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The search for the ship Cäcilia (German immigration in the Brazil – Rio Grande

do Sul State)
Ademar Felipe Fey (*)

(Initial Note: every effort has been made to the English version
correctly translate the original version in Portuguese. However
there may be errors regarding this translation. Contact the author
in case of doubts).


The history of German immigration to Brazil is fairly embracing and has some aspects
not yet fully clarified, especially those involving transatlantic travel between Germany
and Brazil. In these trips, marked in many cases by fatality, the documentation is very
incipient. In investigating the origin of the Fey families that came to Rio Grande do Sul,
it was verified that the history of one of the ships involved, called the ship Cäcilia
contained historical reports that raised doubts. Within this context, the bibliographical
research involving the voyage of the mentioned vessel was developed. The aim of this
work is to reveal some aspects and data of the research, aiming to enable future
researchers to continue to solve the doubts that remain about the history of this ship,
which is rooted in the tradition of the municipality of Dois Irmãos in the Rio Grande do
Sul, destination of a good part of the passengers that were in the supposed ship called

KEY-WORDS: German immigration, transatlantic ships, Cäcilia ship, the first

immigrant period of German colonization in Brazil, the German
colony of São Leopoldo in the state of Rio Grande do Sul.

1. Introduction

This research was developed as a kind of tribute to my German ancestors and

has no link with any teaching or research institution. At the beginning of 2017, after
retiring from the teaching area, I decided to research the origin of the Fey family,
without any knowledge of the Genealogy area or the history of German colonization in
Rio Grande do Sul and Brazil.
I was born in the city of Caxias do Sul, a traditional Italian immigration city in
Rio Grande do Sul state, where my parents met and later married. He surnamed Fey
(German family immigrated to Rio Grande do Sul in 1825), moved from Montenegro to
Caxias do Sul in the 1940s, born in Brochier and her surname Balico (Italian family

probably immigrated in the 1880s)20, born in Caxias do Sul. Living with the Italians, I
developed a certain degree of knowledge of the dialect practiced in my city. On the part
of the father, almost nothing was said in relation to the German ancestors, their customs
and language.
In this context, in this research of the ancestors, I relied on the help of several
discussion groups components and began to set up a small library with books on
German immigration and colonization. I visited the library of Unisinos in São
Leopoldo, the library of the University de Caxias do Sul (UCS), the libraries of the
municipalities of Dois Irmãos, São José do Hortêncio, Nova Petrópolis and, finally, the
municipal library of Caxias do Sul (where I located some works on German
colonization and immigration).
In addition to the physical books, discussion group information and free Internet
search were very helpful in seeking a minimum familiarity with the topic being
When I specifically studied the Fey family that ended up in the municipality of
São José do Hortêncio, I came across the report of the voyage of the Cäcilia in several
books, websites and discussion groups.
Looking more closely at the stories of the Cäcilia's voyage, I also noticed that
some authors consider the departure of the Cäcilia from Bremen and others from
Hamburg. Some consider the departure at the beginning of the year 1827 (most of the
authors surveyed, such as Amstad10, Hunsche4, Petry6) and others in early 1828
(Oberacker Jr11 and Hüttenberger7).
Divergent points were pointed out in the various reports found, and especially
that described in the Sander2 family genealogy site, where there is an alert for a possible
inconsistency in the information about possible passengers on the Cäcilia vessel:

So far as the Sanders have been passengers of the Cäcilie. This

information, in my opinion, is subject to revision (and the same may
apply to other immigrants of Dois Irmãos). It occurs that the Sanders
were still on land on the night of November 7 to 8, 1827, when they
left Bedesbach or Konken to try new life in Brazil (cf. Zink,
"Auswanderer aus dem Kreis Kusel nach Brasilien"). By now the
Cäcilie had been out of action for months. So the Sanders could not
have been aboard that vessel2 (free translation of the author).

The name of the ship itself is not unanimous among the authors, and we find the
spelling of Cäcilia, Cäcilie, Cecilia, among others.

From these divergences, I started the search seeking clarification on the Cäcilia's
trip and a possible list of its passengers.

The present work is divided as follows:

In section 2 we present a summary of the reports about the Cäcilia, Helena Maria
and James Laing ships of several consulted authors.

In section 3, we performed an analysis of the collected data that were confronted

with the results of the research.

In section 4 we present our conclusions and our suggestions for the continuation
of the research.

2. Theoretical Background: reports on the ship Cäcilia in the bibliography

2.1 The ship and the voyage of Cäcilia

In this section we present a summary of what was written about the ship Cäcilia
by Brazilian authors, most of them gauchos (born in the state of Rio Grande do Sul).
Initially, it should be noted that there are more than four dozen ships that were
used to bring German immigrants to Brazil in the link
we have an updated list of transatlantic ships from 1824 to 1830.
Priest Amstad10 was apparently the first writer to quote the ship Cäcilia when he
wrote his book in commemoration of the centenary of German colonization in Rio
Grande do Sul (1924). Amstad, however, does not cite the sources of his information,
does not cite the ship's departure date, nor did the informant report the Cäcilia's voyage,
nor did anyone assist him in collecting the data. However, we have found information
that Arno Philipp was a great contributor to Amstad in his book.21 Arno Phillip, a
German based in Porto Alegre in 1889, has a vast literary production and a very young
work in the oldest newspaper in South America, Deutsche Zeitung (whose first copy
was published in August 1861 and the last in 1917, after Brazil entered World War I).

