1852?, Letter from Johann Jacob Frautschi to his brothers, sisters, relatives and acquaintances in Switzerland (fragment)

University of Wisconsin-Madison. Max Kade Institute. Frautschi Letters (MKI/Frautschi3/J1852)

Electronic version: http://frautschi-letters.mki.wisc.edu/let/J1852/JohannJacob1852.html

My dear brothers, sisters, relatives and aquaintences!

In order to write the truth to all of you, I am writing to tell you how it went for us from Saanen to here. As you well know, we set out on the 21st day of February, 1852 to journey toward America.

We were on the way to my wife's home for eight days, where we remained two and a half months, because my wife's relatives did not want us to go to America and wanted me to purchase a home there. Soon I let myself be persuaded and had made arrangements for a dwelling. Finally, I tore myself away, by main force.

And so on the 17th of May, 1852 I travelled with my household to look upon the great world ocean. On the 27th day of May we boarded the ship, where we spent 43 days on the ocean. We had contrary winds almost the entire way. We were scarcely an hour at sea when sea sickness began, and soon a few hundred had to throw up. I had plenty to do with my wife and children, holding their heads, but I didn't think it was going to kill me. Once however a man came past my bed and must have let go front and back, making a chamber pot full, and he wanted to carry it out. He came down the passageway, fell and spilled his pot, making such a stench that I, too, had to throw up. Later when anyone going out fell down on the ship, causing the filth to run down his back, it made everyone laugh.

During the night of the ninth day, a storm struck. The ship was so severly shaken that four men in one bedstead broke down.

Many thought that the ship was breaking up and cried, "Dear Lord God, come help us, we are sinking! hail Mary, come help us; yes all saints, come to help us." And the four men clawed at the floor and wanted to swim, but there was no water in the ship.

Little Jacob had come down with diarrhea and we thought that he would not recover, but he did eventually get over it.

Thanks be to God, all four of us are well and safe and sound in a healthy land. This region is very good for cattle. I have bought two cows and two oxen, and have in mind to purchase another five or six cows next spring. Around here the land is open for the most part. I have not had much time for gathering hay, becuase I have been busy building my housing. In this neighborhood where I have settled there is good land and good water, for I have bought 80 acres with two springs. The 80 acres for 100 dollars. I have built a house on it with two rooms, cellar and upstairs [?](1). Accordingly I have not had time to work the land, for I had much to do, to build my house and a shelter for the cows and oxen. For the coming year I must still purchase our food, but it is inexpensive; I have bought potatoes for eating and for planting. For a Pochel [?](2) 18 cents. A Pochel makes nearly two measures. A hundred pounds of flour cost 14 shillings, oats eighteen cents a Pochel, pork four cents, deer meat two to three cents. A cow costs eighteen, twenty, to twenty-five dollars. On the other hand the maintenance of the cattle doesn't cost anything summer or winter; by raising hay, and there is enough of it here, for one to pasture 1,000 cattle just in this valley where I am living. There is hay here that one can hardly go through. But it is good to have so much hay, because the winter is rather long and cold. Alternatively one can plant various crops, namely: sea-navel, pumpkins, various kinds of corn, kabis [?](3) and kohlrafen [?](4) without mist [?](5). This year potatoes have done especially well, and have no diseases.

There is also a valley stream here, so that everyone can manufacture with his own sawmill. This valley is two hours long, and there are only two inhabitants. Left and right there are hills, mountains, and valleys with no one living there. For the most part the people are German and Swiss. The greater number of families are from Canton Graubunden, and from Diemtigen, and most are Evangelical people. The hold meetings and have a minister, and also a church.

If you want to come to us, Abraham, you can live with us until you have built your own house.

I must also say to Gottlieb Bach that if he wants to go to America, the best land is in this region. There also are mountains and caves*(6), which no one buys, and one can make use of them without charge.

I must finish my writing; I don't know anything more to write.

We send everyone friendly greetings, and hope that this letter finds you in good health.

We also send greetings to Hauptmann Mosching.

Jacob Frautschi