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Sep 30

Jacob Muller Sails to America

The Bremen (1858). Jacob Muller sailed to America on this ship. Original painting in Focke-Museum, Bremen, used by permission from Focke-Museum.

Last week I detailed how I found Jacob Muller’s immigration information in the Germans to America index at the Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne. That index showed that Jacob traveled on the ship Bremen and arrived in New York on 15 June 1871.

With that information I headed to the library’s microfilm cabinets to look through the passenger lists of immigrants arriving in New York.  Once I knew the ship’s arrival date it did not take long to find the images of the Bremen’s passenger list.

There it was, on roll M237_344: The Manifest List of all passengers taken on board the Bremen, Captain W. Ladewig, Master. It was exciting to see Jacob’s name on the ship’s list. He was 28 years old and his occupation was a farmer. He was from Germany and was traveling to the U.S.

Jacob Muller on Bremen manifest.

Jacob boarded the ship Bremen and sailed from the port of Bremen, Germany, on 31 May 1871. From Bremen they sailed to Southampton, England, and departed from there on 3 June. They docked at the port of New York on 15 June 1871. The voyage took 16 days.

It was not an easy way to travel. Many immigrants had to sell their property and most of their possessions to pay for the voyage to the new land. They put the few possessions they had in a large wooden box, which was their traveling trunk. Most of the German emigrants traveled in steerage and so did Jacob Muller. Their quarters were in the lowest levels of the ship where it was very crowded. There were no facilities down there either.  Many passengers were overcome with seasickness during the voyage. Passengers were allowed to go up on deck for fresh air if the weather was nice.

The Bremen was a steamship built by Caird & Company of Scotland. It was owned by Norddeutscher Lloyd and was the first of five passenger steamships with the name Bremen. It was constructed of iron, weighed about 2,550 tons and was 321′ x 39′. It had a clipper stem, one funnel, and 3 masts rigged for sail. It could travel at a speed of 10-11 knots. The Bremen could accommodate 160 passengers in first class, 110 passengers in second class, 400 passengers in steerage, and a crew of between 102 and 118. The ship had a freight capacity of 1,000 tons.

The Bremen was launched on 1 February 1858. The ship’s maiden voyage was from Bremen to New York on 19 June 1858. The ship carried 115 passengers and 150 tons of freight. The Bremen’s last voyage was 5 November 1873 from Bremen to New York via Southampton.

Some voyages of the Bremen:

1.  Captain Meyer, 336 passengers and merchandise, sailed from Bremen to New York via Southampton on 22 November 1863, left Southampton on 25 November, and arrived at New York on 10 December 1863. Captain Meyer.

2.  Captain Meyer, 702 passengers and merchandise, sailed from Bremen to New York via Southampton on 18 November 1865, left Southampton on 22 November, arrived at New York on 6 December 1865. It was “a very boisterous passage.”

3.  Captain Ladewig, sailed from Bremen to New York via Southampton on 31 May 1871, left Southampton on 3 June, arrived at New York on 15 June, 1871.

Ship Bremen's Manifest. Arrived in New York 15 June 1871.

In 1874 the Bremen was sold to E. Bates & Co. of Liverpool and was converted to a sail ship. On 16 October 1882 the ship was carrying a cargo of coal and whiskey when it ran ashore on the Farallon Islands. It wrecked under the light house in a dense fog 27 miles from San Francisco. The cargo of coal and whiskey was insured but the ship was not.  Small craft waited for the cargo of whiskey to float to the surface, but it never did. In 1929 some proposed trying to raise the whiskey but the US government prevented it. (sources of Bremen ship information: Palmer List of Merchant Vessels website and  North Atlantic Seaway, by N.R.P. Bonsor, 1978, Vol. 2: 544)

Thanks to the Focke Museum in Bremen, Germany, for giving me permission to post a copy of the oil painting of the Bremen. It was painted and signed by Fritz Müller, 1858, and is in their museum. The Palmer List of Merchant Vessels website shows a couple more paintings of the ship Bremen (1858).

Because of digitization, indexing  and the Internet we can now view Jacob Muller’s name on the Bremen’s passenger list on Ancestry.com, although I believe the immigration collection is a paid subscription on their website. Their immigration collection is very good and it is nice to be able to search their indexes and images from home.

Jacob Muller may have been traveling with Christian Kessler since they are listed next to each other on the passenger list. Ancestry’s index shows his name as Christian Kepler. The double “s” was written in the old style and could look like a “p” if you didn’t know the surname. Christian was also from Bierbach.

More questions arise:  Was Christian Kessler related to Jacob? Was this the same Christian Kessler that had already settled in Liberty Township several years before? Perhaps Christian sailed back to Germany and brought Jacob back to America with him? Hopefully some day I will figure it all out.

6 comments

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  1. Jeff

    Nice photo!

    1. Karen

      It looks like a beautiful painting and it was very nice of the Focke-Museum in Bremen to allow me to use the image. I’m sure glad they have English as a second language in Germany!

  2. Jeff

    This voyage sounds rough!

    1. Karen

      I’m sure it was, but our ancestors were not wusses. They risked a lot and put up with a lot to come to a new land.

  3. Monica

    Enojoyed reading your post. My ancestors sailed to America on the same ship 10 years earlier in 1861. Amazing to think about the sacrifices that were made for the chance at a new life.

    1. Karen

      How interesting! It is so exciting to discover the name of the sailing ship. Thanks for writing.

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