Here, gathered in our beloved South Dakota, are a few members of our Williamson / Mattson Clan. Charles and Luella are to be blamed (be kind, they didn't know what they were doing). We're generally a happy bunch and somewhat intelligent (notwithstanding our tenuous grasp on reality). I'm also proud to say that most of us still have our teeth.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Margaret Miller, Our 9th Great Grandmother, Died at Sea. (Williamson Line)

From the Fortress of Solitude
Pleasant Grove,

Hello Williamsons!
A cold fall day in Utah Valley. We are grateful the strong winds that hit much of southern California and northern Utah spared us. The weather in Utah Valley is usually quiet boring year round, which is how you want your weather.

Today we learn about our 9th Great Grandmother Margaret Miller (Muller). We begin with the Relationship Chart, a new feature I've discovered on Ancestry.com. I'm spared the tedious typing of every name down to my generation.


Johann Michael MULLER
(1702 - 1753)
is your 10th great grandfather

Daughter of Johann Michael. Margaret died on May 10, 1773 on the ship Brittania while crossing the Atlantic Ocean. She was married to Michael Kieffer.
James Peter, Master, from Rotterdam, last from Cowes. 250 passengers.

Son of Margaret

Son of Jacob

Son of Hans Leonhardt

Daughter of Johann Caspar

Son of Anna Maria Margretha
Daughter of Abraham
Daughter of Arabella
Son of Margaret Ann
Son of William Jonathan
Son of Charles
You are the son of Charles

You'll notice that our 9th Great Grandmother Margaret died during the Atlantic crossing in 1773.
Her death is listed as May 10th. The ship Brittania docked in Pennsylvania in September of that same year. This means their crossing lasted at least 5 months! One can only imagine their hardships on such journeys.

The following information makes an excellent read to understand the terrible trails our ancestors faced when crossing the Atlantic.

The following excerpt from Pennsylvania Germans, A Persistent Minority by William T. Parsons is posted for its excellent discussion of conditions confronting early 18th century German immigrants on the voyage to America and upon arrival at the Port of Philadelphia. It is probable that these or similar conditions were experienced by our Miller (Muller) immigrant ancestors.
Large numbers of prospective migrants to America met at Rotterdam, a site very suitable for travelers who had come down the Rhine from their towns and farms upstream. The Neckar River valley had been home for many of them. Rotterdam was a sizable flourishing trade center, one of the two major shipping centers in the Low Countries. In many ways, Rotterdam was the typical trading port of its time. Cluttered dock and shipping facilities and bustling street markets with crowded living quarters were an indication of its prosperous condition. The addition of thousands of Germans, fleeing from districts their families had inhabited for generations, placed a great strain on the city. Merchants and shippers looked upon them as living cargo, to be accommodated the same way any cargo was.

Germans found the surroundings strange yet congenial, although for most of them this was merely a stopping place on the way to America. Some remained in Rotterdam, becoming a part of the varied population of that trading center; but most of the Rhineland travelers, on their way to the promise of the New World, found it too commercial or too worldly. The little substance that these poor wanderers had gathered for the voyage to America was dissipated by even a brief spell in or near the port. Many who left their German homes in a solvent financial condition departed Rotterdam without any funds (and very few goods) at all.

From the several detailed accounts of the ocean crossing which have come down to us, it seems quite evident that the voyage was the chief hazard or obstacle of the flight from Europe to America. Many who had never sailed before crowded the small vessels with poor sailors and rotten accommodations. They lived for six to eight weeks in cramped space on board, holding fast to the trunks, chests or baggage which contained all their worldly wealth. They were fortunate to find deck space.

