ample opportunity to enjoy the view. On the 10th at midday a better wind filled the sails of the ship. Santa Domingo disappeared before the eyes of the passengers and on the northern horizon arose the majestic vista of the island of Cuba. The Olbers continued to sail closer and the passengers were astonished by the beautiful panorana of fertile plantations and romantic mountain chains.
On Friday, January 11th the chief administrator enpaneled a small jury to pass sentence on a young boy of about nine years of age. A son of Dr. S-- had taken three pocket watches belonging to the passengers. He owned up to his offense and admitted to having smashed them and thrown them into the sea. No further evidence other than the testimony of the small thief could be established concerning the procurement of the stolen articles. On the following day the sentence was executed; all the children were instructed to come to the open deck where they formed a circle around the small thief. The boy received 8 to 10 lashes with a belt on his backside.
On Sunday,January 13th the stormy weather prevented church services and only the gospel was read. In the evening the Olbers reached the Gulf of Mexico and the journey progressed rapidly and pleasantly.
On the 14th the passengers received the important message that on the next day a vote would be held to choose a bishop.
The next evening all woman and children along with all young people, who could not vote, had to go up to the open deck so that only those eligible to vote would remain on the lower deck to cast their ballots.
Pastor Walther began the proceedings with a very long speech. He attempted to show how necessary it was to have a minister as authorized leader and how he was convinced that the congregation would only see the fulfillment of its dreams if their revered head, Pastor Stephan, took on that authority. Furthermore it was not necessary to have a vote since only one opinion reigned over the hearts of all his followers, etc. They were only here as a matter of form since the reverend man may not want to accept the post if he was not unanimously elected to it. He wanted the congregation to select 12 deputies and commission them to unite with him in order to persuade Pastor Stephan to accept the office of spiritual leader. The main point of the long speech was that it was self-evident that Stephan must be made bishop, however the congregation itself should humbly offer him the office, etc. The cabin passengers had been in agreement on this point for some time.
In the meantime the women and children had to wait out in the frigid and rainy weather and they were half-frozen.
They were allowed to come back in and the proposed vote was held the next afternoon.
The vote resulted in the following men being chosen as deputies:
Dr. Carl Eduard Vehse,
These deputies went to Pastor Stephan and ceremoniously offered him the title of bishop. After a few humble refusals the pious lord finally allowed himself to to moved to accept the office. This man's ability to dissimulate was enormous as shown by his feigned surprise over this offer — especially since he had planned the entire manoever and then had others carry it out.
In the early hours of Friday, January 18th the Olbers neared the mouth of the Mississippi River. During the night the helmsman had taken the ship too far in so he had to turn it back since it would have been dangerous to proceed without a pilot on board. Finally around 9 AM the pilot's boat arrived. The pilot jumped into a skiff and the oarsmen, sturdy black men,
rowed him to the Olbers. The pilot was a tall, gangly man with sharply defined features; pushing his pipe from one side of his mouth to the other, he quickly determined the position of the ship and immediately took over the navigation. The black oarsmen were truly a curiousity for the passengers assembled on deck. They were treated to two bottles of wine by the captain and after they had hoisted the pilot's valise onto the Olbers, they rowed away. — As long as he was in charge of the ship, the pilot was responsible for any damage and he was well paid for it. Such people are quite skilled and know the channels well.
On Wednesday around noontime the steamship "Tiger of New Orleans" pulled up along side the Olbers and the captains negotiated through speaking tubes. Then the steamship towed the Olbers with a 5 inch thick towing rope to get it into the river. However before reaching this destination the rope broke and the Olbers sank firmly into the mud of the Mississippi. All attempts to refloat the ship were useless. The work was further hindered by a dense fog and the land disappeared once again from the sight of the emigrants.
The Olbers had to stay there until Saturday afternoon. The captain had brought 40,000 bricks from Germany and now to refloat the back portion of the ship, half of those bricks had to brought to the forward deck.
The passengers in steerage diligently applied themselves to the task and with the help of the Tiger and a second ship, named the Hudson, the Olbers was refloated. The Hudson then went on its way and the rest of the journey to New Orleans, 20 miles away, was completed with the help of the Tiger alone.
On Sunday, the 26th [20th?] at 4 in the afternoon the passengers saw the harbor of New Orleans and Olbers reached the port at 5 PM. According to orders received, no one could leave the ship that day to visit the city. — Many curious onlookers closed in around the ship and since there was no way to prevent visitors without a specific purpose from coming on board, the passengers found it necessary to line men up at both entrance ramps to bar curious people from boarding and going into the cabins.
The following day everyone stormed the shore to see all the noteworthy sites of New Orleans. However this city is in no way appointed to form a favorable impression upon the educated German. Here commerce deals in the most precious human commodity, personal freedom. Just like pieces of merchandise the unfortunate slaves are sold to the highest bidder and the foreigner perceives with a shudder how the basest form of slavery pervails in the land of freedom. — The condition of the resident was described as quite demoralized and the observations
Go to pages 24 - 28
Copy of text provided by the Concordia Theological Seminary Library, Fort Wayne, Indiana 46825
Imaging and translation by Susan Kriegbaum-Hanks