Emigration and Travel Conditions
The following article from the Mecklenberg-Schwerin
internet home page, gives some insight into the operation of the popular German
ports of departure, Bremenand Hamburg. Also
explained are some of the deplorable conditions aboard the vessels and the poor
treatment received by passengers.
Map of north-western
Germany showing the location of the port cities of Bremen and Hamburg, either of
which may have been the port of departure of our Glintz ancestors.
(Click image to view an
Map copyright Microsoft
as an Emigration Port
Hamburgbecame a port of
emigration because of its competition with Bremenas a seaport for trade. In the early 1830s, Bremen was
doing well in its trade with America, while Hamburg trade was mostly
with the West Indies and Latin America. When a ship arriving from
America was ready for the return trip, Bremen often did not have
enough export goods and the ship had to return to America empty. This
made the shipping process very expensive. To combat this problem,
Bremen began to lure part of the emigration traffic away from other
European ports such as Le Havre, Antwerp, and Rotterdam. Its efforts
were successful. Hamburg had a decree which forbid group emigration.
Only single families or travelers could emigrate from Hamburg.
The collection of emigrants in Bremen
caused some problems for the city. Often emigrants were stranded there
without food and had to go through the city begging because they did
not have enough money for lodging or passage. Unscrupulous ship's
agents enticed them to Bremen with a promise to ship them to America
and get them a plot of land. Then they took what money the emigrants
had. There were many other underhanded deals as well. This left the
city of Bremen responsible for providing financial assistance.
order to safeguard its emigration business, Bremenpassed a decree in 1832 which freed the city from giving
financial assistance to emigrants, while making it obligatory for
ship-owners to certify the seaworthiness of their vessels, to keep
passenger lists, and to keep provisions for 90 days on board. This
meant that ship's agents had to deliver what they promised.
This policy for protection of emigrants not only made
Bremen's America trade more profitable, but brought considerable
benefit to the Bremen economy. The emigrants, between their arrival
and their departure by ship, had to stay in Bremen lodging houses and
feed themselves. Also the emigrant ships had to purchase substantial
quantities of provisions in Bremen. The increased shipping trade
provided business for sailmakers and all the other trades connected
with shipping as well.
In order to keep up with Bremen
and reap some of the emigration profits as well, Hamburgfinally decided to open up group emigration. The City
Council published a decree in February of 1837. It laid out the space
entitlement of each passenger, the size of the bunks, and the quantity
of provisions that were to be taken on the voyage. Hamburg also
established its first liner service between Hamburg and New York to
handle the emigration.
advertising their crossings. Such an advertisement might read, "The
passengers from the day of embarkation to the day of disembarkation at
the port of destination receive free board on the scale usual on
seagoing ships. This consists of sustaining and nutritious food such
as salt beef, salt pork, herrings, peas, beans, pearl barley, oats,
rice, sauerkraut, butter, plums, pastries, pudding, etc., all in
sufficient quantity and of the best quality. Coffee is served in the
mornings, and in the evenings tea and ship's bread with butter. In
accordance with the decree of the local authority, the ships are
provisioned for 90 days so that the passengers will not lack for
anything on the longest voyage."
Hamburgwas not a good
city for emigrants, however, and there were no regulations about their
treatment during their stay in Hamburg. Most emigrants arrived in
Hamburg by rail. Every landlord tried to entice as many emigrants as
he could to his inn or lodging house. Sometimes the landlords hired "litzer"
(runners) who handled this. Runners were also hired by the clerks of
shipping lines, by moneychangers, by stores selling utensils for the
voyage, etc. The runners were paid a commission on each customer they
brought. The emigrants, who were naturally not familiar with Hamburg
conditions, were frequently the victims of fraud. They were charged
very high prices for board and lodging or were sold unneeded utensils
for the voyage. Many lost much of their money before they even left
In order to stop the "runner's racket", a private
association, the Association for the Protection of Emigrants, was
founded in Hamburgin 1850. From
that date forward, on their arrival at the railroad station, most
emigrants received information on the average price of board and
accommodation, how to transfer baggage, the necessary utensils for the
voyage, the current rates of exchange, and the different types of
passage available to America. However, by the year 1854, the emigrants
leaving Hamburg rose to nearly 51,000, and the private association
could no longer handle the numbers. Finally, in 1855, the City of
Hamburg took over the Information Office and its staff. At the same
time, the Emigration Office was given the judicial authority to
quickly settle disputes between emigrants and landlords or businessmen
before the emigrant sailed. This gave another protection to the
emigrants that they did not have previously.