It should also be remembered that Amstad arrived in Brazil in 18856 (50 years
after the voyage of the alleged ship Cäcilia) and worked in the region where many of the
passengers could still be alive, especially the younger ones at the time of the trip.
Engelman15 mentions that the ship Cäcília would be a Dutch three-masted
sailing vessel that left the port of Bremen with about 300 settlers. Some sources cite the
port of Hamburg as a departure. Engelmann cites the account of Spindler (passenger of
the Cäcilia who wrote a letter recounting the trip) in which this indicates as being the
departure supposedly in 06/01/1827 and in the port of Bremen.
Hunsche4, perhaps one of the greatest writers on the subject of German
immigration and colonization in Rio Grande do Sul, initially follows the book of
Amstad. Hunsche also cites the match as being on 1/6/1827, using Spindler's account.
Throughout his works he tries to unravel the mystery about Cäcilia, but acknowledges
in his last texts that there are still pending doubts.
About the captain of the ship, in the book Germanidade no Brasil (Das
Deushtum in Brasilien), Porto Alegre, Sociedade Germânica, 2007, page 60, the author
Nina Tubino cites, when narrating the voyage of Cäcilia, "it seems commanded by a
Dutch captain". Amstad and Hunsche, the two main bibliographical references used, do
not mention the name of the commander of this ship.
According to Carlos Bento Hofmeister Filho18 (author of the book "O Pote de
Geleia”) the captain was the Dutchman "Van der Bild" and the sailboat Cäcilia was a
small transatlantic sailboat. We have not been able to find any information about this
alleged commander or confirm this information.
We believe that all the Brazilian authors were based on what was narrated by
Amstad (1924) when citing the ship Cäcilia. In turn, Priest Amstad and his assistants in
the writing of his book were possibly based on oral accounts of descendants of the
passengers of the alleged ship Cäcilia.
On the genealogy site on Adam Sander2 is quoted "The Cäcilia sailboat, which
departed from Bremen or Hamburg, was struck and damaged by a storm on January 12,
1827 - it is worth remembering that January is winter in Europe (as Kerckhoff in 180
Jahre St. Leopoldo)". Therefore, the departure date of 06/01/1827 seems to be
reasonable, since the immigrants would be sailing for a week when they faced the storm
on the English coast (they were probably leaving the North Sea and entering the English
Channel). However, we find that Spindler does not cite the date of departure explicitly

in his letter. Hunsche, apparently, based on Amstad's account, assumed that the year
was 1827.
During the storm two sailors and twenty settlers fell to the sea and perished
there, the masts had to be cut and the boat was about two weeks adrift before being
found by an English boat. The captain and sailors abandoned the boat and immigrants.2
According to Amstad10, the emigrant Philipp Schmitz proposed that they cut the
three masts of the ship. The ship got up and the passengers stayed for 2 to 3 weeks adrift
on the open sea. We found in the work of Rosa3 a Phillip Schmitz Junior and family
arriving on 05/14/1829 and a Phillip Schmitz Senior and family arriving on
05/22/19294. Recently, when we made the list of the sailboat James Laing (list available
at <https://familiafey.wordpress.com/james-laing/>), it was verified that the two
immigrants mentioned were passengers of this ship, and may therefore be on board the
Also according to Amstad10 an emigrant "named Altmayer" proposed that if
everyone arrived safely in Brazil they would celebrate the date of arrival. Almayer does
not appear on the list of immigrants who arrived at James Laing (a ship known to have
brought passengers named as Cäcilia to Brazil). Searching in Rosa3 we noticed that
there is the record of a single Heinrich Jacob Altmayer arriving in São Leopoldo on
12/16/1827. Another Mathias Altmayer and his wife arrived in São Leopoldo on the
same date. We find that both were passengers of the Epaminondas sailboat, and
therefore can not be aboard the Cäcilia.
Continuing the report of the voyage, the ship was rescued by an English ship and
taken to the port of Plymouth, according to Amstad. Some sources cite the port of
Falmouth, such as Spindler (passenger who left a letter detailing the voyage) and
The history of Cäcilia with a few minor variations and a little more detail is also
told by Monsignor Mathias Gansfeith (Os fundadores de Baumschneis ou Picada Dois
Irmãos RS. 2º Simpósio da Imigração e Colonização Alemã. 1972. P. 191-205,
originally published in 1924) based on data provided by Miguel Schmitz, great-
grandson of Philip Schmitz. Hunsche, Quadriênio, vol. I, page 202, reproduces a partial
description of Monsignor Matias José Gansweidt's report.
The captain sold the wreckage of the ship and did not return the money to the
immigrants. According to Amstad, the immigrant Hann-Peter Schimidt lost all his
fortune (which he would have surrendered to the captain).10

