Max’s Diary

The Diary of Maximilian Schaefer

1840 – The Trip to America

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
The translation is made by Annelie Moxter-Collie of Fort Wayne, Indiana. The diary is written in Sütterlin, the old German written script invented by Professor Sütterlin, an educator and artist for graphic design. During the long lean days and nights after World War II my grandmother taught me as a child to read and write in this form. I have tried to edit as lightly as possible and preserve the charm of the original.
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

This book belongs to Maximilian Schafer from Wetzlar, July 1tn, 1840.

Page 1 is a preprinted open calendar with a hunting scene on it. The decoration on the calendar is in the Biedermeier style.

Page 2 is of arithmetic figures, seemingly of salary. There is a “G” after one of the figures, which probably stands for “Gulden,” the northern Germany currency at the time. It may be that this refers to the money that he was saving for the trip to America.

Page 3: we begin with a mystery for this and the next page. The diary for the trip begins on page 5. Page 3 begins:
Saturday, the 29th of May, I received from Mitr (the German abbreviation of mister) J.W. Tieman my whole balance of 50 dollars.
(Now and again comes a listing of the money he made.)

Saturday, June 5th, I received 6 Dollars
I worked until the 10th of Juny (June)
The 10th I became sick and did not work until the 28th of June
The 3rd of July I got…
The 10th of July 6
The 17th 6
The 24th…
The 31st of July…
The 7th of August…
The 14th I received 2 1/2
On the 15th of August I became sick

Page 4
    1840 (added at the top of the page)

On the 19th of August my brother, Fritz, received for me     15
On the 23rd of August I received from Mtr. Tiemann (using the German spelling of the name)     10
From September 13th on, I worked again on Sunday,
The 18th I received (the word seems to be “noch,” which would mean “additional,” but the word or figure is too scribbled to read.)

Wednesday, the 22nd of September, I received 6
Sunday, the 25th…
Saturday, the 2nd of October, I received 5
Saturday, the 9th of October…
Saturday, the 16th, I received 12
On the 23rd, I received 6
On the 30th of October…
On the 6th of November, I received 5
On the 20th, I received 5 G29

(the figure of G29 seems to refer to Gulden, probably adding the dollar amounts.)

Page 5
I take with me to America (the ink changes from blue to black)

Shirts 9
Handkerchiefs 10
Scarves 6
Stockings 16
Pants 6
Underpants 1
Leggings 1
Vests 6
Shirt fronts 5
Short neck ties 3
Undershirts 2
Gloves 2
A green jacket
A Russian green fabric for making a coat
A blue dress coat
A light colored light jacket
Silk for a vest
Black fabric for a vest

Page 6

Two pair of boots
Two pair galoshes
One pair of shoes
One working frock
(the writing changes to pencil)

On the 27th of November…
On the 4th of December 2
On the 11th 3
On the 18th 0
On the 25th…
On the 31st of December 2
On Saturday, the 8th of January…
(the writing now changes to ink)

Counting to the 8th of January, my whole balance is in dollars 62. G21

Page 7
(The writing now changes to pencil. Note that he wrote over amounts from page six on the edge of page seven.)
The first night, Thursday, we stayed in (first part of the name is “Schützen…” the name of the restaurant or inn; “schützen” is a frequent name for an inn, it means “hunters.”) There were four wagons full of (“Hoch”) and Laufdorfer (people from Hoch {something or other} and the other village.)
The second night we were in Fesburg. We were only two wagons there.
Then we came through Fritzlar and Gutenberg, a large estate, and stayed overnight at (indecipherable) for two hours (unreadable half sentence.)
We came to Landwehrhagen, there we had to unload the wagons, and further to Minden, where we stayed overnight we stayed in the hotel, Weisses Ross, and where we got thoroughly wet when we arrived.
Monday, the 6th, we went under snow, hail, and sunshine towards the north.
Thursday, we went (indecipherable) strong storms, rain, and sunshine through Einbeck and there we stayed in the Rathskeller overnight until the 8th of June (in the basement of the city hall, where there would be a restaurant.)
Thursday, June 9th, we came through

Page 8
(indecipherable) to Neustadt an der Leine (a small river.) Here we stayed until Monday, the 6th (he must have been writing in retrospect.)
From Minden the wagons went to Göttingen, where I did not want to walk through town by myself.
Friday, the 10th, we came through Nimburg through the heath (die Heide, an extensive area in northern Germany) approximately eleven hours before Bremen. In Bremen, where we stayed in a pub, the location was by itself.
Saturday, the 11th, we started at four in the morning and arrived at Bremen in the evening, where we stayed in the

Page 9
City of Baltimore (?)
Sunday, the 12th, we wnet into town. In little (indecipherable)
Tuesday, the 14th, around 2:00 in the afternoon we drove in a stagecoach from Bremen to Bremenhaven where we arrived (he changes now to the present tense) at 8:30 in the evening and put up in a restaurant, the Stadt Bremen.
In the evening a local police officer, with two policemen (of lower rank), asked for our passports. The police officer looked at my passport very carefully