The Voyage By Sailing Ship
hardest and most dangerous part of emigration was the voyage in the
sailing ship itself. The approximate size of Hamburgsailing ships in 1850 was 124 x 20 x 15 feet ( length x
beam x depth of hold.) Even if individual ships were bigger than this
average, emigrant ships of that time were, by modern standards,
Many emigrants sailed on a "bark", a three-masted
vessel with foremast and mainmast square rigged and the third mast
fore and aft rigged. Others sailed on a "brig", a vessel of two masts
(fore and main), both of which were square-rigged.
The length of the voyage between Hamburgand New York depended on wind conditions and the weather.
An emigrant never knew exactly how long the voyage would take. The
average crossing took 43 days and the longer crossings often took 63
days. An exceptionally long voyage might take 70 days. If an emigrant
had booked passage to California, the voyage would take six months.
First and second class cabins were available, but these cost from
three to as much as ten times the steerage passage, depending upon the
accommodations and the size of the ship.
Most of the emigrants traveled in steerage
accommodations which were in the space between the upper deck and the
cargo hold. Shipowners had found the emigrants were a new source of
profit and had built a flimsy, temporary floor beneath the main deck
and on top of the cargo hold. Sometimes this flooring was set so far
down in the hold that bilge water would seep up through the planking.
Rats scurried about. Ventilation and light came only from the hatches
when they were open. The only lights in the compartment were a few
hanging lamps along the side which could be lit at night. During a
storm, emigrants were denied access to the main deck and the hatches
were battened down tightly, leaving no source of ventilation, except
for a few pinhole or strainer sized holes which were in the cover.
(Usually the hatches were not tightened down before a few waves had
poured in and soaked all the bedding and clothing, however.) The storm
could last for a few days or up to a week or more and the hatches
would stay down. Lights could not be used during the storm because of
the danger of fires.
The prescribed minimum height of the steerage deck was
5 1/2 feet or about 1.72 m. Each steerage passenger was entitled to a
space of 1.88 x 0.63 m. (about 6 ft. x 2 ft.) The only way to
accommodate all the passengers was to keep half the steerage deck free
for eating and moving about and to stack the other half with bunks on
top of one another in pairs. Along with the crowding came the dirt and
the smell. Some of the odors were those of a normal ship--the bilge
and the perpetually rotting hulk or the lingering odor of old cargo.
Others were those that had settled into the compartment due to lack of
ventilation and problems of previous emigrants. These included the
smells of urine and vomit, as well as rotting refuse that had gotten
down into the cracks. Added to that was the smell of water-soaked
bedding or clothing, unwashed passengers, and the current slop buckets
in the compartment.
there were toilets, they were generally up on deck, beyond the reach
of the more weakened passengers and, in stormy weather, out of the
reach of everyone. The more usual facility in steerage consisted of a
few screened-in-buckets which might or might not have seats. When
storms struck, these often went flying around the steerage
compartment. When seasickness struck, the buckets were often full or
out of reach and many passengers vomited on the floors or in their
Provisions were measured and doled out carefully to
ensure they would last the required ninety days if necessary. Water
was carefully rationed and only a small amount given to each passenger
which had to suffice for drinking, cooking, and washing of themselves.
The diet given passengers was sufficient to keep off starvation, but
not healthy or appetizing. The quality of the provisions taken on
board naturally also suffered from the lengthy voyages of the sailing
vessels and from inadequate food preservation methods. The bread was
moldy by the end of the voyage, the butter and pork fat rancid, the
flour full of bugs, and the water almost undrinkable.
Cooking grates were set up on deck for steerage
passengers. They had to take turns using them in order to prepare the
family meals. There were always lines of people waiting to use the
grates. Those cooking had to learn new methods. If the ship lurched,
the pot might tip over and the meal would be lost. Boiling liquid
could be spilled which would cause severe burns. During bad weather,
the cooking grates could not be used at all.
