1881: Departure for Niagara Falls & Chicago

Spring 1881 – Departure from Newark to Chicago via the Niagara Falls

The weeks went by filled with work and without any break or special events. In the meantime I had contacted a farmer living in the Far West, August Gottschalk in Bozeman, Montana Territory, on the initiative of my friend Homberg. He wrote be back very soon and encouraged me to come to the region, as he said I would find a good livelihood and at the same time I would have the opportunity to hunt all kinds of game, deer, moose, lions, bison etc. I decided to dare the long journey and scheduled my departure for the end of June of beginning of July.


Soon, my parting hour for Newark had come. On Friday, July 1st, we sat together in the Kurzenberger wine tavern drinking strawberry punch. I took the opportunity to cheer to four birthday children: my mother and two of her siblings, all in Barmen, as well as a daugther of Mr. Hornich [a friend of Otto’s father living in Newark] were celebrated. At the end, we had Champagne.

The next day was the day of my departure. After I had taken a refreshing bath in the Passaic river, I made my farewell visits to the families Hornich and Steffens [owner of a paint factory, immigrants from Wuppertal] and started my journey to Chicago in the afternoon. The city was in big agitation: President Garfield had been a victim of a gun attack, through which he was severely injured. A few months later he died from these injuries.
I left Newark at 5:23 at nice weather. The ride went first north along the right banks of the Hudson. On Sunday, 3rd of July, we passed a river early in the morning, which fell over big rocky cliffs deep underneath the tracks. We reached the Niagara Falls at 10:30. I left the train for a few hours to visit the grand Falls. On my way there, I could already sense the mist from far away, while the thundering rushing of the mass of water reached my ears. It was a sheer overwhelming view which I saw: the enourmos masses of water of the powerful river which connects the Erie-lake with the Ontario-Lake, fall down at a width of 900 meters effervescent and with numbing noise; dispersing 500 000 cbm of water per minute. After a stopover of three hours, the ride continued over canadian ground via Paris and London until Detroit, where the train of 16 wagons was transported across the Detroit river on a huge steamboat. On the 4th of July, at 10 o clock in the morning, I arrived in Chicago, the “metropolis of the West”.

5 thoughts on “1881: Departure for Niagara Falls & Chicago

  1. Nancy says:

    Can’t believe that your g-g-grandfather made it all the way to Chicago in just a couple of days.by wagon. His descriptions allow one to almost be there with him. I can see why you wanted to repeat him trip.

    1. Sibylle says:

      Yes, he moved pretty quickly…Yes, his diary is pretty cool – and the English version is just my modern translation. I love how he describes it all in German even more!

  2. Heinz-Peter Dahl says:

    Dear Sibylle,
    At first I could not believe that you would really carry out the trip to Bozeman. Today the journey to the West is similarly precarious like in those older days. Additionally America has drastically changed – just observe its political confusions. As your eldest uncle; please keep your eyes very wide open and, finally, have a safe return home.
    I will always be very curious on your personal findings.
    Best wishes for you further trip and excursions.
    Uncle Peter (Dahl)

    1. Sibylle says:

      today….i arrived in Bozeman, Montana ­čÖé

  3. Ingrid Witzig says:

    Hallo Sibylle
    Mit Spannung verfolgen wir wieder sonnt├Ąglich beim Kaffeeklatsch deine neuen Abenteuer.Besonders deine Fotos mitsamt Kommentar lassen uns deine Reise miterleben. Weiterhin viel Gl├╝ck und tolle Menschen zum Kennenlernen w├╝nschen dir Oma Gunda Tantchen Ingrid und Harald

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