Page 10
and asked me if I had plans to make this trip to America during the next two months and whether I was planning to come back, which I said “Yes” to, and then he gave the passport to the innkeeper.
The next morning we looked for our ship, the Constitution, but we could not get close because of the many people who offered goods, lodging in the area, restaurants, and stores. Already in Hanover, Minden, we had been approached

Page 11
by an innkeeper whether we would not want to take lodging at his place and even two hours prior to Bremen people came along the way and approached us with offers to stay in their inns and in such a forceful and annoying way for hours even if one did not answered them or laughed at them
Wednesday, the 15th of April (?), we ate the first meal on our ship. In the afternoon we bought bread for ourselves and filled our bags and also slept on our ship, on our Constitution.
Our ship was still in great disarray and we were worried that we would be delayed several days because they were still loading ballast (He writes in parenthesis, “stones.”)

Page 12
The captain arrived Thursday 16th on board and that sped up the loading, they also brought water on board, also meat and biscuits.
Our captain posted at 2:00 everybody had to be on board and the mate pulled the boats on deck by singing and shouting, “Hurrah!” They carefully stored crates in the middle deck. The singing continued and at 2:00 pm the anchors of the ship were pulled up with ropes (he seems to write) “to the locks.” He then wrote in parenthesis, “The harbor is closed by two locks.”

Page 13
In the evenin, when most of us had already gone to sleep, the helmsman came with a list from the captain asking us (indecipherable, but sounds as if he were asking for paper formalities admitting us to the ship) and afterwards we could go to sleep.
During the night the sails were set under ongoing singing,

Page 14
(There may be a page missing. The next page starts with Wetzlar)

In the evening I got sick and had to throw up and I had a bad night.
The other day I could not take any food and still had to throw up frequently. I was dizzy and my stomach hurt.
On Sunday it was better. I drank a portion of black coffee because we did not have any milk and a slice of bread with butter for breakfast and a piece of meant from the previous day that I had kept and cut up some sausage and we added onions and

Page 15
vinegar for our Steindorfer (the man with them from that village) who said, “At home they drink the good coffee and eat cake with it and we have only ship biscuits for bread and we will only get it for the first two days.”
For lunch we had only barley meat soup and potatoes.
In the afternoon we passed a brown two master that raised its flag, which was immediately reciprocated by us. The captains waved to each other with the flag.

Page 16
We also saw some awfully big brown fish; the fish used the waves to drift against the ship. The people and the children couldn’t have been more surprised. One person believed he saw ears. Others thought to have seen horns on those fish.
In the evening the mate threw a tar barrel overboard, which they cut off the ropes when it got dark and they lit it. The swimming fire on the sea looked beautiful. We still saw it far away.

Page 17
until it disappeared on the horizon.
On Monday the 20th we got close to England and saw the chalk rocks and fortress (the name is illegible).
From France we only saw a mountain for a while. In the afternoon we had the coast of France in our eye and that lasted until the evening.
Today we saw ongoingly twenty to thirty ships, also a Damp(f) (steam) boat.
Tuesday, the 21st, we saw land on both sides of us.

Page 18
Wednesday the 22nd, April (?). Everybody’s mood is down. Only for the first two days we had good wind. Now we have been in the Channel for four days.
The helmsman told us that during the last journey they were cruising for twenty eight days in the Channel.
This afternoon we came very close to the English coastline. We saw a town, some villages, and windmills. Then we turned the ship.
Thursday, the 23rd. Everybody went on deck. The ocean is completely quiet. We have suddenly a complete silence of the wind and are not moving at all

Page 19
from our spot.
Friday, the 24th. It was completely quiet all night. This morning around 9:00 some wind came up.
Saturday, we got again close to England and could see the city of Bleimouth (Plymouth, he spelled it phonetically) and on the left saw a lighthouse in the middle of the water.
Sunday and Monday we had good wind.
On Monday we met a three masted ship and the captains talked English with each other. He came from South America and had already been traveling for five and a half months.

Page 20 (There is a loose page, but it apparently belongs where it is.)
They made a turn and the sails from our ship were furled. A boat from their ship came to us and they received bread, brandy, meat, and tobacco, for they had no more food.
On Tuesday, the 28th, we had poor wind conditions and on Wednesday, the 29th, the wind arose from the southeast towards noon and it stayed like that until Sunday and sometimes was so strong that the waves went over the boards (deck) and some people got thoroughly drenched.

