Alardus - German fever ship from Hamburg to Queensland
March 2003 - Ian Gordon

Ian Gordon of Perth, Western Australia, has compiled a document concerning extracts from the newspapers of the day in connection to the passage of the fever ship Alardus. The voyage is known to have been one of the longest of any ship sailing from Germany to Queensland, she departed from Hamburg in Germany on November 11th, and arrived in Melbourne on April 26th, after 6 months at sea. Around 30 people had died, 22 under the age of 5. Several of the passengers were Scandinavians, many from Denmark, among them Ian Gordon's ancestors bound for Brisbane. There were also a few Norwegian emigrants on board, they had purchased their tickets from agents Blichfeldt & Co in Kristiania, who represented Louis Knorr & Co of Hamburg. They departed from Kristiania on the S/S Kong Sigurd for Hamburg on November 2nd. The 16 persons below were registered by the Kristiania police as emigrants to Queenstown departing on the Kong Sigurd on November 2nd:

- John Henry Hansen, ship master, age 44 from Tønsberg
- Anne Marie Andersdatter, girl, age 39 from Dalsland
- Gunhild Marie Vinter, widow, age 41 from Kristiania
- Carl Ludvig Bakke, laborer, age 35 from Kristiania
- Axel Georg Grusar, mason, age 19 from Kristiania
- Carl Johan Olsen, mason, age 22 from Kristiania
- Berthe Marie Hansen, girl, age 26 from Bærum
- Olaf Andreassen, laborer, age 24 from Dalsland
- Johan Hartvig Aug. Sørensen, laborer, age 32 from Kristiania
- Peter Johannesen Skau, laborer, age 32 from Værmeland (Sweden)
- Bertha Skau, girl, age 36 from Værmeland (Sweden)
- Albert Tyche Klemetsen, carpenter, age 26 from Moss
- Hans Christian Hansen, laborer, age 26 from Fet
- Eli Olsdatter, wife, age 26 from Fet
- Carl Johan Hansen, son, age 2,5 from Fet
- Axel Octavius, son, age 10 months from Fet

It is not known if any of these were among those who died, of if there were other Norwegians in additon to the Kristiania ones departing from other Norwegian towns. We would like to hear from anyone who might have additional information. (Børge Solem, June 2003).

This is an announcement done by Blichfeldt & Co in Kristiania, printed in the newspaper "Verdens Gang" October 2nd, 1872. It reads:
Announcement for Emigrants to Australia
According to an announcement by the Government Commissioner for Queensland, the Colonial Government has decided that the obligation to pay back, within 2 years, the freight of £ 16 = Spd. 72 for adults, for immigrants to Queensland, is no withdrawn, so that the passengers will not have to pay any additional fee than that payed in Norway, and no other obligations to think about. Our next expedition to Queensland will take place on November 2nd, with the steamship "Kong Sigurd" to Hamburg. For the small number of available spaces at out disposition , please sign up as soon as possible with the General Agents for Norway, Blichfeldt & Co. Skippergaden No. 29, Kristiania

Alardus - German fever ship from Hamburg to Queensland
- compilation of extracts from the newspapers
by Ian Gordon

This document contains excerpts from both the Courier Mail and the Age of the voyage of the Alardus to Queensland from Hamburg in 1873 and describes the trials and tribulations of the passengers.

Information gathered at the State Library of Western Australia 12th March 2003 Sources:

" The Age, April 19 1873
" The Age, April 22 1873
" The Courier Mail, Tuesday June 9 1873
" The Courier Mail, Thursday June 11 1873
" The Courier Mail, Wednesday June 17 1873
" The Courier Mail, Thursday July 17 1873

In the Melbourne Age on 22nd April 1873, the following article appeared.

