No. 670.
Mr. Fish to Mr. Evarts.

No. 330.]

Sir: I have the honor to inclose herewith an extract from the Schweizerische Auswanderungs Zeitung of this morning, respecting the emigration in July last from Rudolfingen, canton of Zurich, of Heinrich Ruegger, an infirm Swiss, suffering from an incurable cataract.

If the statements in the newspapers are correct, the emigrant in question obtained a portion of the money for his journey from members of his family, a portion by contributions from his townsmen, perhaps obtained by begging a trifle from his commune, and 25 francs from the poor-funds of his town. The contract for his emigration is said to have been made by the authorities of the commune with the emigrant agency of Schneebeli & Co., at Basle, for the sum of 160 francs. The man is described as being now in the poor-house at Ottokee, Ohio!

I have written to Consul Mason, at Basle, to investigate the matter, so far as the emigration contract is concerned, and I have requested Consul Byers, at Zurich, to ascertain the facts concerning the action of the authorities at Rudolfingen in the premises.

The same article gives us an idea of what the very numerous assisted emigration from the canton of Argovie is. It would appear that, in some cases at least, the property which those emigrants leave behind them is, to a considerable extent, consumed by costs which they have no power of controlling, and from which they derive no benefit.

The same newspaper contains the advertisement of the “Compagnie Général Transatlantique,” who profess to carry emigrants at cheaper rates, and to furnish them with greater comforts, than the other steamship companies.

* * * * * * *

I have, &c.,

[Inclosure 1 in No. 330.]

Mr. Fish to Mr. Mason.

Sir: I inclose herewith a copy of this morning’s Schweizerische Auswanderungs Zeitung, in which is published an account of the emigration in July last of one Heinrich Ruegger, from Rudolfingen, canton of Zurich, to the United States.

[Page 1109]

It is stated that said Ruegger was afflicted with an incurable attack of cataract, was assisted by his commune out of the poor-funds, that the authorities of the commune made a contract with Messrs. Schneebeli & Co., of Basle, for Ruegger’s journey for 160 francs, and that Ruegger is now at the poor-house at Ottokee, Ohio.

I will thank you to inquire concerning the emigration contract, and if possible to obtain a copy of that document; and I should be greatly obliged to you if you could furnish Consul Byers, at Zurich, whom I have asked to investigate and report concerning the alleged action of the authorities of Rudolfingen, with the name and description of the emigrant in question, and such other information as will serve to carry out his investigation.

I am, &c.,

[Inclosure 2 in No. 330.—Translation.]

Extract from the Swiss Emigration Gazette, No. 3, II, January 15, 1881.

unscrupulousness of the communes.

Last July Heinrich R—, from Rudolfingen, in the canton of Zurich, an infirm Swiss, emigrated to America to seek his fortune in that country, which up to the present time, he has not found, nor will he find it, for things have happened to him very differently from what they did in his dear Switzerland, He has very poor eyesight, and does not see sufficiently to enable him to perform all sorts of work; besides, over there all work, even the simplest, is performed in a very different way from what it is in Switzerland. (R—had been suffering from cataract, and had previously been discharged from the hospitals because he could not be cured!) The money for his journey was collected in different manners. From his mother he got 60 francs; a sister supplied him with 30 francs; from voluntary contributions of his townspeople he obtained 63 francs; from the commune 10 francs; and 25 francs from the poor-funds in all, 190 francs (sic).*

The contract for his journey was made by the authorities of the town of Rudolfingen with Messrs. Schneebeli & Co., of Basle, for the price of 160 francs. The emigrant agent at Basle gave R—10 francs in money, and he was to receive the remaining 20 francs by a draft on Warensburg’s “Bundes Brudern” in New York. He went to Ohio from New York with pain and difficulty, where he worked at Archbold—on the railway. From there he went to Wauseon. After working there about three hours in the sewer he broke his foot and was taken to the poor-house at Ottokee, where he now is, but, thank God, was soon cured. Since then, without work and without money, he greatly longs for the old country, where he properly belongs; and in common justice we add that such a casting out by the commune very strongly resembles a banishment.

A certain C—R—, from Wolfingswyl, canton of Argovie, writes us from Nebraska:

“Inasmuch as the president of our village, Mr. Frei, wrote to me that our commune had to pay 21 francs on account of our family, because somebody had been to our place from the Swiss consul and had asked how we were getting along, and as we had seen no one at our house, I wonder how this could have happened.”

These are merely occasional specimens, but they clearly show that in the sphere of emigration many things happen which are not shown in the pictures painted of it; namely, how heartlessly some communes act to their townspeople, even if they have not, in a criminal manner, got rid of them by shipping them to America. Would that, for the welfare of the unfortunate victims, and for the honor of the Swiss fatherland, it might, in this respect, be otherwise!

  1. This makes but 188 francs.—N. F.