San Francisco, 8 July 1861

My dear good Elise

Weeks and even months pass and the news, which we await so longingly from you, as well as from Braunschweig, does not materialize. I begin to believe that our letters from Boston, as well as those which we have sent from here, have not reached you, otherwise, you surely would have made us happy with letters. My last letter contained the description of our trip as far as Panama, and before I tell of other things I will continue this description further, always still hoping that you received our earlier letters, of which the first was sent about the 18th of February from New York, the other following our arrival in California.

From Panama to Acapulco, which is a poverty-stricken little Mexican city, our trip went along pretty well. But Mother’s illness increased nearly every day, and the children too developed a troublesome rash which was probably caused by the great heat as well as the horribly peppered food, and which has not left them even yet.

Acapulco is almost entirely surrounded by mountains, and there is a continuous sultry heat as no breezes pass over it. The entrance to the harbor is very narrow indeed, and as we passed through the sun was just going down in full splendor. We have had these beautiful sunsets nearly every day as the weather has been beautiful, and, as the steamer has three decks, we have been climbing from one to another in order to enjoy the scene as long as possible.

We would gladly have landed in Acapulco, but unfortunately it became dark immediately, and besides the fishermen, who soon surrounded the steamer with their boats, knows the value of money only too well - the fare for every person is one dollar, which we did not want to spend. You can imagine the splendor of nature here, and how beautiful the fruits and flowers bloom, for the sun blazes the whole day through and the nights too are extremely hot.

In spite of the darkness many of our passengers went ashore end returned with the loveliest bouquets of oleanders and roses. I just happened to think as we were still at anchor how it must be with you now in Sweden - there ice and snow, here oleanders and roses.

As is true of all the inhabitants of hot climates, the residents of this little town are lazy, and the only thing that shakes them somewhat out of their indolence is the arrival of the steamers which put into port for coal and water, for under these circumstances they have an opportun-ity to sell their bananas, oranges, lemons, cane sugar and shells to the passengers for good money.

This evening was one of the most beautiful and most interesting of the whole trip, and I shall never forget the scene as the natives with their brown faces came out in their canoes with their tastefully arranged fruits, flowers and shells. Some of them were either not dressed at all or very scantily, and they offered their wares in Spanish as they waved torches over them. You can imagine that we refreshed ourselves with the fruits, and if I hadn’t been afraid of getting sick from eating too much, we would gladly have continued.

To our regret we learned that the steamer which left Panama before us, had been forced to remain here in Acapulco as one of its shafts had broken, so our ship now had the pleasure of taking the "Uncle Sam" in tow. At midnight we continued on our trip, but you can easily imagine how slowly we went on.

The next morning we were greeted by the passengers of the "Uncle Sam" with hurrahs and the waving of handkerchiefs, happy that the "Golden Age" was finally helping them to their goal by means of two enormous ropes, after being held up in such an unhealthy place.

Thus it continued until the 19th of March - the day of our arrival. All the passengers got up early. About eight days out of Acapulco the weather became cooler, and this morning it was very cold and foggy, still when the sun came out it was as beautiful as only one could wish a June day to be, and thus we could get a good view of the famous and really very lovely entrance into California.

There is probably no harbor, which is more beautifully located than this one. The passage into the harbor, the Golden Gate, lies between high mountains, which rise quite steeply, and which always tend to approach each other. As soon as the passage has been made the mountains separate again and the harbor with ships of all nations, becomes visible. San Francisco, our goal, the place where we hope, God willing, to find better days again, appears on the left (sic) side. As the steamer had fired off some shots even before we had arrived in the harbor, a tremendous crowd, as is probably always the case, had gathered at the landing stage and in a short time the whole ship’s company had separated.

As I had been so weakened in my left arm for the last eight days because of rheumatism (I never in my life had worse pain) I could leave my cabin but very little. For three days and three nights I had to stay in that abominable hole and on the hard berth, and poor Mother must get up early in the morning with her cough, as the children had their breakfast first.

Mother had to sleep in the highest berth, as this was more airy, and now we can laugh as we think of how Carl had to lift her out in the morning and help her in at night. Many sighs escaped her and we certainly didn’t feel in the mood for laughing then.

