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Background Information Emigration from Steinmauern

Where is Steinmauern located?

As a village with the surrounding fields and woodlands, Steinmauern stretches along the plain of the Rhine River. It is located about 6 kilometers from the district town, Rastatt, the former residence of the Margraves of Baden. Steinmauern was a farming village characterized by agriculture. Up to the middle of the 19th century, the trade of the raftsmen was located here. Fir trees, which were tied together, were transported from the Black Forest to as far as the Netherlands by way of the river. 
The aerial view shows: the Murg River, a river coming from the northern Black Forest which is 96 kilometers long, and was converted into a canal that runs from the right lower center to the left center. In the west, the Murg river runs into the European Rhine stream that has its origin at the St. Gotthard in Switzerland and its mouth at the North Sea. It has total length of 1,320 kilometers.
In the 19th century, the Rhine's course was corrected, that is to say, it was converted into a shipping highway (in the above corner in the picture). However, the forests bordering the river and the shallow areas remained, which were, in parts, used as sandpits. It is assumed that a stone wall (Steinmauer) existed that the rafters used for linking the firs into rafts.

Steinmauern is mentioned for the first time in documents in the year, 1290, as Stein(n)mur. The village, with its rows of houses along the street that comes from Rastatt, is in the right center of the picture. At the center of the village are the church and the city hall. From the Murg, at the lower edge of the picture, the street runs over the Murg Bridge. There is a small industrial area next to it, then the quarter of newly built homes, before this street enters the village of Steinmauern. 
Today, there are about 2,700 people living in Steinmauern. The size of the area, as shown in the picture, totals about 1241 Hectars (1 Hectar = 2.47 acres) of which 109 consist of meadows and 271 of forest; the remainder is undeveloped. In the picture, the following villages can be seen: in the north Elchesheim-Illingen, and further above the village of Neuburgweier. These are the so-called Rhine villages. At the upper right edge of the picture, Würmersheim can be seen. France, with Alsace, is located on the other side of the Rhine. Half-timbered houses, typical of those inhabited by the emigrants, are still seen in the village. 

Emigration

Emigrations in the 18th century were due to the recruiting of colonists in the East-European sector, the Danube area, and West Russia. Emigration in the 19th century was due to social-political and economic reasons. Emigration in the 18th century was not as common. Hungary offered new land for colonization. With alliance to their homeland, the new settlers called the place Svanicz Mamora, which means "stone wall". 
The actual emigration surge started in the 19th century. The reports now detail the reasons why whole families left their home village. 
In the 18th as well as in the 19th century, there were almost always other reasons for the devastating poverty of the population, which resulted in bitter need from hunger and debts. So, in the notes, among other things, it is written:
1736 - the whole village and the surrounding land is flooded by the Murg and Rhine Rivers, and the fields cannot be used for farming
1740 - there is a starvation threat due to the long winter and wet spring, and no seeds could be brought out into the fields, and no harvest can be expected
1742 - a hot and dry summer dried up what should be ripe for harvest in the fields 
1744 - the Rhine takes away fertile soil
1769/70 - three years of heavy rains caused bad harvests starting not only in Steinmauern, but throughout the country. These years show the highest numbers of emigrants. 
1785 - a bitter cold started, and there was a threat of a lack of feed for the livestock.
In 1783, the Margrave Karl Friedrich von Baden abolished the bondage of his people! Now, the people didn't have to pay high taxes and fees when leaving the country. Emigration was now permitted by the sovereignty. 
In the chronicle of the Steinmauern village, there are more notes on the historical background of the social-political connections between the farmers and raft workers, and how each person was dependent on the developments and happenings in the village and the country.


General Information Regarding the Economic and Social Crises developing in the Mid-nineteenth Century 

Besides the impact from the political events arising, among other things, from the emerging revolutionary years of 1848-49, and the immediate crystallizing of the conflict of Rastatt and also in Steinmauern, the main crisis was the poverty that they triggered in the town that was dependent on farming. It has been written, that Carl Schurz fought against the Prussian troops in Rastatt, and that he was successful in his escape to freedom through the canal network. Carl Schurz wrote the following on his escape to freedom from the tightly surrounded fortress, through the underground sewers: "We marched sprightly onward and reached the city walls in less than one hour. Our friend led us to the banks of the Rhine River, showed us the path, and announced that we are people who have to be transported across the river...we fugitives boarded the boat and our friend returned to Rastatt..."
That is how Carl Schurz, whose ancestors came from this region, escaped and emigrated, and later became the U.S. Secretary of the Interior. Sometimes interesting connections can be found in history.
The Province of Baden on the upper Rhine had been significantly affected by an increase in poverty in the villages since the 1830s. There were times of scarcity again and again with failed harvests in the years of 1845 and 1846. 

