1934 Strassburger "The Journey To Pennsylvania"


1934 Strassburger, Ralph Beaver, LL.D, PENNSYLVANIA GERMAN PIONEERS, A Publication of the Original Lists of Arrivals in the Port of Philadelphia From 1727 to 1808, two volumes, Pennsylvania German Society, Norristown, 1934, reprinted Genealogical Publishing Company, Baltimore, 1966, contains a description of the journey to Pennsylvania some fifty or more years after Hans Peter and family made the trip. Although it doesn't discuss Hans Peter directly, the information is interesting and it can be presumed that in 1685 the hardships were even worse than those described here. These two volumes include other, later UM immigrants's information, and Volume III, which was not reproduced, but is still available in some libraries, contains photocopies of original lists.

Intro page xxxiii ff:

"The journey to Pennsylvania fell naturally into three parts. The first part, and by no means the easiest, was the journey down the Rhine to Rotterdam or some other port. Gottlieb Mittelberger in his Journey to Pennsylvania in the year 1750, writes: (24)

"'This journey lasts from the beginning of May to the end of October, fully half a year, amid such hardships as no one is able to describe adequately with their misery. The cause is because the Rhine boats from Heilbronn to Holland have to pass by 26 custom houses, at all of which the ships are examined, which is done when it suits the convenience of the customhouse officials. In the meantime the ships with the people are detained long, so that the passengers have to spend much money. The trip down the Rhine lasts therefore four, five, and even six weeks. When the ships come to Holland, they are detained there likewise five to six weeks. Because things are very dear there, the poor people have to spend nearly all they have during that time.'"

"The second stage of the journey was from Rotterdam to one of the English ports. Most of the ships called at Cowes, on the Isle of Wight. Other ships touched at one of seven other channel ports ... Deal, Dover, Portsmouth, Gosport, Porte, Plymouth, Falmouth ...

"In England there was another delay of one to two weeks, when the ships were waiting either to be passed through the custom house or waiting for favorable winds. When the ships had for the last time weighed their anchors at Cowes or some other port in England, then, writes Mittelberger, 'the real misery begins with the long voyage. For from there the ships, unless they have good wind, must often sail eight, nine, ten to twelve weeks before they reach Philadelphia. But even with the best wind the voyage lasts seven weeks.'"

"The third stage of the journey, or the ocean voyage proper, was marked by much suffering and hardship. The passengers being packed densely, like herrings, as Mittelberger describes it, without proper food and water, were soon subject to all sorts of diseases, such as dysentery, scurvy, typhoid, and smallpox. Children were the first to be attacked and died in large numbers. Of the heartless cruelty practised he gives the following example: 'One day, just as we had a heavy gale, a woman in our ship, who was to give birth and could not under the circumstances of the storm, was pushed through the porthole and dropped into the sea, because she was far in the rear of the ship and could not be brought forward.'"

"The terrors of disease, brought about to a large extent by poor food and lack of good drinking water, were much aggravated by frequent storms through which ships and passengers had to pass. 'The misery reaches the climax when a gale rages for two or three nights, so that every one believes that the ship will go to the bottom with all human beings on board. In such a visitation the people cry and pray most piteously. When in such a gale the sea rages and surges, so that the waves rise often like mountains one above the other, and often tumble over the ship; when the ship is constantly tossed from side to side by the storm and waves, so that no one can either walk, or sit, or lie, and the closely packed people in the berths are thereby tumbled over each other, both the sick and the well - it will be readily understood that many of these people, none of whom had been prepared for hardships, suffer so terribly from them that they do not survive. (25)"


This time frame compared to Hans Peter's journey in 1685:
11 June - second passport request made - exactly how long after this date he actually left Kriegsheim is not known.
16 August - land transaction in Rotterdam - about 8 weeks later.
16 October - arrival in Philadelphia aboard the Francis & Dorothy - two months later.

Heilbronn is south of Worms and it is possible that the Rhine boat on which Hans Peter presumably traveled originated there as well. The journey from Heilbronn to Holland was north and west, down the Rhine.

This item may explain the necessity of obtaining a proper passport as requested by Hans Peter, Schumacher and Hendrichs, although it is possible that the customs stops along the Rhine were not as numerous or as well-established in 1685 as they were in 1750. To whatever degree the costliness of things applies to Hans Peter's journey, it is apparent that he needed to have a quite a bit of cash, even above that required for passage and for his land purchase. It is also apparent that that had there been any serious delay along the way, the family may well have become stranded in Holland or in England and perhaps have been forced to return to Germany.

As I read this, I have to pause and reflect that it is no small miracle that Hans Peter and his entire family, at least those we know about, survived the journey. Had they not all survived, thousands of descendants of Johannes or Eve (Pennypacker) would never have existed and we UMs would not be here today.


(24) Gottlieb Mittelberger's Journey to Pennsylvania in the year 1750 and return to Germany in the year 1754. Translated from the German by Carl Theo. Eben, Philadelphia, John Jos. McVey, 1888, p. 18. Gottlieb Mittelberger arrived in Philadelphia on September 29, 1750, with the ship Osgood.

(25) L. c. p. 21.

Back to Hans Peter Bibliography

See also Hans Peter's Passport Requests

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