Since our arrival we have been sick one after the other. Mother’s health soon improved and the climate had such a good influence on her that I almost believed she had escaped all trouble - she felt so fresh and lively that she was able to walk long distances and climb hills without tiring. In the last two weeks, however, she has not been so well. She complains of pains in her legs, which often travel up into her chest. I myself think it is from overexertion, as we have moved into another house, and last week too, the chests which we had sent via Cape Horn arrived. The ship made a good passage of 119 days from Boston. All of our things arrived safely, but they smelled so bad that we have had to put them in the garden every day for sun and air.

Now you will surely be curious to know how we like it here. For the first few weeks we couldn’t get accustomed to it at all as it is so strikingly different from Boston. Then we all became ill - my good Carl was so weak that he took to bed for eight days and notwithstanding this felt miserable for a long time afterwards. Rudolf suffered a great deal from toothache. The little rascal had an inflammation around his tooth, and it was the highest time that it should be pulled. He had a sore throat too, and I think that we shall soon send him to school because he feels so lonesome.

Since we have been living in this house we like things not only better, but I can really say very well. The house is small with eight rooms at $40.00 a month, and even if it is old-fashioned, it is neverthe-less much more homelike than the new ones.

The main thing that caused us to move here was the charming little garden, and then too, we are so much nearer the business that Carl comes home for lunch. The house, as is true of many here, is built in rather a peculiar way. You step from the street directly into the parlor - which I find quite disagreeable. Then upstairs we have our bedroom and Mother’s, as well as the little room through which one passes to the stairs, which lead to the first floor,

F. has his room downstairs, and here there are also a kitchen, dining room and a storeroom. As the garden lies rather low and is sheltered from the street by a high wooden fence, we are not bothered much by the wind. We have lovely flowers which require very little care and only need daily watering, which is done by Carl or Mother in the evening after the wind has gone down, and which can be quickly attended to by the use of a long hose. The garden is blooming and growing, and we understand that it will remain green the whole winter through.

The flowers, which we grow in pots, are regular trees. The geraniums, fuchsias, callas and roses have trunks as thick as your arm and grow exuberantly. The sides of the house, which are sheltered from the wind, are usually covered with fuchsias, and the most beautiful flowers grow in any little protected place.

It is just the same with all other products, for California is truly a blessed land. The vegetables in the markets are so fine and large that one is never through wondering. Indeed, on our arrival in March there were already fine strawberries to be had, and even today I was still able to buy some. As the weather here is very equable these fruits are in season much longer and become progressively cheaper. For two bits (eight bits in a dollar) I can get three pounds - everything is sold here by weight.

Anyone who has been here for any length of time finds that the cost of living is much less than in former years, but it still appears quite high to us, One bit or twelve cents is the smallest coin, and eight bits are spent very quickly. Ready-made clothes cost about the same as in the States, although wages are very high here. Bricklayers get $5. a day; servant girls from 25 to 30 dollars a month, but the latter are a real affliction. I have heard nothing but complaints about them. Only today a lady told me that a servant of one of her friends was wearing a $130. velvet coat, and those who need help have to change every week or two. For this reason one often has men servants who are better and more honest. There are many Indians too, but these must be bought from a family for $125. For this sum they are obligated to remain with you until their 25th year — then, however, they are free and must take care of themselves.

Another affliction even worse than the servant girls are the Chinese. They have immigrated here in such numbers that much is now being written about calling a halt. There is probably no dirtier nation than this, and though they are disliked by the Americans, they are tolerated, but must pay very high prices for their houses and business rooms. Many are supposed to be very rich. Their dead are buried here only until they have collected a ship’s cargo, and then they are forwarded to their Celestial Empire. The fare for each corpse is $12. I consider them very disgusting people, and as they are not reliable they are not permitted to serve on juries. The whole city would present a very much better aspect if the streets weren’t so dirty, which latter is for the most past the fault of the Chinese. The meanest corner suffices them for housing, and the roofs (which are all flat here) look like regular castles of old pots, baskets and such things which they pile up there. They look very funny when they go out on the street as they always follow one after another like a lot of geese no matter how many of them there are. Their clothes look just as you see them in pictures. Besides the Americans, there are probably more Germans here than, any other group, but still all nations are to be found - many French who have their own markets, many Italians and Spanish. Life in general is much freer and more informal than in the States, although the mode of living is much the same.

