Heritage \ Writings | Letters by Rev. F. Sievers

April 18, 1849 to Rev. Loehe in Germany.
  • Contributed by Kathy (Stroemer) Czuba -- May 2005.
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    April 18th, 1849 1

    Beloved brother in the Lord,

    You promised me your last letter quite some time ago, so you can imagine what a yearning I had to receive the same. It arrived on Good Friday after being enroute for over two months. One of my congregation members, Michael Sebald, had a longing to hear from you also with regards to a situation that concerned him. Please accept our heartiest thanks for your kind considerations.

    I cheerfully and thankfully accept your congratulations to my engagement. All letters which I received from my bride tell me that she is inclined to become an efficient pastor’s wife. More I do not desire. Because she also will bring a good fortune, I will accept the fortune as a gift sent from heaven. Thereby the Lord perhaps will put me in a position to support the emigration more energetically than in the past.

    Nevertheless, I cannot make any certain plans about the gift from her parents. Mammon is transient and always in danger of corruption by moths and rust. I cannot be a master over this fortune, as it does not belong to me. Besides, the amount of the fortune that you stated could be double or three times as much as it actually will be.

    Now, concerning the fortune, whether it be large or small, that my dear bride by the grace of God will bring along, I know as far as my stewardship of it is connected, it will be utilized in the service of the Lord who has given it to me in the first place.

    My father-in-law is not a true believer but a self-evident unbeliever, although the Word of God has a power and force over him. He has to admit, when he observes people who live their faith with a God-fearing life, that they are happier and more fortunate than he is. He gladly associates with them and listens to their advice. He is no insignificant naturalist and admires God “in His creation.” This is sufficient for him, and he does not want to be disturbed in this admiration of the universe and in the fact that this majestic, wise and kind God would be so unmerciful to demand the blood of an innocent one for the millions of people that are guilty. If an earthly father is inclined to forgive his erring children, why wouldn’t God?

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    He prefers the endeavors of Pope Gregory VII to our efforts with regards to what Lutheran congregations accomplish. By observing the hypocritical life of the Christians, by name only, has made him austere and unreceptive to the true faith. I pray to the Almighty God that he would amend the ways of my father-in-law, as it is impossible for us humans to do so.

    In worldly matters he is a brilliant man, a universal genius. He is very cautious in handling risky business enterprises.

    For a long time he retained his consent to my engagement with his oldest daughter. But when he saw how determined his daughter was, he gave his consent without further hesitation. Now he waits proof from me that I am capable to support a wife. You cannot blame him for that, although it causes distress on my part. But the good Lord will help me.

    I have one request, if it is at all possible to inform me in your next letter, whether you would be inclined to assist me financially, from the American treasury, if it would become necessary. You would do this to calm my father-in-law who insists a man has to prove black and white wherewith he wants to support his wife before he marries her.

    Perhaps you are aware of the fact that my bride will not leave Germany before spring of 1850. Her presence is required in the parental home at this time because the sister of my bride is bed-ridden with a sickness similar to tuberculosis. The mother needs the help of her oldest daughter for this extra work in the family household.

    My father-in-law wrote that above all the log cabin has to dried out thoroughly before it is livable. I will, naturally see to it that this gets done.

    God willing, my oldest brother-in-law, who wants to become a farmer in Frankenlust, will accompany my bride when she comes over. I have received the assignment to buy several hundred acres for him and my bride. Temporarily, I have bought two parcels of land in Township 14 North, 5 East, Section 31 as their property. In this way more than $500 were liquidated and we could have cleaned up our debt.

    But listen, dear friend, how bold and daring we were, namely, Craemer and I. Within the last year we thought about this project, that we owe it to you to buy cheaper land also than what we paid for the Frankenlust and Frankenmuth area land. On the enclosed chart

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    you can see that the two parcels on the Tittabawassee, the fenced-off parcel around Frankenmuth, as well as the 40 acres around Frankenlust with Indian reservation, are quoted at $2.50 per acre. All other land, if it is bought from the government, can be had for $1.25 per acre. This would be only one-half as much as the fenced-off parcels would cost.

    When the State of Michigan was admitted to the Union, Congress designated 500,000 acres for completion of this act of homesteading. Now, if someone wanted to build a bridge or improve a roadway, he was told the government cannot give you money but will issue Land Warrants, whereby you have the right to choose two or three thousand acres of this land.

    To have this much wild land is burdensome to most people and they try to get rid of these Land Warrants. Several months ago we were offered Land Warrants in the amount of $2,027 so that if we pay up immediately, we could have this amount for half price, namely: $1,013.50. If we could not pay the whole amount, we would have to pay 7 percent interest on the balance. We closed this deal as soon as I had received $500 from the sale of some Frankenlust land.

