The Debora left Bergen on 19th July 1879 and sailed non-stop to Madagascar
A member of the Debora party wrote: "We left Bergen, Norway on 19th July 1879, a group of 47 people, including 12 couples and 14 children. On 20th July we were West of Ireland and a fresh breeze from the North cleared the air - the sun shone and gave us all new life. On 11th August - at 40 degrees 15 minutes a son was born to Mr and Mrs F Larsen, so the Debora Company was increased to forty-eight. On 3rd October a dark and foggy bank rose out of the sea in the East. Rasmussen suddenly cried out; "Land fore on the lee side!" Everyone came on deck and viewed the dark outline of Table Mountain and other mountains about Cape Town; it was then 9. 30 am. On 4th October we rounded the Cape of Good Hope in the finest weather. A small German brig which had come out from Cape Town showed us the way, but at 4 pm we passed it. When we left Bergen, the Zulu War had started. The Captain took a hatch and K Jensen wrote with chalk in German: "Is the Zulu War at an end?" The Germans answered on a hatch "Ended". At 8 pm Cape Agulhas lighthouse was passed. On 16th October, at 3 pm, we saw Madagascar's West coast but, as the wind had quietened off, we only lay and drifted with the stream. In the afternoon the next day we had wind from the sea. Two Sakakaves in a canoe with a straw mat as a sail met us and went beside us along the three mile long coral reef which, like a tremendous mole, makes a port outside Tulear, where we, in lee of the coral reef, cast anchor the 17th October, 4 pm."
HOW THE FIRST NORWEGIAN EMIGRANTS CAME TO NATAL
THE NATAL MERCURY, MONDAY, NOVEMBER 11, 1929
A Durban group of survivors of the Norwegians who came to Natal on the Deborah, taken on the 50th anniversary of the schooner's arrival in Port Natal. The names are:- Standing: Mrs Petra Thorvaldsen (nee Larsen), Mr S A Bang, Mrs Wettergren. Sitting: Mrs Iversen, Mr Ellingsen and Mrs Heidalewig.
(Photograph of a schooner of the same class as the "Jagtgaleas Debora" - not included with the Natal Mercury article)
INTERESTING HISTORY OF THE DEBORAH EXPEDITION
Armistice Day is an anniversary of double interest to the Norwegian community in Natal, for it was on November 11, 1879, that the first Norwegian emigrants came to Port Natal. They arrived on the Deborah, a small schooner of 92 tons capacity. It was a vessel of an uncommon type, known as the Galut, and probably many old Colonists remember the sensation created by her arrival at the Point.
Despite her smallness, the gallant ship brought to South Africa an adventurous company of 49 men, women and children. The organisers first sailed to the beautiful Aldabra Islands, near Madagascar, with the intention of colonising them under the Norwegian flag, but subsequently decided that Natal offered better prospects.
The origin of the expedition was curious. In 1870, the late Captain Ludwig Larsen, who will still be remembered by many old Durbanites, was commissioned by a Liverpool firm to engage 28 men from Norway and take them over to Liverpool, where two small sailing vessels were fitted out ready to take them to Madagascar for the purpose of establishing a trading company. The men were engaged for three years, during which time some of them sailed a good deal round the Madagascar coast establishing trading stations. In their voyage, they had noticed the beautiful Aldabra Islands, then uninhabited and unclaimed.
On returning to their comrades, they related what they had seen and there was an unanimous desire to organise an expedition to take possession of these islands.
When their contract had expired, some of the men remained in Madagascar to make further investigations about the islands, while others sailed home to Norway to prepare an emigration expedition, buy a vessel, fit it up, and take their wives and children with them, and as many others as they could induce to join them.
It was not, however, until July 19, 1879, that the little schooner Deborah left Bergen, Norway with 47 souls on board. There was no hired crew, but everyone did his share of the work and although some of the emigrants had never been to sea before, it did not take long for them to prove that a Norwegian very quickly becomes a capable sailor.
The voyage was a wonderful one and the little ship did some very good sailing, arriving at Tulear, Madagascar, on October 17, 1879.
It could well be understood that on such a small vessel space and comfort were limited. Nevertheless happiness and harmony prevailed throughout the voyage, and all went well. With the addition of two babies born during the voyage, there were 49 in all who landed at Tulear, where they were given a happy reception by Captain Larsen and some of their former comrades.
Up to that time, Mr K O Bang senior had been the leader of the expedition, but the understanding was that Captain Larsen was to take the lead from then onwards. This responsibility he was at first quite prepared to take. Later on, however, he declined, as he felt the responsibility too great, one reason being that a Mr Hangervig, who had gone to Aldabra Islands to make investigations, had not yet returned, and did not do so until after the ship's departure.