The German Fever Ship

On Saturday afternoon Mr W.A Brahe, the consul for the German Empire, proceeded to the quarantine station for the purpose of visiting the North German ship, Alardus, from Hamburg bound for Brisbane, which put in on friday evening in distress. Mr Brabe's first business was to enquire into the circumstances attending the loss of the captain, who was suddenly missed on the morning of thursday last, under circumstances which leave no room to doubt he committed suicide by jumping overboard. He was last seen about 4 am on Thursday, when the 2nd mate called him to take the watch on deck. Upon coming up from his cabin he engaged in desultory conversation for some minutes with the retiring officer, who did not observe him to be in lower spirits than he had exhibited for some days previously. About ten minutes afterwards, the man at the wheel and a cabin boy saw him standing in the bright moonlight on the forward part of the forecastle, and upon looking a 2nd time, he had disappeared. A search was at once instituted, but no trace of the missing man could be discovered. Those who saw him last state that from the position he stood and the gentle motion of the vessel, he could not possibly have accidentally fallen overboard. What added, it possible, to the sadness of the event was that the mate at the time of the occurrence was so far advanced in consumption that it is not expected he will live many days longer. The Alardus is a long narrow American-built ship, wholly unsuited for the conveyance of Emigrants, the construction of the between decks being such as to preclude all ventilation, and to make the place, even in broad daylight so dark that lanterns have to be continually used. In this pest-house, - it is little better - 348 human beings including a large number of women and children, or equivalent to 297 adults were crowded for a period of 158 days. During this time, twenty women were confined, and twenty eight persons died, amongst whom were four of the infants born on board, nineteen children under seven years of age, and five adults. On the 16th of February fever broke out and continued to the 19th of April, when the last death occurred. Throughout the voyage the ship's surgeon, who has had extensive experience in the North American emigrant trade, did all he could for the health and comfort of the passengers but everything was against him, save that rations issued were wholesome, and the water good. Of the latter however, there was only eight days supply when the Alardus arrived at the heads. As an instance of the incompleteness of this arrangement, it may be mentioned that, although among the passengers were forty single women, no matron was sent out with them, nor any married woman appointed during the voyage to look after them. As to the general cleanliness of the vessel, Dr Williams, the health officer, reports that everything considered , it was good. Under the superintendence of Mr Brabe and Dr Williams, all the immigrants have been landed at the sanitary station, Point Nepean, with the exception of one woman, who was recently confined, and a sailor who is suffering from what the ship's doctor calls Typhus fever, but which Dr Williams pronounces is only a fever of a Typhoid type.

It may be mentioned that Mr Brabe , the unfortunate emigrants, and all parties concerned, speak in the highest terms of the accomodation provided at the sanitary station. Arrangements have been made with a tradesman at Queenscliff to supply them with all necessary provisions. In the meantime the vessel will be thoroughly cleansed and fumigated, refitted where necessary, and provided with a months provisions for the continuation of her voyage to Brisbane. When she will leave is a matter of uncertainty, for should the rumor prove true to the effect that another and more contagious disease has broken out amongst the passengers, the delay may extend over a much longer period than was anticipated. Every precaution has been taken to prevent communication between the emigrants and those outside the station, an extra detachment of troops and foot soldiers having been sent down to assist in the strict enforcement of quarantine regulations.

The emigrants, who consist of the poorest class of Scandinavians, Germans, and Danes, continue to maintain cheerfulness, and express much thankfulness for the change from the wretched 'tween decks of the Alardus, to the roomy, airy, and altogether comfortable quarters oat Point Nepean. Owing to the fact of the owner of the Alardus, who is a very small ship owner, having no correspondent in Melbourne, the duty of making all the necessary arrangements has devolved upon Mr Brabe, who returned to town yesterday afternoon, and at once communicated with the agents in Brisbane. The chief medical officer received the following telegram from the Queensland immigration officer at Brisbane :- "Kindly inform me of the nature of the sickness on board the Alardus, the number of deaths, when the voyage is to be recommenced, and any further particulars in you power respecting the ship. The required information was at once forwarded to Brisbane.

Courier Mail 17th June 1873 the following article appeared.

The Alardus left Cuxhaven November 10, 1872, and sighted Helgoland on the 14th ; encountered stormy weather with fog and rain, on the 15th and 16th, which continued until the 28th. Wednesday, December 4th passed Dover, wind northerly, going round to west and then stormy. On Monday December 9, it blew almost a hurricane from the west, tearing three of the sails to ribbons. Wednesday, December 11th, off Start point. Thursday, January 2nd of Porto Santo, and next day off Madeira, wind SSW. Half W. Saturday, January 11th , off the island of Ferro in the Canary group. January 15th, off San Antonio In the same group. Crossed the line on January 24th. From Start Point to the Line, light breezes and pleasant weather prevailed. On Thursday, January 29th , pit in at Pernambuco, where stayed until Sunday, February 2nd. March 9th in latitude 37.43 south and longitude 15.13 east. On Thursday, April 17th , sighted Cape Nelson. On April 18 at Port Phillip Heads. From the Equator to Melbourne north winds and mild weather prevailed. Left Queenscliff May 24th. On May 26th passed Furneaux group, wind SW by W. May 31st Made Mount Warning. June 7th put into Moreton Bay and anchored in Hervey's Bay June 10th . During the latter part of the voyage NE to E winds prevailed.

