A century ago this summer, my grandmother, Elisabetha (Lisi) Ebner, was heading to America to meet and marry my grandfather, Josef Gartz. Her diary of the trip is often confusing because she intermixes train schedules, recipes, addresses, and meals. (See The Train Journey-Part I), but the important thing to me is that she actually recorded enough details, that I can follow along on her journey.
Here’s an overview map of the route she took, all noted in her diary: through the Austro-Hungarian towns of Budapest, Galanta, Trencin, Cadca; into Oderberg and Ratibor, the border town between Poland and Germany. She chugs along, noting the German towns of Breslau, Berlin, Hannover and finally to Bremen.
Lisi jots down the times she arrives and departs many of the cities as she wends her way to the port of Bremen. The dates she lists indicate that she personally left on the train several weeks after dropping off her luggage on August 22nd. (See that first entry at Farewell, My Homeland).
The first date she lists of the actual train trip is September 15th, departing from Budapest at 6:50 pm.
It’s about 267 miles from her home town to Budapest. I believe she started her trip on September 14th, because she brought along with her a business card from her boss, Mrs. Jickeli, dated September 14, 1911. (see photo) That date jives with the length of time it would have taken her to get to Budapest. I’ll reveal what I discovered on that card in a future post,
9/15, Friday: 6:50 pm depart from Budapest
9/16 Saturday: 1:00 a.m. arrive Cadca
9/16 Saturday: 2 a.m. arrive Oderberg; 2:30 a.m.
Change trains to a “fast train” on the
Preussische Staatsbahn (The German State Train)
9/16 Saturday 4 a.m. Depart Oderberg (track #3)
9/16 [Saturday] 11:20 am arrive Berlin (at the Friedrich Street Train Station, where the porter takes her to the “Cashier” to exchange her Kroner (Austro-Hungarian money) for German Marks
[9/16 Saturday] 11:52 a.m. onward [from Berlin]
[9/16 Saturday] 5:55 pm arrive Bremen
9/16-9/19 [Sat. – Tues.] overnight in Bremen
Before changing trains in the “German area” (perhaps Oderberg), she writes:
Our tickets are checked and we each receive a little piece of paper, giving us our seat number [on the next train].
Of course Lisi must keep track of expenditures, so she records payments:
- Her tips to every porter at each train station.
- a cup of coffee cost 25 Pfennig (like “pennies”)
- the cost of her room and the money she pays each worker at the “B and B” where she overnights in Bremen.
The room: 15 Taler [coins-of indeterminate worth today]
Waiter 4 taler
Valet 6 taler
Chambermaid 2 taler
Total cost: 27 taler and 15 Pfennig
In Bremen, she records both what she eats and at what time:
1:00 pm — a coffee
5:00 pm — 1 soup and 1 schnitzel, 1 compote, 2 glasses of water, and 2 rolls
9:00 am — 2 coffees, 3 rolls with butter 3 cups of coffee
September 16th – 18th were the last three days she would ever again spend in Europe.
9/19 Tuesday depart from Bremen at 8:00 am
This is it! The final leg of her train journey that will take her from the city of Bremen to the port—and to the ship that will carry her to America.
At some time in these last few days, she learns of the ship on which she’ll cross the Atlantic. She enters its name and her cabin number—on the facing page of her diary’s first entry, which she had created on August 22, 1911. It’s too important to be buried within.
Kaiser Wilhelm II
Coming up: Lisi starts a second diary—of her voyage across the Atlantic to America—closer to Josef’s waiting arms.