The trip from Vallstedt to Hamburg and the stay in the same.

On the fifth of May 1822 my wife and I travelled with the driver who was hired to transport us with a pile of things to Harburg from Vallstedt. A Vallstedter named Christian Glindemann, who along with many others took a cordial part in my fate, accompanied us to Peine.

On the eighth of May we arrived safe and sound in Harburg, where we had to stay until the eleventh, because our things were first weighed, marked and put in the storehouse there until I could make an arrangement with a ship sailing to America. In Hamburg we went into the first good hotel, then I looked for private quarters in which we could lodge until our departure. On the following day I went with the innkeeper to the local police, showed my passport and received permission to stay in Hamburg until my departure to America. On the following day I asked about the availability of a ship to the United States and found announced at the local exchange and also at other places "that Captain Arend Fokkes, commodore of the handsome three-masted ship Ocean, which was almost completely loaded, would sail for Philadelphia on the sixteenth of May."

Then I hurried to Captain Fokkes, agreed with him about the trip to Philadelphia and reached an accord that I would pay 140 Spanish thaler for me and my wife, the first half at once, but the other as soon as the ship would sail into the North Sea; I immediately exchanged so much money into Spanish thaler and paid half the trip on the same day. Then I hurried to have a porter take my things on board the ship Ocean and then for the first time I saw the inside of the ship which was to be our dwelling for a long time; from the outside I had already often seen it. It was one of the best ships of its kind, rightly built for rapid sailing. They showed me the place in the middle deck of the ship where I was to lodge next to my wife; it was roomy and lighted with thick glass which was fastened above in the ceiling to make the room light. But the ship, according to my calculation, was barely loaded to half, and the loading of the wares was of no great significance. Also I heard the seamen saying to themselves that the wares were coming sparsely. But I thought, since the time of departure was publicly announced, that we would depart at the designated time.

My lodging would no longer satisfy me; it was rather cramped there and very noisy day and night; also there were very often drunken guests in the place, whereby our stay became even more unpleasant; my wife sat in the corner constantly and wept and this increased my dissatisfaction over the misguided hope that we would travel to America in the company of several young countrymen and thus I regarded my plan to farm there advantageously as vain. On the sixteenth of May I expected Captain Fokkes in vain, for he was to come as planned in person to announce to me the departure of the ship. Instead yet another announcement of the departure time of the Ocean was posted which read: Captain Fokkes will most certainly sail on the 26th of May with the good ship Ocean, because it nearly has its load. If my wife was already restless on account of the great amount of money spent and what our future would be like, she became all the more so, and almost without cessation made the bitterest accusations that I was causing her misfortune, that I should have stayed in the fatherland and that I could have provided for myself there, etc. I did not attempt to describe my own feelings about misguided hopes, but attempted to hide my troubles in order to calm my wife as much as possible. Mostly I regretted that I was too hasty in booking immediately with Captain Fokkes, since there were other ships in port headed to North America, and on the 18th of Maya big American merchant vessel sailed for New York with which I could have travelled much more reasonably. All of this, as well as the unaccustomed air in Hamburg, worked adversely on my health, I started to get sick and became weak and pitiful. Captain Fokkes, who in the meantime was seeking passengers, complained that the wares were coming so sparsely and was sorry that we had to wait so long in vain for the departure of the ship, etc. The 26th of May came once again without the news that we should board ship and I heard and also saw posted that Captain Fokkes would sail to Philadelphia on the 6th of June, since the ship nearly had its load. But when the 6th of June came, the departure of the ship was again postponed to the 16th, from then to the 26th of June and finally to the 6th of July.

My sufferings during the long misguided and costly stay in Hamburg were indescribably great and the condition of my health became more precarious. Anxiety gnawed over the failure of my plans and hopes. Sour and burdensome it had been for us in the fatherland over the last twenty years to get a small amount together with the greatest thrift, in order that in our old age, when our powers left us, and one has to take leave of his former burdensome occupation, we would not need to languish. But now a large portion of our savings earned in the fatherland through our efforts of strength and through a restricted house economy and great deprivation were already gone by our local trip and our expensive stay in Hamburg, and yet we were only 100 miles away from our former home, still in our dear German homeland! In Hamburg or vicinity I would gladly have undertaken something whereby I would have earned my bread, but could I dare to hope that Captain Fokkes would pay back even a portion of the money I had already paid him? Also there came into my situation a deceptive sham; I feared the ridicule of my countrymen, who had already said before my departure from Vallstedt, "He will not trust himself on the vast waters! When he finally sees it, he will turn around and remain on German soil, etc." To be sure, I had never feared the trip over the ocean; but in the last weeks of my stay in Hamburg there was not only the decline of my health and powers caused by remorse, concern and heavy troubles, but also the gnawing realization awakened in me that during the journey or right after I might die and that then my good poor wife would have to spend her days abandoned from all the world in that foreign land among unknown people, perhaps in greatest misery, weeping and lamenting over me as the cause of her misfortune, and this depressing realization could in no way liven my already depressed spirit.

