Rosshaupt in black and white


Tracking One Family Across the Ocean

Three masted bark at sail

The Johann Gosz family left the Rosshaupt (today Rozvadov) Egerland and traveled to Bremerhaven to board the ship Herzogin von Brabant, sailing from Bremen to Montreal/Quebec, where they landed on May, 1867.  Once there, they almost certainly bought tickets for a Great Lakes steamer and sailed to Milwaukee.  Their naturalization application says that the "Port of Milwaukee" was their first port of landing in the US.  They arrived there in June of 1867.  I had been told that if the Port of Milwaukee was a first USA entry point, it usually meant the immigrants had come to this country by way of Canada.  I also knew of no immigration records for such an early date kept by the Canadian Government.  I thought I would never know the European port from which they embarked or the month when Johann and Margaretha Hummer Gosz had first seen land after their trip across the Atlantic.

I had not realized that ship arrival records were kept by the Canadian Government until they were acquired, indexed and publicized by Ancestry.  Just as an archivist in Milwaukee had told me, an arrival at the Port of Milwaukee usually meant an immigrant entered the US from Canada.  There were my Gosz great-great grandparents and all their children.

I was curious about the ship and I found the following information on the internet very interesting.

The Bremen bark HERZOGIN VON BRABANT was built at Neu-Rönnebeck (now Bremen-Blumenthal), by Claus Dierks & Co, for the Bremen firm of Ichon & Co, and was launched on 24 June 1858. 247 Commerzlasten / 572 tons; 42,4 x 9,4 x 5,1 meters (length x beam x depth of hold). Masters of the bark were, in turn, A. Beling, A. B. Wilms, and C. A. T. Strohmeyer.

The HERZOGIN VON BRABANT was originally employed in the North Atlantic trade, sailing between Bremen and New York.

In October 1867, the HERZOGIN VON BRABANT, under the command of Capt. Strohmeyer, sailed from the Thames River for Batavia, where she arrived on 8 February 1868. She either remained or returned to "Indian waters", since at the end of February 1870 she arrived at Falmouth from Rangoon.

In May 1871, the HERZOGIN VON BRABANT was sold to J. A. Jacobsen & Co, Tönsberg, Norway, and renamed NATHANAEL; she was sold again, in 1875, to Johs. Harbitz & Co, also of Tönsberg. From 1871 to 1889, she was commanded by Capt. J. J. Jacobsen, who was succeeded by Capt. Thue. In 1890, the NATHANAEL was sold to the firm of J. Prebensen, Österrisör (port of registry, Risör), and placed under the command of Capt. Gahrsen, followed by Capt. Pedersen. Around the turn of the century she changed hands twice again, first to Hans Olsens Dykkerforretning, Bergen, and shortly afterwards to the Actieselskab Bark Nathanael (J. Martens), also of Bergen. Her last captain was J. A. Jensen.

In November 1900, the bark NATHANAEL, bound from Boston for Bergen, encountered heavy weather in the North Sea, losing all her masts. On 16 November, she was towed to Grimsby, where she was subsequently condemned and broken up.

That short history shows that this "bark" or sailing ship, had already seen some heavy use by the time the Gosz family made their way to Canada.  I can only guess at the length of time their voyage lasted.  However, one part of the web article listed above cited a trip during that time period that took 53 days.

This was the time when steamships were also being used.  They made the crossing much shorter.  But such a trip was more costly.  That fact indicates that the Gosz family had limited resources for purchasing the fare to cross the ocean.  Or as the old saying goes, "more time than money!"

Source: Peter-Michael Pawlik, Von der Weser in die Welt; Die Geschichte der Segelschiffe von Weser und Lesum und ihrer Bauwerften 1770 bis 1893, Schriften des Deutschen Schiffahrtsmuseums, Bd. 33 (Hamburg: Kabel, c1993), pp. 72-73, no. 14.


Where They Lived

The story circulated in my Gosz family says that 2nd great grandfather Johann owned a shingle factory and had money!  But genealogical research so often kills off wonderful tales of successful ancestors.  I've outlined in prior blogs the lack of status of the Gosz family before they came to live in Wisconsin.   If Johann knew anything about shingles or any other kind of roof covering, I'm sure that he did the "day labor" of covering the roofs of his neighbors.

This leads to the question of the roof itself as well as the building that held up that roof.  Names, dates and places have never been enough.  The stories and the settings behind those things has the most interest for me.

So, as a start, here is a picture of a wedding scene - or rather a pre-wedding scene - in which the bride and her well-to-do family, Egerlander villagers all, are moving her dowry to the home of her husband-to- be, much to the interest of friends, neighbors, and even itinerant journeymen and tinkers who have happened by.  The artist also gives a good picture of the buildings in the village.  If you look closely by clicking on the picture, you may even see some shingles!

Gustav Zindel, Artist