You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. Galatians 5:13 (NIV)
Two weeks have gone by with no post from me. That does not mean I haven’t had anything to write about. I have a lot of ideas swirling around in my head, but no time to put them on paper. I have been busy with church, dog training and family activities, but mostly, I have been spending time on the Internet researching the life of Julia Atzeroth trying to fill in the pieces of her life. Things I did not know like why they came to America, what caused her and her sister to be orphans and how she and Joseph met. I have found a few answers, some true, some speculation, but still have many unanswered questions. I had two major breakthroughs. I discovered that due to climate change, there was a famine in Europe beginning in 1815 that caused many deaths. It was so severe that people were making bread from straw, slaughtering horses for food and even eating rats. That may have been the cause of death for Eliza’s family and may later related to her liver ailments as an adult. I also think I found when Joseph came to America, but the answer defies some family lore. I have always heard that he and Julia came to America in August of 1841. But, papers Joseph filed when he prepared to file for Citizenship stated that he came to America on April 10, 1837. That does not make sense because Eliza was not born until 1840, but I began looking through passenger records for ships that docked in New York City and in the records of the Ship Sully which arrived in New York on April 10, 1837, I found a J.N. Terzoct. All these years I have been looking for Atzeroth with no luck. Say Terzoct aloud with a German accent and listen to what you hear. I think I found him and even his age backs up my find! But, Julia is nowhere to be found in the records of the Sully. I can only assume that she came in 1841, but what does that mean for Eliza’s conception? Two steps forward, one step back. As I scrolled through ship records for August 1841, I was astounded how many ships docked in New York in a month. And how many people were passengers on those ships. From all around the world, they flocked to America and the promise of a better life. Saddle makers, shoemakers, candlemakers, weavers, tailors, bakers and farmers, they came lured by land, jobs and prosperity. Some ship records list the luggage that they brought with them. A family of twelve with five chests of belongings. A bed, some silver, a sack of clothes. Some traveled in cabins, but most came in steerage. Hundreds of people of all ages and nationalities ranging from their 70s and 80s down to a few months old. Some babies were even born on the ships. One infant is listed as having been born in route, and died twelve days later. Oh, how hard it must have been for that mother to see her child thrown overboard for a burial at sea! I am still looking for Julia and Eliza, but as I look, I am reminded of all the people who made our country what it is today, including my own ancestors who risked everything for a chance to live in freedom. May I never take that freedom for granted. It was bought at a great price.