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December 14, 2008

Q & A Time: Ships Passenger List ca 1859 to USA or Canada?

I often respond to queries on mailing lists. I established 2 Rootsweb mailing lists for Ships Passenger lists ( & and another 2 for Naturalization records ( & several years ago and as List Admin I follow them closely. But I also read other immigration mailing lists and jump in when I can. The following is an example that I thought might be of interest. It's a query and it's very well written (which sad to say is unusual on mailing lists)

This query gives us details of the ancestors being sought. It explains where the questioner has looked (so we don't waste our time by going over old ground) and it explains exactly what he wants to find. It provides a nice summary of resources he has used, which is so helpful to others who want to help, but is rarely given by those asking for help. Usually all you see is "I have looked everywhere for..." Sadly that's not very precise, and when I see that phrase in a query, I am reluctant to spend time hunting as I may find out I've spent an hour or more searching the same resources as the questioner!

Because this query was so well-written, I took some time to have a hunt and I'm happy to say I found his ancestors. His private reply to me (which I won't publish in full here as it was not sent to the public mailing list) said in part:

I was resigned to the fact that I would never find them, and I never would have dreamt of searching the site as you did. That was incredibly resourceful.

There might be some readers who also did not realize the different ways one can search websites, so here's the scoop (with some minor editing for brevity)

QUESTION: On 12 Dec 2008 at 22:30, xxx wrote:

Hello listers! Sorry for the length of this post, but after exhausting every source I can think of, this is my last chance.

I am searching the ship on which my ancestors arrived in the New World. I believe my GGG grandfather ADALBERT KARL, spouse KATHARINA MULTRUS and their four children ROSA, JOHN, JOSEPH, and ALBERT from HRADZEN, BOHEMIA, AUSTRIA near PILSEN departed BREMEN in 1859. They do not show up in any incoming passenger lists in America. To no
avail I have searched the Steve Morse site using the following wildcards: ada* ade* cat* kat* ros* joh* jos* alb* and surname kar* car* har* and ear*. This leads me to believe they did not enter through the U.S.

The reason I believe they departed Bremen is because in the1860 U.S. Census from Allegany, NY they indicate they were from Bremen, Germany. However in every future census, they correctly state they are from Austria. In Adalbert's obituary from 1903 it states that he and his family of four mistakenly went to DAYTON, OHIO instead of DAYTONS SUMMIT, NEW YORK.

Here is a summary of the records I have searched to date:

a) Every U.S. arrival site - including the Steve Morse site - for every combination I can think of.
b) All of the websites of pre-1865 passsenger lists for Canadian Arrivals on the Olive Tree Genealogy site.
c) The "Germans To America" Series.
d) "German Immigrants: Lists of Passengers Bound from Bremen to New York, 1855-1862"
e) The Leo Baca Book "Czech Immigration Passenger Lists, Volumes 1-9 "
f) I have requested citizenship records of Adalbert Karl in the hope that they would reveal the date and place of entry into the U.S. but Immigration wrote me
that there is no record. He was naturalized in 1866 according to the local county records, but these shed no light on his date or mode of entry to the U.S..
g) I have written to the Ship List and other genealogy listservs in the hope of finding a morsel of information that I could follow up on. I posted on the message boards and received a response from a gentleman apparently
writing from the Czech Republic who informed me, I quote:

"Accordings to the proceeding protocoll of Regional Office of Plzen asked on 1859 Adalbert Karl from Hradzen (Hradec u Stoda) for issuing of emigrant passport to USA...."

While promising, my replies to this post requesting further information have never been answered. I am willing to accept that the absence of data means that my ancestors must have entered through Canada on some impossible-to-trace ship. But I must at least ask the question if there are any stones I have left unturned.

My questions are this: what would be the typical route for a family from Austria, departing Bremen for America in 1859? Assuming they departed Bremen, would they have stopped in the British Isles? And would there be a record of this arrival or departure? And then, would they typically have arrived at Quebec if they were bound for Dayton? Once at Quebec, would their voyage to the wrong Dayton be via the U.S. or Canada?

You have done a great job of writing up your research and asking for help.

I think I have found your Adalbert on the ships list "Republic" arriving NY 7 Nov. 1859 from Bremen. His origin is given as Bohemia, Czechoslovakia and he is 51 years

I'm familiar with the NY lists and they are very difficult to read sometimes. Some passengers have no first name in the index. Some have only an initial.

I found your ancestor by searching without any names at all and only using his date of birth (which was the only thing missing from your excellent query below) and his year of arrival.

He is misindexed on Ancestry as "Balbert Kar" Had you searched with wildcards on surname for "kar*" and no first name, he should have shown up. But sometimes the Ancestry search glitches and a result will not appear one time, but will appear the next!

In any case, with "Balbert" are the following individuals

Adalbert b ca 1852
Catharine b ca 1818
Johann b ca 1842
Joseph b ca 1849
Rosalia b ca 1840

This appears to be the correct family. Enjoy!

Note: more examples of Good Queries and Bad Queries can be found at Good Query - Bad Query

1 comment:

Charley "Apple" Grabowski said...

Great post! I often skip queries that are poorly written and even ones with poor subject lines. Help! is not going to get me to read a query.

I haven't searched for Michael Camfield's immigration in ages. This post has given me some ideas for trying some new creative searches. Thanks!