Thursday, August 9, 2012

Arrival of the Rech Family at New Orleans

So far my posts have featured the branches of my own family tree, but since this blog is also a platform for preserving the records for our kids, I'll be weaving in stories from my wife's branches of the family. Here is an excerpt from a longer file, describing the arrival of her fourth-great-grandfather Jacob Rech, and the young family of her third-great-grandparents at New Orleans in March 1854.

Thanks go to my wife's family for sharing a copy of this story, written by Marie Elizabeth Freyling, the daughter of Karolina "Carrie" Rech Freyling. Marie passed away in California in 1985. I don't have a date for when this story was written.

The Rech-Freyling Family Story
By Marie Freyling

Our Great Grandfather Jacob Rech was a widower and suffering from rheumatism at the time he became interested in making a trip to "the New World". He had received reports, from friends who had journeyed to and settled in America, of the beneficial health effects of the more favorable climate there. When he expressed determination to make the trip alone; his son, Nikolaus, and daughter-in-law Susanna Euler Rech, agreed to accompany him.

Equipped with four huge pine chests (larger than wardrobe trunks -- the customary "luggage" of those days) containing all their belongings (clothing, dishes, cooking utensils, tools and food) they left their home in the village of Wachenheim, Germany, Province of Bavaria for America. Jacob, Nikolaus, Susanna, and the four children -- Mary, George, Jacob, and Elizabeth -- went to LaHavre, France, where they boarded a three-deck sailing vessel, the Martha I. Ward.

Passengers were required or preferred, because of the cost, to provide their own food. Among the items Grandmother Rech prepared for the trip were milk (boiled with sugar to the consistency of condensed milk) and bread baked hard to prevent molding. A woodburning stove in the hold of the ship was available for cooking coffee and preparing other food.

After a rough journey of six weeks, they reached the Port of New Orleans, Louisiana, on March 10, 1854. Great Grandfather Jacob Rech, however, did not live to see the New World. He died during the voyage and was buried at sea.

From New Orleans, Nikolaus and Susanna and their children journeyed to Evansville, Vanderburg County, Indiana. The trip from New Orleans to Evansville on the river took 90 days. The Rechs stayed temporarily with friends, Mr. and Mrs. Nicholas Winter, Manager of the Sherwood House on First Street. This was later the location of the McCurdy Hotel.

The Arrival Record
We can compare the passed-down story with preserved records. According to the arrival manifest for the Martha I. Ward at New Orleans on 10 March 1854, Jacob Rech survived the voyage.
Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at New Orleans, Louisiana, 1820-1902; Series: M259; Roll #: 39.
It would be worth looking at New Orleans City Directories to see if Jacob stayed behind in New Orleans rather than accompany the family to Indiana.

From this record, one can see that Jacob was born about 1789. His son Nikolaus was born on 11 September 1815 in Wachenheim. Wife Susanna was born on 30 May 1823 in Wachenheim. The children on this record were:
1. Anna Maria Rech, born in 1847
2. George Rech, born in 1849
3. Jacob Rech, born in January 1851
4. Elizabeth Rech, born on 10 December 1852

Little Elizabeth was just an infant when she crossed the Atlantic with her parents and grandfather.

There's more to the Rech-Freyling story, and I'll be posting it in sections, mixing in maps and historical records along the way.

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