Translation retyped as HTML and put online by James Dwight Hartsell, Dec. 24, 2013

Wohlmeynende Nachricht, Wie Sich Die Teutsche, Die Nach Pensilvanien Reisen Wollen, Zu Verhalten Haben

Well-Meant Information as to How the Germans, Who Wish to Travel to Pennsylvania, Should Conduct Themselves


From Hannah Benner Roach, "Advice to German Emigrants, 1749", we have:
"In the Archives of Ludwigsburg, just north of Stuttgart in Baden Wurttembeg, Germany, Dr. Friedrich Krebs, archivist at Speyer, found a German pamphlet which had originated in Philadelphia in 1749. Bearing the title Wohlmeynende Nachricht, wie sich die Teutsche, die nach Pensilvanien reisen wollen, zu verhalten haben, and written 19 October 1749 by "L.M.", this tract of "Well-Meant Information as to How the Germans, Who Wish to Travel to Pennsylvania, Should Conduct Themselves", had remained unnoticed until 1959. That year a brief mention of the pamphlet was made by Eva Schuenzel in her dissertation, "Die deutsche Ausvanderung nach Nordamerika im 17, und 18, Jahrhundert", for the Univeristy of Wurzburg.
In 1961, Dr. Krebs sent photostats of the original pamphlet to Dr. Albert H. Gerberich, the well-known genealogist and historian of Pennsylvania-German families.
In view of Leonard Melchior's long interest and participation in the military, civic, and charitable organizations in Philadelphia, it does not seem too unreasonable to suppose that he might have been the author of the following pamphlet."




When an illness is not to be cured, the physician is accustomed to prescribe only such medicine as will serve the patients to alleviate their misery. Since the desire to go to Pennsylvania is so deeply rooted in the people of Germany, it can no longer be dug out; although many weighty reasons may be adduced to cure them of it, only a relief measure can be suggested, that is to say; how they can avoid, on the desparate journey they plan for themselves, the greatest hardship and privations; for one assures that at least a few honest letters have been sent out from here this year which will have given a general idea of the sorrow and misery which most of the travelers on this voyage have suffered this year and that several such letters will have the good fortune to convince some people and cause them to take great care if they are planning to come over here in spite of all.

It is hoped that our warning and advice herein will be believed, for anyone can clearly see that we have no selfish interest in doing this, but rather trouble and expense, but our profit shall be our clean conscience for doing our duty in warning others against harm and in coming to their aid.

Know, then, that this year about 2000 people were cast into the sea, many hundreds were tricked by "New Land" agents out of their property, and that many this very minute are dying miserably in boats lying off this city from hunger, thirst and cold, since they must remain in the harbor because they have not paid their transportation and no one comes to release them. A whole book could be printed on their distress and lamenations. But we return to our purpose, to those who have the good fortune to give credit to our warning, to give into their hands the best means and plans for preventing these and other misfortunes.

There are, among those persons traveling to Pennsylvania, some persons who have sufficient funds, so that it is easier to help them and advise them; these do not need to deal, as do most of those who depart, with the well-known boatment of Bingen, who cook a salty brew indeed, but they sail down the Rhine as there is opportunity and not in multitudes, for they do not need this or that Rotterdam merchant to be security at the border for their departure from Holland. (This has been imposed on the aforesaid Rhine ships by command of the Lords of the States-General, because they will not have the poor German people struck down in Holland or wandering around like vagabonds there; for which reason it happens that the travelers fall into the hands of the merchants, and the latter, even though the people are penniless and cannot pay their sea-transportion in Rotterdam, must nevertheless ship them out, whether they want to or not.)

The trip from Germany must be arranged so that the traveler reaches Rotterdam at the time of year to take one of the sloops that sails for London every 14 days and with a good wind, between April 1 and June 1, will bring him there in 8 to 12 days, at which time ships sail from England for Pennsylvania and other colonies. On such occasions they will not pack the people on boats like herrings, but will give them greater comfort, better provisions and good fresh water for the whole journey than the ships that sail from Rotterdam provide. The travel costs may of course run somewhat higher, as may be seen from the following:

For one person provided with bed, clothing, cooking utensils and provisions, in addition to which one should carry nothing with him out of Germany, for such things will not be permitted to go through the customs in England.

For transportation down the Rhine, if one provides
     himself with necessary food .....................................................
 6 florins
Transportation from Rotterdam to London by sloop
     (10 shillings sterling) ................................................................
 5 florins
Sea transportation from London, with board on ship .................... 64 florins
Expenses in London, if one has to wait there 2 or 3 weeks ..........  9 florins
84 florins

But on the other hand, one can purchase in England and take along with him without danger, woolen material, stuff, coarse and fine linen, iron, copper, tin utensils, spices, and other things, on which one can make a sufficient profit to lighten markedly the expenses of the voyage, and this procedure is both safe and legal. Also, people in these circumstances can, while traveling through, send some one to Amsterdam and inquire there on the Bourse if a ship is shortly to sail from there to New York, and go from there in that case, for the New York colony is only 40 German miles from Philadelphia, and this route is to be recommended over that through Rotterdam, but one must make sure that good water is stored aboard the ship.

