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New World View

Letters from a German Immigrant Family in Texas (1854–1885)

Series:

Edited By Ruth Cape

New World View: Letters from a German Immigrant Family in Texas, 1854–1885 is a bilingual and annotated edition of a collection of letters written by a 19 th century German immigrant family in Texas. Christian Friedrich Bergmann and his family belonged to the large wave of German immigrants that came to Texas in the 1850s. Born in April of 1817 in Ebersbach, a small village then located in the Kingdom of Saxony, Bergmann – together with his wife Johanna Christiane Luise Bergmann and his three sons, Friedrich, Karl, and Christoph – embarked on an overseas journey to America in August of 1854; in November of 1854, they arrived in Texas. The family first resided in San Antonio before later settling on the Guadalupe River near Boerne, where Bergmann bought 320 acres of land and he and his family became farmers and ranchers, as well as active members of their community.
The Bergmann letter collection begins with a detailed description of the sea journey and the many exciting and disheartening moments experienced while at sea. Bergmann then gives deep insight into many facets of immigrant life on the Texas frontier while narrating how he and his family built a life for themselves in Texas.
This letter collection spans a period of three decades, presenting the reader with important insight into the process of German immigrant acculturation in Texas in the second half of the 19 th century. At the same time, it details the numerous challenges many immigrants faced in their attempts to adapt to American culture and succeed in the New World. The book, which includes a historical and biographical introduction, is a valuable source for scholars and students in various disciplines, but also addresses readers with a general interest in the social history of German immigration to the United States and, specifically, to Texas.
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Part Two: The Bergmann Letters

← 29 | 30 → ← 30 | 31 → Part Two:

Extract





[1.]

[Description of the sea journey to America in 1854; undated letter, probably late 1854/beginning 1855]1

Dear Father:

Trembling and haltingly I take my quill, wondering whether my letter will find you alive or not. I am sure you longed to receive a letter from me, because I promised to write you as soon as I would stand on solid ground again. But, unfortunately, sending a letter costs a lot and since I knew Heuchling2 had written, I hoped you would find out that my family and I have reached the shore safe and sound.

Now I would like to tell you about my difficult and dangerous journey. On the first day after my farewell, we came to Leipzig3 and spent the night in the Schwarze Kreutz.4 Dear brother-in-law, you know how it is in Leipzig and everywhere all the way to Bremerhaven,5 especially regarding emigrants because they have money.6 On the second day, we stayed in Braunschweig,7 where they had a fair at the time. On the third day at four o’clock in the afternoon, we arrived in Bremen.8 We had to stay there until the sixteenth [of August]. Then we took the steamboat Roland9 to Bremerhaven where we had to go to the Immigration House.10 On our way there we were stranded around Vegesack11 because we had almost 500 passengers aboard, and were stuck for 3 hours. Since there was a high tide,...

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