was quite cold and there was no heat on board the boat and it was impossible to get warm food or drink.131 Summer travel created the reverse problem of heat. When Rev. Cornelius van der Meulen and his group of Zeelanders traversed the canal in July 1847, he wrote: 'On the barge it was stifling hot and one had no room to sit down, there were no cooked meals and very little or no hot drinks'. Three of Van der Meulen's parishioners died on the boat and one more died shortly after reaching Buffalo.34 J.D. Werkman reported being 'packed like herring in a vat', an apt metaphor his Dutch readers could appreciate. Some escaped the crush of people on the boat by walking the canal path. As Hermanus Strabbing noted: 'We scarcely had any room to sit. To lie down, rest or sleep was out of the question. Our protests availed nothing. The crew acted as if it could not understand us, with which we had to be satisfied.'35 To lessen the hardships, the Dutch emigrants were careful to take ocean passage during the most healthful time of the year, in the late spring and early summer, before the summer epidemics broke out but after the dangerous winter storms on the North Atlantic. The problems encountered by the Van Raalte party in 1846, who arrived in New York in late November, taught their successors to depart much earlier in the year. As Van Raalte wrote: They must not leave in the fall, an 'unpropitious season, at the season of the year when they must remain in the city at expense and thus expend the means to carry them into the interior'. One of the men with Van Raalte wrote: '[We do not] advise anyone to come in the latter part of the year, not later than August'. The 'Knickerbocker Hollanders', New Yorkers of Dutch descent, likewise advised the immigrants to avoid winter arrivals.36 The emigrants generally followed this sound advice; until 1870 nearly half arrived in May and June. Only later, when faster steamers had replaced sailing vessels, did the prime arrival time move ahead slightly, to April and May. Conclusion Most Dutch immigrants used the convenient Rotterdam-New York route, but Zeelanders had the ready alternative of Antwerp-New York. Until 1860 three out of four Zeeland emigrants went over Rotterdam; but less than half did so later because Antwerp and Liverpool offered more competitive rates. Poorer people had to endure the longer but cheaper passage through Liverpool. Antwerp, and to a lesser extent Le Havre, attracted immigrants from the southern Netherlands, especially in the middle decades. As for the crossing itself, the danger of death was real but exaggerated; the Dutch mortality rate was below 1 percent. They were healthier and took more concern for cleanliness. They also were careful to depart in the healthiest time of the year, the spring. The Dutch, it is clear, planned their transoceanic journey as carefully as they made the decision to migrate in the first place and to choose their ultimate destinations. Notes 1This article draws heavily from the author's previously published article 'The journey across. Dutch trans atlantic emigrant passage to the United States, 1820-1880', in: R. Hoefte, J.C. Kardux (eds.), Connecting cultures. The Netherlands in five centuries of transatlantic exchange (Amsterdam 1994) 101-133. 2. Figures compiled from R.R Swierenga (comp.), Dutch emigrants to the United States, South Africa, South America and Southeast Asia, 1835-1880. An alphabetical listing by household heads and independent persons (Wilmington 1983); Centraal Bureau voor de Statistiek, 'Statistiek van den loop der bevolking van 28 ZEEUWSE EMIGRATIE NAAR AMERIKA 1840-1920

Tijdschriftenbank Zeeland

Nehalennia | 1997 | | pagina 30