Early in February 1869, the bark Jenny departed from the port of Bremen, Germany, bound for New York. It arrived on April 16, 1869. Among the passengers were my great grandfather, Michael Krenz, and his young family.
Michael was 32 years old. He'd been a laborer in Prussia. His wife Anna Louise was 30. Their first three children had died in infancy. They brought with them their fourth child, Gustav Emil, who was two years and six months of age, and their fifth, Wilhelm Martin, who was just three months old when the trip began.
In the course of researching my ancestry, I've often wondered what would motivate families to leave their homeland, their kin, and their way of life to come to a new and unknown country. The Harvard Encyclopedia of American Ethnic Groups (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1980) is an excellent resource for researching this kind of question. In a 20-page entry about Germans, Kathleen Neils Conzen explained that in 19th century Prussia, the growing Industrial Revolution, agricultural reform, and rural overpopulation were changing the old ways of life. Some people migrated to the cities to find work, but for others, emigration to America offered an opportunity to retain their familiar lifestyle. Readers who have questions about their own ethnic group may want to look for this book at their local library.
*A "bark" has three masts, with the foremast and mainmast square-rigged and the mizzenmast fore-and-aft-rigged. Barks were sometimes rerigged as ships or vice-versa. A bark-rigged vessel could sail with fewer crew members than a ship-rigged vessel. Click here for more information about ships from Norway-Heritage.