The Olbers and Amalia Depart

On November 18, 1838, the last of the ships which were part of the Gesellschaft sailed from the German port of Bremerhaven.  This made a total of five ships which were carrying a total of approximately 700 people who had decided to start new lives in America.  The two ships leaving on that day were the Olbers and the Amalia. 

When the Olbers arrived in New Orleans in January of 1839, its passenger list indicated that there were 181 passengers aboard.  Probably its most prominent passenger was Rev. Martin Stephan, the leader of the Gesellschaft.  Here are several pages of the passenger list for the Olbers.

Olbers passenger list – page 1
Olbers passenger list – page 2
Olbers passenger list – page 3
Olbers passenger list – page 4
Olbers passenger list – page 5
Olbers passenger list – page 6

I am thankful that the scribe who recorded this passenger list wrote so neatly.  The same cannot always be said of other passenger lists I have seen.

The Olbers was on its maiden voyage.  We probably know more about the voyage of this ship than any of the others.  Both Gotthold Guenther and Theodore Brohm kept journals which documented many of the stories which took place on the trip across the Atlantic and up the Mississippi.

The Amalia left Bremerhaven a few days after the Olbers.  It was the smallest ship and carried the fewest passengers of the five ships.  However, its purpose was to transport many of the items important to the immigrants, such as books, musical instruments, and other items to be used in worship.  Sad to say, the Amalia never made it to the United States.  It was lost at sea.  Many speculate that it may have been lost off the coast of Spain, where it was recorded that the Olbers experienced a severe storm.  Others have put forth the theory that the Amalia may have been the victim of pirates.  We are likely to never know.  About 55 lives were lost, and this tragedy brought much sadness to the immigration society.

We do not have a passenger list for the Amalia.  It obviously did not make it to New Orleans to have the passengers listed.  Passenger lists were made at the points of departure in those days too, but there are no such lists anymore from the port of Bremerhaven.  One story I have heard is that records from this time period were destroyed because they ran out of room to store them.  A list has been compiled of the probable passengers aboard this lost ship and is included in the book, Zion on the Mississippi.



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