(Fase III, H1
Part of a letter of J. J. Pelmulder from the U. S. and a friend from the
Left New York to Philadelphia.
To the Gentleman and Master
SWARTTE VAN LOON.
So you have known me by an earlier writing whereby I believe this is
We came on Friday the 15 June 1855 to New York to anchor. Then the
following morning there came at an early an authorized medical (doctor) on board,
to examine the health of the passengers. They had to come alone to the back of
the deck and to the ship's cabin and between decks, they were looking around if
there were any lying in the bunks.
There were two doctors and captain and that was the end of that. Then came one fast
steamboat and took all of us to the city, a nicer place, and from that instant life was lovely.
Agents from a railway or a company sold vegetables, bread and so forth, stormed
the ship. Those that still had money left could buy fresh bread, ripe apples and other
things that they sold. Our captain soon made an end of those eye-catching visitors and
chased them away. And some were not handled very softly by the man of the wheel. The
captain did well because it was mostly to take advantage of the emigrant, through them it
was way too expensive. One steamboat from the railroad company came that day twice
by us on the ship and the agents begged every time to come on board. But through the
mercy of the captain were sent away. Then there was yelling, swearing, and a rage in
English, high German and Dutch followed, so that was one busy time. Then the writer
went upstairs. Those that felt the fists of the first mate or captain of the wheel, dared
anyone to come on board. The poor emigrant stood by such a scene very embarrassed.
Others (from that other boat) wanted to help them get away to show them they would be
more secure or helped better through them. But it was all from the client and for their
own profit, the way I understand it. The agency from the Erie railroad company has the
scum from all nations.
The passengers on board, those from Rotterdam, were all ready for the land trip,
they had accommodations.. Those to New York had more problems; they didn't have
accommodations because the first ones didn't know how to do that so they had problems.
For that reason and advice I went to the emigrant, not in the Netherlands for the land trip
but for the provisions and not for me alone but also those if his money was gone and one
of the group died. Everyone kept his money as long as possible in his pocket; if he didn't
give it needlessly away he would stand up a free man.
Drawing to the middle of the day, we were by the shore, then the passengers on
the between lying ships could come aboard, then came a policeman on board, as well as
the agent from the American Central railroad company, who through the captain's cabin
was left in. Anyone who want to could speak to this person about land trip negotiations
and got from the captain freedom until Monday to stay on board because there was no
means to leave. Most of the passengers made accommodations with this agent. I made
reservations for me and my family to Chicago. The cost was $11.00 per person and half
price for the children, Each one had 100 lbs of baggage free. The agent was friendly to
the children and passengers. Those he made accommodations for were given a fresh piece
of wheat bread, that tasted so good to them after such a long time of eating hard and
untasty bread that we had to be satisfied with. Also we were visited by people who
wanted us to buy with our extra lifesavings. The police has a strong supervision over
these merchants and at the same time were told that passengers didn't get the wrong
By morning I could no longer stand the urge to look on the shore once. When I
got to the solid ground something strange happened, as I stepped I was like I was half
drunk. The part of New York that I could observe looked not very clean; the dirty streets
gave us on the contrary an uncharming scene to come to, It was very warm and was
excessively uncomfortable, so I went quickly back on board. Toward evening my wife
and I went to shore and we saw much more of the city. On our way back to go on board
we went to a restaurant for a small refreshment to enjoy; there we found many passengers
from the ship, also four sailors, one Hollander and three Englishmen. Soon the three
English sailors asked us to visit, they came to us to get acquainted, they wished to treat
us. They said they saw us on board and had learned to know everyone. The one sailor
not bashful also spoke but in a different language and our children were neither reluctant
or afraid of him and friendly as the Dutch sailors. In the urgent request to leave, they got
us a porter, they brought us some meat and bread.
We turned to go back on board where all the passengers came to rest. Everything
was in confusion because all the suitcases were out of place. many of the passengers
found their belongings packed up, they were to leave early Monday morning. We had our
biggest portion already packed. We had to sleep on the boards but it wasn't so bad, we
were soon used to that.
The following day was Sunday. We went walking again in the city, but not much
to see, the business places were closed, also every trade was quiet. This day simply the
Word is greatly honored. We turned another way to a Baptist church, which looked huge
and clean, so I had to go in. Never in the Netherlands have I seen such a big church.
New York is over all very pretty. I couldn't write to you in one letter about the
city because I saw not enough of it and also because it is not my purpose as an emigrant to
know. This Monday morning there came more buyers after our leftover life savings; every
now and then one was chased off board the ship. Soon there came a steamboat during the
day to take us to the station of the railroad. Now our suitcases were checked, however in
one fast manner, that it wouldn't be smuggled, so our suitcases were not opened.
Original Dutch letter.