Anton "Makes Friends" in America
Anton and his two sons Bernhard and Hubert emigrated to America in 1849. Problems soon developed:
September 12, 1850
In case Anton has written you, I'm sure he will have tried to prettify his behavior toward me with lies. For now, I will relate to you what I consider my duty. I am very indebted to you, and I think that it is therefore necessary that you understand what Anton thinks and says about you. While in a particularly angry and drunk condition and in the presence of Bernhard and Hubert, Anton tried to paint you as a great egoist. He accused you of having the entire fortune in your hands and sending him here to Siberia, and he cursed you repeatedly. You may be able to cure him of this crazy opinion as you see fit.
Fourteen days before his departure, after I had reminded him repeatedly of the $100 debt that he knew very well he had incurred for boots, bedding, flannel, shirts, whiskey, etc. for himself and his sons, and after telling him that I would like compensation as soon as he arrived in St. Louis, he answered, "Make a more exact accounting so that you don't come up short." This I did. Having arrived in St. Louis, he sends me a bill for $125 for his help building the house as well as $200 for your old claim on the Rum River. Anton knows very well that I had to sell the claim for $100 specifically to help him. Many times I offered it to him so that he could live there, the last time just a few days before the sale. And, I have nothing against crediting him with this $100, although he says that I appropriated the claim illegally. He knows perfectly well that you gave it to me before I came here from Mishanni. Furthermore, he demands $25 for his sons' work. I charged Anton $3.50 per week per person. Anton had $30 when he arrived as well as bacon and flour valued at about $26.90 and a goat worth $5. Later, he had Angelrodt, Eggers & Barth pay me two installments of $100.
When Anton arrived, I already had two boarders. They gladly paid $3 per week and didn't drink a gallon per week the way Anton does. This winter, a gallon cost $1. Also, Anton cooked for himself for quite a while because he could drink more and because he was embarrassed to appear at the table in front of my wife in a drunken state. His sons ate with us. But enough.
In December, I am expecting another addition to the family. Your acquaintances in St. Paul enquire frequently about you. Jackson wanted to write you one of these days. Please give my best to your wife. My wife also sends greetings.
Your W. Noot
Lives and Letters of an Immigrant Family: The van Dreveldts' Experiences along the Missouri, 1844-1866 was published in 1998 by University of Nebraska Press.
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Paper presented at a conference at Harvard University, "The German-American Tradition: German-American History and Literature in the context of American multilingualism," Sept. 17-19, 1998.
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