Michigan via the Mackinaw Straits to Chicago. Children under 12 always received a fare reduction and infants traveled free. In the late 1850s the train from New York to Chicago covered the thousand miles in five days for a 3rd class fare of $5 ($16 1st class and $9.50 2nd class). Thus, the total cost of emigrating trom the Netherlands to Chicago at mid-century for adults was about $20 50), plus food costs of $10. Thirty dollars was not an inconsiderable sum of money; however, it was within the means of all but the very poor who were assisted by relatives, wealthy patrons and fellow church members. The wealthy landowner Jannes van de Luijster, for example, advan ced monies to pay the fares for 77 of the 101 people in his group, many of whom never would or could repay him.28 Travel experiences Crossing the Atlantic Ocean made an indelible impression on every emigrant and all had a ready story to tell to any and all who would listen. Most were landlubbers who had never been at sea and were haunted by its mysterieus powers and changing moods. Stormy seas, accidents, and in the early years a frequent lack of wholesome food, coupled with shipboard epidemics, caused exceeding pain and loss. Then seasickness, groans and cries of fright in storms, and burials at sea, were all too com monplace. Since the difficult crossings were more vivid and memorable than the uneventful passages, immigrant letters, dairies, and memoirs often stressed the unpleasant experiences. But for most, the voyage was a pleasant trip on calm seas, or at worst a boring routine, sandwiched between the melodramatic departure and extre me grief of leave-taking at the docks and the exciting first glimpse of America. The fear of the unknown future in the United States weighed more heavily than the crossing itself. Meals improved greatly after new regulations in the 1850s made shipowners responsible for providing food supplies and preparing meals. Sunday worship services were observed whenever possible.29 Fatalities at sea due to epidemics and accidents were ameliorated with the advent of steamers that were built especially for passengers in the 1850s and 1860s.10 Sailing vessels, which took six weeks on average, had mortality rates over ten times greater than steamships, which crossed the Atlantic in two weeks. The number of Dutch who died at sea was low, averaging less than 1 percent in the years 1820-1880.31 The rates were slightly higher in the 1840s but they declined steadily thereafter, dropping to one-fourth the previous levels by the 1870s. Two- thirds of the deaths were children, usually infants under one year. Only one-quarter were husbands or wives, which was a far more serious blow to the family than the loss of an infant or child. The low death rate was a result of the relatively good health of the Dutch emigrants and their proverbial cleanliness. Emigrants also died in the United States on the inland journey, especially before rail travel became commonplace. Accommodations on Erie canal boats were noto riously bad, compared to steamships and Mississippi River paddleboats. The Hollanders always recalled the Hudson River and Great Lakes steamers with plea sure, in sharp contrast to the canal boats, which were unheated, overcrowded and moved at a snail's pace. Worse yet. the crews were uncaring. The 346-mile trip from Albany to Buffalo took up to two weeks and 'was an experience full of hardship', reported Sietze Bos, who voiced the sentiments of many.32 Albertus G. van Hees who traveled the canal in early November, 1847, wrote: 'We suffered great hardships. It TRAVEL ROUTES OF ZEELAND EMIGRANTS 27

Tijdschriftenbank Zeeland

Nehalennia | 1997 | | pagina 29