Hunsche4 on page 200 of the book Quadriênio, volume I, reproduces Spindler's

letter. In it the passenger quotes "The captain simply sold the ship and disappeared with
the money and with our deposit that we had to deposit in the Amsterdam bank." At this
point the question remains, the passengers of the ship left the port of Bremen or the port
in Amsterdam? Was there an "agency" of the Bank of Amsterdam in Bremen in 1827?
After that, the immigrants were waiting for help to travel to Brazil.
According to Amstad, they landed in Brazil (Rio Grande) on 09/29/1829. This
date was known in Dois Irmãos, according to Amstad, as Kerb de São Miguel
(municipal holiday17). Of the hundred families that were on the Cäcilia, twenty of them
would have settled in the municipality of Dois Irmãos: Altmayer, Becker, Bruxel,
Kieling, Marmit, Sander, Schmidt, Schüler, Wile, Wingert, among others.10
Around twenty other families settled in the bite of the Portuguese (current
municipality of São José do Hortêncio): Fey, Fritsch (2), Gauer, Hammes, Hermann,
Juchem, Karling, Müller, Nedel, Petry, Reichert, Schmitz, Spindler, Stump, Weber,
Welter, Winter, among others.10
As can be seen, Amstad quotes the Fey family as being in Cäcília and going to
the “Picada dos Portugueses” (São José do Hortêncio). Later I discovered that this
family has no branching with the Fey that are my ascendants.
The Bohnemberger family is established on the “Linha Berghan Line” (Bom
Jardim, now Ivoti) and then on Bohnental (Picada Feijão, Ivoti district).10
The ship that brought them to Brazil was called "St. Michels-Schift " by Amstad
(pages 74 and 75). Later we discovered that the ship was actually called James Laing.
It is doubtful because the date of 09/29/1829 as the celebration of the arrival of
the passengers in Brazil if the James Laing arrived in February of 1829, provenly?
In addition to the authors cited, others report the trip of the Cäcilia supposedly
using other sources (many of this information could not be confirmed), but let's see:
In the book “Pote de Geleia” the author Carlos Bento Hofmeister Filho18 uses a
character named Ludwig who would be among the passengers of the Cäcilia. He is the
narrator of the story about the ship Cäcilia in the book. There is an interesting passage
in this book where the author cites that some passengers of the Cäcilia, who were in
Plymouth waiting for help to continue the trip, would have come to Brazil aboard a ship
that passed through that city and that would be coming here. This group of passengers
(including the Ludwig and a certain Schmitz, carpenter by trade) would have bought the

ticket and managed to reach the destination before the main group, which was still
waiting to get out of Plymouth. Thus narrates this passage Hofmeister Filho18 (page 37)

... After months after the summit on the captain of the fugitives, a very
large transoceanic sailboat with German emigrants came here to the
province of Rio Grande do Sul. For the sake of luck, they were also
from our native land. Rhineland and some passengers even knew a
family of ours. This sailboat was called "Anna Luise", it was her second
or third trip to Rio de Janeiro. He also departed from Hamburg. They
had been sent to Plymouth to offer us a new opportunity, for the special
interest of Empress Amelia de Leuchtenberg ... (free translation of the

We are aware that in 1828 the ship Olbers arrived in Brazil with the
characteristics mentioned by Hofmeister. The list of the Olbers (provisional) sailboat is
available at <https://familiafey.wordpress.com/2019/02/21/veleiro-olbers/>. In the
Olbers there are 3 families Ludwig and 1 passenger Schmidt, no Schmitz. According to
Hunsche4, Philip Schmitz, the great carpenter, assigned to him the task of cutting the
mast of the Cäcilia, arrived with the ship James Laing in February 1829 (as already
reported). On the other hand, we did not locate any trip from Anna Louise to Brazil in
However, we later confirmed that at least one family (Neumeyer / Niemeyer) of
the shipwrecked would have been able to embark on another ship to reach Brazil
(Goldfinch, 1828). However, this family proved to be originally aboard another
shipwreck named Helena & Maria, which we will address in the next section (Carl
Neumeyer's statement requesting that the family be transported to São Paulo from Rio
de Janeiro – Official Request number 848 of 11/20/1828). The family ended up being
transported to São Leopoldo, arriving on 03/18/1829. He did not settle down in that
colony, according to Rosa3. We do not know if there were other passengers at
Petry in his monograph on Novo Hamburgo9 mentions that his history on the
Cäcilia is based on a material found in São Jose do Hortêncio (it would be a
commemorative material referring to the German immigration in that municipality,
therefore of 1929). This is how Petry9 report (page 23)

We find, fortunately, in a leaflet published in commemoration of the

first centenary of the founding of the colony of São José do Hortêncio
(1929), the detailed narration of one of the settlers here arrived in

1828 and whose testimonies were confirmed by other immigrants

same time ... (free translation of the author).

Continued Petry9 (page 23) speaking of the ship Olbers and after the Cäcilia
Our informant, with other immigrants from the Renana Province, set
off for the port of Bremen, spending the trip in a cart drawn by
animals for about three weeks. When they arrived, they had to wait
another 14 (fourteen) weeks, until they found a ship that would bring
them to Brazil. It has arrived, continues our informant, finally, the day
in which we say goodbye, forever, of our Country. We boarded the
"Olbers" ship, three masts, but already somewhat old.

In addition to the commander and the sailors, 875 passengers came on

this ship. At first, we sailed near the English coast, in an area where
the previous year had shipwrecked a transport of immigrants. It is the
ship "Cecilia", in which came most of the settlers of Dois Irmãos.

These were saved, but they had to remain in the city of Plymouth
almost a year, until the arrival of a ship that took them; judging that
the commander of his ship had caused the disaster, with the intention
of selling them later as slaves, did not sympathize with him very
much, and on one occasion, when passing by some women who were
washing, they advanced and beat him with the pieces of wet clothing,
which produced enormous hilarity among the English, who attended
the fight (free translation of the author).

