By Myra Lee Adams Goff
This Good Friday, March 21, marks the 163rd year since the first emigrants crossed the Guadalupe into what would become New Braunfels. At noon Sophienburg members and others interested in NB history will be on the Plaza commemorating this event. Please join us.
Having written much about that first crossing, I decided to recount one family’s journey from Germany. The family I chose is the Bremer family because family member Robert R. Robinson-Zwahr has done extensive ancestor research. His information was used in the book Journey in Faith by Rosemarie Leissner Gregory and Myra Lee Adams Goff.
The Bremer family was on the first ship of Adelsverein emigrants, the “Johann Dethardt”. The family consisted of Heinrich Bremer, his wife Judith, their four children, and Mrs. Bremer’s two sons. One of those sons, Fritz Goldbeck, became a well-known poet, having written over 200 poems about German emigration.
The Bremers were among the 120 plus passengers registered in Bremen by September, 1844, to emigrate to Texas. The Bremers notified the Adelsverein representative and the Republic of Texas of their intentions and paid their registration fee. The family was from the Verden area. They sailed down the Weser River to the harbor at Bracke where the brig Johann Dethardt was anchored. Supplies for the lengthy trip were loaded plus 90 kegs of fresh water.
On Sept. 21, 1844, the brig sailed to Bremen, stopping one night and then set sail and crossed the North Sea smoothly. When they entered the English Channel, the weather turned violent, giving many of the passengers literally their first taste of seasickness. We’re not talking about the Princess Cruise Line. When the ship entered open water past England and France, sailing became smooth for the next three weeks.
The Johann Dethardt was captained by Theodore Luetering with a crew of ten. This was only the second voyage for the ship. Some passengers complained of abuses by the crew and bad food. In some cases, those with money had to bribe the cook for food.
The seasickness was bad enough, but just imagine Mrs. Bremer’s delicate condition. She was nine months pregnant when the brig reached the waters near Cuba in November and here aboard ship, her baby girl, Carolina Anna Bremer, was born.
Shortly thereafter, the brig sailed into Galveston harbor on Nov. 23, and all reports show that there was much rejoicing after two months at sea. I’ll bet!
On Dec 1, three one-mast schooners were provided by the Adelsverein to take these first arrivals to Lavaca (later Pt. Lavaca). After leaving Galveston, two schooners made it safely through Paso Caballo, Matagorda Bay and then into Lavaca Bay where they disembarked. Wouldn’t you know, the third schooner with the Bremer family aboard was caught in a storm and dashed into the Gulf of Mexico. They then discovered that the ship had sprung a leak. FromJourney in Faith this account: “Men tied themselves to the pumps to enable them to get the water out of the schooner and still not be thrown into the raging gulf.”
The schooner was carried toward Mexico. When the winds shifted, the craft moved back toward the Texas coast and into shallow waters and they dropped anchor. Then a new norther blew in, broke the anchor chain, and moved the vessel southward once more. A shifting southerly wind finally blew the ship into Lavaca Bay. On the shore were the rest of the emigrants waving a welcome.
After a short stay at Lavaca, the emigrants moved to the Agua Dulce encampment and here is where baby Carolina Anna Bremer was baptized by Pastor Ervendberg. Prince Carl was the baby’s Taufpate (sponsor).
After a trip through Victoria, McCoy’s Creek, Gonzales, and Seguin, the Bremer family with the other first emigrants crossed the Guadalupe on Good Friday, 1845. Think about them this Friday.