Wendish Research Exchange

The Wendish Research Exchange is looking for volunteers who can transliterate handwritten German into printed German. Knowledge of the German language is not required, although could be helpful. We have copies of old diaries that we would like to translate, and the first step in that process is putting the text into a readable format. Please contact me at 512-635-6429 or Weldon@wendishresearch.org if you have questions or want to get involved with our projects.

The Sorbian Institute in Bautzen has digitized and made available online the Serbske Nowiny – the Upper Sorbian (Wendish) language newspaper that our ancestors read. I have scanned each page looking for announcements, articles and letters that contained such words as Texasa, Kiliana, Amer…, and Australije, and, thanks to Dr. Gerald Stone in England who is translating what I’ve found, we are seeing some articles for the first time. Thanks also to Rob Wuchatsch of Australia for alerting me to the digitzed articles in the first place.

One of those articles is a letter that Pastor Kilian sent to the Serbske Nowiny after arriving in Texas, identifying the American immigrants who died on the journey. Following is the English translation of that article, in essentially the same format and with the same words that John Kilian used. Words were added in brackets to help clarify and to correct some apparent errors. If you would like to read all of the articles starting with 1854 as they are being translated, you can find them in the Wendish Research Exchange Forum > Wendish Newspapers.


Serbske Nowiny, 1855. May 26, p. 163-164
Zemrecži amerkanszy wucžahowarjo – The dead American emigrants.

Rev. Kilian has sent a very long letter from America and we shall in the future publish various extracts from it. First, we give a list of the dead emigrants. Of them in total 81 died on the journey, namely:

