The passenger list from a German ship bringing immigrants to America contains a trove of information. According to this list: “Passengers on board the Bremen Vessel Leontine…from Bremen bound to Baltimore Dec. 11, 1833.” The second page gives several people on board who emigrated from the town of Steinfeld. No. 77 is F. Embse (for Von der Embse), from Steinfeld, a baker, age 41, and 78 possibly Agnes, with the same last name from Steinfeld, age 39. Von der Embse, and its variants, remains a common name in this area today after immigrants from Germany braved the North Atlantic so many years ago.
The passenger list from a German ship bringing immigrants to America contains a trove of information. According to this list: “Passengers on board the Bremen Vessel Leontine…from Bremen bound to Baltimore Dec. 11, 1833.” The second page gives several people on board who emigrated from the town of Steinfeld. No. 77 is F. Embse (for Von der Embse), from Steinfeld, a baker, age 41, and 78 possibly Agnes, with the same last name from Steinfeld, age 39. Von der Embse, and its variants, remains a common name in this area today after immigrants from Germany braved the North Atlantic so many years ago.
By Helen Kaverman

Correspondent

FORT JENNINGS - Have you ever wondered what it was really like to leave your homeland in the 1800's and sail for America?

H. J. Boehmer gave us a first-hand account of his impressions and experiences in letters he wrote to his family in Germany after his arrival in America.

Henry Joseph Boehmer was born in Vechta, Oldenburg, Germany on Nov. 17, 1807. Following graduation from the Norman School in Munster, in Westphalia, he taught school in Steinfeld and Oldenburg. These towns are in Northern Germany, north of Osnabruck. Boehmer immigrated to America on the ship Leontine, landing on Dec. 11, 1833 in the port of Baltimore.

After coming to the U. S., he taught school in Stallowtown, later called Minster. "H. J." married Maria Gertrud Wellmann in Minster.

Following their marriage, they made their home in Ft. Jennings, where he taught school, opened a store, built the first grist mill and later a sawmill. Boehmer served as Justice of the Peace in Ft. Jennings for 24 years, as Putnam County Commissioner from 1840 to 1851 and was elected to the Ohio House of Representatives for three terms. The Boehmers had 7 children. H. J. died in 1868 and is buried in the Ft. Jennings St. Joseph's Cemetery.

Following his arrival in America, Boehmer wrote several letters to relatives back in Germany, commenting on his trip and life in the New World. He told it as it was and wasn't wearing rose-colored glasses. These letters were translated from the original German.

Thanks to the late Alfred "Jack" Schimmoeller, Ft. Jennings historian, several copies of the letters were made and can be found in the Local History Department of the Putnam County Library (now located in Ft. Jennings), the Historical Museum Library in Kalida and the Delphos Public Library.

His first known letter to his mother and sisters was written in December 1833. He learned through an acquaintance, who just arrived in Baltimore, that the captain to whom he gave his first original letter, would not return directly to Germany but received instructions to make a trip South. He was anxious that the letter would be late or perhaps not reach his family at all so he wrote another, repeating what he had written in the original letter.

"On October 11, at 10 o'clock a.m., with pleasant weather and favorable wind, we sailed from Bremen. But the night following, even before we had lost sight of the shores of the fatherland, namely the Island Mangang, unfavorable winds set in and the longer they lasted, the worse they got (and from the 13th to the 14th we were in a severe storm). Fortunately toward evening on the 14th the wind turned Northwest and we could then pass into the English Channel. Evening about 8 o'clock, we sailed nearby Dover which with its gas lighting looked very beautiful from the ship. The lighthouses at the North and South Forland served to guide our way. On the morning of the l5th we saw the French and English coasts and that afternoon we sighted the Isle of Wright at the end of the channel, just ahead of us. On account of contrary winds we were unable to pass and were compelled on the 22nd to enter the harbor at Ryde, so called Reith on the island. On the 22nd more than 20 of us took a hack up town to _____. We saw but little of interest to us but paid very dearly for what little we consumed. A small stein of beer cost us l2 Pf. While the M. is accepted here at only l5 Schilling...24 gs. Gold. A portion of coffee also l2 Pf. And a poor schnapps 3 Pf., etc."

He described how the terribly high prices soon convinced them they were being cheated by the English and they decided to return to the ship. The driver demanded twice as much as they had agreed upon. They had to pay him l2 Mks. For "a ride of gun shot distance."

As they returned to the ship, the swaying "sailyard" spun around and hit Agnes, breaking her right collar bone. Due to her injuries they returned to Ryde, where the driver took them to an inn and in a few minutes the doctor arrived and skillfully bandaged her up. The doctor was humane and they were satisfied with his fees. They returned to the ship on Oct. 25.

"A place was prepared for Agnes in the store room near the cabin where she could have company and be properly cared for. Dina was also permitted not only to stay in there, but could remain all day and others of us were allowed to visit her as often as we cared to. That afternoon with favorable wind we sailed away, but already that night we suddenly had the worst storm we had yet encountered, and the sailors were unable to draw in the sails as quick as necessary to avoid running aground....The steersman called for a number of young men to come on deck and help draw in the sails. ....After several hours, the wind quieted down and we sailed for the next 10 days without any unusual happenings on our ship. On the 11th day after, namely November 5 at 4 am, the smallest child of Gus Henke died, was sewed up in a sailcloth and thrown overboard at 10 a.m."

Boehmer went on to describe how the weather was cold, wet and rough and the wind was so contrary that they had to rock back and forth constantly.

"On Nov. 24th, we reached Newfoundland shores, where the nice fast packet boat, Hen Gork, which had left Bremen with passengers on October 25 passed us. On Dec. 2 evening about 6 o-clock, died the l2 year old son of a certain Mr. Bainback, of consumption, from which we were told he had been suffering for some time. About this time, the wind became more favorable [so] that we covered a distance of 100 German miles in 24 hours and arrived at the Chesapeake Bay on December 7. We sailed into the bay that evening with strong wind and rain and saw to the left Cape Henry and to the right Cape Charles and often saw 5 lighthouses at one time."

They cast anchor for the night.

"The sight of the land of Paradise was a great relief and joy to our passengers. The 8th day we had to lay at anchor, on account of adverse wind, sailed further on the 9th and arrived on the 10th at ...a suburb of Baltimore."

Editor's note: To be continued. In the next segment Boehmer describes the conditions on the ship. H. J. said there were 83 passengers on board but the copy of the passenger list gives the number at 89.