No. 694.
Mr. Fish to Mr. Blaine.

No. 400.]

Sir: I have the honor to transmit herewith copies and translations of a correspondence between the Council of Burgess of Neuveville and this legation respecting the proposed emigration to Sardis, Ohio, of a poor widow, thirty-three years of age, accompanied by her four children, between five and ten years of age, now residing at Langnau, canton Berne.

I, of course, could not in any event enable the Olivier family to avoid the customary inspection at landing at New York, nor could I exempt them from detention there were that inspection to show them unfit to immigrate, as requested to do by the Burgess’ Council.

The facts that it is necessary to ask “this special consideration” for this family, that the request comes from the guardians of the poor, and that they are willing to furnish a subsidy for emigration, all tend to show that an inspection of the family on landing is much to be desired, unless the tax-payers of Sardis are desirous of receiving this class of immigrants without any visible means of support.

I have therefore furnished the collector at New York with a copy of the correspondence.

In my answer to the Burgess’ Council I dwelt upon the fact that they furnished me with no means of judging of the fitness of the family for emigration, and that the names of the alleged friends and acquaintances were not stated, and that there was no document showing that they were prepared to assist her in case she required it, or to return her to Neuveville should she become a charge to the community at Sardis.

[Page 1153]

I profited by the opportunity thus afforded to bring to the notice of the Burgess’ Council the frequent reshipment of objectionable emigrants from New York, I believe that were the commissioners of emigration at New York to make it known that they will exercise an active vigilance to detect objectionable immigrants, that they have already caused a considerable number to be sent back, and that they will continue such reshipments with unabated energy, the communal authorities would be more careful about speculating in this manner. An announcement of this nature drawn up by the commissioners of emigration and published in the “New York Staats Zeitung,” the “Amerikanischer Schweitzer Zeitung,” and the “New York Handels Zeitung” would find its way into the German and Swiss press. If properly drawn up, it would deter many foreign paupers from reaching the charitable institutions of the United States.

The present case is a striking proof of the excellent effect produced by the prompt return of the two women from Böttstein, and the announcement of the facts in regard to them. It has aroused public attention to the question, and it has awakened a feeling of anxiety on the part of the guilty communes lest the speculation in which they have so long indulged should now be broken up or become a losing one.

I have, &c.,

[Inclosure 1 in No. 400.—Translation.]

The council of burgess of Neuveville to Mr. Fish, April 26, 1881.

Sir: Having learned that difficulties are sometimes made upon the arrival of emigrants at New York about letting them continue their journey, we have the honor to set forth the following facts:

One of our citizens, the widow Olivier, thirty-three years of age, the mother of four children between five and ten years old, desiring to join her acquaintances at Sardis, Ohio, we take the liberty to request you that these people may have an authorization or permit, that their landing at New York may be effected without difficulty. The mother is active and industrious, the children are bodily and mentally sound.

Moreover, they are escorted by one John Rensser, who is going to establish himself over there with his wife and buy property there. This man has submitted to us the inclosed declaration, which we beg you to return, to guide you. All the information that we have taken respecting him having been very good, we have decided to furnish to the widow Olivier and to her children a sufficient subsidy to enable her to settle where she intends going, under the direction of Rensser. Please, therefore, to have the goodness to send us a document of some sort, that in case of necessity she may show it to those who might seek to prevent her from continuing her journey beyond New York.

Awaiting a favorable answer, we assure you of our most distinguised consideration.

The president of the burgess:

The secretary:
[Inclosure 2 in No. 400.—Translation.]

Declaration of John Rensser, April 16, 1881.


The undersigned, John Rensser, maker of wooden shoes at Langnau, Ementhal, declares himself ready and willing to undertake the escort and protection of the widow Maria Olivier, born” Wälte, now residing in the Schlossmatte here, provided all the expenses of the journey to Sardis, Ohio, North America, are paid by her in such manner that the undersigned shall not be put to any expense for the journey for her or her [Page 1154] four accompanying children; this being done, that he will accompany as protector in every respect the family Olivier, consisting of the above-named widow and her four children, Carl, Rosa, Martha, and Fritz Olivier, upon the journey to be taken in the month of May next, to Sardis, Ohio, aforesaid, and will see that on the journey, both by land and sea, they are taken care of as well as himself. The undersigned, upon his arrival at Sardis, will see that the four children are well and properly boarded and lodged with his friends and acquaintances, and that the widow Olivier, by obtaining employment at good wages, can find means to support herself, so that there will be no question of the said family being sent back to Switzerland. Such is my earnest declaration and assurance.


Mr. John Rensser personally signed the above. It is therefore genuine. Moreover, it is declared that he is respectable and in every respect of good repute. Moreover, Rensser is a man who, so far as is here known, always fulfills his promises, and it must therefore be taken for granted that he will conscientiously fulfill the above written promise concerning the Olivier family.

In the name of the commune council.
The president:

The secretary:
[Inclosure 3 in No. 400—Translation.]

Declaration of F. Olivier, senior, April 14, 1881.

Honorable Authorities: The undersigned, as father-in-law of Mrs. Maria Olivier, widow of Fredson Friederich, residing here, hereby declares that he has known John Rensser, a maker of wooden shoes, for many years, as a quiet and upright man, to whom the care of the widow Olivier and her children can safely be trusted. He will, as an honest man, consider the protection of said family as if it were his own. I also declare my consent to the contemplated journey to America, and find that the widow and children of my deceased son Fritz will be better taken care of and sheltered in their new home than in Switzerland. I recommend them for a suitable subsidy.

With friendly greeting,
F. OLIVIER, senior.
[Inclosure 4 in No. 400.]

Mr. Fish to the conseil de bourgeoisie of Neuveville.

Gentlemen: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 26th instant. You ask me to furnish you with a pass for the widow Olivier, thirty-three years of age, mother of four children between five and ten years old, who desire to join some acquaintances at Sardis, Ohio, for the purpose of avoiding the inspection of immigrants made at the landing in New York.

You further inform the legation that you have decided to furnish the widow Olivier and her children a subsidy for the purpose of their journey and their establishment at Sardis; but you do not inform me of the amount of that subsidy, nor the names of the friends and acquaintances of Mme. Olivier at Sardis, nor the means that she has to support her family in the United States; nor do you give me any details concerning her profession, her moral character, or whether her children are legitimate or not.

You produce no documents from Mrs. Olivier’s friends and acquaintances at Sardis, declaring that they are ready to support her and her children, or to send her back at their cost to Neuveville should they become a charge to the parish at Sardis. In the absence of such information the legation cannot tell you what the result of the examination of the family in question at landing in New York as immigrants will be. If you are doubtful on that point, it would be prudent not to expose the poor woman and her young children to the expense and discomfort of a long and costly journey.

The authorities at New York, according to their last report on this subject, returned in a short space of time thirty emigrants who did not satisfy the requirements for immigration, and the American newspapers of subsequent date mention the sending back [Page 1155] of several others, not to speak of those whom the steamship companies have been forced to take hack at their cost.

A copy of this correspondence will he communicated to the authorities at New York for their guidance.

I am, &c.,