Monday, August 31, 2015

A Tale of Two Migrants

My Great great grandfathert Balthasar Dietz was an economic migrant by today’s standards, In about 1842 he left his native village in rural Hessen in Germany and travelled to England.

He had no trade so went to work in one of the many Sugar refineries in the East End of London. Being a sugar baker in Whitechapel was hard work in great heat for not a great deal of money. He stuck at it for about four years, and in the meantime married and had children but still managed to save up enough money to set himself up in business as a beer seller.
He must have been reasonably successful at this as he could afford to make trips back to his home village, owned a gold watch and on his last visit to Germany had fifty pounds of his own money in his pocket.

How this entrepreneur of the 1850s would have progressed we do not know because he died at the age of 42 in unknown circumstances in Cologne on his way to visit his aged parents in Germany. As he had succeeded to go from a labourer in a sugar refinery to being self employed with money to spare in just four years, imagine what he may have accomplished given more time,

On the other hand my great grandfather Alphons Eder was a different kind of migrant. He left his home in Ljubljana, Slovenia and signed on one of the last Royal Navy sailing ships as a bandsman. After sailing to British Columbia via Valparaiso and Rio and back, he stayed in London haveing presumably seen as much of the world a he wanted. 
He married the only surviving daughter of Balthasar, fathered ten children and for the rest of his life he never had a “proper job” supporting his wife and family playing in a German Band as a street musician or busker if you will.  I always think of him as some kind of early jazzman for whom the music was more important than the money. He lived a good life as far as we can tell and lived to the age of 77, never having returned to his native land.