Two of my great-great grandfather’s (Hinderikus Martens Swart) sisters married into the Nanninga Family of Manslagt, Ostfriesland, Germany. These two sisters were Hinriette van der Horst Swart who married Garrelt Reinders Nanninga in 1876 and Martha Annette Swart who married Tjaart Reinders Nanninga in 1873.
I believe both of these men were sons of Reinders Tjaart Nanninga, pictured below.
Reinders Tjaart and Geelke Nanninga sailed for America from Germany in 1871. Just as my Swart family came to America in 1872, they wound up living at Leonardville, Riley County, Kansas. Though the Swarts went to Castle Garden in New York City and the Nanningas went to Baltimore, I think the experiences on the ship were probably similar.
I found an excerpt from a diary kept by Teetje Nanninga, eldest daughter of Reinders. She was born in 1854 and died not long after the family homesteaded in Kansas. The family said she died of homesickness for her native land. She would not eat or sleep, and soon lost all interest in life.
Translated from German by my cousin Myrtle Picking Nanninga Myers in 1961.
April 14, 1871 – It is certainly in God’s divine plan and will that one must part from the dearest that one has. How well I know, there is still nothing in the Walk of Life that is so painful to the heart, as to part, yes, to part! Now you must understand me right if people part they say “Good-Bye” or Aufwiedersehen. I shall leave my homeland and go to the foreign country. Leave my Fatherland and emigrate to America. My parents and brothers and sisters will go also but my grandfather, aunts, uncles, a loving sister, cousins, friends and acquaintances remain here.
April 15, 1871 – At 9:00 o’clock this morning we went to Emden, and changed to the train. The train stopped in the villages of Odersum, Meermor, in the city of Leer, again in the villages of Wustling, Stickhausen, Wight, Delmonhorst, then in the city of Oldenburg, where the houses were painted white and had red roofs, then through more villages to Bremen. Along the way were shrubs and pasture land. The Colsul Jehon waited for us in Bremen, and with his help, our luggage was placed on a wagon. We went to the Inn, our host knew of our arrival and put us in a room that was not very clean. The same evening Father went with the Consul Jehon and secured us passage on the Sail Ship “Iris”. The Captain’s name was Schuette. We were to have two cabins.
April 17, 1871 – At eleven o’clock, we went to the Station in Bremen and went to Bremerhaven; it rained so hard that we had trouble finding the ship, “Iris.” Several other ships were also leaving the Port.
Wednesday, April 19, 1871 – At 11:00 o’clock we left Bremerhaven with especially good wind. In the evening, there was a storm and we were very scared. On the next day we were all sea sick, and stayed in bed two days.
April 22, 1871 – Saturday we were much better. In the afternoon, it was very foggy. The ship did not toss much.
April 23, 1871 – Sunday. This was a long day. There was no work to be done. The ship moved forward only a short distance.
April 25, 26, 1871 – We passed England.
April 27, 1871 – We were sea sick again as the ship tossed violently. I stayed in bed on Friday.
April 30, 1871, Sunday – This was a long tiresome day. The was was so strong that the water splashed over the deck so no one could go there. In the evening it was much nicer while the ship was still, we danced with our young friends. We did not move forward, the ship stood still.
May 1, 1871 – We came out of the English Channel. We were on the way twelve days but if the wind had been favorable then we could have travelled that far in three days.
May 2, 1871 – This was a nice day, the wind was favorable. It was so warm that we could scarcely be on the deck. In the evening, Father and I enjoyed the fine view.
May 3, 4, 1871 – The wind was not good.
May 6, 1871 – Today is my birthday. I received congratulations and good wishes. The wind was very favorable.
May 8, 1871 – The wind was favorable. In the evening, we saw different kinds of fish.
May 9 to 12, 1871 – The wind was not favorable. On Saturday, the ship tossed so much that I stayed in bed all day with a bad headache, so did many others.
May 13, 1871 – This was a nice day with good weather.
May 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 1871 – The weather was nice, real hot but so calm we did not move forward.
May 27, 1871 – The ship tossed violently but we were not sea sick. We had a bad Pentecost as we were in the Gulf Stream of the Gulf of Mexico. It was better than we thought it would be as we could go on deck. The next day in the evening, there was much playing and dancing. However, I kept away as during this Pentecostal time we were not allowed to dance.
May 31, 1871 – Again it is real warm. The wind is unfavorable, this lasted until June 6th. We made no progress on our journey.
June 7, 1871 – Again the was was favorable. The day was warm, we went without stockings and underjackets. In the evening there was a violent storm. The rain fell in streams, the winds were violent. The ship crew understood this storm for they had lived through such storms in the Gulf Stream.
June 8, 1871 – It was so still that the ship did not move, Friday.
June 9, 1871 – The wind was favorable and by evening we were so near land that the Captain could see a light house. However, no, we must turn back again while yet no Pilot had come on board and the Captain could not see the place by night.
Sunday, June 10, 1871 – On this day we were together on the deck almost all of the time, we wanted to see the Land. At noon, a Pilot came on board, he was a negro. In the afternoon, a heavy storm and rain came, the sailors were soaked as they drew in the sails.
June 11, 1871 – This morning we thought that we would leave the ship quickly and we thought that we would be in Baltimore by evening, however, it was otherwise. Because of wind, at 9:00 o’clock, they had to cast anchor. At noon a Pilot came and took us into Port of Baltimore. We remained here until the next morning. Then after the Doctor had seen the sick on Board, we were taken by steamship into the harbor of Baltimore.
June 13, 1871 – As soon as we were in Baltimore, and we had our luggage, several men came to inspect our luggage; everything must be open; some they only saw what was on top, others they looked through, finally they put a stamp on the luggage and made a record of it. At noon, we left the ship with the other passengers. Everything was very difficult as the people and the language were strange. First, we must take leave from our friends then we must go to the train.
June 14, 1871 – The coach was different than those in Germany. There were seats or benches on both sides of a middle aisle. The seats were upholstered. In ever coach there was a can of fresh water, also a water closet. One could go from one coach to another, at the end was a glass door and a small hallway, where three or four men could stand. We were in the first coach with Mr. Groenhagen and his wife. Various friends were in the third coach. We went through mountains, the valleys and forests. We had never seen anything like this before. We saw beautiful waterfalls. When the train stopped we got out quickly and picked the lovely flowers and branches of shrubs that grew along the way. Soon all the windows in the coach were filled with flowers. All these weeks, we had missed the flowers very much.
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The family then went on to Kansas City, then to Manhattan, Kansas, where they were met by Jacob and John Benninga who had come to America several years before. The second Nanninga son, Tjaart Reinders Nanninga has come to America in 1869, and was living with the Benningas who had homesteaded northwest of Riley, Kansas.