November 1, 2019 Volume 43 Issue 11 | In the 1870s, the S.S. Sarmatian carried thousands of Mennonites from Russia to Canada over stormy Atlantic seas. It was built in 1871 by the Robert Steele & Company for the Allan Shipping line of Liverpool, England. The mighty ship was 370 feet long and weighed 3647 tons. In 1875 Jacob Fehr was 16 years old and crossing the Atlantic to emigrate to Manitoba. On the evening of the second day the seas became very rough. The ship rocked violently to and fro. Chamber pots were thrown and spilled in all directions. Passengers could not stay upright without holding on to something solid. In the morning the ship continued to pitch and roll. Anything on deck that was not tied down washed overboard. For three days, sea-sick Mennonites remained below deck. The captain requested prayer that God would have mercy on the ship. In his diary, Jacob writes, “those who had not yet learned to pray learned now.”
Mennonite Heritage Archives, Adolf Ens collection, written by Conrad Stoesz, Archivist at MHA.