Wilhelm Hübsch’s Letters from America offers a fascinating and detailed view into the life and struggles on the American frontier. Hübsch emigrated to America in 1833 on the Olbers, a 152-foot-long sailing ship, as a member of the Mainzer Emigration Society. His decision to venture to the new world was founded upon a sense of adventure, compelled by political circumstances and encouragement of glowing reports of a better life in America. His letters begin with a description of the 55-day trip that took members of the society to New Orleans, and up the Mississippi and Arkansas Rivers to Little Rock. There the settlers faced illness and hardship, compounded by unhealthy air and bad weather.
Struggling to establish themselves, a full third of the company ended up in the grave within three years. Survivors who were able departed. Like most of them, Wilhelm was unable to sell his possessions when he left America. Wilhelm’s enthusiasm evaporated as his health and resources were depleted. Enfeebled and disheartened, Wilhelm ultimately resolved to regain what he had left behind, a loving supportive family and the pursuit of a career.
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