The Jaenke Family's trip from Germany to America in 1888

by Elisa jaenke Albrecht written 50 years later. Translated by Nola Schroeder Ristow - 1991

In the year 1888 the 2nd of December, the Jaenke family left their home in Vangerin, Germany, early in morning while it was still dark. Father Karl, Mutter Bertha, Wilhelm, Emilie, Elise, Juluies, Albertina, Rosalina, and Franz Jaenke gathered on the train yard at Vangerin and drove off to Stetten and went by Berlin. At Stetten the train took water, and we drove on to Brehmen. A hotel servant from the hotel got us, and we waited there until the 5th December. There with us was also another family, and more young single people, traveling off.

The morning of the 5th December we left Brehmen, and after an hour the train brought us to Brehmerhafen. There was much to see. There was ship after ship with their masts and sails, something we had never seen. At the harbor, life was very busy and noisy.

And we children were naturally afraid and worried, and we held tight on to mother's skirt so we would be sure to get on the ship. The loading and getting on the ship took a couple of hours. Shortly before noon the ship (named 'Amerika") took off from the harbor. Everyone's eyes were wet as we watched the old homeland grow smaller and finally disappear.

The trip on the sea was not very nice. There was much fog, so you could not see much. The ship blew the foghorn from time to time, and it was not nice to hear, but it had to be so ships did not run into each other. We were on high sea when the storm started. We often thought that the ship would not straighten up again, it rolled to the side so our baggage rolled from one side to the other. So it went mostly day and night. And do not forget, the sea sickness. Mother was so sick, she was in bed most of the trip. We all were sick, some were more sick than others.

The food was not so good, but you had to be satisfied with what you got. It was not every day feast. When at noon, it was pea soup or potatoes and herring, so it tasted good. There was some food that we could not eat. The bread looked so good, but it had a taste that we could not stand. With the butter, it was the same. At night, for supper, it was tea, that tasted like hay, but we did not go hungry. Brother Wilhelm was in good with the ships' cook. Wilhelm sometimes helped the cook, so he got us other food that was good for us, and we were very thankful. Especially our dear mother, who at most meal times, sometimes could not eat at all. For the small children, there was milk and oats mush. Drink water we had to be careful with. We did not go thirsty. We did not waste water. We had enough water because we were careful. We also had coffee that tasted like a dose of epsom salts.

The last day on the ship was very nice. The weather was nice and the passengers had all gotten to know each other. Everybody exchanged addresses but I believe no one ever wrote to us and we didn't write to any one either. Everyone was going off in different directions.

When we were yet a few days from America, came the harbor pilot on board of our ship to steer our ship into the harbor of Baltimore.

It was with great happiness and joy, when we heard that the coast of America was beside the ship. Everyone rushed on the deck to see the new homeland. That was a happy moment.

As the ship landed, it was early morning in the dark. The lights from Baltimore were still burning. It looked like a big burning Christmas tree. It was a pretty moment. So we arrived with God's help. The unloading of the ship began as soon as it was day light.

It was the 22nd of December and everyone was glad to have solid ground under their feet again. Now started the checking of baggage. That was soon over.

Now came the trains. One family went in this one and others in that one, until all passengers were taken care of.

The first night in the new homeland was spent on the train. On the train we were together with another family that we new, but they soon went off in different direction. Then we were alone, but for a man from the ship. He had already been in America a few times. The trip on the American train was very interesting. We saw so much. The Cities that we came through. their names I have forgotten. There were so many and after 50 years I have forgotten some.

Sunday morning we came through Cincinnati, a nice city, in glorious sunshine. From there we drove to St Louis, and from there it was the beginning of Texas. After that we came to Dennison on the 25th of December, in the morning, under heavy rain. There we had to wait a long time for our train. At last the train came. The next morning we were in Houston. There we were told that in the afternoon by 4 o'clock we could arrive in Marion. Our happiness was great to be so close to Zuehl, but that seemed to us the longest part of our trip. Finally we were in Marion. Our baggage was already there at the depot.

As we stepped off, there were two men there. A young man came over and spoke to us, and asked if we were the Jaenke family, this of course we were. This young man was Wilhelm Zuehl, then a young man 50 years younger than today.

There was no one else there to meet us. Mr Zuehl then rode to his brother, Karl Zuchl, who was 2 miles from Marion, and came back with a big wagon and 4 mules.

It was mud weather and the road was then no better at Marion than today, (written in 1938). He helped us with our baggage. When we got to his house, it was dark as we arrived. The Mrs. Zuehl welcomed us heartily and had us stay over night, for this hospitality we were very thankful. That was the First night at our new home.

Next morning came our brother-in-law, Karl Schroeder. He had been notified the night hefore of our arrival. He took us to his house near the small town, today named "Zuehl'. There we had a happy meeting, that to someone who has never experienced, we could not describe.

Our sister Wilhelmina, the Mrs. Schroeder, had come over in the year 1883 with the Karl Fritz family. So this was the first time after long years to see her again. Sister Wilhelmina, in the year 1884 in November, had our sister, Bertha, come over. So we soon had another very happy get-together.

So with much trouble and hardship. we came to our hew home. We have our sister and brother-in-law' Schroeder to thank. They helped us with the necessary things we needed for our trip, and with many other things.

Dear listeners, today after 50 years we think with love of our old home, but our hearts are with our new home. So we had trouble and suffering to go through, but we lived. Dear listeners, so we must, at last, one more time, think of our old home with love. But everyone has so far come through all this alright. No one has been sorry that they left the old home, and settled in a new land. We live today in our beloved new land, our way. Yes, so in this country, now 3 generations have been burn. So let us be true to our new home.

The' descendents of the Jaenke family are numerous In New Berlin and the surrounding towns. One of our favorite residents, who is now living at Rosewood Nursing Home in Universal City, is Helna Zunker Bielke. She was born in Aug 1912 near Leisner School. Her mother was Emilie Jaenke Zunker, who is one of the children in this history of the trip to the new home in America. Helna married Edwin Bielke in 1937 and they remained and farmed in the New Berlin area their entire married life. They had three children: Lee Jay, Charles Wayne, and Darlene Bielke Busby.