Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Voyage of Rudolph: Coming Home

I have been working on my Brock/Brack family.  As a matter of fact, I have been working with a group of other Brock researchers.  I have learned more than I have contributed, I'm sorry to say.  The people in the group are very good and have shared a great deal of information, for which I am grateful.  Any time from this point that I say Brock, I am including this group of researchers in my source of where the information came from. (So thanks everybody for including me!) 

I know from a DNA result from my cousin that my line of Brocks comes from a son of Georg "Frederick" Brock, aka. Fred who was the s/o Rudolph Brack.  Frederick was born February 2, 1719 in  Zweibreucken, Germany.  His line goes back into Switzerland in 1646 and before.  I was able to find information on the families entry into the US, and several German records, birth and death in particular, on FamilySearch.


My American story starts with Fredericks' father.  Rudolph Brack 47, wife Anna Brack 36, daughters Christiana 11,  Magdalena 8 and son Frederick 14  immigrated to America, arriving at the Port of Philadelphia, August 28, 1733 aboard the ship "Hope". They arrived just in time for winter which was surely a disadvantage.  They remained in Lancaster, Pennsylvania for a couple of years before moving on to the Shenandoah area of Virginia.

The journey aboard ship must have been a nightmare.  The first step of the voyage was down the Rhine to Rotterdam.  This trip down the Rhine lasted 4 to 6 weeks.  They had to stop at a customs check 26 times along the river, and each time the ship was held for examination for as long as the officials wanted to hold it.  The passengers would be forced to spend some cash, of course, at every stop.  Once in Rotterdam, Holland, the ships were detained 5 to 6 weeks.  Holland was more expensive, and would drain the people of any extra money they might hope to hold onto.  The second step of the journey was from Holland to Cowes, England, which is located on the Isle of Wight.  There they would go through customs and then wait for a 'favorable wind'.  This could take 2 to 3 weeks, from time of making port in Cowes to setting sail for America.  Once the weather was right, the final and worst part of the journey began.  From the Port of Cowes to the Port of Philadelphia, the journey would last 8 to 12 weeks, completely dependant on the weather and certainly the most trying leg of the whole journey. 

The passengers would suffer very small quarters, constant motion underfoot, noise day and night and the lack of exercise and privacy.  There was also a lack of clean water, though they carried fresh water, it would have to be portioned out carefully .   They were only allowed to bathe in sea water.  The food would not be the freshest, and I suppose the longer the journey, the worse the food and water got.  I read about the 'bunks' for sleeping.  They were only 5 foot long and were called 'cribs' because they had sides.  You wouldn't be able to stretch out, but at least you wouldn't end up in the floor every time the ship rolled.  I don't even want to  imagine the smell below deck. 

There was the constant threat of disease.  Even today, a cruise on a luxurious vessel can be ruined for everyone aboard by a flu bug or virus.  Think what would happen aboard a small ship with it's passengers packed in like sardines.    They would be subject to all sorts of diseases like scurvy, dysentery, typhoid and smallpox.  Many children died on each journey.  I should think the elderly would as well.    Only the hardiest of souls ever set eyes on their 'promised land'.

The storms would have been horrible experiences.  You would have been tossed about, sick and healthy alike.  No one would be able to stand below deck during the storms.  The waves would wash over the decks.  I'm sure it was running through every mind that the ship would surely sink each time a storm hit.  You are out in the middle of nowhere and there will be no rescue whatever tragedy befalls the vessel, so completely at the mercy of the elements. 

Once the ship arrived at it's destination, a health official would board and check that they would not infect the general population with anything.  If they got the ok, the ship could then 'make port' and her passengers could disembark.  They must have been worse for wear when they finally got to the end of their journey, a wobbly, less than clean bunch working their way down the gang plank.  What did it feel like, I wonder, setting foot on dry, solid land after spending over a year aboard a ship?  What was going through their minds as their eyes took in their surroundings?  Did it resemble the dream they had nurtured in their minds throughout their long journey home? 

I would say that you had to really want to get to the new world very badly to go through such a journey.  The conditions in the place you left so bad or so constraining that you were willing to let go of family, friends and place to begin again, alone in a strange land.  I don't think people today fully appreciate the journey Rudolph took, nor the reasons behind it.    I am sure our elected officials don't, as this journey I write about is the true example of immigration. 

Rudolph signed his name to three lists, and I believe he did so with all his heart.

List A - The Captain's list
List B - The signers of the Oath of Allegiance
List C - The signers of the Oath of Abjuration

My Rudolph was home. 

to be continued. . . . .

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The Brock Research Group


OliveTreeGenealogy Ships list:  Passenger list for the ship Hope

FamilySearch.org.: Record Search

Frederick Brock 1719-1807: His American Family by Clarence C. Brock, Jr.

Pennsylvania German Pioneers: A Publication of the Original Lists of Arrivals in the Port of Philadelphia from 1727 to 1808, by Ralph Baker Strasburger & William John Hinke. Norristown, PA: Pennsylvania German Society, 1934; reprinted Springfield, VA, Genealogical Books in Print, 1992; pp. xxxiv-xxxvii.
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