Once in a while, I discover that two familiar events happened on the same day. I have to tell the story of two of those today. One event was the landing of a boat; the other a landing of a ship. One event took place fairly close by in St. Louis; the other took place in New York City. Both of these events took place on February 19, 1839. The other fascinating fact is that these two events taken together included almost everyone in the Buenger family.
I have looked back at previous posts, and I have found that I have told bits and pieces of this story, but not all of it. It is also a story that is similar to some other stories which told of families that came to America on separate ships. The Buengers, because of an unusual set of circumstances, traveled on three different ships from Germany.
Here is a photo of the Buenger children who came to the United States in 1839. The blank photos indicate some who died as infants and one who remained in Germany. They are arranged according to age. Their age at the time of arrival is in parentheses.
- Top row (left to right): Johann Friedrich(28), Emilie(26), Ernst(21), and Agnes(19).
- Bottom row: Theodore Ernst(17), Clementine(15), Herman(13), and Lydia(11).
Emilie Buenger had come by herself aboard the first ship to arrive in America, the Copernicus. She then traveled aboard the steamboat, Rienzi, which arrived in St. Louis on January 19, 1839. A post was written about this steamboat’s arrival….The First Stephanites Arrive in St. Louis. So Emilie had been in St. Louis for a month before some other members of her family arrived there.
We move to New York City. A ship arrived in this city on February 19th known as the Barque Constitution. There were relatively few passengers on this ship, but three of them were important members of the Gesellschaft. Those were Johann Friedrich and Agnes Buenger, along with their mother, Christiane (Reiz) Buenger, a widow.
There were a number of German Lutherans in New York City who had been in correspondence with those in the Gesellschaft, and they had been making plans to join the immigrants in Missouri in the near future. The three Buengers would join that group. It came to be known as the New York Group.
The three Buengers had been separated from the rest of the family because German authorities had detained Christiane Buenger in Bremerhaven. There were two orphan children who were missing, and Christiane was more or less their guardian. The orphans were actually a niece and a nephew of the Walther brothers, C.F.W. and Otto Herman. The orphans did not have the blessing of others in that family to leave Germany. These two orphans were sneaked aboard the Olbers. As a result, Christiane and two of her children who chose to stay with her, were not able to leave Germany with the rest of the Gesellschaft. It would be about a month before they were allowed to leave Germany and found passage aboard the Barque Constitution.
The trip that the New York Group took from New York to Perry County is described in our German Family Tree in the following way:
“They left New York City on 22 Apr 1839 and arrived in Perry County MO on 17 May 1839. They migrated from New York City to Perry County MO by the following route: by steamboat up the Hudson River from New York City to Albany New York, then 18 miles by the Mohawk & Hudson Railway from Albany to Schenectady (bypassing numerous locks on the Erie Canal) then west via the Erie Canal thru Utica, Syracuse and Buffalo, New York to Lake Erie, then across Lake Erie by boat to Cleveland OH, then south thru Ohio via the Ohio & Erie canal system to Portsmouth OH on the Ohio River, then west on the Ohio River, thru Cincinnati OH and Louisville, KY, to Cairo IL, then north up the Mississippi River to Perry County MO.”
Now we return to St. Louis. After their trip up the Mississippi River aboard the Selma, passengers disembarked on the riverfront in St. Louis on February 19th, the very same day that the Barque Constitution arrived in New York City.
Five members of the Buenger family were aboard this riverboat….Ernst, Clementine, Theodore Ernst, Herman,and Lydia. They must have rejoiced upon seeing their sister Emilie who possibly may have met them as they came down the gangplank. Also on board this boat was Rev. Martin Stephan, the leader of the Gesellschaft.
I am sure that day was the occasion for much joy as the people who had already arrived in St. Louis on previous steamboats were reunited with those on the Selma. However, I am also sure that their joy was going to sour in the days ahead of them. They would find out that those aboard the Selma had decided to declare Rev. Stephan a bishop. That did not sit well with everyone. As time went by and the passengers from the Amalia never showed up, their joy turned to sorrow. Those passengers never did show up because the Amalia was lost at sea. The newly arrived immigrants also would discover that much of their treasury had dried up as a result of funds being spent on the comfort of Bishop Stephan and the other pastors.
February the nineteenth in 1839 did mark the time that all the members of the immigrating Buenger family were on American soil. We know that after some land was purchased in Perry County, a small group of immigrants were sent there to get the land ready for the rest of the settlers. One of the young men who was in that group was Ernst Buenger. It would not be until May of 1839 that all of the Buengers would be reunited in Perry County. The New York Group would arrive, and then a few days after that, the immigrants from St. Louis would set foot on the banks of the Mississippi where they would find their new home.