Well, around 1855, the island Pellworm and the three much smaller islands
Suederoog, Norderoog, and Suedfall had about 300 houses in which 2000
people lived. Like a big village. As it was an island, everybody knew everybody.
And for sure, they were related by intermarriage in their ancestral lines.
The quantity of land was of course limited. What was inside the dikes had
been owned by the same family clans for generations and was usually not
split up into smaller units as that would have made farming uneconomic.
Only one son could inherit the father's farm or cottage. The others ?
America was an option for them. Free land grants and low taxes for starters.
The ones who went (came, seen from your side) first wrote letters back home
that described the chances that opened up to them. This attracted more
islanders to follow. The younger brother, the old neighbors. The young
fair-haired Frisian girls who worked as maid servants dreamt of being the
wives of farm-owners one day, and there were more young girls on the
island than there were well-sized farms, maybe 30 or 40. So for them, too,
the new settlements that grew in Iowa became an option for a better life.
They knew someone over there, someone who spoke their language, and
being islanders, they were not afraid of boarding a ship.
With greetings from your roots in SH,
Klaus (Struve), Kiel, SH www.rootdigger.de