Petry in another book of his own, “Carvalhos e Palmeiras”20 (published between

1935 and 1940), devotes a chapter (page 5-16) called "Abandonados" to the episode of
the Cäcilia's voyage, quoting passengers Fellipe Schmitz, the great (who would have
fought pro Napoleon and whose brother Pedro died in the war), Fellipe Schmitz, the
small (who would have fought against Napoleon), Ludwig, Bonhenberger and
Altmayer, among others. According to Petry, the Cäcilia left Hamburg in 1827. During
the storm was born Nikolau Bonhenberger (Rosa3 quotes a Nicolau Bohnenberger born
on 1/6/1826 (sic?) And Hunsche quotes João Nicolau only as born in 1828). The captain
and the sailors abandon the ship in a whaling vessel. Petry states in a note at the end of
the book that the narrative is true and based on statements by residents of Dois Irmãos
and also in a previously cited Gansweidt chronicle, which in turn would have been
based on data provided by Schmitz, the great.
Oberacker Jr11 in his book dealing with the ships hired by Shaeffer to transport
the German settlers to Brazil, only cites the ship Cäcilia, without going into detail. After
an analysis of the ships used and their history, we believe that Oberacker Jr relied on

Amstad to name the ship Cäcilia in his book. The Cäcilia's passengers probably hired
the ship on their own (as happened with the ship Helena Maria, discussed below),
therefore, without Schaeffer's intervention.
Obviously Hunsche4 also discusses the Cäcilia ship, and perhaps it was the
Brazilian historian who dedicated himself most to the subject. In general, as already
quoted, his exposition follows the line of the one described in the book of the Amstad,
outside the advances that he made on the subject. Most of the passengers that Hunsche
cites as being in Cäcilia, in his book Quadriênio (1827 to 1829), were confirmed on the
ship James Laing (discussed in next sections). Throughout his books and articles
Hunsche made a series of "historical corrections" on the ships that brought the German
immigrants to Brazil.

2.2 Ship Helena & Maria and the trip to Brazil

The Dutch sailboat Helena Marie (Helen Marie), under the command of Captain
Bartholomew Karstens left Texel/Amsterdam on January 6, 1828, with 350 people
(information confirmed in Cornwall Gazzete). He also brought immigrants to Brazil and
was struck by a storm a few days after his departure (January 13, 1828, according to
Hüttenberger7, in "Heimlich nach Brasilien" and Kirchberger8, in "Aspekte deutsch-
britischer Expansion").
The ship lost all three masts and second Hüttenberger7 "was floating on the
Lizard Point, about 20 miles off the coast of Cornwall." Lizard Point is a site on the
English coast near Falmouth (approximately 38 km by land), known for the wrecks that
happened there.
Rescued by an English postal boat (named Plover, according to Hüttenberger,
captain Edward Jennings), the Helena Maria and her passengers were taken to
Falmouth. An English newspaper reports that there was influenza on board leaving the
city on alert.
When the ship was repaired the passengers no longer agreed to travel on it. The
British authorities confirmed that the vessel was unfit for transatlantic travel.
Aid arrived when the ship James Laing landed in Falmouth, as reported in the
next section.

2.3 Ship James Laing and the journey of the shipwrecked to Brazil

On 12/3/1828 the James Laing arrived at the port of Falmouth (English flag ship,
under the command of Captain Sughure or Sufgheu) with a mission to take the
shipwrecked immigrants to Brazil14 (news of 06/12/1828 Royal Cornwall Gazzette).
On 02/01/18297 the ship James Laing goes to Brazil with favorable winds, with
about 305 people on board. We locate the arrival of the ship James Laing in the port of
Rio de Janeiro on 02/09/1829 (Diário do Rio de Janeiro from 02/10/1829). We
reconstituted the passenger list of this ship, noting that most of the passengers quoted as
having traveled at Cäcilia were at James Laing
(<https://familiafey.wordpress.com/james-laing/>), as, by the way, was already known
to Hunsche.

2.4 Confrontation of the data: narration vs. reality

From the reports briefly presented in the previous section we began to search
data of the ship Cäcilia in several places. The survey itself started in April 2017 and
ended in September 2017.
The first place searched was the National Library (Brazil), using the resources of
research in the digital media. In spite of the vast material available no citation of the
ship Cäcilia was found in the decade of 1820 to 1830.
In free Internet surveys, the few quotations found led us back to Priest Amstad's
story, basically.
In the meantime, familiar with Hüttenberger's work,7 we also began researching
data from the Helena Maria ship. It should be noted that the researcher Hüttenberger
develops the idea that in reality the passengers of the Cäcilia were aboard the Helena
Maria and that they would have departed in 1828 and not in 1827.
In order to confront these ideas we also began to investigate the shipwrecks that
occurred on the English coast in 1827 and 1828. We had the help of an English
researcher who kindly searched the Plymouth archives for shipwrecks in 1827. It was
found that it was in 1828 that there were violent storms on the English coast with
several wrecks, including Helena Maria, towed to Falmouth.
No evidence has been found of ships wrecked with German immigrants bound
for Brazil in 1827, neither Plymouth nor Falmouth.

