CGSI Quarterly Meeting - March 2009

The presentation at the CGSI Quarterly Meeting, March 28, 2009 was “Passage to America: How did they do it?”

Susan Weinberg presented “Telling their Stories Through Collage.”

A Collage is an assemblage or occurance of diverse elements or fragments in unlikely or unexpected juxtaposition. Examples of elements that you can use are ancestor pictures, meaningful buildings, documents, letters, and a background. Most of the collages are composed manually but you can use free software to produce your collage. The Collage process is explained in the attached.

            Louise Wessinger presented “Grandma’s Trunk”

Louise’s interest in this story started with a tour of Bohemia in 1995. Louise’s great great grandparents were Wenzel and Katerine Hamer (Bohemian names were Vaclav Hamr and Katerina Hamrova). For the presentation, Louise played Katerine.

Louise’s presentation included:
A trunk and the items taken including food, clothes, and keepsakes.
Why did they leave? No Future, Little Opportunity
Why America? Opportunity, Land, Jobs, Education, Seems like home
The oldest son Joseph age 15 was sent to America so he didn’t have to join the Austrian Army. Many boys that joined the army never returned.
The rest of the family traveled to America a year later.
The cost to travel from Bohemia to Minnesota was $60.10 per person. Each person needed $15.00 extra.

To sail to America took from 3 to 6 weeks. Each ship took 200 to 500 people. The passengers spent much time in their bunks in two large rooms called steerage. The rooms were called steerage since the ships carried cattle back to Europe.

Sailing ships made good time when it was windy but did not make progress when there was no wind. The Hamer’s arrived in Baltimore with their five children after eight weeks. When they were boarding the train for Chicago, Wenzel went to buy food. The train left without him so he took the next available train to Chicago. Their son Joseph met his family in Chicago and traveled with them to St. Paul, MN.