Sunday, August 21, 2011

A Letter Back Home to Germany - 1846

Michael Rodenkirch, having emigrated from Germany to Wisconsin, wrote in a letter dated December 26, 1846, to his mother and siblings back in Germany:

     "Meat is not too expensive here and almost in all America they have meat three times a day.  Those who are living here two or three years have a larger number of swine, which for almost the entire year find their feed in the woods, and cattle get too fat in the woods which means no deduction for the owner.  There is not much trouble connected with keeping the cattle here,  The cattle are not fed in the barns as in Germany.  Here everything is different from what it is at home with you.
     Dishes of all kinds are expensive here, but they are good.  Bring but one axe with you when you come.  The axes in Germany are worth nothing; here they are better -  they had good ones.  Do not bring chains along, here they are better.  Do not bring much tin ware as there is enough of it here,  Across the ocean an iron pot or kettle and a sauce pan are best for cooking purposes.  Tin ware does not last long.
      For the voyage across the ocean take among some Zwieback, also bran flour and wheat flour; take much of this.  Potatoes if you can get them are the best vegetable.  Also ham, butter, brandy, and a small cask of wine, if you can.  Spices, coffee, sugar, and everything that you can , take this all along, for on the ocean trip, because on the ship you can get nothing, even for money.  There on the ocean you see nothing but sky and water for over a thousand miles, nothing but water; whoever plans to go to the woods to live there should provide himself with many shoes and boots, also some good strong clothing.  However, you can get enough supplies on the way and also here.  Do not bring many dishes, as it will do you no good as they have good things here in that line.  Money is the best thing you can bring along.  Bring some waffle irons and cake pans along."

He continues his letter, telling of the trip across the ocean, of how to acquire land from the government, how the nearby Indians lived, and how safe they felt living in this wilderness amoung others from Europe. 

Fr. Peregrin, in his notes of THE BERRES FAMILY CIRCLE wrote of John Berres and his travels to America that after 66 of traveling across the ocean, landing in Quebec as they had been blown off course by storms, and finally reaching Milwaukee ( 84 days from start to finish - or just shy of 3 months!), they loaded their belongings on wagons drawn by oxen and started their two day walk to St. Michael's, Wisconsin.  (St Michael's is about 50 miles NNW from Milwaukee).  Land was going for approx.$1 an acre and you could get 640 acres for about $800. 

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