Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Passenger 186

Arnold Boninger as painted by P.C. Clay

The ship Arnold Boninger barely a year old, pulled out from the docks of Bremen, Germany on June 20, 1853 and set sail north up the Weser river towards the North Sea, destination Baltimore, Maryland in the United Sates of America. On board were 416 men, women and children, 17 adults and two infants in the cabin, 64 adults and 5 infants in the house on deck and 307 adults and 21 children in steerage. It still smelled of the tobacco that it had brought back from the United States on its last voyage.

Once its holds were unloaded of tobacco, small divisions had been built with planking in the steerage that were seven feet wide by five and a half feet long. In that area, five people were expected to live and sleep for the next couple months. Conditions were cramped and definitely not sanitary by today's standards. Below is an excerpt from a larger piece sent to me by a German historian whose specialty is the part of Germany that my Kuck ancestors came from and whom are even mentioned at one point.
Bad food was complained about very often. "The provisions were bad, the way they were fixed even worse. The bread had presumably made several journeys. It was not until the last eight days when the old bread had been eaten that we got better bread. The pork was completely spoilt even though better pork was in store for we got good pork during the last week. The water used for cooking was comparable to manure regarding dirtiness, color and smell and must have been bad already when it was taken aboard for the drinking water stayed good, but everyone got only a quarter" (less than 8.5 fluid ounces). Even though the Bremen Senate tried to achieve improvements the stated defects remained for a long time. - German Immigration 1830-1850 

by Ewald Albers of Zeven, Germany (translation by Hella Albers)
 On August 15, 1853, the Arnold Boninger pulled into Baltimore harbor and discharged her passengers. Three babies had been born along the journey but the net number of passengers only increased by one due to two deaths along the way. Johann Michael an 18 year old surgeon on his way to Pennsylvania had died on the 23rd of July. Also according to the log, a 40 year old sadler by the name of Heinrich Meyer had committed suicide by jumping overboard.

Passenger 186 was 16 year old Johannes Koch on his way to the new world to make his fortune. He anglicized his name to John Kuck and with no occupation listed for him, set out for Philadelphia though he didn't stay long. He kept on going through Wheeling, West Virginia, then Marietta Ohio, onto Le Sueur, Minnesota, Galena, Illinois, Lansing, Iowa stopping here and there for a couple months or a few years until finally 11 years after landing in Baltimore, he stopped for good in Charles City, Iowa to raise his family, most notable for me, my 2nd great grandfather George Kuck.


sage said...

That's neat that you know the ship and a little about this travels.

Vince said...

They rebuilt this, and I can tell you that those passengers had very little space at all. Further they were herded in small groups on deck, but for the most part they were below.
The renaming of that ship is ultra suspect.
Remember the opening of Amistad, where the chains were used. The renaming points to that sort of scenario. Leave Hamburg for NYC on the 5th of May, arrive Antwerp the 20th under another name and flag. Same captain and crew.

Ed said...

Sage - The more I dig into the details of my ancestors lives, the more I am fascinated.

Vince - I haven't had the opportunity to tour such a ship but it is on my punch list now.

Vince said...

Yes, they were sailed with remarkably few hands. So they managed the 'cattle' or 'beasts' much like a prison does these days. One of the main complaints from the Irish and English was the lock down

cindy said...

I live in LeSueur County, MN. LeSueur is just 25 miles from me.

Ed said...

I use to live in Hutchinson up in McLeod county, not to far north of you for a half dozen years. Unfortunately that was before I got bit by the genealogy bug or I would have spent time in LeSueur.