Social Unrest in 1848 and 1849

A study concluded, "These agrarian and sociological crises of this classic type of starvation were caused by an economic stagnation in consumer industry and a very serious tightening of the money and capital." In other words, this was caused by a decrease of the outlets for the agricultural products of the peasant population plus high interest rates and a heavy debt load. Thus, the province and Grossherzogtum (the title of the ruler of nobility which was lower than King and Prince) in general, and the village's population, in particular, slid more and more into a state of poverty. What  could be harvested and exchanged into money was scarcely sufficient to provide a family with the most simple standards. In addition, there was the phenomenon of the steady population increase. 
The carrying capacity, which must be termed insufficient under an economic organization, often had the negative effects of increasing the poverty rate. One considers the following figures in the case of Steinmauern: in 1788, there were 628 souls, and in 1792, there were 572 souls. (This decrease was a result of belligerent actions toward the end of the 18th century.) Then, however, a steady increase began: in 1800, the population was 800, in 1807, it was 935, in 1829, it was 1,372, in 1845, it was 1,520, etc.
With the founding of the German Reich in 1871, there was not only a social-political consolidation in the population in the villages, but, above all, the Industrial Revolution at the end of the 19th century provided employment and secure sources of income, and also adequate markets for agricultural products. 
The emigration wave then ebbed suddenly. The population statistics for the following years were as follows:
1871 = 1,571
1885 = 1,499
1900 = 1,375

Only after the last world war could an increase be measured, and this was caused by the influx of people expelled from their homelands in the eastern regions. The population was then as follows:
1950 = 1,562
1975 = 2,175
2000 = 2,700

One cause of the high emigration rate in the middle of the 18th century was this growing population movement. As it receded, the reasons given were: increasing difficulty of settling in the USA, bad harvests on the farms, and also the elimination of support in Germany by the finance departments of the towns and the state. Hence, in 1853, more than 100 residents were supported by the town as "poor residents". Soup kitchens were set up. A town report stated: "There are 32 families needing support with a total of 120 persons. Eighteen families with a total of 80 persons will emigrate to America in the next weeks so that only 14 families, with a total of 40 persons, will remain here." 

How the Emigrations Were Organized

Whoever traveled by land to the seas, trekked with all of his movable belongings and family members to unknown accommodations. By ship, they traveled from Ulm down the Danube. In Vienna, the colonists received their passes if they hadn't been already issued in Karlsruhe by the Russian ambassador. There was also an emigration wave by private initiative. Their money came from the auction of their permanent property, together with the fields, household items, and house. Whoever went to America and was without means had to receive support from the town. 
In 1854, the community of Steinmauern started negotiations with a general agent, Wirsching, in Mannheim. The accompanying letter states: "The community would benefit greatly if the immigrants could disembark in Quebec/USA, they themselves could find shelter and work, or travel on to the interior of America with just a few shillings." 
The path to America, the "New World," was obviously mapped out: from Steinmauern by land to Le Havre, or others traveled to Bremen or Hamburg by train, the ocean crossing to Quebec, and continuing the cheap route by steamship to Buffalo, Milwaukee, Erie, Detroit, and Chicago. The Red Star Agency offered another route to New York and Philadelphia. 
The cost of such a crossing in 1854 consisted of:
Train fare and ship to New York: 56 1/2 Gulden
Provisions in the harbor town until embarkation: 11 Gulden
Provisions at sea: 26 Gulden
Miscellaneous needs and life vest: 7 Gulden
New clothing, etc.: 20 Gulden
Money in hand to be shown at destination 30 Gulden

Since most of these people were the community's poorest, the community had to come up with the amount of 150 1/2 Gulden for each person. Sometimes, by auctioning off of the house, furniture, fields, woods, etc., a part of the cost could be recovered. Considering the cost to the community each year, their small budget was strained.
The Grand Duchy of Karlsruhe generously gave permission to cut 30 Dutch Oak trees. The sale amounted to 5000 Guilders and took care of the extra expenditures. 
To understand the problem one has to know about the difficulties and immigration modalities. 


Additional Information 

One of the more famous emigrants was the son of Frans Gustav Rummel, a shoemaker, born September 29, 1855 in Ettlingen, who married Theresia Bollweber (born July 28, 1876) in 1881 in Steinmauern. They had an illegitimate son, Joseph, who was born October 14, 1876. In 1883, the family emigrated to America. This Joseph Rummel studied theology, became a priest in 1902, and died in 1964 as archbishop of his Orleans diocese. 

It was a fate that gave some emigrating families a bad reputation, that they had to leave the country, not as asocial people, but other reasons sometimes led to poverty and banishment. 

Emigrations also proceeded by way of invitation from the emigrants to those remaining behind in the home land. Those who settled down wrote letters back home and portrayed how well it had worked out for them. But they were also homesick. 


The following is a song that was once sung: 
(Note: This song has been translated to reflect the spirit of the text rather than give the literal translation.)
Hurrah, hurrah, the hour is here,
For wife and children, family dear,
We're leaving for the American shore,
The wagon stands before the door.

As we sailed out on the sea
Of watery graves our fears were free,
Though the winds did push us to and fro
We knew that God did watch us go.

And when we saw the Baltimore docks, 
We raised our hands and stood on a box
Shouting aloud, "Victoria:
We're now in America!"

This land is wonderful and fine
Here can one find both rum
And brandy, scotch, they taste so good
And give a Badener courage, yes they could.

Now I will write to my brother afar
That he should stay in Steinmauern no more,
That he should sell all he may own
And move to America and make it his home.

And then I climbed the old fig tree
And gazed once more across the sea,
Another beer or another wine
Let Steinmauern stay in Steinmauern, that's fine.

 

Quelle/Source: Heimatbuch Steinmauern, Heinz Bischof
published here with permission of Heinz Bischof

 

 

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