A Davenport Connection: The Sinking of the S. S. Schiller

Another party of Germans leave this city on Friday evening for a visit to their native land. They will remain in New York city until Tuesday, when they will sail on one of the Eagle Line of steamers for Hamburg. Among the list, we find the names of C. F. Haase and wife, Charles and William Frahm, H. Ruschmann, H. Paulsen and others, whose names we are not at liberty to publish this evening. Mr. Otto Kircher, of the firm of Goos & Kircher, left last evening. He will join the party in New York, and sail in the same steamer with them.
—The Davenport Democrat, April 21, 1875.

On April 23, 1875 a small band of Davenporters left the town headed by railway to New York City. From there they would board a steamship from the Eagle Line headed for their final destination of Hamburg, Germany. In total the group consisted of fourteen adults and three children. As modern steamships had begun to take over the shipping lines, it became more common for financially established immigrants to return to their homeland to visit family and friends.

The group consisted of many well-to-do names from the area. William and Carl (or Charles) Frahm were the 20 year old twin sons of successful brewer Mathias Frahm.  William was following in his older brother Henry’s footsteps. He was going to live in Germany for three years and learn the brewing trade before returning home to the family business. Carl was to attend school for a year before returning home and establishing himself.

Mr. P. C. Roschmann was a retired businessman, Mr. Peter A. Paulsen a successful jeweler, and Mr. Carl Haase with wife Auguste, and children Hermina and August were members of a successful business family. Mrs. Emma Hansen was married to a well-known farmer in Scott County. An invalid, she was returning to her family home in Germany with her only child for the summer in the hopes the trip might help her health.

Mrs. Margaretta Klemme had been living in Davenport with her daughter. The widow was returning to Germany to visit the only one of her six children who still lived there. Mr. Otto Kircher, Mr. Henry Goettsch, Mr. John Nissen, and Mr. John Bohnhoff were all returning to Germany to visit family. Mr. Carl Gutsche and his wife Magdaline had a different goal. After a successful life in Davenport, they had sold their house and possessions to return to Germany in their old age to be with family.

On April 27 the group boarded the Eagle Line’s S. S. Schiller and set sail on their summer adventure. The Schiller was a German ship built in 1873 and was one of the largest passenger ships of the day. It sailed quickly with two masts and engine on board. On this trip she carried 254 passengers and 118 crew members plus cargo. The first stop on the voyage was Plymouth, England then Cherbourg, France and finally Hamburg.

The passengers and crew on the Schiller had no way to know they had boarded what has since become known as the “Nineteenth-Century Titanic”.

Please return next week for the tragic story of the sinking of the S. S. Schiller.

(posted by Amy D.)

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Sources:

The Davenport Democrat, April 21, 1875.

The Davenport Democrat, May 10, 1875

S. S. Schiller statistics:  www.seabreezes.co.im

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