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Author: Subject: 027.000 Johann Kasper letter. Serbske Nowiny, March 18, 1854
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[*] posted on 5-9-2015 at 09:52 PM
027.000 Johann Kasper letter. Serbske Nowiny, March 18, 1854

New Ulm, Austin Co., Texas, Dec. 26, 1853

Dear Friend,

Since now, with God’s help, we have arrived in America, we shall not delay giving to you and to all who remember us with love a report of our trip and our circumstances. -- We arrived in Bremen Aug. 31 and stayed there two days. On the third day, we were transported onto a ship [the Reform] on the Weser River. We put to sea on Sept. 4; there were 90 passengers on this two-masted ship. Our voyage was very good, because we mostly had a good breeze. But the 53rd day, Oct. 26th at 11 o’clock at night, our ship hit a rock off the island of Cuba; its front part hung on this rock, but the back part was thrown back and forth by the waves and water was running with great force into the ship. As a signal of the distress that we were in, a lantern was quickly hung up, and since we were near the island, it was soon noticed. We had to stay in fear and danger on the wrecked ship for about four hours, and we would have had time enough to pull many things from the water, but nobody was thinking about saving possessions because no one knew if he would save his own life. At three o’clock in the morning, a small ship arrived which took us to land. Our possessions already were mostly in the water, and since the ship then soon sank, our possessions and trunks were all lost; only what we had on us and with us, such as clothes and bedcovers, were saved. -- The island of Cuba belongs to Spain and is mostly inhabited by Spanish people. When we got to shore, we couldn’t communicated with anyone; we had to send for an interpreter five English miles away. We were taken to the town of Neuwied, [possibly Nuevitas] well cared for and richly bestowed with money and goods. After a three day stay, a steamer took us to the city of Havana, where we were very well received and given bountiful help by the German Society and the consul.

After three days, were transported from Havana on a steamer to new Orleans and sent to the German society there. There too, they looked after us well and clothed us from head to foot. The next day we traveled to Galveston, also by steamer. On this occasion we also saw the famous Mississippi River. When we arrived at Galveston, each [adult] received six dollars from the consul and each child three dollars, which money the German Society in Havana had sent there.

In Galveston we stayed a day and a night and then traveled on Buffalo Bayou to Houston. In Houston we quickly found wagons and Mr. [F. G. ] Seydler, the master mason from Bautzen, and from there we traveled overland to New Ulm, where we arrived after a week. There are two Bautzeners there as farmers, namely Mr. Seydler and Mr. [George] Helas. We two brothers are working for Mr. Helas; we get half a dollar a day and good meals (meat and coffee three times a day). Christiana Kasper is also working for Helas and getting at present four dollars a month. Hanna Kasper with the children is living with a neighbor and is fine; her oldest daughter Helena is working for the neighbor and gets a dollar and a half a month and meals.

If anybody wants to come there, we would advise them not to travel from Bremen but from Hamburg. Generally it is said that the Hamburg ships are better provided with food than the Bremen ones. We experienced that, too, because the food was bad and there was little water. Our shipwreck must be attributed to the lack of order or the lack of skill on the part of the captain. As far as this area here is concerned, we like it; the earnings are good and there is great freedom in all things, both secular and spiritual. Everyone may exercise his religion according to his own knowledge and conscience, nobody asks you about your religion. The only thing everyone asks is if you can work. There are even churches and schools here. We also advise anyone not to drag along a lot of things, because you can get everything here; especially axes and such are better here than in Germany. It would be good to bring along clothing. Also a person should not buy rifles unless they are very good. Here, everybody can go hunting, and rifles are both good and cheap. Whoever brings along a few hundred Talers, can buy farms or real estate anywhere here, and whoever brings nothing along but his working hands can make his living.

Give our brother George our greetings, also our good friends and acquaintances.

Johann Kasper, Hans Kasper.

My address must be written in English.
Mstr. Johan Kasper by Mstr. G. Hjelas,
New-Ulm, Austin County, Texas.

[Joseph Wilson, trans. Located in Weldon Mersiovsky, From Shipwreck to Settlement--Krause : a Wendish Heritage. (1991) 1-8.] [See Neu-Braunsfelser Zeitung, Nov. 25, 1853.]

Johann Kasper [Serbske Nowiny 18 March 1854] [Summary of letter]

New Ulm, Austin County 26 Dec 1853

They arrived at Bremen on August 31. They boarded the ship on the third day and were at sea on September 4. There were 90 migrants on a two masted ship. Good winds. But on 52 day (26 Oct.) Our ship hit a shoal near Cuba. The front part of the ship remained but the back part was dashed to and fro. The water filled the ship. The emergency lantern was lifted and the islanders noticed it. We remained on the ship for four hours and took items of our things, but none knew if we would live. A small ship arrived and took us to land. Our things were mostly in water -- all things went down. Some things, clothes, were saved. We could talk with no one. We went 5 miles to get a translator. They went to New Vieda and were given money and new things. After 3 days wait a steam ship took us to Havana. We had good treatment from the consul and gifts.

After that a steam ship took us to New Orleans and the German association gave us new clothes from head to foot. Then we went to Galveston by ship. We saw the Mississippi River. At Galveston the counsel gave $6 to adults and $3 to each child. It was money from the Germans in Havana. We then went to Buffalo Bayou and Houston. Sejdler of Bautzen was a mason in Houston. Then by wagon to New Ulm. We were en route one week. There are two former Bautzen residents at New Ulm. Mr. Sejdler and Mr. G. Hellas. We two brothers went to work for Hellas at $1 per day plus meat and coffee. Christiana Kasper is also at Hellas and gets $4 per month. Anne K is at a neighbor and has it good. Helene is at another neighbor and gets $1 1/2 per month. If anyone wants to follow, don’t come from Bremen but Hamburg. Hamburger ships have better provisions. We had bad food and very little water. The shipwreck is to be blamed on the captain.

We like the land. There is great freedom. Work is good. The only question is “Can you work?” No other questions. Don’t bring much along. You can buy it here, often at a better price. Anyone can hunt here and guns are good and cheap. If you bring 100 Taler you can buy land.

Greet brother George.

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