San Francisco, 18 April 1861

My dear Relatives:

At last I have a few quiet hours to tell you of our happy arrival - happy in the sense that we did not have the slightest accident on the trip, even though we were at sea eight days longer, owing to the fact that we had to take in tow a damaged steamer with four hundred passengers. Thus our passage was made very much more difficult, but as we always had the most beautiful weather this would not have been unpleasant if our physical condition had been better - but I must begin at the beginning.

On the 16th of February we arrived in New York where we stayed until the 21st, and enjoyed the greatest hospitality at Schumanns. She is really a very nice woman. I have become very fond of her, and it was a good thing for us that we could rest here somewhat after the great exertions in Boston during the last fourteen days. We worked there day and night, for if we had needed to embark immediately it would have gone even worse with us

In spite of this Karl, Ferdinand, and Agnes were seasick already the first night, — the next day the children. I felt rather badly for two days also, but did not need to stay in bed. The others, however, could not get up for eight days, and I had plenty to do, for the care of the sick is very inadequate on these ships.

The first three days were very cold. Then it became warm, the fifth day hot, and on the eighth day we landed in Aspinwall. You can’t imagine the impression made on us as we approached the land - eight days ago we were in the middle of winter, end now in the heart of summer. Here were coconut trees with ripe fruit, oranges and bananas in abundance, fresh sugar cane, and many other things.

It is only a little village inhabited by Indians and negroes. In honor of the day the females had put on light lace and batiste dresses, but they had no underclothes beneath, and in addition to that were barefoot, which made a funny picture. But they seemed to find themselves most beautiful as they paraded back and forth in front of our hotel.

At three in the afternoon we left on the train. I will never forget the trip across the isthmus, - I had never imagined it so beautiful. There is only a narrow one-track railway through a most beautiful forest of tropical trees and plants, and where there happens to be a clearing, one has the most inspiring view of high mountains and deep valleys. Besides, we had lovely weather, not too hot, as it is still the beginning of summer, - in short, it was a beautiful ride.

We passed many Indian villages, some of them being stations for the taking on of coal and water. Here the squaws came with baskets full of oranges and bananas on their heads which could be bought for ten cents a dozen, and I have never eaten better. Unfortunately, we could only eat sparingly of them as it is very dangerous and one can easily contract Panama fever.

At six o’clock we arrived in Panama, of which I can say nothing, as it was already twilight. Besides we needed to go directly onto the tender, which took us to the "Golden Age" - a beautiful large ship, and we arrived there at nine o’clock. We were glad to be finally settled for a time, as the constant moving about with all our baggage had made us very tired.

Here, however, I had a misfortune. In Aspinwall I had become over-heated and then chilled, and even while we were crossing the isthmus I had lost my voice. The evening on the tender was cold and windy and I was afraid that I might get pneumonia. I was relieved, however, by sweating, but even so I contracted a bad cold and cough, so that my eyes became very inflamed and I couldn’t either taste or smell for four weeks.

It now became colder and the quick changes in climate must have given Agnes a cold, for she developed such severe rheumatism in her left arm that she could not be moved for four days without fainting. The ship’s doctor gave her strong medicines which relieved the pain with remarkable speed, and on the sixth day she was able to get up and move her swollen arm some-what, so that she was able to be on deck for the last few days.

After we had been aboard eight days we arrived in the Mexican city of Acapulco, and here found the ship, which we had to take along. As we arrived after sunset we did not want to land - only a few passengers did. The natives came for them in beautiful little boats, which bring them in quite a little money. It is supposed to be most beautiful there, that is, as far as nature goes, and those who went ashore brought back the most lovely flowers. At least thirty canoes with torches and loaded with the choicest fruits and shells surrounded our ship. If one wanted to make a purchase, a line was thrown on which a braided pouch had been fastened. The money was then let down and the fruit pulled up.

It was a very picturesque sight to see the dusky semi—naked figures floating around on the dark water in the brilliant torchlight. However, this trip is very diversified and on that account is much more pleasant than the trip from New York to Germany. It doesn’t take very much longer either, even though the distance is quite a bit greater, and because of the fact that land is so often in sight, one does not feel so lonesome. Day after day we pass along the greatest of mountain ranges, and we come at times so near the Mexican coast that even the trees can be recognized.

The passage into San Francisco is simply beautiful, however, and we had lovely weather, which is not often the case. Several passengers who have already made this voyage several times, assured us that they had never had such a splendid day on their arrival.

The ship passes for hours between high mountains, which at one point are so close together that the passage looks very narrow from a distance, although the sea is still comparatively wide, and this strait is known as the Golden Gate. God grants that it will have been truly a Golden Gate for us.