    I immediately made a journey to Marshall (120 miles west of Detroit on the Chicago to Detroit railroad) to buy land for a new colony, after having examined this parcel previously. I bought the land on the enclosed chart. I also bought a tract of land four miles north of the Cass River near a little place called Tuscola where a roadway already is established. Tuscola is about four miles east of Frankentrost and about four miles northeast of Frankenmuth. For 1592.73 acres I paid $1,990.21. The balance of $336.09 was credited to my account for future land deals.

    There you may have our reckless, bold and daring endeavor. I hope the good Lord will help us in this undertaking that we can pay back this sum soon. I still have to pay 7 percent interest for $500. Traveling expenses and surveying would be an additional cost of 12 ½ cents per acre. If you, Pastor Loehe, delete the interest on the capital from Germany and the 7 percent I have to pay over here, a tidy sum could be laid aside for our colonist capital, if the Lord blesses us with an immediate resale of this property.

    At any rate, now we are not unprepared if more emigrants come to Michigan, and we will not be caught unawares if people come and ask, “Where is the cheap land you wrote about?”

    A little stream flows through the new land by Tuscola, but I doubt whether it is navigable. This little stream would be excellent

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    for a flour mill, although a mill very close to our land has been sold years ago. This land is not comparable to Frankenmuth, but it is high, well-drained land with maple and beach trees, although not as large as in Frankentrost and Frankenmuth. The roadway, which is completed for a stretch of our miles, will eventually connect to Frankentrost and Tuscola.

    In the entire Saginaw Valley, there is no lack of good drinking water. The little steam makes this spot a very charming place. But if someone wants suitable farm land, he has to move to Frankenlust, Saginaw or Frankenmuth. You can see on the chart that the lay of the land does not compare with the aforementioned areas. Of course, the price per acre is only 1/4 of what the cost is in Frankenlust or Frankenmuth.

    You desired information about the drinking water, which is exceptionally good in Saginaw County*, but also about many other items. First of all, most of the streams have a sand bottom, although only alongside the shores. Most of the land off shore is clay mixed with a little sand. Maple, oak and beech are the predominate species of trees. The Saginaw River contains many species of fish, especially in the spring of the year.

    There are no stone for foundations. Lime and sandstones can be transported by ship from islands off the Saginaw Bay without excessive cost. For hand laborers like blacksmiths, cabinet makers, carpenters, shoemakers, tailors, beer brewers, bakers, lathe operators, and especially masons, Lower Saginaw or Saginaw city would be good locations to start a business. Merchants with some $750 to $1000 starting capital would have good opportunities to go into business also.

    Around Saginaw land is for sale anywhere from $10 to $12 per acre. Some cleared farms are for sale or rent. If someone rents a farm the landlord furnishes all the equipment, he gets ½ of the proceeds. If the tenant uses his equipment, the landlord gets 1/3 of the proceeds. In the Saginaw and Tittabawassee valley area, as well as the Cass River area, farms are comparatively cheap. Seventy to eight acres cleared farmland with frame houses and barns are for sale in this area. The going price is $12 to $15 per acre for the land. Houses on this property could be bought for a low price.

    In regards to hand labor, I would have to warn the emigrant workers that a pitiful livelihood would lie ahead for them if they do not immediately adjust to the American customs. Without a doubt, in all occupations requiring special skill, the Yankees


    * In 1949 Bay County did not exist. Saginaw County at that time included included the southern half of present Bay County. An 1831 map shows that Midland and Arenac counties each had a share of upper half of present Bay County.

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    are way ahead of the German people. I would advise the hand laborers to learn their skill as an apprentice for the first half year.

    In Saginaw a lot for a house 120 feet long, 60 feet wide will usually cost around $100.

    It just came to my attention that you will receive a sum of $120 this year from Jacob Kull, mason at Kullenmuehl. Could you deduct this amount from the colonization capital?

    Concerning the climate over here, the following can be submitted: The summers are sultry and hot, and the winters much longer than in Germany. The cattle are mostly outdoors in the winter, except for a shanty with a roof, and the west, north and east sides are boarded up for protection against wind and weather. The south side is left open. The cattle live mostly on tree branches and buds, as there is very little hay available.

    The duration of winter is usually from the beginning of November to the end of April, but clear, sunshiny days are more prevalent than the dark and snow days.

    No one dares to plant vegetables or potatoes before the end of April. It is not necessary to plant early, for when the hot and sunshiny days come, everything grows exceedingly fast.

    Over here, to work early in the morning and late in the evening is not advantageous for your health. When working outside, it is better to wear cotton shirts. Working in the hot sun causes one to perspire. This would make wearing linen shirts very disagreeable, as one would get chilled easier. As a rule, woolen undershirts are worn underneath the cotton ones, which doctors declare is absolutely necessary for this climate. I hope these last paragraphs will give you all the information you expected.