It is important to note that in 1827 there were a large number of Portuguese

retained in Plymouth due to the political crisis involving Portugal and Brazil. Possibly
the existence of a ship in Plymouth with German immigrants destined to Brazil would
have been reported in the newspapers of the time, as was the case with the contingent of
Portuguese retained in that city.
With no progress in the research on the ship Cäcilia I came up with the idea of
looking for the list of passengers of the Cäcilia and later of the Helena Maria.
From this research, we find a partial list of Cäcilia passengers' surnames on the
Gauer Family site16, which is actually based on the listing available on the Martin
Luther Parish website.1 Subsequently, by contacting the american author Lee B Croft,
author of the book "George Anton Schaeffer - Shipping Germans to Brazil", we find
that the author of the list cited is Egídio Weissheimer, a well-known researcher from
Rio Grande do Sul state in Brazil, and was elaborated in 1999.
However, there was no passenger list of the Helena Maria sailboat.
But there was already strong evidence that it would have been the James Laing
ship to have brought the shipwrecked immigrants who were in Falmouth to Brazil.
We then look for the James Laing passenger list on the Martins-Staden Institute
website (http://martiusstaden.org.br). The staff of the institute kindly sent me a partial
list of the passengers, with no definite authorship.
Upon contacting researcher Hüttenberger (mid-May 2017) he kindly sent me
texts of his own by relating his findings and his theory that James Laing had actually
brought passengers from the Helena Maria. In confronting James Laing's passenger list
data, which I had received from the Martius-Staden Institute, Hüttenberger confirmed
that it was his own.
We then jointly began reviewing the list of the James Laing vessel and
confronting it with the nominative of the Cäcilia passenger names available on the
Martin Luther Parish website.1
The list of the passengers of the ship James Laing that was produced can be
downloaded in the link <https://familiafey.wordpress.com/james-laing/>.
When we collected data from James Laing's passengers, some evidence appeared
that some Cäcilia passengers were actually passengers of Helena Maria, but let's see:

 In the public library of Dois Irmãos I located the work of Braun5 on the
municipality (Book “São Miguel dos Dois Irmãos”, p.151-152). In it I found an

interesting report. According to the author of the report written on 05/17/1955

(Novo Hamburgo), Juliana Juchun, the information was received orally from her
grandmother by her mother part, daughter of Heinrich von Helfenstein, called
Margaretha von Helfenstein (born in Thallichtenberg). The informant tell who
left Nov. 10, 1827 and left their homeland in Helfenstein (sic), actually
Thallichtenberg, and boarded a ship with slow and poor travel. This ship broke
in the sea (the name of the vessel is not mentioned in the report) and another
English vessel took them to Falmouth. There was no water left, and the children
who suckled only her brother Heinrich survived. Four children died (from other
families, one of them Susen or Sausen and were buried in Falmouth.). We find
that the Helfenstein family was aboard the James Laing. Therefore, because they
were on land at the end of 1827, they could only have been at Helena Maria. We
tried to get a copy of the original letter, but we did not succeed. We sought only
some clarification of dubious points in the narrative.

 On the website of the Breitenbach family13 it is mentioned that a group of

emigrants left Germany in 1827 (according to Hüttenberger, from 07 to
11/08/1827). There would be six families, namely Peter Keller, Mathias Petry,
Valetin Petry, Mathias Feiten, Antonius Schetter and Mathias Schneider (in the
list of families we took out a second Valentin and inserted Mathias Feiten, based
on Hüttenberger's data). We find similar information on a German genealogy
site about this immigrant group. Of course they could not be on the ship Cäcilia,
because according to most of the authors analyzed in section 1 this ship would
be traveling from January of 1827.

 One of James Laing's passengers, Friedrich Juchem, had his wife Elisabeth
Weber. According to a German genealogy website (<http://www.auswanderer-
oldenburg.de>), Elisabeth Weber was aboard the ship Helena Maria "emigration
(1st) on January 6, 1828, port of Texel, Holland, ... ship Helena Maria ...
emigration (2nd) on December 10, 1828, port of Falmouth, Cornwall, England
... " (free translation of the author). This would be another family that could not
be on the ship Cäcilia.

 Johannes Spindler (from Niederhosenbach, Evangelical, widower, wife died on

arrival in Porto Alegre, according to Rosa3) one of the passengers of James

Laing, wrote a letter describing the voyage of the ship that took him to
Falmouth, as already mentioned. According to Hunsche, the ship would have
been the Cäcilia. According to Hüttenberger it would be Helena Maria.

 According to genealogy data of Jacob Sander2, he and his family were on land
from November 7 to 8, 1827, when they left Bedesbach or Konken to try new
life in Brazil, as already mentioned in the introduction of this text. According to
the author of the genealogical data of Jacob Sander

It is reasonable to suppose, therefore, that they were in fact almost

shipwrecked by Helen Marie. The dates converge - they left their native
land at the end of 1827 and took the ship at the beginning of 1828.
Forced by circumstances, they stayed for one year in England (not two,
like the Cäcilie's), where on 10.3.1828 in Cornwall, would end up being
born Jakob Sander, f. d. Jakob S. and Kath. Umlauf. Sds Heinz (free
translation of the author).

It would be, therefore, one more family not to be in Cäcilia

 Johannes Weber, evangelical, was born in Neunkirchen, lived in Bosenbach

(both districts of Kaiserslautern, according to Hüttenberger) was another
passenger of the James Laing. He wrote a letter recounting his voyage to Helena
Maria (Hüttenberger kindly sent me the translation of Weber's letter for analysis)
between Texel/Amsterdam and Falmouth. He served as the godfather of baptism
of Jacob Sander Jr in Falmouth, He was pastor and left many notes of the
immigrants in Dois Irmãos (according to Husnche in his book on Pastor
Hunsche and the evangelical church).

