On August 8, 1817, the ship Hope, proceeding from Amsterdam, arrived at a quarantine station below Philadelphia, following 86 days at sea. Of the 346 passengers on board, 48 had died at sea and 46 more died in a wayside hospital. On September 9, 1817 the Hope finally arrived with its survivors in the Port. The passengers were transferred to the Lazeretto (the quarantine station) immediately after their arrival.
The story of the journey of the Ship Hope from Amsterdam to
Philadelphia from May 8th until September 9th, 1817, written by Adrian Rudolf MÄRK
(hat maker), one of the three leaders of the emigrant association from Aarau, in
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Aug. 12th 1818.
(Translation of the original publication in the Swiss Messenger N°50, 10 Dec 1818, p. 393, 394 and N°51, 17 Dec 1818, p. 401 - 405 made by Alfred Hilfliker).
"It was May 8th, 1817 when 350 passengers aboard the frigate “Hope” left Texel (a small island in the North Sea, close to Den Helder, the most northern city in the province of North Holland, the Netherlands, RAG).
We had a favorable wind that disappeared as soon as we reached the North Sea where we had to wait for the next 8 days. In the morning of May 16th with a good favorable wind we entered the British Channel and we could observe the coasts on both sides.
While we were waiting in the North Sea, to our regret, we had to state that our food provisions had melted down due to the long waiting in Texel so we asked the captain to land in England to buy food. The captain convinced us that we had enough food. The wind became strong and good so we left the Channel and found ourselves in the open ocean where we had to make the saddest experiences of which I will remember just the most important parts written in a compact form.
On June 4th we were reached by a ship from Morocco. The salute was with a cannonade then they set out a boat. Our captain armed crew and passengers with guns and swords and placed us in good order on deck to meet the visitor. Our welcome did impress the pirate so he made understand that it was not worth while to conquest our ship. They made a large half moon around our ship and sailed away.
At Whitsun we had the first and strongest storm that lasted two days and two nights. This storm arrived unexpectedly and we did risk loosing our masts. Nearly all our canvas sails and ropes have been torn down; the damage amounted to 300 florins
This accident had for us a high cost since the captain became fearful and as soon the wind became stronger he had the sails pulled down what delayed our journey considerably; the highest and the lateral sails disappeared or were only occasionally used.
Now we were 7 weeks on sea and expected hour after hour to see the new world when unexpectedly we saw the mountains of the Azores islands. How disappointed we all were to realize how far away our destination was this also because day after day our food was reduced. From the beginning the ratios were reduced to 2/3. We were close to a revolution, we wanted to force the captain to land in the island and buy food. The captain and the crew embraced arms and succeeded to bring the situation under control.
Now diseases began to expand; a bad nerve fever killed a family of the Black Forest group with the exception of a boy. Every day more passengers became sick. Mr. Huber from Zofingen, who was engaged as ship doctor, did not have the necessary medicine so that he could not bring any help. Some days later we met a ship coming from Liverpool. When they learned about our condition they offered us food and medicine. Still our captain refused the help and we had to see how they sailed away with the passengers dancing on deck while, due to hunger, we were not able to stand upright. So we remained alone with our afflictions.
At this time we were 8 weeks on sea, had no more meat, no butter, no cheese, no distillates, no vinegar, all was gone long ago.
Food melted away so instead of every day we received every 3 to 4 days half a measure of water. Bread was moldy and inedible; pees, barley and rice could not be cooked since the captain did not distribute enough wood. From now on an adult person did not receive more than a drinking glass of soup. Now people died like mosquito's; every day dead were thrown into the sea, at the end no more healthy people could be seen on board. In short: our misery was great. Still, it had to become even worse, for 30 barrels water had leaks and just two were full. From now on we did not receive any more water. If our omnipotent Father in heaven had not granted us rain to resurge, for sure we would not live any more. The on deck collected water had the smell of asphalt and rubbish and we had difficulty to retain it. Dying took overhand, no family was spared.
In the last two weeks we had again a 4 days' storm that pushed us back. We crossed sea grass four times, misery and hardship was around us, and all faces did express hardship and despair. Now also the sailors became sick except three of them; there was nobody able to work. What a forced terrible situation! On open sea without water, every body sick and unable to work during a storm! Two more days on sea and nobody would have survived.
But I will thank God almighty, He helped us during the hardship, He heard our supply for pity and mercy; He has seen our fear, misery and helped and rescued us in his omnipotence.