At my departure from Vallstedt, one of the inhabitants there requested of me to take along his youngest son who was anxious to go to America. He would obligate his son to be obedient and submissive to me, as though I were his father. Also the eldest son of this man appeared and let me know that he would give his brother as much money as he needed to cover travel costs. After I was convinced that he had satisfactorily completed his military obligation, I accepted the suggestion with the stipulation that he should not lay it to my account as though I had led this young man astray, as was falsely attributed to me by others, etc. This young man, by the way, was one of those that earlier indicated their wish to emigrate with me.

At approximately the midpoint of my stay in Hamburg, a citizen of that city came to me one evening, introduced himself to me as a native of Vallstedt and told me that his cousin and yet another Vallstedter had sent their things by mail which he would get and take to his house until these two could go with me to the ship. After a few days the two young men came to me. They left secretly from Vallstedt with the consent of their parents, but without permission from the authorities and without passports; I was frightened to no small degree about that, because the ducal police had arrested both of them at my departure, so that they would not emigrate with me. But they perceived no danger, took walks around the city as well as outside of it, although I immediately warned them that if they were not circumspect they might be arrested and brought back to their homeland. And then after several days the police inspectors did come and looked for them in my quarters. They had been given the assignment to look for these young people who had left without the knowledge and permission of their parents and to arrest them in order then to return them to their home, etc. One of these young people was met by an adjutant of the police one evening upon entering the city and was examined and questioned. Among other things gotten out of him was that he and another were determined to go with me to America, that he was lodging with a cousin, a joiner and furniture dealer, until the ship left, etc. But this furniture dealer had, as he said later, pressed a piece of money into the police adjutant's hand and for the time being had freed his cousin. He kept these two young people continually upstairs in his house, where he had apprentices (likewise secretly) at work, for he was a so-called amateur, that is a craftsman who is not a master.

This man also offered to give me and my wife free lodging in his roomy house, until I would go to the ship, because I could save much, which I accepted with thanks and took a place upstairs in his house. Our meals we took at a nearby restaurant and had that for much less too. But our new innkeeper did not do this purely out of humanitarianism, but rather out of selfishness, as soon showed itself; for no sooner did I move in with him than he requested me to go with him to a house where he had an accumulation of Viennese pianofortes standing, and pressured me without surcease to buy such an instrument from him and take it along to Philadelphia, because there I could make a great profit on it; he quoted examples, that travellers there had made over 500 royal thaler on such an instrument, etc. Although I doubted this last and had not the least inclination to speculate on such a matter, I could not withstand the compulsion of this man, and I must confess at this opportunity that it is one of my greatest weaknesses that in such cases I cannot responsibly and convincingly resist the pitch. Therefore I was talked into it and bought a Viennese pianoforte for 150 thaler. I hoped at least that I could sell this instrument in America without a loss, but I was led astray, and had to sell it there for a 40 thaler loss.

The two young Vallstadter now also arranged with Captain Fokkes and, since it was not deemed safe enough for them in Hamburg, went to Bassenfleeth in the Hannover area several days before the ship's pilot. Before their departure they both pleaded to me with tears to take them further with me and swore to me again unshakeable loyalty never to leave me in America, but rather to support and further my undertakings there with all their powers. In the firm hope that these people, who were really necessary to me if I were to carry on the business of farming there advantageously, would be knowledgeable and thankful, I paid the seaman the cost of the remaining freight, the incurred expense of their countryman and innkeeper and the fee for their trip to Bassenfleeth on an Elbe ship. This occurred about fourteen days before our departure from Hamburg. In the meantime we became acquainted with still several other young people who also wanted to travel with us to America and for that reason visited us frequently. They had left their homeland out of fear of military conscription; they were Prussians and Saxons. Of such young persons there was a great crowd in Hamburg, who stayed there secretly, and everyone to whom I spoke had the desire to travel to America, but they lacked the means to defray the cost of the trip there and in Hamburg it was not easy to find a captain who would take such people on if they could not pay their transportation in advance.

In these last days our hearts were certainly lighter than in the beginning; but when we thought of the money we had spent and that we would arrive in America with only little or no cash, should our stay in Hamburg last much longer, our apprehension was so much the greater. Finally Captain Fokkes came and announced that July 6 was the set date, and that we should make ready to go to the ship on that day. The ship was to sail already on the previous day to Cuxhaven, but he and his passengers were to board a Blankenese ship at 3 o'clock in the afternoon on the 6th, on which we were to sail to the Ocean near Cuxhaven. We took care of the purchased pianoforte in addition to other things put on board the Ocean and made ready for the journey.

Source: Edited by Bryan Wright

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Heinrich Jonas Gudehus

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