1845: Immigrants Depart Germany On Their Way To Found Frankenmuth

April 5, 2023 all-day

The emigrants departed from Nuernberg on April 5, 1845 and traveled by foot, wagons, and trains to Bremerhafen, where they bought the provisions for their voyage. On April 20 they boarded the CAROLINE, where four engaged couples in the party were married, since they hadn’t been able to satisfy the strict German marriage law requirements. The trip began with a bad start, as the drunken captain steered the ship into a sand bank of the Weser River. Because of winds and storms, they had to sail around Scotland instead of through the English Channel.

Their journey across the Atlantic encountered violent storms, seasickness, a nightmare collision with an English trawler, and undesirable winds which drove the ship north into icebergs and dense fog for three days. The ship was damp and overcrowded, and their food became stale. Toward the end of the journey almost everyone in the group contracted smallpox, and a child in the party died from it. They reached New York Harbor on June 8, after 50 days of sailing.

To reach Michigan, they took a steamboat, a train (which collided with a coal train, giving them only slight injuries), and another steamboat. They took another steamer to Detroit and then a sailing ship on Lake Huron for a week-long trip to Bay City. From there they had to pull the ship 15 miles up the Saginaw River to Saginaw, where they stayed until their exact settlement site was chosen. They were objects of curiosity to the French and English of the city because of their Franconian dress and habits.

A few of the colonists walked to the future settlement region to examine the land. They selected a slightly hilly area which reminded them of the native Mittelfranken and built a rough shelter there. On August 18, almost four months after they had left Bremerhafen, the 15 colonists packed their belongings in an oxcart and walked about 12 miles through forest, thickets, and swamps to Frankenmuth.

They purchased 680 acres of Indian Reservation land from the federal government for $1,700.00. The colonists were often weakened with malaria while working at clearing the forest. A combination church-school-parsonage log cabin, built in the center of the land tract, was completed before Christmas day. The church was named St. Lorenz, after their mother churches in Neuendettelsau and Rosstal. The settlement, however wasn’t developed exactly according to Loehe’s original plan.

Pastors Loehe and Craemer wanted everyone to build their homes together near the church, so that the group would remain intact and organized in the manner of German villages. The colonists disagreed, and all decided to live on their own 120 acre farms which they would clear.

For the full story of the founding of Frankenmuth, visit here. Immigrating to Michigan wasn’t an easy trip!

Source : History of Frankenmuth.

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