The Sophie and the Republik

Two events that are part of the immigration story that is so important to our area took place on this day in 1838. The two events took place a great distance away from one another. One event took place in Bremerhaven, Germany, while the other took place in New Orleans, Louisiana. The map below illustrates just how far apart those two locations are.

Bremerhaven, Germany and New Orleans, Louisiana map

If you travel “as the crow flies” from Bremerhaven to New Orleans, the distance would be 4922 miles. I am going to begin with the event that took place in Germany. On November 12, 1838, after the passengers had all boarded the ship, Republik, it set sail from Bremerhaven to head toward the United States. That ship boarded 111 passengers who were part of the Gesellschaft. According to the passenger list for this ship, the captain of the Republik was D. Steenken. Since the departing passenger lists for Bremerhaven have been destroyed, we can only view the passenger list for its arrival in America. That passenger list says there were 110 passengers who disembarked. On the voyage, 2 passengers died and one baby was born. Interestingly, it was in the Ahner family that a 1 year old child died and another baby was born. The other death was in the Mueller family.

Some passengers are labeled as “cabin” passengers. The accommodations for those people were considerably better that those of the “steerage” passengers. In the cabin of the Republik, we find the Rev. Gotthold Loeber family (including his sister, Christiane Loeber. Pastor Loeber was the first pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church in Altenburg. Also in the cabin were Ottomar Fuerbringer (who spent most of his ministry at St. Lorenz Lutheran in Frankenmuth, Michigan), the Johanna von Wurmb family (who was the sister of Pastor Loeber’s wife), and a butcher named Schmidt. I have found evidence that “Butcher” Schmidt is connected to my Schmidt family.

Republik passenger list – New Orleans 1839

Right below the cabin passengers, you find the beginning of the list of what are called the “fore-cabin” passengers followed by the steerage passengers. Included in this section is my great great grandfather, Joachim Schmidt, and his family.

Republik passenger list – New Orleans 1839

I am going to display several more images to show the rest of the passengers. The handwriting is good enough to make out most of the names.

Republik passenger list – New Orleans 1839
Republik passenger list – New Orleans 1839
Republik passenger list – New Orleans 1839
Republik passenger list – New Orleans 1839

The Republik left Bremerhaven on November 12, 1838 and arrived in New Orleans on January 12, 1839, exactly two months later. Now, we will take a look at the other event that took place on the same day that the Republik left Bremerhaven. The ship, Sophie, landed in New Orleans carrying other significant passengers. The Sophie carried a selection of passengers that would later join the Gesellschaft, which did not include all the passengers on the ship. Before I display a few images from the Sophie passenger list, I am going to show you a list of people that is found in the book, Zion on the Mississippi, titled Additions in St. Louis.

St. Louis addition list – Zion on the Mississippi

There are 6 surnames on the above list. Of those 6, we find 4 of them are also found on the passenger list of the Sophie. First of all, here is a portion of the passenger list that shows the Timken family. Some of the Timken family decided to join the Gesellschaft, but not all of them that are on this passenger list can be found on the list of St. Louis additions.

Sophie passenger list – New Orleans 1838

The next portion of the Sophie passenger list shows the Holschen, Grother, and Boeschen surnames.

Sophie passenger list – New Orleans 1838

I will say a few things about the names on this list. I’ll begin with the Boeschen’s. On the St. Louis additions list, there is an asterisk behind each of the Boeschen names. That means that they left the Gesellschaft not long after their arrival. There are stories circulating that say the Boeschen’s and the Timken’s became upset with Rev. Martin Stephan’s leadership, especially with regard to how he was handling their money. I found evidence that some of the Boechen’s ended up in the area near Cole Camp, Missouri.

The Timken’s were another family that did not remain part of the Gesellschaft very long, but they did not get asterisks by their names for some reason. They, too, ended up near Cole Camp for a while. This family became famous for beginning a business in St. Louis that produced ball bearings. A story was written about the Timken’s titled, Reducing Friction. I find it somewhat ironic that a family that experienced “friction” with Martin Stephan would be involved in a business dealing with the reduction of friction.

The Holschen and Grother names are the only ones from the St. Louis additions that remained in Perry County after their arrival. The John Holschen on the passenger list was married to Margaret Grother, who is listed right below his name. That story was told in the post, Holschen-Grother-Beckmann-Luehrs. Plenty of other Grother and Holschen stories have been told on this blog.

What are the chances that these two ships would be departing and arriving on the same day? Passengers on these two ships were so instrumental in the early history of East Perry County. I dare say the chances are rather slim.

One name on the St. Louis additions list I have not discussed is that of Johann Friedrich Gruenhagen. He was not on the ship, Sophie. However, I have already written his fascinating story on this blog titled, An Old Lutheran’s Odyssey.

When I found out that so many of the St. Louis additions came to this country on the same ship, I could not help but conclude that these families knew one another in Germany. Perhaps they had already heard about the Stephanite’s plans to travel to America before their departure from their home country.

Our museum is in the process of getting our annual Christmas display ready. We have a tree that contains ornaments that give the names of the original immigrants from 1839. I was wondering if this tree included names from the St. Louis additions. I didn’t take a whole lot of time to look, but I did manage to find the names, Grother, Holschen, and Timken.


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