Those who wish to travel to Pennsylvania by the Rhine boats, or who are compelled to do so, should act as follows:

1. Have nothing to do with any Newlander [immigration agent], but
2. Keep in a group, and appoint three or four of your number to contract for the Rhine transportation, which you in this case will obtain at a notably lower cost, because the boatmen will not have to fill the Newlander's purse.
3. When you come to the customs at the border and must engage a merchant, according to custom, you must make sure that the merchant will take charge of your affairs as cheaply as another would, and will provide you with victuals at his own cost so long as you have to wait in Rotterdam.
4. When you arrive at Rotterdam (where the merchants must ship you out whether you pay the passage or not, as stated above) you must assure yourself when you contract for the transportation.
(a) first of all, that the water is kept in good casks, which must be specially provided for that purpose (for the merchants often use wine barrels, beer barrels, and the like, to save expenses). If this is not done, the water will acquire a stench and become the cause of much sickness, and cause the death of passengers at sea, which unfortunately happens quite often.
(b) that the merchant in Rotterdam or Amsterdam supplies good provisions, such as bread, butter, cheese, flour, peas, rice, and the like, as well a third part in lightly salted meat and bacon, or instead of this, more flour, oats, peas, and the like.
(c) that he does not send the chests and baggage of the travelers in another ship, but in the same one in which they sail. These articles must be written into the contract with a special penalty for violation, such as a statement that if the promise is not kept, the passengers concerned need not pay for the transportation. The merchant in Holland must be compelled to give this surety.
(d) The passengers must not only depend on the ship's food but also provide themselves with dried meat, chipped beef, prunes, spices, vinegar, and medicine to prevent scurvy, purgatives, and prevention of dysentery and fever. Whoever can take wine or brandy along will doubtless find it stands him in good stead, but if he does not keep it with him in his berth and well guarded, he will find that it dries up without his knowing how, for it seems that the commandment "Thou shalt not covet" is harder to obey on sea than on land.
(e) Every father of a family or passenger should make an inventory and will beforehand, so that in case of death the nearest person does not become the chief heir, as often happens, and so that the nearest friends and orphans are not robbed of what they should receive; such inventories should usually be written down and declared before witnesses.
(f) The occupants of every three or four berths should come to an understanding together at sea, first, that in the case of death they will serve as executors or guardians for one another; second, that they will be quick to assist each other in case of sickness; third, that they will alternately keep watch for certain birds of prey (which abound at sea as well as on land) and will treat each other like brothers; forth, that they will conduct themselves toward the captain in a discreet and friendly manner, set forth their complaints modestly, and not become rebellious in words and deeds, for a sea captain has great powers. Much is related of angry captains, but none can be called so angry as the one who has been provoked to wrath, for his honor, reputation and profit demand that he treat his passengers well. The stories of kidnapping people and taking them to foreign shores are nothing but figments of imagination of ignorant people, and arise from the fact that often a ship is driven by contrary winds to a place which it was not intended to go. Whoever doubts this can nevertheless enter a clause on this point in his contract at Rotterdam.

And now we come, last of all, to those who do not have the courage to travel alone and use the services of a guide or a Newlander. Now these should know first of all, that the activities of the Newlander have not only fallen into suspicion abroad, but right here in Pennsylvania he is held in the utmost contempt, because people are aware that so many scoundrels have deceived the immigrants astoundingly, have even stolen all their property, and that there are very few honorable people among these fellows, as our experience daily testifies. We must not be expected, however, to give the names of the few that are good, among the many that are evil, and recommend them, for that would place us under suspicion of partiality or self interest.

While our capacity to clear up this very subtle point insufficient, we truly believe, dear fellow-countrymen, that you are even less clever than we are in culling the evil from the good. When you draw a loss in this hurtful lottery, as it is to be suspected you will do, that is, when you get an evil Newlander, we want to give you the means at hand to help you out of your trouble, and our advice is contained in the following prescription, which can cure the Newlander evil, if not on the way here, at least after you get here, for all the ingredients to do this are available here in Pennsylvania. But the preceeding precautions must be taken abroad, as follows.

Prescription: Take one or two, three, or even four - the fewer the better - of the Newlanders who are active abroad, whether good or evil, praised or blamed, whether provided with letter of recommendation or not, if he can but purchase much goods abroad and his purse is well-lined, whether he borrowed the money here, on the voyage abroad, or gained it through that useful trait of his, take him before a sworn notary and make a contract with him that he will truly keep all the promises he makes you, pledging to you as security the goods he has with him both at that time or later, and agreeing that they shall not be delivered to him from the ship until he can produce a note from you that you are satisfied that he has kept his word. This has been tried (successfully). All other agreements and arrangements you may make with the Newlanders must be in writing and with them on a fifty-fifty basis, have it put down in writing and have their goods, wares, etc., pledged to you until the things are unloaded, until they find bail for you in Philadelphia, in order that no one can steal both you and your effects away, as has often happened.