  1. Marja Madlena, second legitimate daughter of Eduard Neumann of Weigersdorf, 2¾ years old, died of cholera on 19 September 1854 in Liverpool.
  2. Jan Kiesling of Weigersdorf, 67 years, died of cholera in Queenstown harbor on the ship Elisa on 17 October 1854.
  3. Hana, his wife, 57 years, died there too on 18 October.
  4. Marja, wife of Jan Korla Teinert of Dauban, 38 years, died of cholera on the way from Ireland to Galveston, 27 November.
  5. Jan, legitimate only son of Jan Kerk of Dauban, died in America of cholera on the way from Houston to New Ulm on 4 January 1855, and was buried by Rev. Kilian with a funeral sermon in the desert between the River Bazos and the town of San-Felipe.
  6. Matthej Schato, called Mrósko, of Jahmen, 52 years, died of cholera in Liverpool on 22 September 1854 in a hospital there.
  7. Rosina, wife of the same, 53¾ years, died there too of cholera on 18 September.
  8. Hana, their legitimate only deaf and dumb daughter, died of heart disease on 16 September; (the only surviving son Jan is well and in Texas).
  9. Hana Kruparjowa-Holina of Jahmen, a widow, 57 years, died of cholera on the ship Ben Nevis on 5 October in Queenstown harbour.
  10. Hana, wife of Jan Bartl-Mertynk of Domswald [Thomaswalde] (and sister of Jan Krupar-Hola), 28 years old, died of cholera on the ship Ben Nevis on 4 October.
  11. Jan, legitimate elder son of the parents just mentioned, 3 years old, died on the way from Liverpool to Queenstown on 27 September.
  12. Matthej, younger son of the couple just mentioned, 1¼ years, died of cholera on the ship Elisa on 11 October.
  13. Jan Bartel-Mertynk of Domswald [Thomaswalde], retired, 74 years, died of cholera on the way from Liverpool, 27 September.
  14. Jan Schato of Klitten, 29 years, died of cholera on the ship Ben Nevis, 30 September.
  15. Hana Schatowa, his wife, died on the way from Liverpool.
  16. Matthej, legitimate elder son of Jan Schato of Klitten, 8 years, died of cholera in a Liverpool hospital on 22 September.
  17. Jan, younger son of Jan Schato of Klitten, 6 years, died of cholera on the way from Liverpool to Queenstown on 27 September.
  18. Hana, legitimate only daughter of Jan Schato of Klitten, 1 year, died of cholera in a Liverpool hospital on 25 September (thus died the entire Schato family of Klitten).
  19. Jan, legitimate only son of Khrystof Schato of Reichwalde, 4¾ years, died of cholera on the way from Queenstown to Galveston, 3 November.
  20. Rosina Iseltowa, a widow, of Klitten, died of cholera on the ship Elisa on 15 October.
  21. [20 repeated] Hana, illegitimate daughter of Hana Matkez of Klitten, 6¾ years, died of cholera in Queenstown harbor on 4 October.
  22. Khrystof Krupar-Hola of Jahmen (brother of Jan K., smallholder), 20 years, died on the ship Ben Nevis near Queenstown on 30 September.
  23. Jan Schelnik of Dürrbach (brother of Schelnik, owner of a half hide of land), about 20 years old, died of cholera on the way to Queenstown on 28 September.
  24. Matthej, legitimate younger son of Matthej Schelnik of Dürrbach, owner of a half hide, died, aged 6, of cholera in a Liverpool hospital on 23 September.
  25. Marja, legitimate only daughter of the Schelnik just mentioned, 2 years old, died on the way from Queenstown to Galveston on 14 November.
  26. Rosina, legitimate third daughter of Jan Cžornak of Dürrbach, 4 years, died of cholera on the ship Elisa, provided for the sick, on 8 October.
  27. Hanža, legitimate younger daughter of J. Cžornak, 2 years, died of cholera on 23 October just as we were leaving Queenstown.
  28. Jan, legitimate younger son of Handrij Lowka of Reichwalde, died of cholera on the ship Ben Nevis on 10 October.
  29. Hana Lorencžkez, unmarried, of Reichwalde, 39 years, died of cholera on the ship Ben Nevis on 5 October.
  30. Hilžbeta, wife of G. Trinks of Sofijny Doł [Sophiental], near Muskau, 60 years, died of cholera on the ship Ben Nevis on 2 October.
  31. Madlena Kaschparikowa [Kaspar] of Nowa Wjes (Neudorf) near Spremberg, a widow, died on the way from Queenstown to Galveston on 10 November.
  32. August Hermann, legitimate younger son of Ernst Rychtar, bricklayer, of Mengelsdorf, 2 years, died of measles on the way to Galveston on 12 November.
  33. Karolina Berta, only legitimate daughter of Korla Dunzer, master carpenter, of Muskau, 1¾ years, died of cholera in a Liverpool hospital on 22 September.
  34. Jan Pawoł, legitimate son of J.G. Kohla of Muskau, 2 years, died of cholera on the ship Ben Nevis on 30 September.
  35. Mattej Schołta [Schultz], formerly owner of a smallholding in Wunscha, 47 years, died of typhus in Hamburg on 10 September.
  36. Mattej, legitimate second son of the last named, 11¾ years, died of cholera on the way from Queenstown to Galveston on 20 November.
  37. Hana, baby daughter of Marja Kaschprowa [Kasper] of Groß Radisch, died, only a few hours old, on the way to Galveston on 6 December.
  38. Marja, illegitimate elder daughter of Marja Kaschprowa, 2 years old, died in America near Robb Creek, from a swelling following measles in January 1855.
  39. Korla August, legitimate only son of the last miller in Brusy [Prauske], Jan Dub of Kortitzmühle near Geierswalde, 1-year-old, died of cholera on 12 October near Queenstown.
  40. Jan Ernst, legitimate younger son of Khrystof Wünscha of Weissenberg, 8 years old, died of cholera on the ship Elisa on 10 October.
  41. Handrij, legitimate eldest son of the clockmaker Jan Janasch of Weissenberg, died of cholera in a Mexican seaside place on 12 December.
