Old Family Letters     

Letter from America, January 1868
Ein Brief von Amerika, Januar 1868

Maria Anna Nieland worked for the Jasper family in Dyersville County, Iowa for several years after she immigrated in 1867. This old letter was written in 1868 by Anna's employer, Johann Heinrich Jasper, in German to his friends in Germany. In the last paragraph the letter mentions Anna's brother, Heinrich (Henry) Nieland. We believe that John Henry Nieland, carried this letter with him to America when he immigrated in August 1869. It was found in 2003 tucked into a photo album owned by Henry's granddaughter, Leone (Wittry) Buelt.

Transcribed and translated by Annegret Kmeth.

To our friend Franz,

Dyersville, 25 January 1868

Beloved friends,

I'm picking up my pen to finally write you a letter. I certainly know that you have hoped for a letter from us for a long time because we told you that we wanted to write to you. This will now fulfill our promise.

The evening of the first day we arrived in Münster, then we went by railway from Münster to Bremen, where we stayed with a host for 2 days. In this short trip we already had many new experiences. However that was nothing yet; that is to say, in two days we went to the ship and immediately to the ocean. We saw on the big ship there were 1000 men (passengers) and 103 sailors.

On Saturday afternoon at 3 o'clock the ship sailed and we bid Germany farewell. Tears came to the eyes of many on the ship because they had to leave the homeland. Only the pretty music which accompanied us on the ship made everyone fresh and cheerful again. This cheerfulness didn't last long; namely, after we had sailed for a half day there were already many sick and queasy, and then the vomiting began. However, for most the vomiting didn't last long — about 3 or 4 days. To be sure, there were many who were sick longer.

And finally the ship crossed the ocean until we finally saw land. All were happy and cheerful, having sailed 15 days. First we saw a little land, then gradually more and more, and finally we came to New York. However, before we arrived in New York we got off from of the main ship with our crates and chests and were taken on a smaller ship to New York. We arrived in New York in the evening, and went by railroad still further another evening. We took the express train, and came in 3 days to Dyersville. There the train car stopped and we got out and our uncle was standing right there holding his hand out to us. He had wagons and horses bring around our things after he took us home himself. The young boys and girls were likewise received. One became a servant here the other there; one here a maid and the other there. The maids earned 80-84 thalers and the servants 150-175. We stayed, however, with our uncle.

After we had been here a while we bought a farm of 200 acres where we now live happily and joyfully with our parents. We now have 4 good horses and at Lichtmess [February 2nd] another young one comes; we have 27 pigs, 5 cows and two calves, 14 chickens and 1 rooster also 3 ducks. Also in regard to religion it is quite good here, for on the first Sunday that we were in America the children received communion. The girls all wore white clothes and held a burning candle in their hand, as did the boys, and there was solemn singing from the [organ] choir.

Here in America, we have already sold pigs for a good price, namely 100 pounds for 7-1/2 thalers. Our uncle sold 19 fattened pigs and our hope is that, if God is with us, we can too next year. You don't need to worry here about fattening of the pigs as much as you do in Germany. They get maize, which to you is Turkish wheat, 3 times a day and at the same time they drink cold water. On the whole, one doesn't need to worry in the harvest as much as you, for it goes so fast that they say here, "but is it winter now?"  In Germany most or many people sit at the loom, we do nothing other than a little wood hoeing and when its a good day for hunting, then you take one of your guns and go hunting; here you can go hunting any time you want. If you go hunting here you can see quite a lot to shoot like rabbits, pheasants as big as chickens, quail which are as big as your field chickens, sometimes also deer, fox, wild cats and various other things.

I must close with my letter with many greetings from us. Greetings also to Henry Nieland and all our friends, and give our greetings to Edmund Rowe also if you can. Our parents do quite sincerely greet your family, also a greeting to Emma and the Tesing's children. Let Henry Nieland read this letter also; your friends H. and Bern Jasper.

Our Address is

       Johann Heinrich Jasper by Dyersville
       Dubuque Co. Iowa.
       North America

That's just how it is written here;
will write again soon

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