If I had money enough to be able to choose a place of residence, I should certainly not choose San Francisco, but as long as we must work there is no other place which is as good. The sad news from the States does not cause us to regret our removal as long as we remain healthy, and I hope that in a few years Carl’s worries will be over. Until then, however, the watch-word is work and endure. If we could in any way handle it we should like to send Agnes to a private school (German and English) which would cost $4. a month. She is now attending a public school, but it is my greatest wish to take her out as it is the improper custom here to teach boys and girls together. Agnes is now seven years old, and thus old enough to learn properly. She has lost much time through sickness and our constant moving, but she seems well enough now and God grant that she stays so.

Rudolph has grown quite big and soon you will hear that he is going to school too. He is ready enough for it, and I haven’t the time to busy myself much with him.

I have been working on this letter eight days already and I have been writing in the evenings. Now it is Sunday afternoon and I shall not stop before I have filled all my pages. But I have still forgotten to tell you that Agnes goes to school every Sunday at the Unitarian Church, of which Mr. T. Starr King from Boston is the minister. His yearly salary is $6000., and he gets $200. for each lecture. He was paid $600. for the first one.

Now I must reply to your letter of the 4th of March, which I received through Madame Wendte, who arrived here four weeks after we did. This time I was the recipient of the pretty things - the collars and cuffs - as I stood badly in need of them. Many thanks. The offer which you make Mother in your letter is very timely and you have given her much pleasure thereby.

How much we relied on your help Mother’s letter from New York containing one bill of exchange, will have told you, and you have undoubtedly received it. She asked you to send us the passage money which we had borrowed from Madame Wendte and who now would like to have it back. I can’t tell you how sorry I am to take money from you, but I can’t do otherwise. The time may come though when I can show myself grateful for it. What you write about having Mother in Braunschweig is only my idea. At any rate it has turned out better that we all stayed together. I am thoroughly convinced that under no circumstances would she be separated from us and the children - she loves them too much, and of course Grandmother stands for everything with Agnes and Rudolf, but the thought that she is doing so much for us and worrying so about us at her age, gives us many sad hours. Why must it be so?

I am very curious, dear Elise, whether you were in Braunschweig this summer. It seems to me as if we were cut off from the whole world for the fact that we get no letters bothers us. How are Aunt and Uncle doing? We haven’t heard anything at all from Wendte yet either - we only know that the only business, in which Rudolf had work, stopped payments. Don’t you know anything about Julius? Be sure that you tell us all the news about him for he probably will not think of us again, otherwise he surely would have answered my letter. I wish that you had been in Germany and could write us in detail about everything, for you can imagine how much we want to hear from you all.
How long do you still plan to stay in Wildskoeple? I am sure that with your accomplishments you could earn money here too, without making too much work of’ it, but the time when you will come to us is still in the distant future. We are becoming more acclimated here all the time and can yet often exchange our thoughts on this matter.

But I must finally think of closing my letter, and in closing I can tell you that Mother is better and all the others are well too. Carl is now working on a medal for a northern soldier stationed in the south. He is depicted as violently repelling the attack of a rebel on the American flag. The New Englanders here are making him a present of it.
About a week ago we had an earthquake which is not an uncommon thing here. We were thoroughly shaken up, but otherwise there were no untoward results.

But now good-bye. I could still write on and on if I did not fear that this letter would become too heavy. I have firmly made up my mind to write you every three months, and I hope that you will do likewise that we will always know when we have heard from each other. Please write very soon in case there is no letter from you on the way.

With a hearty kiss for you, dear Elise, closes your

The following simple address is enough

Mr. Charles Lemme
San Francisco

P S - We have to call for all letters here. We go regularly to the Post Office when the mails arrive, but until now without any results.