  42. August, legitimate second son of the clockmaker Janasch, 9 years, died of cholera on 10 December.
  43. Emil, legitimate youngest son of clockmaker Janasch, 2 years old, died of cholera on 11 December.
  44. Ernst, legitimate third son of clockmaker Janasch, 4 years old, died on 15 December as we were transferring from our ship the Ben Nevis to the steamer near Galveston, so that we could reach that town. In the uproar of that procedure the little boy died and might have brought us into quarantine* if they had not secretly carried his body back onto the ship Ben Nevis; there it was later released into the sea.
  45. Handrij Mjercžin [Miertschin] of Särka, 45 years, died of cholera on 28 September on the way from Liverpool.
  46. Hana, his wife, 45 years, died of cholera on 29 September.
  47. Khrystiana, the wife of young Jan Mjercžin, died of cholera on the ship Inconstant on 10 October.
  48. August, the young son of Jan Mjercžin, born earlier in Saxony, died on 6 October of exhaustion.
  49. August, legitimate only son of Jan Neitsch of Särka, 2 years old, died on 6 October.
  50. Michał Dub of Rodewitz, 47 years, died of cholera on 29 September on the way from Liverpool.
  51. Marja, his poor daughter, 7 years, died of a swelling near Houston in America on 22 December.
  52. Marja, illegitimate daughter of Hanža Rycžerez [Ritter] of Rodewitz, 2 years old, died of cholera on the ship Elisa on 11 September.
  53. Handrij Pilak of Rodewitz, 56 years, died of cholera on 30 September.
  54. Hana, illegitimate daughter of Madlena Pilakez, 1 year, died of cholera on 7 October in a Liverpool hospital.
  55. Jan Bohuwjer Jeschka of Weicha, 41 years, died of cholera on the ship Ben Nevis on 1 October.
  56. August, his son (a twin), 3 years, died on the way from Queenstown on 12 November.
  57. Jan Ernst, his other twin son, died in a Liverpool hospital on 23 September.
  58. Madlena, wife of Jan Nowak of Gröditz, died of consumption, aged 42, on 22 October.
  59. Handrij, legitimate younger son of Ernst Adolf Mierwa of Klix, aged 5, died on the way from Queenstown to Galveston of cholera on 7 November.
  60. Marja, his legitimate only daughter, 2 years, died of measles on 9 November.
  61. Hana, wife of Ferdinand Mierwa of Nowa Wjes (Neudorf/Naundorf?) near Guttau, 26 years old, died of cholera on the way from Queenstown to Galveston on 30 November.
  62. Hańža, wife of Pjetr Pampl of Wartha, died of cholera in Liverpool on 21 September.
  63. Korla Hendrich, his legitimate son, 12 years, died of cholera in Liverpool on 21 September.
  64. Hańža, wife of Jan Pampl of Särka, died of cholera on the way from Queenstown on 21 November.
  65. Jan August, legitimate son of Handrij Bjetnar [Buettner] of Wartha died of cholera on 19 October on the ship Elisa.
  66. Madlena, legitimate daughter of Jurij Falka of Wartha, born on the ship, died on 22 September.
  67. Augusta, legitimate daughter of Michał Nowak, locksmith of Wartha, 2 years, died on 16 November.
  68. August, legitimate son of Jan Nowak of Wartha, 7 years, died of cholera in Liverpool on 19 September.
  69. Handrij, his legitimate younger son, 2 years, died on 27 October.
  70. Madlena, wife of Michał Kurecž [Kurio] of Wurschen, 32 years, died of cholera on the ship Elisa on 9 October.
  71. Handrij, his legitimate younger son, died of cholera on 5 October.
  72. Jan Hurban, retired, of Kubschütz, 67 years, died of cholera on the ship Elisa on 10 October.
  73. Ernst, legitimate son of Handrij Hurban, stonemason, of Kubschütz, died of cholera, 2 years old, in Liverpool on 22 September.
  74. Jan, legitimate son of Handrij Symank of Malschwitz, 6 years, died of cholera on 30 September.
  75. Hana, wife of Pjetr Brytscha [Peter Fritsche] of Dubraucke, 38 years, died of cholera on 6 December.
  76. Pjetr, his legitimate son, born on the way from Hamburg to Liverpool, died in America on 25 December.
  77. Hana, his legitimate daughter, 6 years, died on 2 October.
  78. Hana and Marja, twin daughters if Jurij Bórn, born on the steamer between Galveston and Houston, died in Houston of exhaustion.
  79. Hana and Marja, twin daughters if Jurij Bórn, born on the steamer between Galveston and Houston, died in Houston of exhaustion.
  80. The youngest daughter of Madlena Janaschowa, born in Houston, also died in Houston.
  81. Jan Brytscha of Brezynka (Briesing/Brösang?) died of cholera on 5 October.

Editor’s note: In future numbers (issues) of Serbske Nowiny we shall publish extracts from Rev. Kilian’s letter, in which he describes the whole journey and experiences of the emigrants and how they are getting on now in America.

*Quarantine means the time someone must spend in isolation, who comes from a country or a ship, where an infectious disease is prevalent. This period lasts, at most, 40 days (French quarante); that is why it is called quarantine.

Translated from Upper Sorbian by Gerald Stone 2 June 2016.

Weldon Mersiovsky

Weldon Mersiovsky is a noted Wendish historian; author of many papers on all subjects Wendish; and special contributor to the Texas Wendish Heritage Society Newsletter.

2 Responses

  1. Carolyn Ritter Hayes says:

    Weldon, I spent a couple of hours with Joyce at the museum yesterday and she told me I could access your records with a user name and password. Can’t find that information from this web site.
    On the ships death records, a child Manja daughter of Hanja has a surname of

    In the ships death records, #52 shows a surname of Rycyzereg (Ritter) I have never seen this before. All other records show Ritter from Rotewitz on Spree Saxony. Can you help me understand this?