Friday, September 30, 2016

An Immigrant Family's Story: A Newspaper Account (Part 1)

During the summer of 1859, my great, great, great grandparents, Joachim [pronounced "Waa-Keem"] and Henrietta (Bingher) Peters emigrated from Germany to America with their six children.

My Grand Aunt Beulah recorded this brief memory which had been passed down through several generations: "Seven days into his voyage to America, Joachim Peters directed his family to kneel on the floor of the cattle (not that kind of a vessel, but what we've been told all our life) boat that carried them and give thanks that they were leaving Germany."

Although Beulah found their New York passenger list decades ago, and I found their Hamburg passenger list several years ago, I wanted to know more about their passage. Earlier this week I logged onto I searched for the ship's name from the passenger list, steamboat Bavaria, and narrowed the results to the correct year, 1859. I knew they'd arrived on July 2nd, so I scrolled down to that date. I quickly found what I was looking for, though it was published on the 4th and not the 2nd.  With details from the passenger lists, I confirmed it was the correct "arrival."

The New York Times shared:

Arrived, The New York Times, New York New York, 4 July 1859, page 8, column 5, 
digital image, ( : accessed 28 September 2016).

Steamship Bavaria., (Ham..) Laupe. Hamburg, via Southampton June 18. 1 P. M. with mdse. and 257 passengers to Kunhardt & Co. Passed Sandy Hook at 6 A. M., and arrived off the Battery at 7:50 A. M. Experienced strong westerly winds throughout the passage. Passed Cape Race June 27, at 10 A. M.; saw no ice. June 18, off St. Alban's Head, signalized Am. ship Sonora.

What neat information to add to the story of my ancestors' passage! Some of the details I love:

  • they sailed from Southampton, not directly from Germany
  • the ship had merchandise and 257 passengers
  • they "experienced strong westerly winds throughout the passage"
  • they "saw no ice"
I did more research and will explain some of the other details in my next post.

My Line of Descent:
  • Joachim Peters (~1814-~1894) m. Henrietta Bingher (1817-1874)
  • Carl "Charles" Peters (1847-1910) m. Fredericka Werther (1847-1888)
  • Emil Peters (1877-1955) m. Myrtle Mae Coppenbarger (1880-1970)
  • Hazel Peters (1910-1975) m. Edward Stewart (1910-1972), my grandparents
Do we have ancestors in common? I'd love to talk! Please leave a comment or email me at


  1. Interesting find, Dana, especially as it shows their worry over hitting an iceberg.

    1. Dara, Great point! And, this was in July and yet they were still evidently expected to report on whether or not they saw ice.

  2. It never occurred to me to look in newspapers for reports associated with ships' arrivals. This is a whole new avenue of research--excellent for adding some "color" to our immigrant ancestors' stories. How brave they were to leave a familiar place to travel to so far away, knowing they would probably never see family and friends again, to a place completely unknown to them. Admirable...

    1. I can't take credit for looking in the newspapers for the arrivals, but I don't remember where I read about it. Then, one day last week, I just thought about doing a search. And, it really took only a minute or so! I think they are the only family I have that came into NYC, though. I'll be looking at other families once I finish writing about them.

      And, you are SO right about how brave they must have been! A couple leaves the country with only their children to accompany them. I haven't traced the family back to Germany, so I don't know who they left behind. But, it is most likely they never saw their parents, siblings, other relatives and friends again... ever! I wonder why they left? And how hard it was to leave?

  3. It had never occurred to me either, which it should have. When I restore my subscription I have to have this on a list of things to search for. Great tip!

    1. Thanks, Anna. I'm glad it was helpful! And, I hope you find a similar article.


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