The Hermann looked like this when at the time my great-grandfather took passage on her. As you can see she was a sidepaddler, sporting three masts that could be used for carrying sails if need be. Like the sailboats from which her design derived, she was constructed of wood and was somewhat smaller than the iron or steel propeller-driven ships that began to displace her within a decade of her first voyage.
When he boarded the Hermann, he would have joined about 280 other souls, most of them, like him, Germans seeking to immigrate to the US and most, like him, in steerage. I don't know anything about their voyage at that time, but it I'm sure no one in steerage would describe it as comfortable. The ship would freely heave, pitch, and roll in seas of moderate or greater extent. and the crowded lower decks would quickly have become unpleasant places to be. It was, nonetheless, a faster and more reliable ship in 1853 than it had been a few years earlier. Not an immediate success when first put into service, it required refitting after its first few years on the trans-Atlantic route.
Here's a brief history of her short life as an immigrant ship.
The steamship Hermann was built for the Ocean Steam Navigation Co by Jacob A. Westervelt & William Mackey, New York, and was launched on 30 September 1847. Original configuration: 1,734 tons; 234 feet; 3 masts; wooden construction, 3 decks, square stern; side-wheel propulsion; service speed 9 knots; accommodation approximately 180 passengers in 1st & 2nd class.Beginning in 1856, the Hermann suffered competition from a growing number of more modern ships and her fortunes declined greatly over the next decade. Taken out of trans-Atlantic service in 1857, she ended up in Japanese coastal trade and was wrecked in a storm in 1869.
In 1850-51, the Hermann was withdrawn from service for modifications; two original boilers replaced by four smaller ones; short single funnel tucked in between the paddle boxes replaced by two much taller funnels, very close together, fore of the paddle boxes; service speed increased to 10.5 knots; bark rig retained, but the main yard usually stowed on deck, giving the rig the appearance of a barkentine. Upon the outbreak of the Crimean War in 1854, France and England began to charter transport to carry men and supplies to the Black Sea. The Cunard Line lost so many steamships to war service that she abandoned the New York half of her operations after December 1854. As a result of the withdrawal of British ships, the Ocean Steam Navigation Co's Bremen service gained freight and passengers, and 1855 became the most successful year in the line's history. However, with the end of hostilities, the chartered vessels returned home, interrupted routes were resumed, and many new services planned.-- Quoted from “Palmer List of Merchant Vessels” (see list of sources, below)
Later, there were other ships named Hermann carrying immigrants to America, one was German-flagged and operated out of Bremen beginning in 1865, the other was Belgian-flagged and operated out of Antwerp beginning in 1881.
Michael Palmer’s defunct website, “Palmer List of Merchant Vessels” found on Immigration of Carl Friedrich Phillipp Held & Ship Hermann Information (pdf)
North Atlantic Seaway by N.R.P.Bonsor, vol.1, p.188-9, found on The Ships List
Maritime Heritage Project
List of blog posts on family history:
- at Madame's
- the shame of Madame Thurn
- Caroline Hague
- a quiet man
- Iwo Jima, 65 years ago
- a courageous act of defiance
- evil practices unto the disturbance of Christian order and peace
- Whigs & Tories, associators & refusers, patriots & loyalists
- William, Cornelius, John, and Benny
- love, peace and liberty condemn hatred, war and bondage
- Louis Windmüller
- living high
- Woodside, Queens, New York
- Windmuller, Heine, and Lorelei
- Miss Sarah Thorne, Her Book
- Sarah Thorn and the cult of domesticity
- Beauties of the mind
- 'My Heart and Lute,' Sarah Thorn