52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: Landed

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: Landed

Christine Haun (née Doehring) sailed from Germany to Texas in 1853. She departed the port of Bremen on October 1st and arrived in Galveston on November 28th. From there, she went on to Round Top.  A few years ago, I received a  translated copy of  a 68-page record she wrote for her family in Germany with details on her voyage aboard the Neptune. Christine’s vivid descriptions of the crew,  ship,  food, deck side celebrations, and terrible seasickness provide an intimate view into what life was like for  travelers.

As they headed out to the North Sea, she writes, “It was as if our last tie to our old homeland was severed and we were now more than ever left to our fate.” And what was that fate? For Christine, it was her fiancé Otto.  She describes a beautiful scene of her love sailing alongside the Neptune as it entered the port at Galveston and climbing up to the deck. “…with a few leaps he was up the rope ladder and into my arms out of which now nothing could ever drive him again.” Others on her voyage were not so fortunate. A colonel aboard the ship who was traveling to visit his son arrived to find that his child had died of yellow fever just eight days prior. Other travelers searched the harbor for brothers and sisters only to find that they had also died from yellow fever. Although the Neptune did not lose a single traveler while sailing, other immigrant ships that set out ahead of the Neptune, such as the Hermann Theodore, had to bury more than a dozen passengers at sea.

This letter is of particular interest to me because in it she describes Carl Hagedorn, his wife Marie Louise, and their daughter Adele, who are buried in the Jaeger Witte Cemetery. The Hagedorns had previously owned an estate in Weibeck, in Lower Saxony. Like so many immigrants who arrived during the second wave of German immigration, they were leaving behind political and civil insecurity and looking forward to a life of freedom and opportunity. The Hagedorns were part of the phenomenon of Chain Migration, wherein individuals follow their families and friends to a new country. In this case, the Hagedorns were following their daughter Anna Marie and her husband Victor Witte and their children, who immigrated in 1850 along with Carl and Marie Louise’s son Frederick.   In her diary, Christine writes “The third cabin is occupied by Herr and Madam Hagedorn, who owned a nice estate in Weibeck. It is hard for me to say much about them, since I am convinced that they will not find what they seem to hope for in Texas…”

I often wonder what Christine meant when she intimated that they would not find what they were looking for. Christine, on the other hand, found exactly what she was looking for: Love and Home: “Only then was I really happy with all my heart when I stood on firm land by the side of my beloved Otto, and with sincere joy I greeted my new homeland.”

The full text of Christine Haun’s travel report is housed at the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History at the University of Texas at Austin.

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