Saturday, August 13, 2011

We are the Americans

America is a land of immigrants and we are the product of that immigration movement. My mother’s mother was one half German and one half Norwegian. Her father was Norwegian. Her grandmother’s sister adopted her following the death of her mother. Her adopted foster parents were both Norwegians. My dad’s mother was Norwegian his father was Danish. My maiden name is the Danish version of what is usually considered a German name. That makes me 5/8 Norwegian, 1/8 German, and ¼ (2/8) Danish--or 100% American. Without a doubt people on the street see me as having Scandinavian ancestry by my height, fair complexion, bone structure and eyes all pointing to my heritage.

The first part of a family history book is finished and I am working on the second part but the problems associated with publishing and still preserving and protecting privacy issues of living people mentioned in the book(s) have delayed the manuscript printing. Hence the blog will focus on deceased persons only as far as family history goes. When the book is finally available I will post an announcement in the blog. Part I deals with the Lorig family because they were the first of our immigrant ancestors.

The grandfather of Clara, Harry and Walt, named Heinrich, or the Americanized Henry, Lorig, left Europe in 1853 crossing the Atlantic Ocean in a wooden sailing ship called the Mary Glover. It was a small ship, probably a three masted full rigged vessel, and carried far fewer passengers than the large immigrant ships. Some of the big ships carried close to 1500 passengers but the Mary Glover could only take 200. The ship departed from Marseille, France making several stops along the coastline. Henry boarded in Antwerp, Belgium.

Henry and his companions traveled by river down the Mosel to the Rhine and thence to Rotterdam and eventually to Antwerp. Each time they crossed into another German state they would have to pay a fee or tax and have proper papers ready showing they had permission to travel. Sometimes most of the money saved for the entire journey was spent just getting to the place where they planned to board ship. It is probable that Henry had very little means with which to start his new life in a new country.

Passengers had to bring their own food for a journey that would last several weeks to a couple of months and they slept on wooden palettes approximately six feet by six feet square for a family of four. Ventilation was poor and sanitary conditions were not good. The average crossing time on a sailing ship was 30 to 40 days but bad weather could extend the voyage to two months or more. It is likely that the ship left Antwerp the middle or end of August in order to arrive in New York on the 25th of October 1853. It was a very uncomfortable spartan means of travel made more so on this voyage since the ship encountered two hurricanes, categories 3 and 4, along the way, then was blown off course and later becalmed off the coast of South America for a period of time. Food ran out and the passengers suffered much privation before resuming their journey north and eventually landing at Buffalo, New York.

The Lorigs were Roman Catholics from the Rheinland-Pfalz area of Germany. They lived and farmed along the beautiful scenic Mosel River. Vineyards and farmland dot the countryside; there are castles and beautiful churches too. Although not technically Alsace-Lorraine, it is close to it. This part of Germany flip-flopped between French and German control so at times we find the names written in both languages as well as appearing in Latin in the church registers. The extended families lived all along the river and also in the city of Trier. The two line maps show Germany before World War II and the Mosel River with the towns named where our families lived. There are several more villages and towns along the river, I have only indicated the ones where our extended families lived and worked.
The next post will tell a little more about Henry, his traveling companions and where they settled once they arrived in America. Future posts will feature Henry’s children and also his ancestry.

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