Originally published on genealogyatheart.blogspot.com on 26 Jun 2015.
As you read this I am somewhere along I-77 on my 2nd driving trip from West Virginia to Florida in the past 2 weeks. The 18 hours, nearly 1000 miles, distance is my last planned journey between these destinations and I can’t express how grateful I am to be through with this move.
My 3x great grandfather, Jean “John” Leininger, from Endenhoffr, Mietesheim, West Bas Rhin, Alsace, France (but sometimes Germany!) emigrated with his family in 1827 on the Canaris, a ship leaving Le Havre, France with an arrival in New York City on 30 Jun 1827. “According to an old note, they went ‘by rail’ to Buffalo, New York. From there they went by canal to Canton, or Stark Co., Ohio.” 1
The family’s choice of transportation was the quickest for the time period. Since the rails ended in Buffalo, canal travel was faster than overland by horse and wagon. I think about my great grandmother, Marie Margueritte, with two small children on this journey. No airport playrooms, electronic games, readily available food or bathroom facilities. Makes me rethink complaining about the traffic slow down around Charlotte on my journey!
My husband’s 2x great grandmother, Drusilla Williams DeWolf Thompson relocated to Chicago from Troy, New York in the 1850’s. We’ve never been able to identify the exact year she moved. We know her son, John Calvin DeWolf. was born in Albany, New York in May 1851. First husband, Calvin DeWolf, died of consumption in May 1852 but there is not agreement on whether Calvin died in New York (from the family Bible written years after his death) or in Rock Island, Illinois (Illinois death information found online). Grandma Dru (my nickname for her) remarried widower Thomas Coke Thompson in Chicago (per family Bible record) in 1857 so we know that Dru relocated to Illinois within a 5 year time period. How did she get there? Family legend says it was by covered wagon but I find no proof of that. It is more likely that Dru traveled via the then modern convenience of railways. By 1854, Orphan Trains were shipping children from New York to the Midwest as train travel became more commonplace.2 In 1850, Chicago was a city of 30,000 served by one rail line, the Galena & Chicago Union Railroad. By 1852, Chicago had 5 rail lines and by 1856, 10.3 The 1855 population in Chicago rose to 83500. 4
In 1851, the Hudson River Railroad connected Rensselaer with New York City.5
|c.1855 Map of New York & Erie Rail Road and Its Connections6|
In 1854, the cost of the fare from New York to Chicago was $26.00.7 In today’s dollars, the cost would be about $628.57! The trip took about 42 hours, as the time from New York to St. Louis was 48 hours.8 It was not a restful experience, either. Although sleeping cars were first included on the New York & Erie run in 1843, the heavy weight made them unfeasible so the concept was ended until George Pullman re-engineered the design in 1864.
I definitely prefer a 3 hour plane ride or even an 18 hour car commute
1 Leininger, Robert LeRoy. First Annual Supplement to the Leininger Family History and Genealogy. Columbia City: Self Published, 1974. 36. Print.
2 “Orphans in Orphan Asylums New York.” Orphans in Orphan Asylums New York. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 June 2015.
3 Harold M. Mayer & Richard C. Wade, Chicago: Growth of a Metropolis (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1969), 35.
4 Fourth Annual Review of the Commerce, Manufactures, and the Public and Private Improvements of Chicago, for the year 1855, with a full statement of her system of railroads: and a general synopsis of the business of the city, Copied from several articles published in the Daily Democratic Press (Chicago: Democratic Press Steam Printing House, 1856.), 49. [Hereinafter referred to as Annual Review for 1855.]
5Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 14 June 2015.
6 “The Railway Conductor.” Google Books. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 June 2015.
7 “Michigan Historical Collections.” Google Books. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 June 2015.
9 “Trains Across the Continent.” Google Books. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 June 2015.