For five days we had constant, favorable and cool wind such we never had before and, on Aug. 3rd at night we did see a light in distance. The captain made hang a big lantern on top of the storm mast and, o what a joy, in about one hour we heard a boat coming toward us who brought us the pilot to guide us along the Delaware River up to Philadelphia. The pilot did not loose time; he had seen the faces with the death written on. He ordered right away to lift all the sails and traveled the same night a distance of 30 hours on the Delaware River. In the morning we could see both sides of the river. I am not able to describe my emotions. Who was able to reach the deck, unfortunately just a few did admire the dark green oak woods and on the ends beautiful meadows and plantations. On the Delaware the wind was not any more so strong as on the sea. The pilot got all sails mounted and extended the masts, now our ship was sailing wonderfully. It was a pleasure to see our ship with full sails and how the pilot tried to recuperate what our coward captain did loose since we left Amsterdam.
The two river sides are splendid, it was like standing in a “sight case”, as I said just a few were able to appreciate this pleasure. Most were laying half dead in the ship’s room; their organs were shocked if not, they would certainly had enjoyed the view. We arrived Aug. 5th at the quarantine station or Lazaretto. On Aug. 6th the sanitary service arrived, the captain denied the number of sick person, they saw with love to mankind our conditions and did communicate to Philadelphia that the healthiest of us looked like dead. We were nearly rejected; they said unanimously that so far no ship arrived in such a bad condition. On Aug. 7th we were allowed to land and reach the Lazaretto. The ones who recovered on the ship became again sick in the Lazaretto, many died here even with the useful help. We received very good food but some did lay sick for 4, 6 up to 8 weeks.
As soon as a certain number recovered they went to Philadelphia and were free at the condition they had paid their fare. Many tradesmen and farmers came to buy the one’s who could not pay. These people are prevalently well treated by moderate work inclusive board and clothes.
Only, emigrants shall come without children if they are not in the position to pay. Seldom or never a complete family would be hired by one sire and how sad it is when one comes here, the other there and possibly, they will not see each other any more.
Considering what happened on sea the German shipping company paid all the costs of the Lazaretto. The captain was fired and got a fine of $ 1000.
The clothes we had on the ship as well as the bed wear were burned. My brother in Philadelphia became again sick and recovered on the journey up to Pittsburgh.
My wife, our three children and I were 4 weeks in the Lazaretto. After my wife recovered she shared a room with a woman who wanted to commit suicide so my wife got a shock and did underlie her weakened nature. Also my youngest child, a baby pending on mothers breast, died consequently. Myself and my two older children enjoy, thanks God, good health.
We remained in Philadelphia other three weeks then we bought a carriage and three horses and traveled up to Pittsburgh were we arrived Oct. 28th. This trip was very wearisome, the mountains, the sumps and the bad roads made the journey difficult and long. The one’s who intend to travel to America do better if they sell everything at home and bring just what they do not want to miss; or let transport the belongings from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh for $ 8 to 10 for 100 lb.
Pittsburgh has about 250 houses and lies between two rivers, the Allegheny and Monongahela; below the city the two rivers join and are named Ohio.
Here as well as in Philadelphia you can find any kind of work. Steam, saw and flour mills, all with iron gears, are seen over all. Iron melting and foundries have efficient plants.
In Pittsburgh there are 7 well equipped glass factories. In Philadelphia I found a jute factory, it did not seem to be important. Here they do not wear clothes of jute, men wear usually textile, while women wear Camelot and silk, also the lovers of horse riding have their clothes made out of textile, and nearly everybody uses silken handkerchiefs.
The road from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh is full of transport carriages. Here they do supply the settlers of the western provinces. Home and field equipment are sold here by large stores. There are also many warehouses and commercial companies.
Every day ships leave Pittsburgh along the Ohio River loaded with every thinkable equipment.
In U.S. prevalently paper money circulates , fraud is common. Otherwise we see Spanish dollars, whole or split by ½, ¼, 1/8 and 1/16. At the moment gold loses value. Spanish and French are the best currencies.
Land can be bought all over for cheap prices, bush or farm land. Around Pittsburgh farm land costs, with house and barn, $ 15, 20 or 30 the acre.
My brother bought 160 acres at $ 1 (usually an acre costs $ 2) in Johns County and has departed with his family 4 weeks ago, traveling approximately 1500 English miles or 500 hours from Pittsburgh at the Mississippi river to the state of Indiana.
I do work with a hat producer and I do earn $ 10 a week. All workers are well paid; farm hands get $ 1 daily. Of course clothes are expensive, for example a hat costs up to $ 16, a pair shoes $ 2 to $ 6 a pair boots 12 to16 one yard textile $ 6 to 16. We do spend $ 3 to 4 a week, food is cheap, everyone who lives reasonably can be happy.
Still to provide for a family is no fun. Everyone, once here, and willing to work, finds easily his bread".