The German Immigrant Henry Heise (1842 - 1917)
Private Correspondence re:Emigration
The Heises Emigrate to Preston, Canada West
Henry Heise Becomes a Master Cabinetmaker
Henry Heise in Business for Himself
Family of Henry Heise and Dorothea Stumpfle
Descendents Remember Henry Heise
The following letters written by August Mierstadt to his brother-in-law Christoff Heise, describe the personal circumstances which prompted the Christoff Heise family to emigrate to America:
Louisville, Kentucky, August, 1850.
Dear Brother-in-law and Sister!
I received your letter of the 26th of April on June 19, and I see from it that you are still healthy and happy. It pleases me most to hear that my mother is still alive, though if I had her here, I could provide for her better than you do in Germany. I think of her many times while sitting at the table. I wrote to her once, but did not kow what to think because I did not receive any answer to my letter. It would be best if you wrote at once and mailed it right away instead of waiting for an appropriate opportunity.
I do not have much good news to report to you now. We were visited by cholera. At the time I received your letter it began gradually to spread through St. Louis and Cincinnati, and it even entered Louisville where many people died in a part of the city of about 60 houses in extent. In 24 hours 30 people died, so that in two days all those houses were empty: the survivors left for other parts of the city or travelled away into the country. Now, however, they are returning, and every day more come back.
I hope you write immediately, if you have not already done so when you receive this letter. If I do not die in the next two or three months -- and even if I should die -- send Karl and Martha here as soon as possible. After about a year or so, you can follow. People like you can make a better living here than in Germany. At any rate, life here cannot possibly be worse than Germany! You can earn more here, and with a good wage you must only be thrify to become rich.
I heard of a Frenchman who was a carpenter by trade. He had been here for fourteen years, and could earn as much annually here, as he could in a lifetime in France. Two years ago he began to buy up old furniture, clean it, repair it, and sell it at a profit of 1600 dollars per year. Last week he died in the cholera epidemic. If you want to be rich and earn a lot more money than you do in Germany, leave Germany. Where you are now, there's no opportunity for advancement. Here a person can choose his work.
If a man is without business property, he can live here 10 years without paying a penny of tax. I have still not paid any tax: You won't be sorry if you come to America! People like you in Germany have little prospect to better themselves. It is much better here.
My little Maria came down with cholera on July 27. I went immediately to the doctor when she showed signs of illness. In spite of all the help, however, she grew sicker with the passing of every hour. She was a corpse already at 2:20, July 29. My wife is inconsolable, and I don't know what to do. This incident was too hard for me, and I feel helpless and lost.
My baby was a joy and entertainment for me. She was beautiful and of immearsureable worth. She understood her parents very well. When I held your letter and showed her Karl's name on it, and said that it was her cousin's name, she kissed the name many times. And after that, whenever I gave her the letter, she kissed the name more than a thousand times. She had a tender, small physique, but it was well-formed. She had beautiful blue eyes, beautiful hair and beautiful feet. She had already been sick twice, but had pulled through both times with the help of the doctor. But this time she could not rescue herself. She was born 9:30 a.m. on March 15, 1849, and died at 12:30 p.m. on July 29, 1850. Her life lasted 1 year, 4 months, 13 days and 15 hours. It seemed to me that life was no longer worth living. I have wished many times that the cholera would have taken me instead. I have not yet given up the idea of following her, and this feeling will not leave me so long as I live. Indeed, maybe I will get rid of that notion. Maria's death has bent me, but not broken me! My mother-in-law lived to bury 4 of her own children!
This time I've got to close. Greet my dear mother many times, and tell her what a tragedy I have experienced. Greet your children and Barbara Elizabeth and her children, many times. And Karl -- you must come to America as soon as possible. Germany offers you nothing! If you have the time, learn some English. The cholera epidemic will have passed in 2 or 3 months. Then I will write again. Until then, wait for mail. Live well and stay healthy.
This I wish you from the heart.
Your August Mierstedt.
Louisville, Kentucky, November 21, 1850
Dear Brother-in-law, Sister, and Karl!
Your two letters of April 29, 1850, arrived here on June 19. It was a real joy to hear from you again after such a long time. I answered your letter July 24. That was a very troubled time for me, however, with the cholera epidemic and the depression of my wife. My little Maria came down with cholera and died within 48 hours. The tragedy caused me the same hurt as it did you, when you lost your dear child.
You asked me about Katharine's reticence to come to America, whether it would be better to allow her to stay where she is, or to pressure her to come with you. This question is easy to answer. The past and present circumstances in Germany have been bad. And you know better than I, how much worse the future looks.
I think you have already abandoned the notion of bettering yourself in Germany. You have suffered want and misery, and your children have endured the same thing. If not all the immigrants to America have become rich, certainly the majority have prospered. Katharine's complaints are without foundation.
I have blessed the hour a thousand times, in which you confided your intention of going to America. You said that you had made that resolution long ago already. You probably bless that hour, too. Before God, I have wished you here a hundred times.
Leave quickly as soon as you sell everything that you have. Be as thrifty with the money as possible, and don't wait long before you catch a ship. Perhaps it will be too late in one year. I also don't believe it would be possible for Barbalisin to wait a couple of years, either, before she sells out and comes here. When her boys are grown, they can easier earn a living than in Germany.
I must end this letter. Sincere greetings to my mother, all the relatives and friends. And you, Karl, write me a good long letter about conditions in Muhlhausen. I would really like to hear. I hope and pray that we will see each other again and have a good talk. Until then, live well, and don't forget your,