Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Passenger Lists: Martin & Katherine Kuhn’s Family – From Hessen to America in 1853, 1857 and 1862

     There’s a “boat load” of family history wrapped up in these passenger arrival records for the Kuhn family.  Difficult decisions…determination…patience…courage…  This challenging family move from Germany to America spanned nine years, 1853 - 1862.  

     Of course we can’t know exactly why the Kuhns decided to risk establishing a totally new home thousands of miles across an ocean. Surely, the decision must have involved major frustration and lose of hope in the future. Crop failures, food shortages, wars, inheritance laws, mandatory military service and rigid social class structure are a few of the strong motivations that pushed many German emigrants. When friends wrote letters describing the improved standard of living they were experiencing in America a great many disheartened people eagerly pursued that same path.
Putting the Kuhn Plan In Place
      I can imagine Martin and Kate having growing concerns. They face the bleak outlook for their seven children, five boys and two girls. The oldest child, Gottfried, is sixteen in 1850. They have concerns for his opportunities to establish himself in a trade or make a living at farming. They were probably also worried about his requirement for mandatory military service. His brother, Fred, is only four years younger and will soon be facing these same concerns. Other friends and family have left to find opportunity and freedom in the United States. It sounds like the answer to a better life for the Kuhns too. 

     Then, around 1852, the family plan comes together. Let’s say Martin and the older sons, Gottfried and Fred,  make enough money in the next year for Gottfried’s passage on a ship to America.  The plan includes him finding a job in the state of Ohio in a city called Cincinnati, where many other Germans have established themselves. Gottfried could send money home to help with the expenses for the next oldest three children, Fred, Minnie and Barney, to make the voyage in approximately four years.  After the four children are together in Ohio and find employment, they could help out by sending money for the others to join them. 
Gathering the Family In America
    The Kuhn family journey had to include numerous struggles.  For instance, it took five years after the second voyage of children for Martin and Kate to arrive with the remainder of the family. When the final family group arrives in 1862, there are a total of nine children, two being born after the oldest child left Hessen for America.    Even though we don’t have all the details, we can begin to weave together this episode of family history with what we do know.  I know the where, how and when of their trips.  And we can add a sprinkling of family lore passed along by their descendants.  After that, each one of us can imagine in our own way the scenarios for Martin, Kate, Gottfried, Fred, Minnie, Barney, Marianne, Charles, Richard and Adam. So, to start this saga moving, here are the ships’ passenger records:  
Step One:  Gottfried Kuhn arrives in New Orleans, Louisiana, 11 November 1853 on the ship Eva.
     Gottfried’s voyage took approximately six weeks from Bremen to New Orleans.  Below are images of two of the pages from the ship’s passenger list. The first page below is the beginning of the record showing the ship’s name, Eva, the port of departure and arrival, along with 45 of the passengers.  Next is a subsequent page listing Gottl. Kuhn as #65, male, age 18, farmer (see blue arrow). 
     Family history passed down through Gottfried’s descendants relates the story of the cholera and yellow fever epidemics raging in New Orleans when he arrived there.  They say that he hurried to leave New Orleans as soon as possible.  Fortunately he was not infected.  He traveled to Cincinnati, Ohio, to begin his life as a German-American among the many fellow countrymen there.
Passenger List, Ship Eva, 11 Nov 1853, Page 1
  Passenger List containing #65, Gottl Kuhn, Age 18, male, Farmer
Source: Ancestry.com: Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at New Orleans, Louisiana, 1820-1902. National Archives Microfilm Publ: M259; Roll # 38.
In case your curious, at the end of this post is a link to a transcription of the passenger list from the Eva arriving 11 Nov 1853.  Also, if you would like to read about the 1853 epidemics in New Orleans, there’s  a website below.
Step Two: Fred, Minnie and Barney leave Bremen on the Joannes on 15 May 1857 and arrive at Baltimore, MD, 27 June 1857.
     Three more members of the Kuhn family boarded a ship for America at ages 18, 15 and 12.  The first page of the passenger list below gives the ship’s name, her captain and 29 of the passengers.  The second page below includes the three Kuhn children (see blue arrows): #186, Ferdinand Kuhn, Occupation: Laborer, Age 18, From Neustadt, Whither: Cincinnati;  #187, Minna Kuhn, Age 15, Neustadt, Cincinnati; #188, Benedict Kuhn, Age 12, Neustadt, Cincinnati.
     A family story told to my Aunt Dolly Holzer by a direct descendant of Minnie Kuhn includes this chapter when these three children, traveling ahead of their parents, came to the United States.  And yet another confirming treasure, a letter from Elizabeth Scherrer, states that her mother, Minnie Kuhn Scherrer, came to U. S. in 1857 at 14 years old.
    I’ll always wonder if the choice of arrival port in Baltimore had anything to do with Gottfried’s experience with the epidemics in 1853. Maybe he advised his younger siblings to make plans to come through Baltimore instead of New Orleans.  Maybe he felt the city had better sanitation or was safer.  Just wondering!
       Kuhn Children Passenger List 1857 (2)
       Kuhn Children Passenger List 1857 (3) 
Source: Ancestry.com; Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at Baltimore, Maryland, 1820-1891. Microfilm Publication M255. NARA, Wash., D.C.
Step Three:  Martin and Katherine Kuhn and seven of their children, including my great grandfather, Charles, arrive in Baltimore, MD, 21 Aug 1862.
     Mother and father, Katherine and Martin, arrive nine years after the first child emigrated from Neustadt, Hessen. Below are two pages of the passenger arrival records for the ship Albert from Bremen when they docked in Baltimore, Maryland on 21 August 1862.  Here we learn there were 103 aliens and five citizens aboard. The Kuhns are on the second page below, steerage passengers #88 through #94, ranging in ages from 54 to 7: Martin, Anna Cath., Marianne, Jakob, Carl, Richard, Adam.  The information given for each of them is Country of Birth, Prussia; Last Residence, Neustadt; and Destination, Cincinnati.  Martin Kuhn’s occupation is indicated as weaver.  The blue arrows on the last page below point to the family.
Kuhn family on ship Albert arriving 21 Aug 1862.

Passengers #88 through 94 are the six members of the Kuhn family arriving in Baltimore, MD, 21 Aug 1862.
Source:  Ancestry.com; Baltimore Passenger Lists Indexes, 1820-1948, Ship: Albert, Arrival: 21 Aug 1862, Lines 88-94, NARA Microfilm, Wash., D. C.
     Finally, the eleven Kuhns are in America.  In August of 1862, after nine years of work and separation, their plan to establish a new home was successful. All of the family members traveled to Cincinnati to be at one location together, at least for some period of time.   They all survived an arduous six-week trip with overcrowding and unfavorable conditions on the emigrant ships.  From this point the family history takes many interesting paths.
    Thanks for visiting Indiana Ties,

If you would like to download the above images from my Scribd account: Click Here
To learn about the port from which the three voyages above departed, Bremen/Bremerhaven, click here: http://www.maggieblanck.com/Blanck/Bremen.html
To see a transcription of the Eva’s passenger list that includes Gottfried Kuhn, click here:  http://immigrantships.net/v14/1800v14/eva18531111.html
To read about the 1853 cholera and yellow fever epidemics in New Orleans, click here: http://historyengine.richmond.edu/episodes/view/856
To learn a little about the Steerage Act of 1819 and the history of passenger trade to America, click here:  http://sunnycv.com/steve/ar/immig/steerage.html

Copyright © 2016, Nancy Niehaus Hurley

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