3. Methodological Framework

Basically here we try to discover the real historical facts by comparing the
authors' narratives about the ship Cäcilia with the data discovered in the research. From
this confrontation it is hoped to obtain subsidies that point to what actually occurred or
to base data that can be used by upcoming historians or genealogists.l

4. Analysis and interpretation of data

In the search for information about the ship Cäcilia, we have the assistance of a
specialist in genealogy in England (Sara McMahon), a German specialist in ships from

the port of Bremen (Dr Peter-Michael Pawlik), Plymouth City Council (TrishaWhite )
and the Dutch ship site Marhisdata (Gerry Mulder), whom we thank publicly.
The surveys conducted from May to September 2017 revealed no trace of the
Cäcilia ship, both in Brazil and in other countries. On the other hand, we find important
information from the ship Helena Maria that led us to some conclusions informed in the
next section.
Taking into account that no record of the Cäcilia (and similar names such as
Cäcilie, Cacilia, Caecilia, Cecilia, etc.) was found in Brazil and that passengers whose
surnames are cited by several genealogical sites in Brazil and even by the work of
Hunsche (Quadriênio) arrived in Brazil, at least for the most part, on the James Laing,
the possibility that the Cäcilia ship arrived in Brazil is definitively rejected.
Again taking into account that in surveys in several foreign sites specialized in
shipwrecks in the XIX century we did not locate evidences of shipwrecks in the English
coast in January of 2017, we discard the date of exit of the supposed ship Cäcilia like
being in the month and year cited. Certainly, if this were so, there would have been
reports in the British newspapers of the period quoted.
Lastly, also taking into account that in surveys of foreign websites specializing
in nineteenth-century ships we find no evidence of the existence of a sailing vessel of
the Cäcilia name, or similar name, we discard until proven otherwise, the existence of a
ship at that time with such name, mainly transporting German emigrants to Brazil.
In addition, based on the data collected, we can say that at least part of the
alleged passengers of the Cäcilia was on the sailboat called Helena Maria.
It seems to us here that we can only have two hypotheses: the first would be that
two ships were shipwrecked bringing German emigrants to Brazil and they were taken
to Falmouth (hypothesis practically discarded for not finding any record of any other
ship that fits in this situation that does not Helena Maria) or the second that everyone
was on the same ship (Helena Maria). The second hypothesis is that developed by
The hypothesis that two ships would be wrecked and the passengers were taken
to Falmouth stumbles also on the amount of shipwrecked reported by British
newspapers that would be around 300, which would be only the Helena Maria. Two
ships would certainly have transported around 600 German settlers. In this context, it
would take two ships to bring them to Brazil, or about 300 passengers would either have
either given up their journey or embarked on another(s) ship (s) bound for Brazil before

the arrival of the James Laing in Falmouth. We find no evidence that this has occurred,
at least with the data available to date.
We can also say, complementing the previous paragraph, that the shipwrecked
people who remained in Falmouth for almost a year could have had the opportunity to
join another ship that has passed through to Brazil. This fact is confirmed, as we know
at least the existence of the Niemeyer family who came to Brazil with the ship
Goldfinch. Hofmeister Filho's report that several shipwrecked emigrants in Plymouth
would have bought passage on the ship "Anna Louise" was not confirmed by us. We did
not locate travel information from Anna Louise to Brazil in 1828. The only large ship to
arrive in Brazil in 1828 was Olbers. We are not aware that Olbers would have made a
stopover in Falmouth.

5. Final considerations

Based on the analysis performed, referring to the data collected, it is concluded

that there is no way to confirm the existence of the Cäcilia vessel, with the available
It is also possible to say that if he had existed, the supposed passengers were
shipwrecked in Falmouth, waiting for help to go to Brazil.
The passengers of Helena Maria were evidently in Falmouth waiting for help to
travel to their destination.
Also based on the data collected the departure of the alleged shipwreck would
have been in 1828 and not 1827.
A considerable number of supposed passengers of Cäcilia were, in fact, in the
Helena Maria.
A question that remains: why Amstad (or his collaborators) would have used the
name of the ship as Cäcilia?
It is observed that in analyzing the ships that brought German immigrants to Rio
Grande do Sul in 1829, Priest Amstad clearly states that he does not know one of the
names of ships (page 76). Apparently he had no reason to alter or "invent" the name of
the Cäcilia which would have traveled in 1827. It is believed that one can not speculate
on the use of the name Cäcilia without finding some primary source that clarifies the

