It’s always fun to read about a project and in the process learn a bit of history too!
Read this piece sent from the Missouri Germans Consortium.
Emigration Society Genealogy Project Giessen
Imagine yourself trying to locate the descendants of 500 German emigrants. They're not the same family, religion, nor do they come from the same village or province. The only thing in common is that they immigrated to the
from Bremen in 1834, as members of the Emigration
Society. Some of them left in March and arrived in Giessen in June on board the ship the
Olbers. The rest left in June and arrived in New Orleans in July aboard the Medora.
There are passenger arrival lists, newspaper accounts, written
accounts, diaries, journals, and histories written about the group. Add to the
problem, they didn't settle together in Baltimore
as originally planned. Some of them even returned to Arkansas after arrival or within a
few years. Known as the Germany
Emigration Society, no one is certain if all passengers on each ship lists were
Where to start
Fortunately, the Passenger lists exist for both ships so the first step is to create a database of all names. Written accounts state that membership in the
Society was closed at 500, even though thousands had applied to join. The first
ship, the Olbers, had a female passenger become ill with Typhoid before it had
even passed the Giessen British Isles. The second
group, which came on the Medora, became stalled near when the ship they had chartered did
not arrive. Stranded, and living on the island Harriersand in the Bremen , some gave up hope and abandoned the group, or may have have taken another ship. Journals and diaries of members tell us about many who died, married and were born on the island and on each ship. Even though no account book or journal listing the members has been found yet, we chose not to eliminate any passengers listed, without definitive answers, we won’t eliminate any possibilities for information. Next, we map out their pathways. Weser River
Meet us in St. Louis
Giessen Society founders Friedrich Muench and Paul
Follenius issued the Call in , published in July 1833, it was considered an illegal act by their government. They didn't follow Duden’s recommendation of sending a scout or "agent" until their organizational meeting in September 1833, when Müeller and Schmidt headed to the Giessen,
Germany , to report
back on the location. When they returned to Territory
of Arkansas Bremen
in time to tell Paul Follenius, leader of the first group about to board the
Olbers, not to go to ,
there was a sudden change in plans. Needing to leave, Follenius sent word to
Friedrich Muench, to meet him in Arkansas St. Louis, and
departed for the Within the first few days, Typhoid broke out on the Olbers, but that was not the worst problem. As they were about to enter port, June 4, 1834, they learned from departing ships, that Cholera was epidemic in U.S. . Getting through port as quickly
as possible, they headed by steamboat up the New Orleans Mississippi
Many members did fall ill, were lost, only to be buried along the route. When
they reached St. Louis ,
they waited for a bit, hoping for the rest of the group, before heading west on
the Boone's St. Louis Lick Road.
The road, running west from , was a common pathway for thousands heading to
the far west. Some members aboard the Olbers settled first in New Orleans
and Cape Girardeau, but most came on and purchased land in Illinois and
Given up for Lost
As the second group of the Society arrived in
they learn that the ship they had chartered had not arrived yet. Not knowing
when a ship that had room would arrive, they were desperate, not wanting to use
up funds destined for land purchase in the Bremen At that time, U.S. was new, and lodging establishments had not been built. Trying to save funds, many took refuge in a hausbarn as cattle were pastured on the Bremerhaven Weser
River, across from Brake, on the . Finally, weeks later, the group
was able to charter the Medora and head for Harriersand Island . America
Where to go from here
By now you have gathered that the Giessen Emigration Society Genealogy Project is searching for German emigrants, with the only thing in common, is that they either came in on the Olbers to New Orleans around June 4, 1834 or the Medora to Baltimore where they arrived mid-July. Descendants of many families have already been located.
Families that have visited the exhibition in
learning their family had members, have contacted the exhibition’s organizers,
and have been re-united with families in the . Others, who know
their family were GES members, assist with clues found in their family
history. More information about the Giessen Emigration Society, can be
seen in the exhibition Utopia – Revisiting a German State in America, while in
Bremen, Germany, Washington, D.C., or St. Louis, Missouri or in the companion
book by the same name that is available from the University of Chicago Press. United States
If you have ancestors that you suspect were members of the
Emigration Society we would like to
hear from you! Please contact us by email at [email protected] or visit our
website http://mo-germans.com today. Giessen
Whether your ancestors emigrated from
in 1834 and may have been a part of the Giessen Emigration Society, or not, I
found their story a compelling read. Germany
Are you a member of or participating in a project which focuses on a unique group of individuals? If so, tell us about it and we may share their story with the readers of Upfront with NGS.
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