On landing Ferdinand’s friends greeted us on the ship. They took charge of our baggage, and we drove to a German hotel, which was very new and clean, — also not expensive, as we needed to pay only $38.00 for eight days.

It was still the rainy season when we arrived, and a few of these last eight days have been very bad. In spite of this, however, the men and Agnes had to run around looking for a house. This is pretty difficult if a half-way decent one is desired, and which doesn’t, at the same time, cost too much. Then, of course, after it has been found, furniture and household utensils must be purchased.

We live pretty high up on a new street. The houses are all one-story and look exactly alike, with a little garden, and with flowerbeds in front of the door. I hardly think, however, that we will stay here long as it is too far from the business.

Karl cannot come home for lunch, and all the distances are so great that it takes hours to get back and forth. When our things come we shall not have room for them all, as we have only five rooms with a kitchen, and as Ferdinand is living with us too, the place is too small. We have to pay $35.00 a month.

On the very first day that we lived here Agnes got sick again. She had not recovered from the first illness, and the new exertions, together with the wet weather, were probably the cause. She is now better, but we had a bad time. When I had to cook I didn’t have anything in the house, or some utensils were missing, and in addition to this, being in such a large strange city with no one in the neighborhood who could answer any questions - I often thought I should go crazy.

Whether we shall like it here I can’t say as yet, for I know but little of the city and its people. The first impression was not a very happy one, especially coming from such a place as Boston, where it is so clean and well—ordered. But we are assured on all sides that no newcomers have liked it, only to say later that they would never leave again.

The main thing, so far as we are concerned, is that the business will go ahead well, and indeed all things point to that. From the very first day that they could work they have had enough to do, and Karl can make all the things which until now had to be imported, for prices are very high as you can guess from our house-rent. For the business quarters we pay $25.O0 a month. For a ton of coal, which in Boston would be from $6.00 to $8.00, we pay $16.00 to $24.00; butter is 40 cents a pound; milk 10 cents a quart, but the worst of it is that 10 cents is the smallest coin in circulation. For less than this one can buy nothing. However, when one knows the ropes one buys in quantity, otherwise there would be too great a loss.

The climate is very peculiar here, — beautifully warm from early mornings until noon, then the cold trade wind comes up, so that it is necessary to dress warmer in the afternoons than in the mornings. I find this very acceptable, but Agnes is perpetually cold, it will do her good though when she finally gets acclimated. The air is really quite stimulating, and I haven’t felt so well for a long time.

Vegetables, fruits and flowers thrive here exceptionally well. Even since our arrival the roses and fuchsias are coming out, growing as high as the house. Some streets are lovely, with flower gardens in front of each house, but there are no walks beyond the city, for there it is so sandy that you have to wade through it ankle deep. Then too, all the streets are not yet finished - one often finds the most beautiful houses sitting on top of sand hills - and deep holes have to be filled and leveled off. It is only level in the business quarter, on the edges of which the streets rise steeply. From our house we can see a large part of the town, the bay with its ships, and the high hills in the background. If construction work continues at the same rate at which it has in the last two years, the city is expected to be as large as London.

We have had very little social life, - only one family from Boston whom I had known previously, - for it unfortunately so happened that Dr. Prechts, on whom I had counted a good deal, left shortly after our arrival for Germany. I could only see him once.

You probably have more recent news from Ide than I can give you. They were both well when we were in New York, but our departure seemed to upset them considerably, and under the present circumstances I think of them often, as they too have had to suffer from lack of work. We are heartily glad to have left there, and I believe that if the silver business were as good as the gold, Wendte would come on too. But here they are working only for local consumption, while there their output goes to many cities and especially to the south where the more important things are being sent. Of course, we can’t do anything of the sort from here.

Under the circumstances, it would probably be the best for Ide if she went back to Germany for a time, for to keep house in New York when no money is being earned is a difficult thing. A single man can live pretty cheaply there — I don’t think that she would bring herself to do it, but I don’t know whether he is giving work. With the next steamer I hope to have news from her.

I haven’t had a letter from Elise since the beginning of December. I am afraid that one has gone astray. Do write to me soon. You have probably had my last letter in which I told you of our removal. You don’t need any further address than the name, the place, and the country, as all letters must be called for at the Post Office.

Karl has been quite sick for the last two weeks. In spite of this, however, he goes to business daily, which makes him feel very badly, but the doctor says that it is the strange climate to which everyone must first accustom themselves. The children are well, but aboard ship they both had a rash over their entire bodies, which still continues to bother them day and night. Rudolf suffers a great deal from the toothache.

I think that I have now written enough about ourselves and hope to hear much and pleasant news from you all - it is so long since I had a letter from you.

I embrace and kiss you in thought

Faithful sister
Henriette Siegemann

Thousands of greetings to all those who remember me with their affection.

Haven’t you heard anything from Julius?