Today’s post from me is personal. If you look at the same photo above that was in a previous blog post, you will see that two days after the death of Johann Christoph Weber, a young girl, Eve Magdalene Schmidt, died on March 31, 1839. Eva was the two year old daughter of George Joachim and Maria (Saalfeld) Schmidt, who also happen to be my great great grandparents. She was yet another person who died and was buried in St. Louis before these immigrants traveled to settle in Perry County.
Among the many things that fascinate me about the German immigration in 1839 is the level of commitment it must have required for some of these people to make this life-changing trip. Some women boarded the ships in Bremerhaven while being pregnant. A few women even gave birth aboard the ships. Other families, like the Schmidts, left Germany with children who were quite young for such a hair-raising journey. On the other end of the spectrum, you find several people in the immigration who were advanced in years, and you might not expect them to make such a dramatic change so late in life.
The trip across the Atlantic Ocean and up the Mississippi River had to take its toll. There were storms on the ocean which caused much sea-sickness. Their food on the voyage could only be described as substandard. The trip up the Mississippi was made in the dead of winter with people sleeping on the deck of the riverboats. And as we see, some did not make it.
There were several reasons these people left Germany for Missouri, but regardless of which one it was, we can see a level of dedication on the part of these immigrants which led them to make the sacrifices necessary to journey to an unknown lands. I find it pretty incredible.
However, the fact of the matter is that by the end of March in 1839, the story of these immigrants overcoming adversity was nowhere close to its end.