made by our travelers during their brief stay were in no way able to overturn the this opinion.
On January 23rd a new and tiny passenger appeared on board the Olbers; the wife of shoemaker Nieman from Dresden gave birth to a little girl, whose illness required she receive baptism on the next day.
There were numerous swindlers, who attempted to take advantage of the German's unfamiliarity with the laws of the new country. One managed to take in the administrators of the congregation by passing himself off as a customs and toll officer, who came to inspect the ship's cargo. In the past they had learned that treating these petty officials to an excellent breakfast and offering a firm handshake could produce a fair degree of indulgence and moderation from them and this approach was not without success. After the man was fed and given a gift of 10 dollars, he made a very loose revision of the manifest and left the ship. — He had scarcely left when the real customs officer arrived and explained the swindler's trick. The swindler had been appointed to the customs office but he had been relieved of his duties a long time ago. They had been swindled and now it was necessary to repeat the manoeuvre. — For purposes of unloading the cargo in an orderly fashion and to avoid any kind of error, the people were divided into three groups:
1) workmen, 2) supervisors and 3) expeditionaries. However the haste with which the sailors handled the task made these careful plans useless since everything was handed over one head to another and chaos swiftly resulted.
On Saturday, the 26th at 9 AM the steamship Selma, which was to take the group farther on its journey, came up next to the Olbers. Unfortunately they were unable to complete the unloading of goods that day because the steamship could not remain in that location but rather had to go to its own assigned berth. On Monday the remaining cargo was transported by wagon to the steamship, a journey taking about 15 minutes. The cost for all this was paid for by the captain of the Selma.
Pastor Stephan and his fellow travelers purchased gourmet items such as wine, oysters and other delicacies. Fine furniture had been purchased for the reverend bishop so his rooms in St. Louis would be elegantly decorated. In short, no amount of money was spared to satisfy the wishes of this idolized man.
Soon after the Selma released her black cloud of steam into the air and everything was ready for the departure. It was now that Dr. Schnabel decided to leave. He had received free passage along with his wife and five children in exchange for his services.
This was paid for by the congregation at Stephan's specific request. He demanded a hefty sum in compensation for his functioning as ship's doctor to the congregation during the journey. He also declared that he wanted to remain in New Orleans. The authorities received his complaint and the administrators were cautioned to either pay the sum or start court proceedings. Since they were in the process of leaving, they naturally chose the latter alternative. The suit was tried in St. Louis with Dr. Marbach against Dr. Schnabel with the latter winning the case at the end of June.
Finally on Thursday, January [31st] the journey commenced to St. Louis, 250 German miles away.
What they call "snakes" make the Mississippi particularly hazardous for river travel. These are giant tree trunks swept into the river after torrential rain storms, which then settle into the silt at the bottom. These snakes often make a meal of passing ships.
The journey proceeded without any particular impediments until the Selma got stuck in a mud bar at the confluence of the Ohio River. Because of the low water level it was impossible to keep moving. The passengers disembarked and made a short excursion into the nearby forest. There was also a beautiful and extensive farm near the shore. The sightseers met the owner, who sent along a black man to be their guide.
Many occupied themselves by hunting a small variety of parrot, many of which were killed and feasted upon. The upper edge of the forest extended for about 3 English miles into a wild and sumptuous region, which the black man Cicerone assured us, was filled with wild animals making it their home during the summmertime. Then the sightseers considered it advisable to return. — It is well known that the farmers try to clear out as much of the forest as possible since the wood in this region has no particular value. Many had seen the fearful sight of forest fires in Europe. Fallen limbs and brush are gathered up, placed around the large trees and ignited and soon after a glowing pillar of fire rises from the green depths. The sight is particularly wondrous at night. The area is then cleansed of the remaining trees and undergrowth to make the land ready for cultivation. The farmer now attempts to sell this land as farmable acreage and the process is repeated. In this manner the people often accumulate a substantial sum of money. Admittedly there's also a certain prudence and source of never-ending activity.
The Stephanists enjoyed themselves as they gathered small pieces of wood and set a few fires. Indeed, Stephan himself delighted in the wondrous drama from the deck and the farmer was quite pleased by the activity. He offered to pay the community
|if they wanted to stay a few weeks and continue performing the task because the advantage to him was no small trifle.
On January 18th [28th?] Dr. Marbach and candidates Klügel and Fröhlich went on ahead to St. Louis in the steamship Brazil in order to find lodgings for the other passengers. Along with the Selma the steamship Louis of St. Louis could not sail farther.
On Thursday the 14th an attempt was made to continue the journey. Things were going so badly that they had gone not 5 English miles when the ship was silted in again and two unfortunate accidents occurred. A stoker was catapulted down a hatch and he was brought back up unconscious. The shuddering motion caused the nine-year-old son of tax examiner Barthel to fall over the lower railing on the passenger deck into the river. Luckily he fell behind the steam-powered water wheel otherwise he would have been crushed. A sailor jumped into the river and saved the boy.
Here the landscape was not as pleasant as earlier. There was only one small farm, which had recently been cultivated and it was in a sorry state.
Some of the alert passengers had commented on the bishop's extravagant spending. Naturally these comments were made known to the ministers and M. Wege felt compelled to deliver a very reproachful speech. He bitterly censured this behavior and brought forth for consideration how
Go to pages 29 - 33
Copy of text provided by the Concordia Theological Seminary Library, Fort Wayne, Indiana 46825
Imaging and translation by Susan Kriegbaum-Hanks