JULY 13, 1869. The day my great-great-great-grandfather Lorenz stepped off the S.S. Manhattan steam ship, walked across the Battery of New York City (above), and set off to become a florist in Pennsylvania.
Lorenz was 30. The American Civil War had wound down four years previously. Like many others, Lorenz crossed the Atlantic to escape the political and religious tyranny taking place in his homeland. He would settle in the rolling countryside of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania in the 1880s. The landscape was greener than he left behind in northwest Germany.
Nine days after Lorenz landed, the local papers contained the obituary of John Roebling, an engineer whose foot was crushed on the Fulton Ferry Dock as he surveyed the Brooklyn side of the East River. Roebling was to be the chief engineer of the Brooklyn Bridge project. Unfortunately, he died of lockjaw after his foot was crushed. Washington Roebling, John Roebling's son, took the reins and finished the Brooklyn Bridge. While he lived in New York, Lorenz had to take a slow-moving ferry between Brooklyn and Manhattan. At the time, it was faster to go by rail from Albany to Manhattan than it was to ride the ferry from one borough to another.
I'm fascinated by these early stories and know the most interesting vignettes have not survived the test of time. Researching my own heritage inspires me to leave behind a more durable record of my own past.