|Biography of Eliza Barbara (Waldhaus) Atchison|
As handwritten by: Edna Barbara Atchison Guthrie
Originallytyped by: Bonny R. Soreck
Edited by: Dara L. Atchison Springer
What you are about to read is information given to Bonny R. Soreck about twenty-five to thirty years ago. The original was handwritten by Edna Barbara (Atchison) Guthrie daughter of Charles Carr and Sarah Elizabeth (Lankford) Atchison son of Charles Samuel “Capt. Sam” and Eliza Barbara (Waldhaus).
Early in the nineteenth century Georg Jacob Waldhaus and Elisabetha Catharina Von Der Schmidt (a lady-in-waiting) met. While the ladies were enjoying the fresh air, Kate noticed a farmer tilling the soil on the other side of a low rock fence. ‘Twas love at first sight. The couple was married around 18__. To them were born Georg Frederick Waldhaus (May 23, 1819,) Anne Margarethe Waldhaus (about 1827,) and Elisabetha Barbara Waldhaus (February 18, 1831) who is the subject of this article. Elisabethe Dorothee Waldhaus and Johann Heinrich Waldhaus lived a very short time.
About 1834 or 35, the family came to the new country, America. Jacob had a brother who had written from New Orleans of the freedom and great opportunities for accumulating wealth in this fabulous country. They traveled at night and could bring only a limited supply of household goods. Through the influence of a friend, the passports were obtained. The conditions for leaving Germany then were similar to those during Hitler’s regime.
The sailboat on which they were traveling encountered a severe storm and after six weeks returned to Haver De Grass for repairs and then made a successful trip to New Orleans. The Waldhaus family were steerage passengers and Kate said that during the memorable storm every one prayed in his own tongue and it seems a miracle that the ship was saved. During this voyage a baby was born, died, and buried at sea. He was christened Olympia which was the name of the ship. The mother grieved because he had no grave and she felt he was eaten by fish.
Upon arrival at New Orleans the family found the brother had moved to St. Louis, Missouri. They said his first request was to borrow money from these poor, newly arrived immigrants.
They were thrifty and energetic as all Germans are; each began to work energetically. The father obtained odd jobs which required no knowledge of the language. The mother did washing for the rich families. Fred, who’s Latin was a great help to him in learning English, had no difficulty in finding work. Margaret helped the lady next door who kept boarders. She brought home new English phrases such as “sweep the floor” and “set the table.” Soon the whole family was happy in the new surroundings. Kate admired the cotton sheets and other pieces of her laundry customers so much that she gladly exchanged her linen ones for cotton. Thus she felt Americanized.
Son Georg Frederick married Marie Gasser in about 1840, and moved to Quincy, Illinois. There he reared his family. Daughter Margaret married Gottfried Ehrgott and had several children (Barbara Ehrgott and George Frederick to name two) who were helpful in forming the history of Quincy, Illinois.
Time passed: Eliza met a steamboat captain. She described herself as an “ignorant little Dutch girl” who married Charles Samuel “Capt. Sam” Atchison on May 1, 1848. For five years she lived happily with him on his packet, plying from St. Louis to New Orleans in winter and St. Louis to St. Paul in the summer. She crossed the Isthmus of Panama astride a native’s neck holding onto his topknot for support. ‘Twas probably in 1850 she came down with ‘yellow fever’ (very few survived this dreaded disease.) This robbed her of her beautiful German peaches and cream complexion. She was wrapped in blankets to “sweat” out the fever. These blankets turned a saffron color and this could never be washed out. As she was recuperating, Jenny Lind came aboard (wh