another piece and this process was continued until no more maggots could be lured out by the meat. The maggots and beetles still remaining in the hardtack, along with the ever-present rat dung, became part of the soup our ancestors ate while on the ship.

If the ship ran low on food the crew and passengers trapped and ate the rats which they called "millers" because of flour in the rats' fur from their favorite food - hardtack. Curiously, most sailors did not like fish and, until they ran out of rats to eat, seldom took the obvious step of fishing to improve their diet. Part of their reluctance to fish for food had to be caused by the fact that the officers had first claim to the fish they caught, leaving the sailors with nothing to show for their work unless they caught far more than the officers needed.

As bad as the food was on board it was still better, and provided more regularly, than what many of the sailors ate when they were not on board a ship. The sailors were men whose lack of marketable skills or training (sometimes compounded with a criminal record) forced many of them into the lowest poverty levels and near starvation while on land.

- Health Care:

The poor diet lead to a multitude of health problems; the worst probably being "scurvy" which was the result of the lack of vitamin C. Scurvy caused the nose, eyes, and gums to bleed, caused scars of old wounds to re-open and bleed, all while its victims' gums rotted so their teeth loosened and fell out. British Naval Ships carried lime juice to provide vitamin C (hence the slang "Limey" for English sailor), but passenger ships did not adopt this successful preventive measure. Eventually, faster ships were built and they helped reduce the threat of scurvy by getting passengers to America before scurvy could take its deadly toll on them.

Everyone on board the ship was infested with lice and fleas brought along by the rats in the hold. In fact, these ships bought brought more than just human immigrants; they also introduced the European Cockroach and the German Rat into America. The lice spread Typhus between the passengers who often died from it.

There was no medical care available during the trip unless a Physician happened to come on board as a passenger. One of the ship's crew might be referred to as a "surgeon" but it meant only that he had experience cutting off injured legs and arms using nothing more than a knife and a saw. The limb amputation was performed in dirty conditions, while the screaming patient was pinned down by several sailors, without anesthetics. Afterwards the bleeding stump was dipped in molten tar to seal it. Given the universal poor personal hygiene, along with ignorance of germs or bacteria at that time, one wonders how so many patients managed to survive such a "cure."

Infected wounds were successfully, but very painfully, treated by packing them full of sea salt, the only antibiotic available at the time.

Child birth during the ocean trip usually resulted in the death of either the child or the mother, if not both. Young children and elderly people often did not have the strength to survive the trip. As many as 40% of the passengers died on these 3-month long trips, so the immigrant ships to America were commonly referred to as "Coffin Ships." Even so, there were no coffins; the dead on German, Dutch and English ships were simply sown into their hammock along with one or two cannon balls for weight, and then were thrown over the side into the sea. Some French ships buried their dead in the ballast stones in the hold, further increasing the stench and health hazards in the ship.

- Ship's Officers:

The ship's officers had much better food and living conditions. The senior officers usually shared a private, but windowless cabin and toilet area; while the captain always had a large, private, windowed cabin with a dining area and a toilet area of his own. The floor of the captain's cabin was covered with sailcloth which had been painted to resemble carpeting. The captain's cabin often had furniture and trim similar to what was used in homes on land. Captains could take their wife or a friend on the trip if they wanted to.

The officers kept several live pigs, goats and an occasional cow or two on board to provide fresh meat along with chickens to provide fresh eggs - all for themselves. The officers' meat was baked or roasted, not boiled like the crew and passengers' meat. The senior officers' food was served to them at their dining table by cabin boys or by the junior officers. All officers usually drank wine or beer with their meals instead of water. The ship's cooking stove usually had a small still built into it to turn sea water into fresh drinking water for the officers, but it could not provide enough for the crew and passengers. Any extra fresh water the officers did not drink, they used for shaving instead of sharing it with their passengers or crew.


How Did Our Poor Ancestors Pay for
an Expensive Trip Across the Atlantic?

© 1998 by Don Neff

They usually sold any belongings they had, partially for the resulting cash, but mostly to avoid the cost of shipping them to the new country. This seldom gave them enough money to purchase tickets so they "indentured" themselves to the ship's captain. The captain would pay for their food during the trip and give them passage on his ship. Once the ship reached their destination, the captain would sell their indentured rights to the highest bidder on shore. The captain made his money back plus a profit for his investment.

The immigrant, now an indentured servant, or voluntary slave, to the purchaser, worked for free for the purchaser to repay him. The length of time of indenture, usually 2 - 3 years, was predetermined and agreed upon by all parties before the purchase was completed. The purchaser was obligated to provide proper clothing, food and housing during the period, and sometimes required to provide a small sum of cash or hand tools at the end of the indenture period. At the end of their indenture the immigrant was free to pursue his or her own destiny, often with a new trade or skill learned from the indenture period.

While some indentured servants were treated poorly, most had good experiences and often remained friends with the purchasing family. It was common for the indentured servant to end up married to a relative or friend of the purchaser.

There were cases where one person could afford to buy a ticket on a ship, but their friend, spouse or other relative had to be indentured for their ticket. Occasionally, both were allowed to work for the purchaser, thereby cutting the indenture period in half while allowing them to remain together.

