As we entered the Gulf of Mexico on the 14th of November, the wind
changed so that we sailed before it and on the 18th we could see the low
shores of the New World. We were pulled along farther by a steam tug
which tows vessels up the Mississippi, no matter how the wind blows, and
at 7 a. m.. we arrived at New Orleans. The Lord had surely helped us.
Although we came by a round-about way, we completed the voyage from
Holland to New Orleans in 45 days. We had five deaths and three births -
To be brief I shall not write too much of what we saw upon the
Mississippi, only something of New Orleans: this is a very large and
extensive city; everything seems to be but just begun, and one sees
hundreds of houses rising up everywhere; all is bustle, unusually so on
account of the rattle and rumble of wagons and carts. Six hundred ocean
ships lie alongside the wharves three by three, also a large number of
steamboats, mostly very big for their kind but of construction entirely different from that of boats in Holland. They
say that 1300 of these are engaged upon the Mississippi, and I can
easily believe it judging from all the hustle and hurry. Sailing vessels
one does not see; they can not be used since the river channel is very
crooked and the wind can never blow in such a way as to allow ships to
make headway. The stream flows constantly and the river banks are
covered with trees so that neither horses nor human beings can draw a
ship. Then too, distances are so long that 10 or 12 hours is a mere
trifle. From New Orleans to St. Louis is 1200 or 1300 English miles.
Shipping as in, Holland is therefore impracticable.
Arriving at New Orleans in the morning, that same day we took a
steamboat to carry us up the river. The fare was $2.50 or one half for
children under nine years of age, while each person had 100 pounds of
baggage free, and for additional freight one had to pay 25 cents per
hundred pounds. We paid some money down before starting.
The following will serve as a bit of information:
before a ship arrives
at New Orleans, a customs officer comes on board. He makes out a list of
the families and the number of people composing them as well as the
number of trunks and fire-arms. I advise everyone to answer his
questions accurately, not to conceal anything as the expense is the same
whether one has six or twelve trunks.
He only wishes to know what every immigrant has. One receives two blank
papers - these one must get filled out in the toll-house, as the office
is called, the sooner the better. The officer has the right to demand 50
American cents for the two papers; but he may also give them free of
cost and so one can try to get them for less money - the poor now and
then excite pity. At the time of signing one pays 20 cents more for the
two papers. I write this because some imagine that all this is unnecessary graft, but this is really
not so, for the officer who superintends the inspection of one's
property lets nothing pass for which one does not have papers. One must
also make out a paper and have it signed by the captain, wherein is
receipted the amount of money paid down for freight upon the steamboat.
The river steamboats all lie at the wharves, with signboards which bear
the date of departure and the destination. One goes aboard and usually
finds the captain, with whom one makes the contract. . . . Everywhere
there are interpreters who desire to be of service to you at all times; these are unnecessary if you have with you a person who speaks English;
if among your company no one can be found who has a command of this
language, as was the case with us, it is best to employ them, but always
with caution, because some of them are grafters. We were fortunate to
get a reasonably good man.
This too is a serious matter: everywhere along our route people try to
reduce the value of our gold money and also the five-franc pieces, and
here a gold piece is worth about four dollars; as to the five-franc
pieces I have had no experience.
This also is good advice: "Know the Lord in all thy ways."
The application which we have made of this is broad. Think of it: the
steamboat which we visited first with our interpreter and which asked a
three-dollar fare, departed a short while before we did, and when we
overtook her three days later, we learned that she had collided with
another boat in the midst of a thick fog, had burst a boiler, and sunk
so that forty-five passengers lost their lives ! We saved the crew and a
few others from the wreck and put them ashore at the first town. That we
did not take passage on the steamboat is not to be ascribed to our
wisdom, because the fare demanded was not at all extortionate; besides, she
appeared to be a good boat, while ours was much older and weaker; we
also learned that she was very slow; in short, that we did not choose
the unfortunate boat was the Lord's work: let Him be thanked and
We finished the trip from New Orleans to St. Louis in nine days. Along
this river from beginning to end are wooded banks. Never would I have
imagined that there was still so much apparently quite useless timber in
the world; and now I can very readily believe that I have seen but a
small portion of America, as here and there one perceives the beginning
or laying out of a city. At first one sees sugar cane, further on
cotton, and then, through openings in the timber, fields of maize; furthermore the river is filled with floating logs which are everywhere
sent adrift along the banks.