"By Electric Telegraph"
Woody Island - June 16. Alardus, and schooner, name unknown, anchored off island

In the Courier Mail on Thursday 17th July 1873 the following article appeared.

The Alardus Immigrant Ship.

The Hon Colonial Secretary has forwarded the following report for publication :-

Immigration Office,
Brisbane, 23rd June, 1873.
Sir,- We have the honor to inform you that in compliance with the instructions contained in your letter dated the 3rd instant, we proceed to the pilot station on the night of Friday, the 6th instant, and early the next day boarded the German immigrant ship Alardus, lying to off Yellow Patch. The result of a most searching enquiry into the character and condition of the ship, the quality and quality of provisions, water, medicine, and medical comforts; into the general well treatment of the immigrants by the officers and surgeon-superintendent , and finally the into the probable causes of the sicknesses and mortality which has prevailed on board are given into this report:-

"Mr Manon, shipping master, who accompanied us for the purpose of examining and measuring the Alardus, reports that she is well found in gear and tackling, and a safe seagoing vessel; her fitting up for the accommodation of passengers, and which we were told had not been altered or added to at or since leaving Melbourne are reported to be good and substantial. Notwithstanding this we are of opinion her peculiar construction, without a single air port or opening in her sides or stern, renders her an unsuitable ship for the conveyance of a large number of passengers, and that her fittings are in several respects defective.

" The number, dimensions, and position of the ventilators are described by Mr Manon; one of these was put in at Melbourne, and another greatly increased in size, which additions have much improved the ventilation. The compartments occupied by the immigrants were not unusually close or offensive ; but as this enquiry was held on a fine clear day, with the immigrants in good health and on deck, all dirt cleaned away, and all the hatches open, it is no test of the state of the atmosphere below that probably ensued from sickness, dirt, diminished ventilation, crowded compartments, bad weather, and closed hatchways.

"In addition to the imperfect means of ventilation, no proper or decent closet accommodation was provided for the use of the females who, whatever the state of the weather, were compelled at any hour of the night or day to scramble up on deck to the closets there constructed for the general use of all hands, which are represented from the large size of their ports and their consequent openings to the sea and weather, to have been dangerous for children. This absence of proper accommodation was first attempted to be remedied by a moveable stool, but it soon became a foul nuisance from want of ordinary care or cleanliness that its removal became imperative.

"The measurement of deck space made by Mr Manon agree very closely with those made at Melbourne. The former, which is rather the more favorable for the ship, gives a total net superficial space of 3543 square feet, which according to the agreement with the shippers, Louis Knorr and Co, would permit 193 statutory adults; instead of this she left Hamburg with 297 statutory adults on board.

" The height between decks is good, and the space for air and exercise on the upper deck ample.
" The ships dispatched from Hamburg under Louis Knorr and Co are dieted for 150 days.

" The provisions, water, medicines, and medical comforts on board the Alardus were duly examined by the German Commissioner (Captain Werchman) and by Mr Kirchner and were pronounced to be good in quality and sufficient in quantity, and, with the exception of water which proved to be of bad quality, the results of our enquiries on board from each adult immigrant confirm the correctness of the certificate given by the above gentlemen.

"No complaints were made of want of provisions or water, and although the consumption of medicines and medical comforts was large, they were, by care, made to last until the ship reached Melbourne.

" The water, which is believed was taken from the Elbe, was stowed in sound and well charred oak casks and in one iron tank reserved for the use of the cabin. The water in the casks is represented to have soon become very foul and offensive, and a further supply taken on board at Pernambuco shortly became equally offensive. There is much reason to suspect that the water casks were made in America, and were sent to Hamburg filled with petroleum, the taint of which assisted to spoil the water in spite of the cleaning and careful charring to which they were subjected.

" The visit to Pernambuco, rendered necessary by several water-casks having leaked, is much to be regretted, for it considerably lengthened the voyage and for several weeks subjected the immigrants, not overly strong or healthy to the enervating and sickly influence of a tropical climate during rainy weather.

