Station: [18] Emigrant Lives

F: While most 19th century emigrants went to California, locals who left Föhr in the 20th century were mainly drawn to the east coast, to New York.
Emilie Peters, nicknamed "Miele Gosche", is a typical example of the first generation of emigrants. Born in Nieblum in 1847, she married a returnee in the 1870s. They had their first child and then emigrated to California together. Fifty other people from Föhr travelled on the same ship – including Miele's brother.
While the men prospected for gold, Miele had three more children, did laundry for the prospectors and was paid for her work in gold. Within just a few years, that allowed the family to come back home. Miele and her husband bought a house in Boldixum, where they ran a shop and an inn. You can see a small painting of their house in the display case.

M: Miele Gosche outlived her husband by 47 years. She was a good businesswoman, and had a ready tongue – a true original. One night, for example, long after closing time, some men came knocking on her door and asked for some hot grog. Miele, who had already gone to bed and even put out the fire, was not exactly lost for words:

F: „Kamt man rin, ik häv noch warme Wader in de Wärmflasch. “ – Get yourselves in here, there’s still some warm water in the hot water bottle.

M: Later generations of emigrants headed for the east coast of the US and mainly worked in delicatessens, or "delis", selling gourmet foods and especially sandwiches and salads "to go". The recipes often came from home. Newcomers were quickly offered a job by islanders who’d arrived earlier, and people learned English at work, almost incidentally.

F: The work was hard and could take up as much as 16 hours a day. Days off were rare. But if you saved enough money, you might be able to buy a share in a deli or – better still – open your own.

M: At the bottom of the display case, there are two photographs of Föhr emigrants who achieved that goal and were now proudly posing in front of, or inside, their store. Actually, many families on Föhr still have relatives in America, and there are more people descended from islanders now living in the US than there are on Föhr itself!

Fotos: © Dr.-Carl-Häberlin-Friesen-Museum