Similarly, for the final clarification of passengers on the James Laing ship,
primary sources would be required to confirm the hypothesis that they would all be in
Texel/Amsterdam and that they would have boarded the Helena Maria.
Weber's letter is clear as to his stay on the Helena Maria. Clear also in relation to
the departure date, 01/07/1828, and that the departure occurred in the port of Texel/
Amsterdam. As for Spindler's letter (which does not state the date of departure, the
name of the vessel, the name of the master of the vessel or clearly define the port of
departure) leaves doubts that may give rise to different interpretations.
Hunsche considers that Spindler refers to the Cäcilia, already Hüttenberger and
other historians interpret as referring to the Helena Maria.
From my point of view, Spindler's letter does not fully clarify the above-
mentioned questions, and there is disagreement on other crucial points which are
reported in Weber's and Spindler's letters, such as:
• The abrupt departure of Helena Maria, separating people from the same
families (Weber). Episode not quoted by Spindler;
• The exchange of a smaller vessel (would have been the ship Cäcilia?) By a
"bigger" ship that would be Helena Maria (Weber). Episode not quoted by Spindler;
• Deaths of passengers and sailors (Spindler). According to Weber, everyone on
the ship was saved;
• The abandonment of the vessel by the master and the crew (Spindler).
According to Weber, the captain and crew remained aboard as far as the port of
In addition to the above conclusions, what can also be deduced is that the
shipwreck of the Helena Maria was a kind of announced tragedy. I explain below.
On leaving their homeland, the immigrants from the Helena Maria had no idea
and could not suppose that the ship on which they were traveling was being transformed
from a ship of two to three masts. It is possible to suppose that this was done to house a
greater number of passengers and to obtain authorization for transatlantic voyages,
which possibly ended up collaborating for the shipwreck, since the ship Helena Maria
left the port overloaded (the letter of Weber already reports this).
The ship Helena Maria was built in 1813 in Maassluis, Holland, and was named
Welbedagt. It was a sailboat, with two masts and two decks, like a brig. On 07/04/1823
it was sold and received the name of Thalia. On 12/12/1827 the ship changed from 2 to
3 masts and was named Helena Maria, being acquired by Bartolomeus Karstens, from

Amsterdam. In this alteration the ship had its general dimensions diminished
(information obtained in the site of Marhisdata and the secretary Gerry Mulder).
The fact is that after being transformed to a ship of three masts the ship Helena
Maria did not succumb to the first adversity suffered on the high seas. It was his first
and last trip with immigrants. It is not surprising that, after being restored in Falmouth,
Helena Maria's passengers did not agree to continue their journey.
In conclusion, we believe that primary sources in Brazil or abroad could prove the
hypotheses raised in this work. We did not have access, but we know that there were
many newspapers and almanacs in the German colony of São Leopoldo and in Porto
Alegre (almanacs such as the Deutscher Kalender of 1854 and newspapers like the Der
Kolonist of 1852, for example12). It is also possible that there are documents and
newspapers in Germany and the Netherlands that can reveal details that elucidate the
trip of the supposed ship Cäcilia (Important note: see the Addendum "Important final
note" at the end of the article).

We are aware of the limitations of our research, since we did not have access to
documents prior to the Amstad brief in 1924, but we hope to have raised some
hypotheses that may serve as a basis for further research on this episode that marked the
German immigration to Rio Grande do Sul in its first phase, from 1824 to 1830.
To conclude, as a kind of homenage to the first German immigrants, it fits well
Petry's passage where he wrote, in the 1950s

Whoever travels today through the colonial zone of our county,

delights the sight with the beautiful buildings, the green fields,
populated with fiery horses and well-nourished cattle, of the
plantations that extend from horizon to horizon, don´t remember,
maybe, the past works, the difficulties surpassed, the obstacles
overcome by the first immigrants, who landed here (PETRY, 1959,
22, free translation of the author).

Whatever the outcome of the history of the Cäcilia ship, it is always a good idea
to remember the feat of the first immigrants who had suffered difficulties and fatalities
since the beginning of immigration, first on the land voyage in Germany, then on the
transatlantic voyage, after going on the coastal journey in Brazil and, finally, in the
crude reality of facing a wild land and an often adverse environment, having to
withdraw from it the sustenance and the progress for his family.


1. PAROQUIA MARTIN LUTHER. Imigração no RS e no Brasil. Disponível em:

<http://www.mluther.org.br/Imigracao/imigracao.htm>. Acesso em 15/05/2017.
Acesso em: 15/05/2017.
2. GENEALOGIA DE TATI E DICKSON. Adam Sandler. Disponível em:
Dickson>. Acesso em: 14/01/2017
3. ROSA, Gilson Justino da. Imigrantes Alemães - 1824-1853 (C-333). EST
Edições, 1ª edição, 2005).
4. HUNSCHE & MARIA ASTOLFI, Carlos H.. O Quadriênio 1827, 1830 da
Imigração e Colonização Alemã no RS. Ed. G&W, Porto Alegre, 2004. Pag 195 a
5. BRAUN, Felipe Kuhn. São Miguel dos Dois Irmãos: 1829-1929: o primeiro
século da história. 1ª edição. São Leopoldo: Oikos, 2014.
6. SCHNEIDER, José Odelso. Uma relevante herança social do Padre Theodor
Amstad. Unisinos. Disponível em:
padre-theodor-amstad-por-jose-odelso-schneider/>. Acesso em: 27/12/2017.
7. HÜTTENBERGER, Friedrich. How the Guilgers came to Brazil - An emigration
in1827 - the rediscovery of a forgotten Palatine emigration. Disponível em:
<http://www.huettenberger.homepage.t-online.de/to%20Brazil2.htm>. Acesso em
8. KIRCHBERGER, Ulrike. Aspekte deutsch-britischer Expansion. Stuttgart:
Franz Steiner Verlag, 1999.
9. PETRY, Leopoldo. O município de Novo Hamburgo: monografia. 2a edição.
Casa editora Rotermund & co. São Leopoldo/RS. 1959.
10. AMSTAD, Theodor (Padre). Cem anos de germanidade no Rio Grande do Sul
(1824-1924). Título original “Hundert Jahre Deutschtum im Rio Grande do Sul”.
São Leopoldo: Unisinos, 2005.
11. OBERACKER Jr. Carlos H. Jorge Antônio Von Schaeffer: criador da primeira
corrente emigratória alemã para o Brasil. Porto Alegre: Editora Metrópole,