Trivia: When the Confederate Army was forced from Pensacola, FL in 1865, they set fire to everything including the docked Steam Ship NEAFFLE


Oath of Allegiance Signed by Adult, Male Passengers
When Entering USA at Port of Philadelphia, PA

We Subscribers, Natives and late Inhabitants of the Palatinate upon the Rhine and Places Adjacent, having transported Ourselves and Families into this Province of Pennsylvania, a Colony subject to the Crown of Great Britain, in Hopes and Expectation of finding a Retreat and Peaceable Settlement therein, Do Solemnly Promise and Engage, that We will be faithful and bear true Allegiance to his present MAJESTY, KING GEORGE THE SECOND and his Successors, Kings of Great Britain, and will be faithful to the Proprietor of this Province; And that we will demean ourselves peaceably to all His said Majesty's Subjects, and strictly observe and conform to the Laws of England and of this Province, to the utmost of our Power and best of our understanding.

(TRIVIA: The ship NEAFFIE, was a Side Paddle Wheel Steamer, operated by the Confederate States, in coastal waters of the Gulf of Mexico during the US Civil War. She was damaged during a sea battle off Fort Pickens, Fla. on 22 November 1861, but managed to escape. However, some time before February, 1863 she was finally captured by the Union Navy which then used her as a tugboat. See photo of similar steamer at bottom of this screen)


Complete Passenger List of MAYFLOWER in 1620

NO NEFFs were on board
         John ALDEN                   John HOWLAND
         John ALDERTON                John LANGEMORE
         Isaac ALLERTON               William LATHAM
         Mary ALLERTON                Edward LEISTER
         Bartholomew ALLERTON         Edmond MARGESON
         Remember ALLERTON            Christopher MARTIN
         Mary ALLERTON                Mrs. MARTIN
         John BILLINGTON              Desire MINTER
         John BILLINGTON (jr?)        Ellen MORE
         Helen BILLINGTON             Jasper MORE
         Francis BILLINGTON           Richard MORE
         William BRADFORD             Robert? MORE
         Dorothy BRADFORD             William MULLENS
         William BREWSTER             Alice MULLENS
         Mary BREWSTER                Joseph MULLENS
         Love BREWSTER                Priscilla MULLENS
         Wrestling BREWSTER           Gregory PRIEST
         Richard BRITTERIDGE          Solomon PROWER
         Peter BROWNE                 John RIGDALE
         William BUTTEN               Alice RIGDALE
         Gov. John CARVER             Thomas ROGERS
         Katharine CARVER             Joseph ROGERS
         The Carver's maid            Henry SAMPSON
         Robert CARVER                George SOULE
         James CHILTON                Capt. Myles STANDISH
         Susanna CHILTON              Rose STANDISH
         Mary CHILTON                 Elias STORY
         Richard CLARKE               Edward THOMPSON
         Francis COOKE                John TILLEY
         John COOKE                   Bridget TILLEY
         Humility COOPER              Elizabeth TILLEY
         John CRACKSTONE              Edward TILLEY
         John CRACKSTONE (Jr)         Ann TILLEY
         Edward DOTEY                 Thomas TINKER
         Francis EATON                Mrs. TINKER
         Sarah EATON                  _?_   TINKER
         Samuel EATON                 William TREVOR
         _?_ ELY                      John TURNER
         Thomas ENGLISH               _?_   TURNER
         Moses FLETCHER               _?_  TURNER
         Dr. Samuel FULLER            Richard WARREN
         Edward FULLER                William WHITE
         Mrs. FULLER                  Susanna WHITE
         Samuel FULLER                Peregrine WHITE
         Richard GARDINER             Resolved WHITE
         John GOODMAN                 Roger WILDER
         William HOLBECK              Thomas WILLIAMS
         John HOOKE                   Edward WINSLOW
         Stephen HOPKINS              Elizabeth WINSLOW
         Elizabeth HOPKINS            Gilbert WINSLOW
         Giles HOPKINS
         Constance HOPKINS
         Damaris HOPKINS
         Oceanus HOPKINS

See Entire Passenger List from Ship Mercury by Donna Speer Ristenbatt
See Entire Passenger List from Ship The James Goodwill by Donna Speer Ristenbatt
See Entire Passenger List from Ship The Lydia by Donna Speer Ristenbatt

(TRIVIA: In 1943 the 4-masted Schooner "Constellation" sank in Bermuda, BWI, where Captain NEAVE was desperately trying to reach safety in his badly leaking ship with a heavy load which included morphine for WWII field medics. Captain NEAVE's shipwreck inspired Peter Benchely's movie "The Deep" starring Jaqueline Bisset and Nick Nolte as scuba divers who discover the ship and recover its drugs 40 years later.)
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Typical Ships of the Period

1690 - 1780
Model Above Built by Don Neff

1740 - 1800
Model Builder Unknown

1790 - 1860
Model Builder Unknown

1840 - 1910
Model Above Built by William Hitchcock

Model Above Built by Don Neff

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