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我们对她了解多少? 她真的只是个孩子,不超过两岁,但她是一个尖端的,一个螺旋桨驱动的蒸汽船,为纽约州布法罗的大湖区建造,在那里成千上万的欧洲移民将等待被送往美国中西部的边境,他们都是陌生人在一个陌生的土地。 船上有尽可能多的货物-咖啡,糖蜜和硬件,更不用说人,数以百计的人。

这是 1847 年 11 月,所以当凤凰离开布法罗,前往威斯康星州,船员很可能已经庆祝了-毕竟,这是在今年晚些时候,业主已经明确表示,这次旅行将是老人冬天会使事情变得阴险之前的最后一次,密歇根湖冬季暴风雨不会成为玩弄。

单单按重量计算,大部分货物都是荷兰人 — 多达 250 名移民爬上船,在他们前往一个新国家的最后一站,前往威斯康星州的 Sheboygan 县,这是领导人决定的地方。如果柔软的沙质土壤,那么这片林地意味着几天辛勤工作。被清除作物。 他们想农场 和所有移民一样,他们真正想要的是一个新的机会。

大多数,如果不是全部,都是 “分裂主义者”,一个宗教派别的成员,一些被称为 “Afscheiding”,反叛教会,一些主要保守派在不久之前离开了荷兰国立教会,因此他们受到民政当局的迫害,使他们开辟了耳朵和心灵的可能性。移民到一个新的土地,他们可以自由。 他们是美国人

历史学家声称伊利湖是平静的,当他们离开布法罗 11 月 11 日,天气在所有的威胁,因为它可能是。 但它变得讨厌很快。 人们避难,他们可以在船上,因为膨胀像巨人的肩膀上升,并使一切都在船上滚。 当他们通过麦基诺海峡来到, 密歇根湖是没有更多的公平的主机, 风暴去了有增无减

然后,慢慢地向南,凤凰号驶入平静的水域,进入马尼托瓦克港口,距离这么多船上的梦想仅 30 英里。 有些货物被放上岸,但是当船长注意到风回来时,他把他的船停在港口,直到湖泊平静。 船员上岸了 有些人声称他们喝醉了回来。

凌晨一点, 湖泊平静, 夜晚充满星星, 凤凰离开了旅行的最后一站,我敢肯定,有些人曾相信永远不会结束, 在他们的路上 Sheboygan 港. 也许它是匆忙点燃了火; 有些人认为这是由饮料助长的低劣疏忽. 不管是什么原因,那些锅炉过热和点燃他们上面的木材。 不久,凤凰轮船就燃起了火焰。

很快,当天晚上,即 1847 年 11 月 21 日,乘客被唤醒了两个选择:他们身后的火焰或下面的水。 两者都意味着死亡。 多达 250 人死亡,其中很多人是荷兰人。 但是,谁在算,真的? -毕竟,他们只是移民。

当我还是个男孩的时候,沿着 141 年老的索克小径的一个高速公路标志讲述了这个故事。 我父母对此不太了解,从来没有提过,因为我记得。 妈妈的人在这里发生之前就在这里;沙阿普爷爷和他的家人直到九十年后才到达。

这是把故事传给我的高速公路标志,不仅在水面上,在我还是个孩子时的游乐场湖上的悲惨和可怕的死亡;但它也是一个关于 “部落” 的故事,因为作为一个孩子,没有人教我这么多 —— 那些死亡的人是由某种力量大自然我自己的人。

这是一个安静的夜晚,我猜。 当船在火焰上升,Sheboygan 居民聚集在沙滩上,因为火是所有的太可见。 当几艘救生艇来到岸边(只有四十幸存下来),我忍不住认为那里的人在海滩上不得不听到尖叫声。

我这么做,以至于我写的第一个故事是关于凤凰,关于上帝在黑暗中的存在以及其他令人神秘的问题,关于痛苦和死亡,关于生命和希望。

不知怎的,在流泪谷里,我想到这一严酷的人类悲伤的篇章是一个故事的一部分,一个移民故事,就像我们许多人一样。

凤凰城灾难幸存者墓碑,吉布斯维尔,威斯康星州

James C. Schaap

James Calvin Schaap is a retired English prof who has been something of a writer for most of the last 40 years. His latest work, a novel, Looking for Dawn, set in reservation country, is the story of two young women joined by their parents' mutual brokenness and, finally, a machine-shed sacrament of reconciliation. He writes and narrates a weekly essay on regional history for KWIT, public radio, Sioux City, Iowa. He and his wife Barbara live on the northern edge of Alton, Iowa, the Sgt. Floyd River a hundred yards or so from their back door. They have a cat--rather, he has them.

9 Comments

  • Daniel J Meeter says:

    I always look forward to your posts. I had read about the Phoenix before, and it’s always worth remembering, for the sake of those who died. Perhaps you know the story of the General Slocum in the East River.

  • Andrew Rienstra says:

    Also, remember the story of that tragic event from my days in Sheboygan County, never better told than you did today! I remember your grandfather telling us about it one evening at the dinner table. Have a number of memories of those evening meals with him.

  • Phil says:

    A powerful reminder of many things, including the power of the Great Lakes. Thanks to the author. One small correction: Straits of Mackinac, not Mackinaw (though Mackinac is pronounced Mackinaw).

  • Pam Adams says:

    Jim, I forwarded your retelling of that event to Chuck, who lives in Sheboygan. Thank you for another immigrant story.

  • Fred Mueller says:

    Sailors know the mantra, “Let the boat take care of you.” Modern fiberglass keel boats will do that. I have experienced the safety of a modern sailboat in horrible weather. I can only imagine therefore the terror of a wooden steamship furiously burning, death either way as you said. Your blog conveyed the horror those poor people experienced in that frigid water.

  • Trudy (Harmelink) Bosman says:

    I was just thinking of looking for more information about this. Thanks for this telling of what happened.

  • Henry Ottens says:

    Always good (and sad) to be reminded of that bit of tragic and fascinating history off the shore where my wife grew up. Like you, she didn’t know what had happened in her “back yard” some 170 years ago. Its oral retelling had long petered out by the time the historical marker appeared 150 years after the fact.

  • Thank you for this. It is easy for some of us to forget the dangers and horrors that all immigrants have faced over the years.

  • Sue Preder says:

    Tragic! The story of the Phoenix sure made me understand their trials and was the direct reason why I have such a huge data base of geneology, as our family were direct descendent of one of the survivors from this ship accident. Thank you.

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