Galveston, December 8,1849
We arrived at the roadstead here on the 5th and were overjoyed when we went on land on the sixth. Except for one chest, we have all fha baggage out of the weather, for which I am really thankful because a heavy rain is beginning to fall. It usually turns into a so-called “Norther,” which, driven by a strong north wind, brings hail. This is typical winter weather here; the temperature drops to 3° Réaumur (=39°F), which is assumed to be the lowest temperature occurring here.
We needed to purchase various little items and did that yesterday. We became convinced that one is crazy to buy household items in Germany for use here. Everything in the way of household articles, luxury goods, and clothing materials is available, even though more expensive, some things much more expensive, than in Germany; yet, they are to be had.
When you consider the freight charges to Bremen, all the trouble that one has with the crates and the many heavy pieces of baggage, the risks of the voyage (cost of insurance), you can do almost as well in buying it all here, with the possible exception of some few things that can be better brought from Germany, but which you may not need here. As personal belongings, one should take primarily clothing and linens etc. that are new or in good condition, and cash in the form of large coins is extremely useful.
In reference to the money circulating here, the following may serve as a guide. The smallest coin used in Texas is the five-cent piece (= 2 silver groschen and 2 pfennigs). If one buys a cigar, it costs 5 cents. For six cigars one pays the same, i.e. 5 cents! Since there are no pennies, and, up till now, no copper coins, small purchases can not be made otherwise. Silver coins from 5 to 10 cents exist, and then there are ¼, ½, and whole dollar coins. One eighth of a dollar or 12½ cent coins are rare. A single one counts as 10 cents, but two are worth 25 cents. Since there are no 2½ cent coins, change can not be given for the extra value.
As a city, Galveston has far exceeded my expectations. Although the houses that one sees here are mostly of wood, and only a few are of brick (usually brought here as ballast in immigrant ships), they are almost all two stories high with very high ceilings (10 to 12 feet) and are very nicely, splendidly, even luxuriously furnished. The merchants’ shops for the most part contain large inventories of wares and are equipped richly and with elegance. Perhaps they cannot compare with the best in Berlin and Leipzig, but are far better than many shops in these cities. One is also served with great friendliness.
I can not recommend strongly enough to my worthy countrymen who intend to come here that they begin early to learn the English language, since this is indispensable if one is to realize his ambitions here.
At Beisner’s Washington Hotel, lodging costs a dollar per person per day including coffee, breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and is very good; however, our accommodations with the same meals are not much worse at Madame Block’s William Tell hotel for only a half dollar.
I can recommend this lady innkeeper to anyone who looks at his dollar twice before he spends it.