In the meantime, the younger members of the expedition had heard of the good times then prevailing in Natal, so they proposed taking a ship there. A few remained in Madagascar, and the remainder arrived in Durban on November 11, 1879.
Thus ended the Deborah Expedition, and the descendants of those who formed it are scattered throughout South Africa and Rhodesia.
Clix here for a more detailed accouns of the Debora Expedition that left Norway in 1879 bound for the Indian Ocean atoll Aldabra to establish a Norwegian Colony based on the teachings of the Norwegian preacher Hans Nielsen Hauge (1771 -1824).
Letter from A S Larsen to nephew D V Larsen
Letter dated: 17/7/1978
From: A S Larsen, 17 Richard King Road HILLARY 4094 Natal. Phone: 031-44-2602.
To: D V Larsen, P O Box 1463 Pretoria 0001 Transvaal.
SCHOONER "DEBORAH" 90 TONS EX BERGEN 1879
As I am going down to your local Racal branch this afternoon it is my intention also to forward through their post to you the photo-stat copies of the Larsen documents in my possession, 7 copies of each document as requested by you, I thought I would address a short note also from myself and aunt Hannie to you and the family, conveying our good wishes to you all from ourselves, trusting that you are all well as this leaves us. At the same time I would make a few comments in regard to the extracts obtained by me from the Natal Mercury records going back to 1879.
Hannie and I went down to the Natal Mercury office on two separate occasions spending in all five hours in our search, two on the first occasion and three hours on the second. We carefully examined each days advert pages and shipping news records, (which have been recorded on micro film) and under a separate list I have listed the information obtained.
You will observe that the first information picked up was that recorded on 12 November 1879, under the sub-heading, vessels in Port, under the main heading SHIPPING GAZETTE, which read as follows:-
"Deborah, Schooner from Bergen, 90 tons, Tobiassen from St Augustin. H & T, Mc Cubbi, Agents." The same information appeared also on all the other dates shewn in my list and finally on the 16/2/1880, under the sub-heading "SAILED" was recorded : "DEBORAH SCHOONER FOR DELAGOA BAY with mealies."
On the 4th DECEMBER 1879 on page four of the Natal Mercury under the "FOR SALE" notices I picked up the main information you wanted, that of the ship being offered for sale. It was the only notice that appeared and it would appear that this was intentional on the part of the captain of the schooner as the schooner did not sail for Capetown for possible sale there, if not sold in Durban, but appears to have taken a load of mealies to DelaGoa Bay and sailed from there back to Norway via the East Coast through the Suez Canal which was at that date open to shipping and not lost at sea as suggested by Aunt Marie before she died in 1976.
Will close now as time is running out on me to get to your local office before the mails close.
73s and 88s from us both to you and yours.
Your affectionate uncle,
A S Larsen 17/7/1978
attached to this letter:-
DETAILS OF SAILING VESSEL "DEBORA" LANDED IN DURBAN 12/11/1879.
From LARSEN FAMILY BIBLE
Sigvart Larsen of Durban records the following:-
"Sig. Larsen landed in Durban 12th November 1879 off a ship DEBORA."
From NATAL MERCURY 1879-1880 A.D.
Main heading SHIPPING GAZETTE
Sub heading VESSELS IN PORT:-
12/11/1879 "DEBORAH, Schooner from Bergen, 90 tons, Tobiassen from St. Augustin. H & T McCubbi. Agents."
The above notice appeared first on 12/11/1879 and thereafter on the following dates:- 15/11/1879, 20/11/1879, 21/11/1879, 22/11/1879, 26/11/1879., 29/11/1879, 2/12/1879, 4/12/1879, 5/12/1879, 15/12/1879, 16/12/1879, 19/12/1879, 23/12/1879, 29/12/1879, 2/1/1880, 3/1/1880, 6/1/1880, 9/1/1880, 18/1/1880, 24/1/1880, 31/1/1880, 2/2/1880, 7/2/1880, 11/ 2/1880, 12/ 2/1880.
Sub heading SAILED:-
16/ 2/1880 DEBORAH Schooner for Delagoa Bay with mealies.
Main heading FOR SALE:-
On the 4TH DECEMBER 1879 on Page 4 of the Natal Mercury in the FOR SALE notices the following is recorded:-
aFOR SALE THE SCHOONER DEBORA 90 TONS REGISTERED CLASS A1 7 YEARS. THE SHIP IS A YEAR OLD AND ZINCED FOR FIVE MONTHS AGO. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION APPLY TO MR TENSEN, SAKER'S BOARDING HOUSE OR TO CAPTAIN TOBIASSEN, HOPE COTTAGE, POINT ROAD.
Information extracted from the archives of the Natal Mercury by A S Larsen on 25/5/1978.
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