12. WESCHENFELDER, Greicy. A imprensa alemã no Rio Grande do Sul e o

romance-folhetim. Porto Alegre: PUC, 2010.
13. FAMÍLIA BREITENBACH. 1º Imigrante - Mathias Breitbach. Disponível em:
breitbach.html>. Acesso em: 30/04/2017.
14. VIER, Nelcindo José. História da família Welter.
Acesso em: 17/01/2017
15. ENGELMANN, Erni Guilherme (Org.). A saga dos alemães: do Hunsrück para
Santa Maria do Mundo Novo. 2004. Disponível em:
<http://sagadosalemaes.faccat.br/indexp.htm>. Acesso em: 18/04/2017
16. FAMÍLIA GAUER. História da Imigração. Disponível em:
<http://www.familiagauer.com.br/historia_imigracao.htm>. Acesso em:
<http://www.doisirmaos.rs.leg.br/historia/historia-de-dois-irmaos/>. Acesso em:
18. HOFMEISTER FILHO, Carlos Bento. O pote de geleia. Porto Alegre: EST, 1980.
19. BALICO, Elizabete R. O. Humildade: a espada de um vencedor. Biografia de
Vitorio Sebben Balico. Edição do autor. Gráfica da UCS. Caxias do Sul: 1994?
20. PETRY, Leopoldo. Carvalhos e Palmeiras. Porto Alegre: A Nação, 1935 a 1940.
21. PIAIA, Miquela. Rastros da Literatura Brasileira na História da Colônia
Neuwürttemberg. Frederico Westphalen: setembro de 2009.

Addendum Important final note


I would like to share the information received from a Dutch historian (disclosure
of the name and unauthorized document) that on the day (06/13/2018) confirmed
that in the list of immigrants who were in Holland waiting for the shipment to
Brazil in 1828 were in their majority) the supposed passengers of the ship

In other words, the immigrants actually traveled on the ship Helena Maria
(confirming Mr. Hüttenberg's article).

That is, who owns sites and genealogical publications can correct the information
hitting the name of the ship.

Historians and genealogists who raised the issue of historical corrections in the
1990s (Gauer Family, Hunsche and Hüttenberg) were right and deserving of
I believe that the ship "Cäcilia" will stand as a legend about German immigration
in Rio Grande do Sul.

For my part, the purpose of the publication of the James Laing passenger list and
the article on "Cäcilia" has been reached as we have been able to confirm whether
or not this ship exists.


Ademar Felipe Fey

Note: Some passengers on the alleged ship Cäcilia were not in the list of emigrants
waiting in the port of Holland, which was sent to me. This fact deserves a
deepening of the research, which will be carried out as far as possible.

* About the author

Master in Education from the Universidade de Caxias do Sul (UCS). Specialist in

Computer Networks in Telecommunications and in Management and Teaching in
Higher Education. Bachelor of Business Administration. Telecommunications
professional and teacher in the area of Computer Networks retired.

He maintains a small blog about the FEY family in the state of Rio Grande do Sul
(https://wordpress.com/view/familiafeynors.wordpress.com) and another (in
development) with his publications in the area of education and history

He also maintains a blog in with his publications on German Immigration in Brazil


Other Author's Works

The following free works can be downloaded:


 Artigo “A procura pelo navio Cäcilia”

 Artigo “Major Georg Anton von Schäffer e a Imigração Alemã no Brasil”
 Artigo “A Colônia italiana de Caxias no Rio Grande do Sul e a influência
dos imigrantes alemães”
 Lista de passageiros do navio James Laing – 1829
 Lista de passageiros do navio Olbers - 1828
 Lista de passageiros do navio Argus - 1824
 Lista de passageiros do navio Der Kranich (2ª viagem) - 1826
 Relação de navios com imigrantes alemães para o Brasil (RGS) 1824-1830

E-books available for free download/purchase (first free pages):

 Imigração Alemã no Rio Grande do Sul: Navios e Passageiros Anos 1824 e

1825/ Ademar Felipe Fey. Caxias do Sul: Ademar Felipe Fey, 2018.
 Imigração Alemã no Rio Grande do Sul: Navios e Passageiros Anos 1826 e
1827/ Ademar Felipe Fey. Caxias do Sul: Ademar Felipe Fey, 2018.
 Imigração Alemã no Rio Grande do Sul: Navios e Passageiros Anos 1828 a
1830/ Ademar Felipe Fey. Caxias do Sul: Ademar Felipe Fey, 2018.
 Imigração Alemã no Brasil: Navios e Passageiros Anos 1824 a 1830/ Ademar
Felipe Fey. Caxias do Sul: Ademar Felipe Fey, 2018.

Printed book:

 Imigração Alemã no Brasil: Navios e Passageiros Anos 1824 a 1830/ Ademar

Felipe Fey. Caxias do Sul: Ademar Felipe Fey, 2018.

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