Three diseases in particular were rampant on ships:
cholera, typhus, and smallpox. Cholera, an infection of the stomach
and intestines, was a particular problem. Once cholera struck a ship's
passengers, it spread quickly. Noone knew what to do for the problem.
One recommended treatment was to administer a dose of Epsom salts and
castor oil in combination, rub the patient's face with vinegar, and
then give the patient 35 drops of laudanum, a highly addictive opiate.
If there was no ship's doctor, and there usually wasn't, the captain
had the medicine chest. The medicine chest often contained remedies
such as balsam, drops of various kinds, cream of tartar, peppermint,
powdered rhubarb, or pills advertised on the waterfront as useful for
curing a number of ailments. Any of those treatments might be tried.
Outbreaks of smallpox were less common but more
feared. The disease was often accommpanied by pneumonia, encephalitis,
blood poisoning or some other ailment, and the mortality rate was
The worst killer of all on sailing ships was typhus, a
liceborne disease that afflicts the victim's skin and brain, causing
dizziness, headaches, and pain throughout the body, together with
bloodshot eyes, a dark red rash and a dull stare. Typhus was common in
the crowded conditions and was known by the nickname of "ship fever."
It is a wonder that as many passengers survived the voyage as did.
Those that did not were buried at sea.
The Steamship Takes Over
In the middle 1800's the steam engine began to take
over shipping. On May 29, 1850, the first Hamburg
steamship sailed over the Atlantic
Ocean to America. In 1856 there were two 2400 ton steamships put into
service on the direct route from Hamburg to New York. More steamers
followed, but the cost of passage was more than that of the sailing
ships. The direct voyage between Hamburg and New York, which had
lasted 43 to 63 days, was shortened to a maximum of 12 to 14 days. In
1856 only 5% of the emigrants landing in New York came by steamship,
but by 1870 it was 88%. Increased competition pushed fares down so
that steamship crossings finally cost less than sailings. In 1879 the
last emigrant sailing vessel left Hamburg and the steamship became the
sole method of transportation. During the era of the sailing ship
(1836 until 1880) Hamburg statistics recorded a total of 1,072,404
emigrants leaving its port. 88% of all of those emigrants chose the
United States of America or Canada as their destination, with 5.4%
emigrating to Brazil and Argentina, and 4.8% to Australia. The
steamship changed the lengthy, tough, unhealthy and dangerous sea
voyage of the sailing ship age into a 10 to 14 day episode. The
Atlantic Ocean crossing to America changed for the better.
Beginning in the 1870's, German national's emigration
to the United States through Hamburg
began to decline and the emigration by
southern and southeastern Europeans began to increase. In the five
years from 1881 to 1885, German emigration through Hamburg was 60.9%
By 1890 it had fallen to only 25.1%.
The Journey of Our Forefathers
At this time little is known of the details of the four
mens’ voyages to North America and we do not know from what port they left to
come to North America. To date records of the voyage that would document the
precise ports and dates of departure and arrival, the ship’s name, and
accompanying passengers have not been discovered.
In general, other Europeans most often used the ports of
Liverpool, LeHavre, or Antwerp as their point of departure from Europe across
the Atlantic Ocean. Up until about 1850, Germans would most in most cases have
favoured Bremen as their point of departure. This would be as a result of
emigration laws in effect at that time in Bremen. These laws regulated the
onboard provision of food and space that ships’ captains must provide to
passengers as well as the recording of passenger lists, among other things.
Careful study of a German map would suggest that one of
favoured routes to depart Germany from Schkortleben would have been to travel up
the Saale River to the Elbe River which flowed directly to the city of Bremen
and to the port town of Bremerhaven and the North Sea. Records for the port of
Bremen have almost completely been destroyed during the Second World War. With
the exception of 2.953 passenger lists for the years 1920 to 1939, all other
lists were lost. As we are concerned with the years 1852 and 1862, the Bremen
records will unfortunately be of no help to us.
The second port most likely used used by our ancestors
would be Hamburg. Hamburg records have yet to be investigated.