Here at St. Louis there is much industry; 1300 new buildings are being
constructed, 500 were completed this past summer, and everything seems
to be but just begun. They say that the city is three hours long; this
strikes me as rather exaggerated, but I have no good reason to doubt it.
Two of our brethren tried to see the city from one end to the other; but as it took so long, they got tired and turned back.
The incoming and outgoing steamboats are also very numerous here.
Everything is conveyed across the city here
and at New Orleans by means of horses, mules, or oxen, of which one
sometimes sees as many as twelve but usually
eight drawing a wagon. Cattle are butchered, quartered, and piled on
Everything comes to market: vegetables, apples, potatoes, mutton, fish
of all sorts; but nothing can be called
cheap, except bread, meal or flour, meat and pork: these alone are to be classed among cheap articles in America. And although
there is so much timber, if one has to buy firewood, he has to pay a big
Here winter set in just as we arrived. Everything is snowed under, and
just now it is freezing besides, but not severely. The journey to Iowa
or Wisconsin we cannot continue because the river is too low for
steamboat travel. But this we don't consider necessary since we have met
with several brothers from Winterswijk, of whom two had just been to
Iowa shortly before our arrival. Besides, there are German brethren
here, Methodists, who are acquainted with all conditions, have shown us
much friendliness and willingness to help, and have undertaken to answer
the questions which you gave me to prompt my investigations. Enclosed is
a letter by one of them in the German language. So much of it as he read
to me, I can best guarantee to be the exact truth.
The following will serve to explain matters:
1. Land along the rivers is everywhere in the hands of
speculators, from whom it is still to be obtained at an in
2. Stock is not so expensive. For $10 one can buy a good cow with calf.
Also, Jan Schaap and I saw a horse which looked sound and fast, for
which not more than $15 was offered.
3. Bricks are large, almost like the red bricks of Holland but they are
not baked hard, hence not of the best quality. Lime is fairly good, 20
cents per bushel which is equivalent to 50 cents for 25 pounds in The
4. I myself have bought good. fat meat for two cents and pork for 2.1/4
cents per pound. As to the weight, I believe the pound here is less than
the pound of five ounces in Holland.
5. Feathers are very good at 25 cents per pound.
If you abide by your decision to settle in North America, then the
following will also serve to inform you
First: Every land-buyer who wants to cultivate land of his own must
above all manage to bring his laborers with him from Holland, if he
thinks he will need help.
Secondly The cost of living will be moderate before one gets a crop;
bread and meat and pork are necessities and they are cheap here; for
clothing, house-rent, and firewood one need have no anxiety.
Thirdly: For those who are good makers of butter and cheese prospects
are certainly fine, because these products are bad in the market here.
As to dairy appliances it will be well to take along as many as
possible, especially what can be packed into boxes. On shipboard one
needs pay no more for them and steamboat freight is only 25 cents per
hundred pounds. Everything is obtainable here, but generally expensive.
I give the same advice 'as to all tools and implements, for example
those needed for agriculture and all sorts of trades; yet I should
certainly not advise you to buy anything new in Holland to take with
you, since the difference in price is not large enough. Besides there is
much difference in tools and not everyone must expect to be able to
remain a Hollander if he comes to live in America; ways and manners
should be followed here. My meaning is that he who has tools should not
throw them away for a trifle, especially not if they are still good; but to take trash
along to America is always nonsense.
I may also add that everyone should take his best tableware if it is not
too easily broken; if it is well packed between clothing in boxes full
to the cover, one can easily keep it whole; our things thus far are
pretty well preserved despite the fact that our boxes are sometimes
rolled along like barrels. Thus anyone can well understand that boxes should be
particularly strong; for I have seen many smashed and then much hard
treatment of the contents; also, the boxes must not be too big, for in
that event they are handled more harshly still.