" A distilling apparatus would have made this digression unnecessary, but unfortunately the agreement with Louis Knorr and Co does not make it imperative to carry one, and none was on board. The quantity of water, a fresh supply having been taken on board at Pernambuco was abundant.

" The captain, who we fear was addicted to intemperance, disappeared suddenly on the 17th April, 1873; he was not seen to jump or fall overboard, and as far as we could learn there exists no suspicion of foul play.

" The first mate joined the ship ill, never did a day's duty, and died at Melbourne from Consumption.

" The second mate, who also acted as first mate and purser, took charge of the ship, and brought her into Melbourne after the captain's disappearance ; he appears to be to be a good energetic seaman, very rough and excitable in his language and manner, and with very vague ideas of his duty to the immigrants, with whom he was on very friendly terms, principally it is believed, from letting them do as they liked, and refusing to assist the surgeon in his attempts to enforce some slight order and decorum.

" No complaints of bad treatment by officers are made by the immigrants, but the surgeon-superintendent accuses the second mate and crew of too great intimacy with the single females, and although several witnesses, examined to try and establish this charge, refused to give any information, we have it out of the mouth of one of the women that she was with child by one of the crew, and the general demeanor of the younger females was sufficient to justify the belief that the surgeon's complaint was not groundless.

" Amongst the immigrants was a number of Scandinavians, who could not speak German, and whose only means of communication with the surgeon was through the medium of one of them who could speak a little English but very imperfectly, which language the surgeon speaks well ; these immigrants had almost all of the complaints to make against the surgeon, mostly of unkind behavior, of rough language,- although they admit they could not understand what he said;- of not being prescribed, for when they thought they should have been, of not receiving medical comforts agreeable to their wishes.

" The German immigrants had no complaints to make, and it therefore seems probable that the above, not very serious ones, owe their origin to the very imperfect means of inter-communication above referred to, and also perhaps to a little international jealousy.

" The position of the surgeon-superintendent on board the Alardus was very unsatisfactory, for although it is stipulated in the agreement with Louis Knorr and Co, that the care and management of the Emigrants is to devolve on the surgeon, no such condition can override the German law, which makes the captain supreme, and in case of difference of opinion arising between the surgeon and the captain, the former would be compelled to give way. This if we believe the surgeons report forwarded from Melbourne, was on several occasions actually what occurred; his suggestions and remonstrance's were disregarded, and he felt himself powerless to resist. It may be remarked that the surgeon says most positively that he never knew of the existence of the clause in Louis Knorr and Co's agreement, which refers to his position on board, until it was shown to him during this investigation ; This seems the more singular as he appears to have made his unsatisfactory position to a subject of early remonstrance with Mr Kirchner.

" Attached to this report is a synopsis of the deaths which have occurred, twenty-eight in number - twenty-two of children under five years of age and six persons above that age ; in addition to which three deaths occurred in quarantine, after the date of the above synopsis - two of children, and one adult, making the total number since leaving Hamburg thirty-one.

" We are of opinion that the cause of the sickness probably owed it's origin to the weak and enfeebled constitutions of many of the immigrants, especially the children, who were in too large a number (92) and who are represented to have come on board badly clothed, suffering from the effects of indigence and want, and bearing the germs of sickness about them ; that disease having been thus introduced , it was aggravated by bad ventilation, by overcrowding of the compartments between decks, by bad water, and by the filthy habits and want of energy of the immigrants themselves who, according to the surgeons statements, could not be induced to go on deck when the weather permitted it, to clean their persons, their bedding, or compartments ; and finally as far as regards the appearance of the Typhus - very probably the ships long detention in the tropics during the rainy season occasioned by her visit to Pernambucco. "Finally as regards gratuities, we see no reason to recommend any deductions being made payable to the surgeon, but do not think the mate' behavior to the immigrants was such as to deserve any pecuniary recognition from the Government of Queensland. We have the honor to be, sir, your most obedient servants,

"F.O. Darvall
"John M'Donnell
"W Hobbs
"Chas Prentice
"Robt Gray
"The Hon. The Colonial Secretary."

Courier Mail 9th June 1873

"Telegraphic Report from Cape Moreton"
June 8. Alardus, ship, got underweigh and departed north at 6.25 am.