The Life of the Reverend J. An. A. Grabau, Pages 37 - 42


having come from various provinces, cities and villages in order to emigrate under the leadership of Pastor Grabau and among these people the long persecuted and tormented minister found loving reception. The old Pastor Mutzenbecher helped to arrange a public reception by the citizens of the city for Pastor Grabau based on Isaiah 40, 9 and he arranged for the penitents to receive confession. Pastor Rautenberg was also friendly, however other pastors of Hamburg remained aloof to the church faithful.

The emigrating congregation established a communal emigration fund whereby it was freely decided that the poor and those of lesser means would contribute according to their ability while the richer people would contribute more in order to secure the costs of passage to New York. This way whenever possible the poor members of the congregation could come along with the proviso that they later pay back the loan plus interest to the passage fund. However later on the creditors entirely forgave the interest.

On May 28th Mr. von Rohr and Martin Krüger were elected deputies by the assembled congregation in Hamburg to finish the negotiations for the contract of ship passage. Mr. von Rohr traveled with Dr. Gustiniani and Mr. Frenzel via Hull to Liverpool and in Liverpool they signed a contract with Becket & Son to transport the 1000 souls in 5 American sailing ships to New York.

On Friday, June 28th at 2 PM the first transport of Lutheran Christians began via steamship over to Hull and then Liverpool. The second and 3rd group went on June 30th. The 4th group went on July 4th and the 5th on July 27th. Pastor Grabau and his family were on the last ship. From Liverpool the congregation was transported on 5 sailing ship to New York. Once again Pastor Grabau was on the last ship, which departed on August 14th. By this time the first ship had already landed in New York. The first half of the journey proceeded peacefully but during the second half there was a terrible storm. The sails ripped, the masts broke and no one could turn the rudder. Despite the pastor's warning one of the two helmsmen and a few of the sailors were given brandy


and these drunken men could not secure the ship when a heavy gale occurred. God severely punished this wantonness. The ship filled with water. Everything seemed lost. A Lutheran tasted the water and found that it was fresh water. The powerful turbulence had broken the kegs holding the drinking water, which were stored below deck. The captain sealed off the cabins and the lower decks and awaited death. "We can do nothing," was all he said. Many prayed for a peaceful demise. Then God showed what He can do. Pastor Grabau, fully confident in God, encouraged the fearful: The Lord Zeboath will attest to our faith; he stands at the rudder with his holy angels. Whoever has faith will see God's majesty." He manifested himself even in the storm winds, which flowed over the little ship of His Church. Miraculously the battered craft held together. On September 18th they landed in New York. On the 20th they were allowed to leave the ship. On September 26th they went by steamer from New York to Albany and then on to Buffalo via canal boat. A lesser portion of the congregation remained in New York and Albany; most of them, like their pastor, went on to Buffalo. They arrived on October 5th.


Part Two


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I.

The First Years in America

It is not my assigned task to recount the history of the emigration of our congregation but rather to write the biography of my dear father. However inasmuch as the his life is linked to the history of the congregation, especially with regard to its migration, I will not disregard an already described incident in Buffalo so that it may be better understood. Pastor E.F.L. Krause, who had also been persecuted for the sake of his faith, had decided to emigrate with his congregation a little earlier than Pastor Grabau had with his congregation. In order to secure cheap passage for his congregation and to find a favorable location for his congregation to settle, Pastor Krause had travelled alone in the winter of 1838 - 1839 to America. His congregation was to follow in early 1839. However in March of this year as they awaited in Hamburg for passage to America they changed their minds and decided they preferred to move to Australia. Deputies from their congregation negotiated with Mr. Angas, the president of an Australian trade company, for free passage to Australia and to this proposal they were awaiting a response. Now they had reset their sights on America and they joined with Pastor Grabau's congregation. In the time being Mr. Angas had amassed a sum (800 Dollars) for this Silesian congregation and he declared that they could book passage to Australia if the wealthier members of their group would assume a portion of the costs. But these members were not willing to do so. Pastor Grabau and his congregation asserted that these people should accept the offer


if they were to properly satisfy the terms of the agreement with Mr. Angas. With this they were in general accord however they were not satisfied with specific terms of the agreement. Soon after the wealthy members travelled on to America and left their poorer brethren with Pastor Grabau's congregation. Mr. Angas found this breech of contract deplorable however he sent the amassed 800 Dollars to the poor members of the congregation so they could now move to America. After the first 4 ships landed in New York on September 4th and 10th they awaited the arrival of the 5th ship, which was to bring the remaining members of the congregation with Pastor Grabau. When more time passed that they had expected it gave rise to the fear that the ship may have sunk. The greater portion of the congregation went on to Buffalo while 10 to 14 families stayed on in New York. From Buffalo about 40 families, mostly Pommeranians, travelled on with Mr. von Rohr to Wisconsin. Others found work on the Genesee Canal. A few days after the families moved on to Wisconsin Pastor Grabau arrived in Buffalo. There was great joy amid the entire congregation. Their first concern was now the provision for Lutheran church services and a Lutheran school. In a room on Main Street where a small congregation belonging to Pastor Krause had found lodging, the new arrivals gathered for their first church service on October 5th. Soon after they had the opportunity to rent a small church, which happily gave them more space. However this church caught fire soon after and with it a portion of the valuable library they brought with them was destroyed by fire. Another location was found on S. Division Street, and later a somewhat more spacious place was found on Main St. but these places did not have sufficient room for the large congregation, whose financial resources had been severely depleted by the migration and could not undertake building a church. In their distress they called out to the Lord that He might help them. Then it happened that one evening Pastor Grabau was greeted by a man on the street who asked whether he was Pastor Grabau. Answer: "Ja!" Whereupon the man pulled out a letter and handed it to Pastor Grabau. The letter was from Hull in England. On its way from Hull to Liverpool the persecuted congregation had garnered the sympathies of many good-hearted people when they heard about the reason for their emigration.


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Text provided by the Reu Memorial Library, Wartburg Seminary, Dubuque, Iowa - Call No. BX8080.G72 G7
Imaging and Translation by Susan Kriegbaum-Hanks
Edited January 17, 2006