Abraham Fickeisen and Margaretha Mueller
How they came to America.
This is a story told by Margaret Mueller to her daughter, Eva Fickeisen Noe, and retold to her granddaughter, my mother, Lorene Andris.
Abraham Fickeisen met Margaret Mueller, who came to Bonn to work or to attend school to learn mid-wifing. They lived just across the river from each other. [It was the River Glan, I learned from my travels.] They fell in love and saved their money to come to America because the Prussian draft started at 18 years of age and young men had to spend seven years in the army, married or not. There was no exemptions. They were married when they were young, and they ran off to a port, possibly Amsterdam.
They boarded a ship to America about 10 days later. The old sea captain said that the ships were being searched for escapees from the draft. He advised that Abraham not come aboard the ship until way after the patrol quit working around midnight. So Abraham climbed up into a big tree, and sat there, way up in the crotch of the tree, until the wee hours of the morning. He later told Margaret, who had already gotten on the boat, that he was up there listening to the gendarmes reading off the names of the people they were looking for, and he heard his name "spieled off." After the coast was clear (he heard the gendarmes say that they were going home for the night), he shinnied down the tree and got on the ship. That morning the wind was just right, so they set their sails and started out just before daylight.
They sailed for 48 days on the Atlantic ocean. Margaret had sewn what money they had in the hem of her petticoat. They had a sea trunk that Abraham had built, which held all of her knitting and midwifery equipment. The trunk also contained woodworking tools and a little clothing. They kept the trunk locked. Mom has the original trunk. They took turns; when she slept, he watched, and vice versa. "They were in steerage with the low-lifes and the cattle." They were allowed to come up from steerage once or twice a day for sunshine. Whenever people died, they were immediately thrown overboard. They woke up one morning and the wind had blown them back as far as they'd come the day before.
According to my mother, they arrived here around July 4, 1843, although as we shall see, there is some reason to question this date. This was before Ellis Island. They didn't know about our 4th of July celebration; the Captain had to explain. They were really scared at first, because in the early years of our country there was lots of gunfire. There was a German farmer down at the dock who asked them if they wanted work. He gave them a cabin to live in Albany, NY. He helped them with their language. Grandma Mueller was very, very smart. She schooled herself to speak English. They got their citizenship papers. They had to go down to the capital there and they asked them certain questions.
Created by Jim Andris, March 19, 2000, revised, August 7, 2006.