    This past winter I spent half of my time in Frankenlust; the other half, in Saginaw where I was instructing two children of the Steltzrieder family. By this farmer I always find a kind reception (a cozy room and a good meal).

    The spot for the cemetery was cleared by Andrew Goetz, but the wood and branches still have to be burned and a fence has to be built. This winter I spent $100 to clear seven acres of my own land. This provided a little income for the poor among us. I am extremely happy that my Frankenlusters do not have to seek employment in the nearby sawmills to supplement their income but that I am able to employ them to clear land for my father-in-law.

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    On the 29th of January a small congregation was organized in Saginaw (Holy Cross). These people are extremely happy with you assurance that you will donate the communion vessels and alter cloths.

    At the present time more people are coming to Saginaw from the Ann Arbor area where they were spiritually neglected by Schmidt or led astray through false doctrine. Although the indifference in doctrine that they experienced in Ann Arbor, as well as irregular worship service, I find these people are still thorough and solid in their faith when I have services with them. The liturgical chant, “Glory be to God in the Highest,” we changed to the choral, “All Glory be to God on High.” The pureness of the doctrine is still solid.

    For a church building in Saginaw $110 has been pledged. I myself, gave $26, as I deemed it right and proper, besides being an inspiration to others. Farmer Steltzrieder vouched for further $200, with me doing likewise. But I presume a respectable and sound church building in Saginaw will cost around $1,000. God grant that we can accomplish this undertaking with His help.

    Would it not be possible that the American church would buy and donate several acres of land near Saginaw for a future church and school? You know what an influence good church life has in a city as well as in the immediate area. At the present time it is impossible for me to organize in Lower Saginaw, although it would be very urgent to do so.

    Accept my heartiest thanks for the present of all the books that were meant for me. Kindly inform me in your next letter from whom I have no request to coffer. Everything that is designated for “Mission” is duty free in America, although it has to be inspected.

    I would like to share with you that my future father-in-law has given me a horse for Christmas, that is, the money to buy one. This letter arrived beginning of February. Three weeks ago I bought one for $42.50. Just to have a horse did not do much good. I had to buy a saddle and feed for cash money, which took quite a bite out of my treasury.

    On my journey to Marshall I again had a siege of illness and fever. Had to be in bed until Easter; also had to get the doctor from Frankenmuth. The Lord has graciously helped and healed me except a wound on my leg which is still draining. Due to the inclement weather this winter on my foot and water journeys to Saginaw, I could not keep from getting sick.

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    February 17th I was on my way home from Saginaw. The temperature was 20-22 degrees with a terrible northeast storm that I had to face headon. I stopped in at Neighbor Stone’s house on Stone Island for a short rest. I was startled when he told me my face and ears were frozen. The ready and obliging attention of my host and his wife saved my ears. My face they thawed out with ice.

    After a three-hour rest, I continued on to Frankenlust. On my arrival Goetz and Hachtel were shocked at my appearance. No one dared to work outside that day. I first discovered on the way home how forceful the wind was; otherwise I would not have ventured out. Fortunately, I did not get lost, as the whole air was filled with heavy snowflakes that were battered in my face. Along the way the drifts of snow were often times knee deep.

    I will close for this time. Stay healthy. Keep up your friendship and prayers for me. Be assured that I will do the same for you.

    Yours in the Lord,

    Ferdinand Sievers

    Frankenlust
    April 18th, 1849

    August 11, 1848 December 7, 1853

    Related Notes & Pages

    Caroline (Kuch) Sievers

    Caroline's father was Bergat Friedrich Kuch, a prominent and wealthy citizen of Grueneplan, Germany. Bergat eventually brought his daughter to New York where Rev. Sievers met up with them and married Caroline on May 5, 1850 in the Trinity Lutheran Church there.
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    Letter June 27, 1848
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    Letter April 18, 1849
    Letter December 7, 1853
    Letter February 10, 1862
    Letter February 11, 1863
    Letter September 15, 1863
    Letter January 16, 1869
    Names Referenced
    Craemer, Pastor
    Goetz, Andrew
    Gregory VII, Pope
    Hachtel,
    Kull, John
    Schmidt, Pastor
    Sebald, Michael
    Steltzrieder,
    Stone,
    Subjects Referenced
    Ann Arbor
    Cass River
    Detroit, MI
    Frankenlust, MI
    Frankenmuth, MI
    Frankentrost, MI
    Germany
    Holy Cross church
    Homesteading act
    Kullenmuehl
    Land value
    Land Warrants
    Lower Saginaw (Bay City)
    Marshall, MI
    Rev. Sievers engagement
    Saginaw city, MI
    Saginaw Bay
    Saginaw County
    Saginaw River
    Saginaw Valley
    State of Michigan
    Tuscola
    Weather conditions
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