Page 21 (the back of the loose sheet)
In those three days and nights (illegible, probably we gained 300 stunden {hours?})
From May 2nd we again had poor wind, usually from the west, and always cold and rainy weather, until the 11th in the evening, when it turned into a storm. In the night from the 12th to the 14th the storm was so terribly forceful that all sails were pulled other than three small ones. The waves went constantly over the boards. The storm remained until the 14th.
In the morning, when we approached the Gulf stream, the (indecipherable) stayed for three days lukewarm.
On the 15th, in the evening, after we had a silence of the wind another storm arose that later got very serious

Page 22
but only until the 16th. During the afternoon the wind turned and came from the west. In the night of the 16th we had storm again, but it got calm again towards the morning.
From the 17th to the 19th there was another (indecipherable) and on the 21st we had a faint northeast wind with which we could go straight forward. A two sail ship passed us very closely and that evening there was no wind and the tow sail ship sent a boat with two sailors to us. During their last storm their water barrels had either so rolled or beaten against each other that they broke and the water ran out.
The 22nd, towards the evening, the wind came from the southeast again and that lasted until the 24th. The ship cam from London, with a goal of (A)ideberk (Edinburgh, Scotland?)

Page 23
They were already traveling six weeks.
From May 24th to the 28th, we had wind from the southwest.
On the 30th we saw many brown fish. The captain threw a harpoon in its back and with chanting it was pulled on deck. The captain ordered that two things from its tail were cut off and the rest was thrown back overboard. It was bleeding like a pig. One estimated it to a hundred twenty pounds.
From the 28th we had northeast winds, which lasted until the 30th of May.

Page 24
The 31st it was quiet. They threw a lead line overboard (to sound the depths of the water) but it did not indicate any ground yet. We had strong winds from the east. (indecipherable)
During the night to the 2nd the lead was thrown into the water again. This time it reached ground 400 feet deep.
(The writing again changes in character)
June 6th, 1840, arrived in Newyorck (New York).
Dear Parents (“Eltern” is misspelled or spelled differently at the time, but it seems to indicate “parents.”) and Siblings,
(There are various words, which seem to indicate he was practicing writing. He no longer writes in Sütterlin, but does have a word in Latin.)

Page 25
(In Latin letters he writes) “Newyorck.” (Some date seemingly was about to be added)
Liebe Eltern (Dear Parents)
Liebe L L Newyork
Liebe Eltern (then) Pretty
Max Schaefer     65

Page 26
(It begins with the notation that he either owes his brother Fritz six dollars or Fritz owes him; the words are colloquial.)
(The next lines are figures of some sort.)
On November the 25th I started with Mister Julius Tieman.
On the 4th of December I received Dollar 5.
On the 11th of December I received 5.
On the 25th ditto 10.
January 6th I received 15.
The 30th of Ja. (January) 5.

Page 27
(He lists his earnings from February 6th through the 22nd of May. There is a duplicate list from the first pages of the book.

Page 28
The duplication continues.)

Page 29
(His earnings from Mister Tieman continues.)

Page 30
From Fritz (his brother, who was already in New York) I received 15 dollars and 3 dollars.
Dear Parents, I am still in the east area of New York and make a good salary.
Jok Min(y or p) on (is mentioned)
(Lines are crossed out)

Page 31
(this next page is upside down)
The 6th of June I have arrived in New York.
(He lists expenses, which seems to indicate that he began buying clothes.)
expense in a pharmacy
a sausage
(he bought especially thick soles for his boots)


4 thoughts on “Max’s Diary

  1. Frederia Schaefer

    I am Frederica Schaefer,daughter of Emile Schaefer older brother of “Pie”. I was so pleased to have you include Max’s diary. I have no idea how or why I had the little charming book but I have had it in possession for many many years,I am 85! Some how it just stuck with me through all my moves from Larchmont, Germany and now Indiana. The book itself is about 4″X8″ written in pencil. I always thought the list of items on the first page was something to do with the brewery.Come to find out from my friend Annilie Collie it was a list of his clothing he brought with him! An interesting thing to do!!!! She did the research on the name of the boat he traveled on.Your grand mother Edmee, and I were friends growing up on Ocean Ave.

    • Unbelievable, Frederia! Thanks so much for getting in touch. Did you just happen to come across this blog?

      So special when Schaefer employees, family members, etc. connect on these pages.

      All the best,
      Bill Combs

    • Helen Propersi

      I wonder if you have any history on the property in Mamaroneck at 1016 Old White Plains Road, my colleague is working on possibly marketing the home and I am doing some historical research for her.

      Would love to talk with you if you would like, or you can email me at

      I love the history and recall my parents speaking of Schaefer beer and have since learned that your uncle owned the Shore Club.

      Please let me know if you have any clues for me

      Kind regards,

  2. I came across this site by way of an automatic prompter in my “bookmarks”. What has my curiosity
    is the similarity of names; mine is Frederick Schaefer and my grandfather (born in N.Y. city in 18–)
    is named Emil. When I have spare time I will dig further.

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