©2009-2016 Becky Higgins

Friday, April 9, 2010

The Writing Begins

I've done it!! I've finally started to put pen to paper or, in this case, fingers to keyboard. One would think I'd have several pages done after the hours I've put in this afternoon but, no, just a couple. However, it's a start and I'm happy about that. In the end, what I've written will probably not even make the final output but that doesn't matter either.

Here's a little sample of what I've done. Suggestions are always welcome:)

I'm planning this as the "story" for those people who don't care about genealogy but are interested in some of the family history. The "genealogy report" will also be part of the publication and will include all the details and documentation. There will also be pictures with the text, like an image of the ship and one of Castle Garden.

What must have been going through Salome Siegler’s mind as she boarded the Ernst Moritz Arndt[1] preparing to set sail for America. Only two years earlier she would have been looking forward to a quiet life in the sleepy village of Bouxwiller, France where she had spent her first twenty years. Now, nothing remained from that life. War had devastated her family, her village and her nation. Germany demanded she choose either to remain in what was left of her village but as a German citizen or to leave the Alsace region moving to the interior of France. So, taking what little could be carried she and so many others began a sad and frightening journey away from their beloved home.
At least, Salome didn’t have to make all of the decisions on her own. Besides the various members of her family, Charles Ruch whom she loved had opted against German citizenship as well. Theirs was an uncertain future, but the promise of a future together probably gave some solace.
With a great scarcity of jobs due partly to the major influx of refugees from the ceded regions of Alsace and Lorraine, a future in France must have looked dim. Perhaps that is why the couple set their sights across the ocean or perhaps other family members or friends had gone before; whatever the reason, on March 04, 1873, Charles and Salome left from the port of Le Havre, never to see their homeland again.
Most of the passengers on the ship were French and most, like Charles and Salome, had steerage tickets. What a long two weeks that must have been. There was plenty of time to talk about the years before the war; remembering her father, the button manufacturer, and his father, the printer. Reliving the good times when their families gathered together to celebrate holidays and special events. But, probably, fresher in their minds was the horror of the war they had just survived. The countryside overrun by marauding German soldiers; taking the stores from villages and leaving nothing for the people left behind. Stories shared about the terrible bloodshed of both soldiers and civilians alike. Perhaps it was good to have that time, however disturbing it may have been, to purge the past and make room for what was ahead.

[1] N.R.P.Bonsor, North Atlantic Seaway, vol.2, p.774/ vol.3, p.1245-6. http://www.theshipslist.com/ships/descriptions/ShipsH.html
"Habana" was the ex-"Ernst Moritz Arndt". This was built by T.B.Oswald & Co, Sunderland in 1872 for the German company, Baltischer Lloyd. She was a 2,597 gross ton ship, length 317ft x beam 38ft, one funnel, two masts, iron construction, single screw and a speed of 12 knots. Launched on 22/8/1872 as the "Ernst Moritz Arndt", she sailed from London on her maiden voyage to Havre and New York on 27/2/1873. She made 6 transatlantic voyages, the last starting on 28/5/1874 when she left Stettin for Antwerp and New York. In 1879 she was sold to Lopez of Spain and renamed "Habana"… 

1 comment:

  1. I love the romantic feel to your prose. Do you have a family tree posted online so I can follow along as you write?