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Salome Mueller, The White Slave
by [?]




She may be living yet, in 1889. For when she came to Louisiana, in 1818, she was too young for the voyage to fix itself in her memory. She could not, to-day, be more than seventy-five.

In Alsace, France, on the frontier of the Department of Lower Rhine, about twenty English miles from Strasburg, there was in those days, as I suppose there still is, a village called Langensoultz. The region was one of hills and valleys and of broad, flat meadows yearly overflowed by the Rhine. It was noted for its fertility; a land of wheat and wine, hop-fields, flax-fields, hay-stacks, and orchards.

It had been three hundred and seventy years under French rule, yet the people were still, in speech and traditions, German. Those were not the times to make them French. The land swept by Napoleon’s wars, their firesides robbed of fathers and sons by the conscription, the awful mortality of the Russian campaign, the emperor’s waning star, Waterloo–these were not the things or conditions to give them comfort in French domination. There was a widespread longing among them to seek another land where men and women and children were not doomed to feed the ambition of European princes.

In the summer of 1817 there lay at the Dutch port of Helder–for the great ship-canal that now lets the largest vessels out from Amsterdam was not yet constructed–a big, foul, old Russian ship which a certain man had bought purposing to crowd it full of emigrants to America.

These he had expected to find up the Rhine, and he was not disappointed. Hundreds responded from Alsace; some in Strasburg itself, and many from the surrounding villages, grain-fields, and vineyards. They presently numbered nine hundred, husbands, wives, and children. There was one family named Thomas, with a survivor of which I conversed in 1884. And there was Eva Kropp, nee Hillsler, and her husband, with their daughter of fifteen, named for her mother. Also Eva Kropp’s sister Margaret and her husband, whose name does not appear. And there were Koelhoffer and his wife, and Frau Schultzheimer. There is no need to remember exact relationships. All these except the Thomases were of Langensoultz.

As they passed through another village some three miles away they were joined by a family of name not given, but the mother of which we shall know by and by, under a second husband’s name, as Madame Fleikener. And there too was one Wagner, two generations of whose descendants were to furnish each a noted journalist to New Orleans. I knew the younger of these in my boyhood as a man of, say, fifty. And there was young Frank Schuber, a good, strong-hearted, merry fellow who two years after became the husband of the younger Eva Kropp; he hailed from Strasburg; I have talked with his grandson. And lastly there were among the Langensoultz group two families named Mueller.

The young brothers Henry and Daniel Mueller were by birth Bavarians. They had married, in the Hillsler family, two sisters of Eva and Margaret. They had been known in the village as lockmaker Mueller and shoemaker Mueller. The wife of Daniel, the shoemaker, was Dorothea. Henry, the locksmith, and his wife had two sons, the elder ten years of age and named for his uncle Daniel, the shoemaker. Daniel and Dorothea had four children. The eldest was a little boy of eight years, the youngest was an infant, and between these were two little daughters, Dorothea and Salome.

And so the villagers were all bound closely together, as villagers are apt to be. Eva Kropp’s young daughter Eva was godmother to Salome. Frau Koelhoffer had lived on a farm about an hour’s walk from the Muellers and had not known them; but Frau Schultzheimer was a close friend, and had been a schoolmate and neighbor of Salome’s mother. The husband of her who was afterward Madame Fleikener was a nephew of the Mueller brothers, Frank Schuber was her cousin, and so on.