Many of the families on their way to Pennsylvania were crowded onto ships that carried double the number of passengers the vessels could theoretically accommodate. In those cramped and crowded conditions, numerous passengers died at sea. So extensive was the list of casualties that ship captains finally settled upon a formula on how to avoid an excessive number of deaths which reduced their cargo. Occasionally fatalities also made them subject to quarantine regulations in the American ports. They agreed (and by the 1740s made it part of the verbal contract with prospective passengers) that the halfway point of the voyage was the critical time. If a passenger died before the vessel had traveled half the distance to Pennsylvania, then the captain would bear the expense and the corpse was reckoned as no fare. If, on the other hand a passenger died after the halfway point of the voyage, then his family must pay full fare to America, even though he was buried at sea.

Various accounts of the passage have survived, leaving a literature of frustration and suffering. Few of the accounts make the experience appear pleasurable; most of them summarize weeks and months of hardship and deprivation. One such description by John George Jungmann of a sea voyage of the ship Love and Unity, in the years 1731-32, relates the problems in detail. Originating at Rotterdam the vessel made port in Falmouth, adding supplies and food there. Twelve days out of Falmouth, the captain declared half the journey had been completed; five months later, the ship had not yet sighted land in America, but after nearly six months on the high seas, they came ashore at Martha's Vineyard. The emaciated passengers told tales of intense suffering. After eight weeks their bread and water had to be rationed, but during the last six weeks before Christmas, no bread ration was distributed and water was apportioned at a pint per family per day. Ship rats sold at a shilling sixpence and mice at sixpence each, when available. Deaths on this terrible voyage ran exceptionally high. Only four dozen persons reached American soil of an original passenger list of one hundred fifty-six. Barely forty, represented by a mere thirteen heads of families, eventually reached the original destination of Philadelphia, and that by the compassion of a Quaker master who happened upon them at Boston. The survivors claimed the only final choice they had was mutiny, whereby they forced the ship to make a landfall.

Ordinarily, for a six- to eight-week voyage, the captain's costs were modest. To feed hundreds of passengers cost him a few pennies per week. In return for the food he supplied, the master was ordinarily well reimbursed. Cash customers paid from three to five pounds when they landed. In 1750 adults paid ten pounds for passage. Ten to 20 percent of the passengers paid cash fares. Time of the year, conditions in Rotterdam, and the particular individuals transported determined passenger distribution. Prospective employers (or occasionally, prospective husbands) bought up indentures or contracts of the remaining mature arrivals, at profits which exceeded the cash fares for the masters or ship captains. Underage passengers without families were nearly always apprenticed or bound out. Philadelphia ship captains late in the 1740s generally agreed that human cargo was more profitable that cloth or hemp. Many captains could scarcely restrain themselves as the shipped from Rotterdam with a 100 percent overload of such human cargo.

The ocean passage required six weeks under favorable conditions, but even then preliminaries at Rotterdam and Cowes added days or weeks to the voyage. Debarkation at Philadelphia was sometimes delayed because of wind and tide, or due to mercantile or port requirements and official red tape. Food consumption from the traveler's own stock was apportioned for a six weeks' crossing. When that was gone, they subsisted on meager rations from the ship's stores, at inflated prices. Occasional suffering from storm delays or navigational miscalculations, as described above, affected both crew and passengers, but especially the latter.

Journey's end caused loud celebrations and extended rejoicing among the weary passengers. Those who had, weeks earlier, given up all hope of ever reaching port, now offered up thanks to God for their safe arrival after their journey across "the very big sea." Even the broad Delaware River reminded many of them of the familiar Rhine River in its lower reaches, broad, smooth-flowing, and bordered by impressive natural growth on both banks, with occasional dwellings and out-buildings visible.

Read more: http://www.delmars.com/family/migration.htm

The Following are two descriptions of Germans arriving in Pennsylvania after a harrowing journey across the Atlantic.