And because those poor people who arrive here are sick, or for other reasons do not suit the persons who redeem them from the ships, as often happens, or because no one likes to be burdened with whole families, therefore these people remain confined many days and even weeks on the ships, must endure hunger and cold, and their chests are stolen on the ship because to our knowledge sufficient precautions are not taken on board, which is most astonishing. Without doubt special advice is most necessary on this point, which, though it is easy to give, is hard to put into practice. This much can be said for the consolation of these poor people, that their misery will not last forever, because the ships in which they come must sail forth again and they cannot be carried elsewhere from here. So we will leave the avoidance of this evil in their own reflection.

But whoever does not come here at all, but remains at home he is the wisest, yet this land is, when one studies it earnestly, a door opened of old to those who suffer for their conscience' sake, to find the freedom they long for. Whoever comes here with this motive will still find what he is seeking. But all other purposes will fail or be difficult to attain, for our motto here, too, is "Labor is Prayer" or "In the sweat of thy forehead shalt thou eat thy bread".


First of all, several ships have come in here with many hundred sick, miserable and even half dead persons aboard, who have not been permitted to come ashore (for it is feared they have a contagious disease), but the ships have been taken to an island 4 miles from the city, and there they lay at anchor, where those who were well became sick. Husband and wife have not been permitted to see each other, not to attend on each other, though one of them had died or was still lying sick. Nor were they permitted to cook anything warm. They had no warm room , nor could they even cook, wash, etc. At the same time their food was bad, so that medicines could have no effect in the face of such lack of nourishment. As a result such a person, though he might have been helped, was left to die before he had gotten adjusted to the land and the climate.

If they get well again, they do not know how their chests have fared on board the ship, for the chests of some have been forced open, and linen, clothing, and the like, stolen, so that even, if such a one does recover, he has no clothes, for everything has been taken from him. The children whose parents have died have been distributed here and there; if there was anything left for them, many times a person has taken part of it, has promised to care for the children like a father, and afterward sold them for the sake of gain, so that our gracious authorities would not have interested themselves in the cause of these poor orphans if the sight of their misery had not been intolerable. Many times a Newlander has borrowed money from the children's parents, and has been forced to declare under oath here, before witnesses, whether he has paid it back or not.

Some have come here whose chests have not arrived. They have their best clothes in them and sometimes goods for sale which they might have sold and freed themselves, had their baggage been with them. So they must be reconciled to wait, and they do not know, moreover, whether the ship carrying their chests will ever land them safely, or whether the chests, when they arrive, will not be half empty or entirely empty and pilfered. Since this happens on ships where the owners themselves are traveling with their effects, it is more to be feared that this will happen on a ship where the chests are unaccompanied.

Some poor people have come here who have lent the little money they have left to Newlanders, or even have paid them in Germany for the passage in advance, and these people, who have believed the Newlander and expected to come into the country free of charge, must now do service, for the Newlander has remained behind with the money. The strangest thing is, and this will open your eyes, that the Newlanders deceive one another, from one of them a chest full of porcelain is stolen, from another something else is missing, so that one does not know whom to trust, or how far, or when. Indeed, although the Germans have been coming in for many years, no year has been so bad as this. The poor Alsatians have been so tricked by their Newlander, V.D.W., that even today they do not know if they will receive one heller of their money that they had to earn in Germany by bitter labor.

N.B. This might have been completely forgotten. When the people come to Pennsylvania and the vessel lies in the harbor, they must still have a kreuzer left over to pay for bringing the chests and other possessions on land. Many a person has had to pay this year a dollar for bringing one chest ashore - the distance they bring it from the boat is half a musket shot.

N.B. Note this also, and have it placed in the contract, that the merchant previously mentioned promises to deliver your goods free on land in Philadelphia. And whoever thinks it is fair can always give the ship company a shilling for its trouble.


This booklet/pamphlet can be purchased online. Search for the first few words of the German title.

Sample page from booklet


From http://www.hottelkeller.org/early_immigrants.php; Shenandoah Germanic Heritate Museum, Gottileb Mittelberger "Journey to Pennsylvania in the Year 1750":
Mittelberger also provides an account of the cost of the journey. The passage across the Atlantic was ten pounds in British money or 60 florins in German money for each adult. The Rhine passage from Mannheim to Rotterdam was 40 florins. By adding in the cost of provisions, tolls and tariffs, he estimated that the trip cost him 200 florins. Using figures from several contemporary inventories some idea of the value of a German florin can be estimated. The house and lot of Lorentz Schnepp (father of Johannes, the immigrant) at Geisweller in Alsace was valued at 153 florins in 1729. His personal property, including furniture, clothing, tools and livestock was worth 54 florins. One sheep was worth six florins. Werner Bley’s real estate in Hornbach, near Zweilbrikern, which included several outlying fields and a copper still was valued at 513 florins in 1757. When his son, Philipp Bley and his bride left Hornbach for America in 1748 they were given good valued at 45 florins, including an oxcart worth 20 florins. In other words it took all ones worldly fortune to emigrate to the New World.