German Family History Part II – To America, via Shipwreck

Sallie Satterthwaite's picture

Having followed the early history of the German Family Bumer, the narrative of Frank Bumer continues:

Youth Age

In Spring 1872 our oldest sister, Karoline, got married to Aston Hutzel of Berg. Sad, however, after eleven months she died, only being sick three days.

In 1874 I finished the Public School and was confirmed by Rev. Heinrick Frank. For two years thereafter I worked with my father in the field. In Winter I attended Night-School; in Summer, Sunday-School, as I always desired to get an education for a School-teacher or like occupation. No women ever taught school in Germany.

[In October 1876 he passed the examination to get into a “Preparation School” to prepare for the Seminary near Strasbourg, Alsace, where he graduated.]

“First learn to obey and then order” was the main motto…. This Seminary was maintained by the German government, with the object to Germanize Alsace-Loran Schools at least 5 years.

In the Spring of 1879 my brother, Louis, was drafted as a soldier and located in Zweibrucken, Rhine-Bavaria. My father made contact with the Government to build and enlarge the levees on the Rhine. As he had to give Bond for the completion, and during this time the Rhine flooded and tore a large part of the newly built levees away, my father suffered a great loss.

Therefore the thought struck my father to go to America. However, carefully, he only took with him my two oldest sisters, Lene and Mary, as he thought in case it would not suit him in America, he would come back again.

So he left Berg in the fall of 1879. From the city Hare to England, they had to take a sail-boat and the large steamer to England. While on this boat to England there came a severe thunderstorm, which threw the boat around like a ball and at last threw it against a rock, knocking a big hole in the ship.

Lucky, however, this fastened the ship to the rock for awhile. Father and sisters told us afterward no one can imagine the terrible scenery, the boat laid over on its side. My father was hanging on a sail rope, his legs in the sea, Lene on one shoulder and Mary on the other, where they remained over a half of an hour until rescue from England came, as it happened not far from the English Coast.

During this time when lightning appeared, they could see hundreds of people, small and large, battling in the sea for their lives. Half of the passengers of the ship (150) were drowned, and [the survivors] lost their trunks – everything they had. Kind people in England donated the necessary clothing so they could continue the journey.

They took the bigger boat and arrived in New York and then landed in Millvale, Pa., where some of the friends of Berg were located.

At the beginning here, my father had hard times, he had to start work in the Iron Rolling Mill in Millvale. After a half of a year, things turned out better, after my two sisters got work, and wrote us all to come to America, and we prepared in March 1880 to come. I was just home on a vacation and my brother Louis asked for a short leave of the army.

Then at once Mother, Louis, Frank, Trese, Rosie and Carl started for America with the French Line from Hare to New York, and had a fairly well journey for 12 days. The steamer, “St. Laurent,” brought us to New York on Thursday evening and then came with the Emigration Train to Pittsburgh, Pa. where we arrived Saturday evening at 7 o’clock. My sister Mary and friends brought us then to father in Millvale, then called Gity’s Run.

On Sunday, July 16 [1882], while I visited home, my father died in my arms with the words: “Frank, it is finished.” I may mention, at his age of 50 years when he died, he had snow white gray hair, because of the time when the ship fractured near England on his journey to America….

[Bumer includes here a roll-call of places he worked as a youth, most in the restaurant business because he figured he’d learn English faster as a waiter than in school. He also farmed with his father, learned watch- and jewelry-making, even working in real estate. business. He also joined the Tex-La Oil Company as Secretary.]

Until next time….

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