In a letter sent by Christoph Sauer of Germantown to friends in Wittgenstein who were eagerly awaiting news of several emigrants form Elsoff. Sauer wrote: “The Elsoffers have not yet arrived. Everybody wonders where their ship I, and besides that vessel, 3 to 4 ships with people are still expected. According to all reports, they have been at sea now for a quarter of a year.” As to the vessels that had come in, Sauer remarked: “The throngs of people who let themselves be seduced this year to come into the country are raising much lament here. Besides, as so many hundreds died from sickness aboard ships at sea, the survivors, if there is any left of a family, must pay or go into service which causes so much indigence and privation among a people which is hard to describe. This ship lost near 160 persons, and another one that arrived the day before, more than 150, and on one that came in the following day, only 13 healthy people are said to remain. Still another one arrived meanwhile on which out of 300 freights only 50 are left. Most of them died from dysentery, head sickness and violent fever also some captains and many seamen. Altogether of 15 passenger ships only 2 seem to have arrived with people tolerably healthy and well.”

Harrowing were the experiences of people who risked their lives and property to cross the Atlantic Ocean from Europe to America during the Sixteenth to Eighteenth Centuries. The season for passage began in early May and ended in late October with each westerly voyage from England requiring at least seven to eight weeks with good tail winds, and often ten to twelve weeks if the winds were not favorable. A typical journey for refugees fleeing religious persecution in Europe or indentured servants contracting years of labor for the cost of passage would often begin in Rotterdam or Amsterdam and then proceed to England for supplies.

Sailing Ship
18th Century Sailing Ship
Accommodations were sparse. Personal living space was limited to just barely enough room for a person to lay down to sleeping. Most ships would dock in England for several days while cargo and provisions were loaded. Passengers would spend money or eat some of what little food they had brought for the journey, only to later discover on the open sea that those few morsels would have eased the hunger that will haunt them for most of the voyage. Far too many people did not realize, nor were they prepared for the actual degree of human misery that lay before them. Sailing vessels of this period were grossly unsanitary because of the accumulation of repeated vomitings, dysentery, sweat, mildew, and rot. The lower decks were usually filled with stench. People suffered from ill preserved food stores, constipation, headaches, infestations of lice, a multitude of maladies resulting from impure water, and of course the ubiquitous affliction of seasickness. Add to this the emotional fatigue of unrelenting weather conditions such as cold, dampness, heat, and storms that would rage for days. Passengers were repeatedly thrown against each other in step with the rhythmic pounding of each wave. Homesickness began to plague many because they remembered all too well the comfort of even the most humble dwelling. So bad did the conditions become after many weeks, that people longed to be home, if even to sleep in a barnyard. Psychological factors then begin to play through manifestations of impatience and unceasing frustration. Curses and threats of harm were frequently exchanged, and occasionally tensions escalated into brawls, even between members of the same family. They cursed and berated each other. Stole from one another. Constant anxiety for life and safety began to turn into hopelessness,

This is another description of the terrors of the Atlantic crossing

The Migration and Expansion of the Brethren in America
Written by
Ronald J. Gordon
Death was a steadfast companion of both passengers and crew for many would perish. Burial at sea can be an especially difficult and trying experience. One does not have the expected proper time for remorse because the body must be cast overboard in a short period of time. The sea does not allow family members to return to an exact spot in order to grieve as is true of a land based cemetery where people can repeatedly return, where flowers can serve as a visible closure, and the certainty that graves usually remain unmolested. Death at sea can be a cruel experience. You cannot return. There is the haunting reality that the body will probably be eaten. Family members reproach each other for persuading them to make the journey. Wives reproached their husbands for children that were lost. Husbands lamented most piteously for convincing their family to make the journey. Children bemoaned parents for their helplessness. Witness accounts record unbelievable despair and misery. As more and more people die, it becomes almost impossible to console the relatives.

"Many hundred people necessarily die and perish in such misery, and must be cast into the sea, which drives their relatives or those that persuaded them to undertake the journey, to such despair that it is almost impossible to pacify or console them. In a word the sighing and crying and lamenting on board the ship continues day and night, so as to cause the hearts of even the most hardened to bleed when they hear it."

On the Misfortune of Indentured Servants, Gottlieb Mittelberger, 1754.

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