Tag Archives: New York Harbor

The Meyer family arrival in New York

What a day it must have been when the Meyer family finally saw land. Weeks of living in the cramped dark steerage quarters of a ship with only the endless ocean for scenery were at an end.Soon they would set foot on land for the first time in over a month.

Nearing the New York bay where their ship would drop anchor they must have stood on the crowded deck, along with the other passengers and sailors,to get a glimpse of their new home. As they sailed into the harbor they would have seen the multitudes of church steeples, public liveries, factories, store and other structures that lined the bay.

Those who arrived before 1855 were hardly noticed in any official way. Once the ship was declared disease frèe the passengers were taken ashore.The Meyer family may have simply walked down a gangplank and right onto the boards of the pier. But not all ships could find a free dock. Many anchored out in the harbor. Passengers were loaded onto barges pulled by steamers.Their baggage and trunks would follow later.

Did our Meyer family have some friends or relatives there to meet them? If they did they are unknown. Had they been given specific directions on where to go now that they were ashore and how to get to their final destination?

The piers were often haunted by con men who spoke their languages. They would attempt to allure bewildered immigrants into boarding house or offer to help them procure tickets to their destinations often charging two or three times the fair price. Still others just took the money and left.

Perhaps Johann bought some coffee and flour rolls for the family and then went to procure what was needed for the next leg of the journey.

I can picture the children growing accustomed to their surroundings, listening to the foreign words and splashing each other with water they found at a fountain while sour faced women tried to soothe crying babies and wait for their husbands to return.

Did our Meyer family spend their first night in America somewhere in New York city or did they head directly North for Lewis county? Had Johann already purchased the land he was going to or did he do that after he landed? Remember his grandson Pierre felt he had purchased the property sight unseen. We may never know. But we do know it was fall. Lewis County is not a very populated area, even today. It was certainly a rural area when they arrived. Johann still had to build or procure a home for his family and find a way for them to survived their first winter in a new home. He must have had enough money still left to provide for much of what they would need in the coming months ahead.

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