A handwritten history, in German, of Ernst Wilhelm
(WILLIAM) Glintz states that he immigrated to America on 12 June, 1852,
then proceeded onward to Canada through Quebec on 12 August, 1852
(see the chapter entitled “Biographies and Family
Stories” to read the actual handwritten history). As a point of
contradiction, records left by Alan Glinz record that Johann Carl Friederich
(FREDERICK) Glintz and his brother Ernst Wilhelm (WILLIAM) Glintz departed
from Schkortleben Germany on June 10, 1852. The period of time from 12 June to
12 August is obviously 2 months or eight weeks. Sailing voyages of this era
could last up to fourteen weeks, so in this case the eight week voyage is rather
quick but not beyond belief.
As we examine further we will see that it is most likely
that the date of June 10 (or June 12) would have been their departure date from
Germany, rather than the date they arrived in North America. Therefore I suspect
Ernst Wilhelm’s history should have recorded the date in June as the date of
emigration, not immigration. This fact will be important as we try to
locate immigration records at a port of arrival. In
a 1984 letter from Lyall Glinz of Edmonton, Alberta to Norman Edward Glintz of
Niagara Falls, Ontario, Lyall states that Ernst Wilhelm Glintz (WILLIAM Glintz)
landed in Quebec on Friday, 20 August, 1852. Whether the date is accepted as 12
August or 20 August, it is now clear that rather than searching arrival records
near 10 June we will need to search records on or near the dates of 12 August or
20 August. In any case it would appear that the most likely scenario is that the
men left Germany on or about June 10 and arrived in Quebec on or about August
Which port of entry was used is the next issue to be
addressed. As stated above, this is not documented yet. The passage from Europe
may have brought the men to the port of New York, U.S.A.. Alan Glinz’ records
also state that Johann Carl Friederich Glintz (FREDERICK Glintz) was married at
Buffalo 29 May, 1854. It is not known if the men may have travelled through New
York State to Buffalo where North America’s largest German population resided,
or did they first land in North America directly at Quebec?
We do know that Johann Carl Friederich Glintz (FREDERICK
Glintz) first settled at Jordan, Ontario. If we accept that the men did land
first at Quebec as per Ernst Wilhelm’s handwritten history, then we also might
imagine that they made their way up the St. Lawrence River into the Great Lakes
and to eventual landfall at Jordan, Ontario. Interestingly, if one were to
follow an imaginary path on a map up the St. Lawrence river, across Lake
Ontario, then across Lake Erie, this path points almost directly to Jordan on
the south-west shore of Lake Erie.
We also have reason to believe that in 1862 Andrew John
Glintz or part of his family, departed
Germany on the ship Bramehofen(sp?). As yet this is
unconfirmed. More likely this is a reference to the port of departure, which may
have been Bremerhaven. (Several searches of ship's name lists have yet to reveal
that a ship with any similar name existed).
It is quite likely that the younger Christian Ernst
Glintz (ERNEST Glintz) accompanied Andrew John’s family on this trip (now aged
17), as he would have only been 7 years old, when Frederick and Wilhelm made
their journey. Census records for Andrew Glintz
(Andrew John’s son) also state his year of immigration as 1862. However census
records for Emma Glintz(Andrew John’s
daughter) give her date of immigration as 1865.
These voyages of course, were in the days of the sailing
vessel, before steamships had come into general usage, and it was not surprising
that these trans-Atlantic voyages could last up to fourteen weeks. Since
there was a great demand for passenger transportation, freighters were hurriedly
converted to carry passengers. People were crowded together with limited
facilities. Food and fresh water often became scarce, and disease broke out with
little or no medical attention available. Apparently August Glinz, fifth child
of Andrew John Glinz and Frederica Kenoke, died at sea on the voyage from
Germany (see story below).
If arriving in New York City, the immigrants likely
followed the Hudson River north to Albany. Here they turned west along the route
of the Erie Canal which had been completed in the 1830's and connected the city
of Buffalowith the Atlantic ports. Those who
had the means traveled on the canal boats, but the great majority traveled on
foot with their personal possessions loaded into conestoga wagons. It was
a long and wearisome journey, but the fact that they traveled with other German
families helped to relieve the strain and tension. On reaching Buffalo, which
had a considerable German population, they may have made a short stay here
before making the final decision to cross into Canada.