Further I shall give some advice relative to food-stuff and household
There should be 160 pounds for each person, distributed as follows:
pounds of bacon, reasonably thick, for making pan-cakes; 10 pounds of
ham to eat with bread, etc.; 10 pounds of meat; 20 pounds of rice,
which costs nearly the same here; 20 pounds of flour, which should all
be used up; 15 pounds of potatoes; 20 pounds of green peas, of the
best quality; if one can save these, they can be used as seed, as I have
seen only poor ones here and expensive ones at that; 20 pounds of
capuchin peas; 30 pounds of the best bread cut into slices and well
dried; 5 pounds of ordinary rusks.
Further it is well and useful to bring a quantity of headcheese, besides
butter, cheese, loaf-sugar, prunes, and everything one can eat without
cooking, sweet cake, various drinks, wine, brandy, Rhine wine, gin,
vinegar, salt, mustard, pepper, coffee, tea, as well as some household
remedies for illness, for the Americans have no doctor on board, and so
everyone takes care of himself.
The household utensils consist of tea-kettle, copper or iron
cooking-pot, tin pan, tin-plates from which to eat, since passengers can
seldom sit together regularly, tin water-cans or kegs, etc. If a person
must go singly, I advise him to cooperate with six or eight others, or
else the company will be too large, and differences of opinion are
likely to arise.
Further, I must say that the carriers here treat people variously;
they appear to deduct as much as possible. Among us there were some who
paid from 30 to 35 florins [$12 to $14], and we had to pay 45 florins.
There were also some on board our ship who were offered transportation
on a good ship at 35 florins if their families wanted to take advantage
of the offer in the spring.
I do not exactly know whether to advise people to come by way of New
York or New Orleans; but this I know, that if one sails from Holland
after the month of February, the journey by way of New Orleans is too
hot; in that case I prefer New York; one should take into consideration
the increased expense and trouble involved in taking a land journey; but
if one can depart before or during the month of February, come to New
Orleans, because that means a saving of trouble and expense.
It also makes a great deal of difference where one expects to settle. If
Iowa is the place, the journey by way of New York is more difficult, as
one must in all events go to Milwaukee first and from there back to
Iowa, which is not necessary if one comes by way of New Orleans; for
then one can easily get to Iowa by steamboat. In all cases it is best
for those who undoubtedly intend to settle in this region to come to St.
Louis, whence it is so easy to depart in all directions.
As to the climate, I understand it is much too warm for us here in the
summer; for it happens that a laborer -who chops wood or unloads wood
from ships is offered three dollars a day in summer, and now can get
only 50 or 75 cents. Iowa, I hear, is a good ways north and therefore
All sorts of products are raised here: maize, wheat, rye,
oats, beans, etc. As for cabbage seed, it is hardly to be found;
since lard is cheap here, there is not much need of cabbage-seed oil.
The prices of grain are not high - there is reason for this, but then we
should have to enter into a discussion of several matters, viz., the
yield of the land, labor, cost of planting, sowing, etc. But I am not
well enough acquainted with the facts to speak about the matter, and
there is little or no need to do so; if for example I give a price, a
person in Holland will prepare at once to make comparisons and figure
according to Dutch standards. . Experience will be the best teacher
As for the worship of God: one finds really God-fearing people among
the Germans and also among the English; indeed there are many Christian
negroes here. We find the Germans very friendly; but we do not
harmonize in everything. The Sabbath is reasonably respected. One finds
no shocking immorality here, as in Rotterdam or other cities of Holland.
As for the schools, you know they are free here; usually there is a
school with every church. I am not yet well enough informed so as to
give a good account of the school system. Sunday-schools are numerous
here, and one can get free instruction: these are also good to enable
us to learn a little of the English language. He who knows English well
possesses riches, if he comes here, from Holland. I cannot therefore
enough urge everyone by all means to learn the English language.
I have nothing special which I consider necessary to add. My request is
that you be so good as to publish this letter so far as you are able,
likewise to see to it that brother van H ---- of R---- be informed at an early
date. Tell him that as baker he could more easily be lord in St. Louis than citizen in Rotterdam. Also
K-----, who put me many
questions which are answered herein; also Mr. Jansdam, etc.
Respectfully and affectionately, yours in the Lord
N. B. Be sure to greet brother Betten. Of the letter written by
Brummelkamp and van Raalte to procure financial aid for the worthy poor,
we here are not informed. Nor do we know anything of van Raalte and
those who sailed with him.