Cattle Ship Brought Great-Grandfather to Land of Opportunity

During voyage, food supplies ran low; cattle provided food for passengers, including great-grandfather.
CAPPER’s Staff
Good Old Days


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Great-Grandfather John left the state of Prussia in northern Germany at 14 to begin a new life where, "You can get good job and make a lot of money." Obtaining a job on a cattle boat, his journey to the Land of Opportunity began in 1864. There were also human passengers on board the large sailing ship. Sailing speed depended entirely on wind force. During the voyage, winds were less than expected, lengthening the trip. Food supplies were running low. Grain and hay for the cattle ran out. Consequently some of the livestock died. People became ill. Cattle carcasses were skinned and butchered, giving the crew and passengers fresh meat, which sustained them the rest of the way.

Although my great-grandfather knew no one in the United States and spoke no English, he found a job soon after reaching his new homeland. "I was so happy to be in this country, I would do anything."

Later, he met Sophia, also an immigrant from Germany. They married and raised a family: two boys and four girls.

Enjoying a long, successful life, he died at 92 in Oklahoma.

Janice L. Kinman
Carthage, Missouri


Back in 1955 a call went out from the editors of the then CAPPER’s Weekly asking for readers to send in articles on true pioneers. Hundreds of letters came pouring in from early settlers and their children, many now in their 80s and 90s, and from grandchildren of settlers, all with tales to tell. So many articles were received that a decision was made to create a book, and in 1956, the first My Folks title – My Folks Came in a Covered Wagon – hit the shelves. Nine other books have since been published in the My Folks series, all filled to the brim with true tales from CAPPER’s readers, and we are proud to make those stories available to our growing online community. 








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