November 2, 1859

A few letters of Wilhelm Von Rosenberg to his friends follow. He writes:

On board the Franziska, November 2, 1859.

Dear friends, , Although it will take some time yet before we reach Galveston, our stay there will be as short as possible and will permit little time for writing, especially since we shall have our hands full with the baggage and purchasing the necessary supplies. Therefore, I shall begin today, in God’s name, to send you my news and yield to my passionate wish to converse with you, my dear friends. I’ll proceed from the idea that many of you are thinking, indeed, have the burning desire to leave Europe as quickly as possible. I shall, therefore, set down for you that which can be of the greatest use to you on such a trip as I, with God’s help, have so far completed, and for this purpose shall faithfully report all that my experiences, both in Bremen and on the ship, have taught me — often painfully enough!

In Bremen, as our embarkation point, I and my whole family spent a rather long time, since this~ temporary stopping place seemed to best fit our needs. we stayed with close acquaintances and at the same time informed ourselves of much that was worth knowing. Despite these advantages, ‘I would advise all. to plan ahead, so that they need spend only a very short time in Bremen. In this connection, special note should be made of the fact that no ship leaves on the day of its scheduled departure.

October first had been .announced as the date of our sailing, but we didn’t go to the roadstead until the seventh and a day later on October 8th we put to sea.

In most cases, three o ve ays mus e regar e as the shortest time in which a ship can be sent to sea.

As a rule, passengers will do better to arrive in Bremen on the day before the scheduled departure in order not to spend a lot of time in vain waiting. Also, one would do well to arrange that his baggage not arrive earlier than he does. Thus, it can be transferred directly from the railway station to the river boat that brings the passengers’ freight to the ship in Bremerhafen.

The Bremen freight agents, even the ship’s agent (as, for example, Bodecker) charge a considerable sum for storage,`so, in order to avoid this, baggage should be sent to Bremen by express. One should not stay in Bremen longer than is necessary to transact the following business: payment for the passage and picking up the receipt for one’s baggage that has been put on the river boat. If one has excess freight, one should, immediately upon its being loaded on the river boat, have it weighed by the certified scale men, go to the ship’s agent for a slip showing that the excess is free of charge, or pay for it and get a receipt. When this is done, go directly to Bremerhafen with the steamboat without stopping in Bremen, rent a room at’ an ‘inn by- the day and wait patiently until the ship has taken on its cargo. If it says in the voyage contract, which one has the ship’s agent send by mail when the earnest money is paid, that the ship will depart on this or that day (e.g. on the lst or the 15th of the next month), this really means that on the lst or 15th the river boat will be loaded with the baggage. Since, however, the steerage passengers travel to Bremerhafen without charge on the river boat, and it frequently takes a whole day for loading, it rarely leaves for Bremerhafen on the specified day.

In most cases two or three such river boats are sent at the same time, and if they encounter an adverse wind, they may take two days to reach Bremerhafen, This explains why no ship can put to sea before the 3rd or 18th following the specified date.

Upon arriving in Bremerhafen, one should reserve a place on the ship on which he is traveling, make up his bunk there, and sleep on the ship (from the 3rd or l8th). On this day, board also begins on the ship, although the meals are pretty bad because, as long as the ship is in the harbor, no fire may be made on board, and all cooking must be done in special cooking shacks.

For the whole harbor, which probably contains 200 ships, there are only two cooking shacks. The inadequacy of this arrangement is self-evident, but since it is most prudent to save money, I advise eating on board the ship as soon as meals begin there. The baggage that one wishes to keep with himself and use on the voyage can also be put on the river boat, but one must be present when it is transferred to the ship to prevent its being stowed in the hold, for, although access to one’s baggage in the hold is permitted during the voyage, this can not be done frequently and always involves a lot of red tape. The cabin usually provides enough space, so that each person can keep a suitcase, carpetbag, and the like with him. In order, however, to avoid conflict with the captain, one should arrange exactly and in detail all questions concerning baggage with the ship’s agent and have it put in writing. If one is taking along dogs or other living animals, one should arrange in advance in writing for food, a dry place and fresh litter weekly, or for straw so that one can put the litter in place himself.

One should also make provision for and agreements concerning beds, mattresses, etc., and demand free transportation from Bremen to Bremerhafen before sending in the earnest money. For the voyage itself, one should not forget that half of the time is spent in the tropics.

One should, therefore, pack a straw hat with a broad brim, sufficient undergarments, and other light clothing, so that they are readily available. One will soon find that on shipboard there is little to ~do, and before departure one should think about this and prepare for it according t6’his likes and habits.

Since, with time, the drinking water develops a bad taste, one should take raspberry juice, lemons, good vinegar, and the like on board. Although meals are provided by the ship, I must urgently advise the traveler to bring various snacks at his own expense for his own use on the ship because, after being seasick, one becomes hungry at unusual times of the day and craves something to eat. The following foods do not spoil and can be recom ended in every regard: herring, raw ham, pickles, and a lot of fresh fruit, especially apples, each one carefully wrapped in paper.

Don’t forget dried plums (prunes). These are necessary to relieve the constipation that usually sets in after one has recovered. froun seasickness. Anything made of iron that is taken along must be packed very carefully, since the damp sea air penetrates everywhere, and everything of iron rusts. We have lightly oiled our guns, inside and out, wrapped them tightly and firmly with heavy, yellow waxed paper, and then firmly wrapped and sewn them in cloth, and packed them in boxes. Others fill the barrel with tallow.

It is even worse with seeds. If during the voyage they are not to lose their ability to germinate, they must be kept in tin cans that have been soldered closed.

If packed in boxes, they soon become covered with mold, which makes them useless. Clothes and, in general, everything that one brings onto the ship, should be packed in the driest state and as carefully as possible. Even then moisture will still more or less, play its destructive role.