Henricus Lux


My third great grandfather, Henricus Lux was born February 24, 1804 at Hagen, a very small village in the commune (equivalent to our county) of Steinfort, Luxembourg.  His father, Frederich Lux was a day laborer and a cultivator.   Because of the high infant mortality rate, infants were usually baptized the day they were born.  Henricus grew up in Hagen and nothing is known about his childhood except that he was the fifth of six children.

Saint Antoine Church Hagen, Luxembourg
Saint Antoine Church Hagen, Luxembourg

Henricus (written Heinrich on his marriage document) of Hagen married Maria Boseler of Goetzingen on June 18, 1829 at Koerich, the seat of her commune.  Saint Remigius church at Koerich dates back to the 1100s.  The existing church was built in 1610.  There were various additions and alterations over the centuries, the last being the onion-shaped spire which was built in 1791.  Henricus and Maria were married in the building you see here.

Saint Remigius Church, Koerich, Luxembourg
Saint Remigius Church, Koerich, Luxembourg

At the time of the marriage Henricus’ father was deceased and his mother was living at Hagen.  Maria’s parents, Michael Boseler and Theresa Biver were living at Goetzingen.  The couple settled into married life at Goetzingen where nine children were born between 1831 and 1847.  Three of those children died as infants.

Luxembourg took a census in 1843.  At Goetzingen, Henry, as he is listed, was a cultivator as was his wife Marie and, surprisingly, her mother Theresa Biver, age 63, born in 1780.  Twelve persons, including his mother-in-law Theresa and her two youngest daughters, were living in what was probably a small stone house.

In late 1853 the Lux family sold their possessions and made the trip to Antwerp, Belgium where they boarded the American barque “Sea Duck.”  A barque is a sailing vessel with three or more masts.  The family traveled in steerage as did most immigrants.  There were 193 persons on board the ship.  The trip to New York would have taken a minimum of six weeks with good sailing weather.  They arrived in New York Harbor on November 16, 1853.  At that time immigrant ships sailed into the docks on the east side of Manhattan.  New York’s first immigration facility, Castle Gardens, did not open until 1855.

The Lux family sailed on a ship similar to this one.
The Lux family sailed on a ship similar to this one.

An 1854 Passage Contract, probably similar to the one Henricus signed, contained the following stipulations:

  1. Passengers will not be able to board until it is found that they have enough food for the journey.
  2. Passengers will be entitled to have onboard the said Ship:
    1.) A place in steerage.
    2.) Free carriage of 100 kilograms of luggage or 20 English cubic feet for each adult
    3.) Empty cabin space and medications in case of emergency.
    4.) Place for cooking.
    5.) Fresh water, wood or coal and lighting.
  3. Trunks, crates, bags and barrels must be clearly marked on the top with the number of the owner’s cabin space.
  4. Passengers must bring their bedding and cooking utensils.
  5. Passengers must load and unload their baggage and food, neither the Captain nor the Emigration Office being responsible for such tasks.
  6. Weapons of all kinds must be surrendered to the Captain.
  7. Large trunks and crates will be lowered in the hold, as well as the potatoes, biscuits and wine.
  8. While the Ship is at dockside, it is not allowed to go down into the hold. At sea, the hold will be opened at necessary time for Passengers to access their food.
  9. Before boarding the Ship, each Passenger over the age of ten, shall load the following food:
  • 40 pounds of biscuits.
  • 1 hectoliter (2 bushels or 140 lb.) of potatoes or 30 pounds of dry vegetables.
  • 5 pounds of Rice.
  • 5 pounds of Flour.
  • 4 pounds of butter.
  • 14 pounds of smoked ham.
  • 2 pounds of salt.
  • 2 liters of Vinegar
  1. Any Passenger who does not have these quantities on board, twelve hours before departure, will not be able to travel with the departing Ship.
  2. The Captain provides water, wood, kitchen, unfurnished cabin space and medicines in case of illness.
  3. Fresh water is only for drinking and for preparing food; and should not be used for washing.
  4. The utmost cleanliness should be observed in the steerage to prevent contagious diseases. Everyone must ensure that their space is kept clean as well as the area in the front every morning, otherwise he/she would not be allowed to cook.
  5. It is strictly forbidden to smoke on the ship, to make fire, or to burn candles while the vessel is at dock. At sea, smoking is permitted, but only on the deck and with covered pipes.
  6. Special captain’s permission is required to light a lantern in the steerage, and it is strictly forbidden to carry chemical matches on board.
  7. Passengers must avoid any dispute or quarrel among themselves or with the Crew. Anyone who thinks he has cause to complain will address himself to the captain, to the provisions and orders of which every passenger owes absolute obedience.
  8. The stern of the ship is reserved for the captain.
  9. It is forbidden, under severe penalties, to give wine or spirits to drink to the crew; passenger who disregard this security, will have his/her drinks seized.
  10. The same penalty shall be done to passenger with signs of drunkenness and cause disorder on the ship.
  11. The amount of the passage is payable the day before the fixed departure; whoever neglects this payment or who misses the ship, will lose his account or his passage. All Passengers must be on board two hours before departure time, especially women and children. It is advisable to bring fresh bread for five or six days.
  12. Passengers must have their passports stamped by the police.
  13. When the Ship is out of the dock, all Passengers must get on deck and meet by family together with all members from the same receipt.  Roll call will be made, and all will be dismissed to the steerage.
  14. These Regulations are made solely for the benefit and well-being of the steerage passengers for their safety, convenience and health.

The Captain expects that he will not be put in a position of ire. 

When the Lux family immigrated the United States had no immigration regulations.  Throughout the 1700s and most of the 1800s the US encouraged free immigration, even advertising in Europe for homesteaders to fill the Great Plains and the West.  On August 3, 1882 the United States Congress passed the Immigration Act of 1882. It is considered by many to be the “first general immigration law” because it created the guidelines of exclusion through the creation of “a new category of inadmissible aliens.”

The story of the Lux family’s life in Iowa will follow when I get it written.


One thought on “Henricus Lux”

  1. Hi Catherine and all !
    Very informative research into Lux family ! Enjoyed reading it very much …….
    Really great to have the requirements listed for trans-Atlantic travel by ship at that time. Really cannot be called “the good old days” …… people really brave to pull up roots and move.
    U.S. needed brave people to settle the West ….
    Mary Ann Lux, born in 1838, must have been a 15-year-old during the crossing. Looking forward to your account of Mary Ann and Peter Theisen in St Donatus, Iowa next !
    She was married to Peter in the New World when she was just 17, and started having her 14 children at age 19… from 1857 thru 1882. Cannot imagine what life must have been like at that time ……..
    Must have been really tough back in Luxembourg for people to still come to America anyway …. Thanks, Karl

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