Why Latvia? (Libau) #ukraine

Pamela Weisberger <pweisberger@...>

I'd like to chime in on Mark Shofron's query:

<<In 1906 my family immigrated to the US >from Pereyaslav, Ukraine (about 100
miles SE of Kiev.) They boarded a ship to the US in Libau, Latvia. They
lived a relatively short distance to the Black Sea. Why would they travel
all the way to Latvia to embark for America?>>

I recently discovered that my Hungarian grandmother (and family) also
emigrated through Libau to America. I say "through" because it is clear
that they traveled >from northeastern Hungary (Szabolcs County), very close
to the Russian (today, Ukrainian) border, to Libau in Latvia, then on to
England, and sailed >from Liverpool to the United States.

They could have gone through Budapest, or traveled to German or Dutch ports,
but instead chose Libau. I discovered an old railway map which showed a
train line >from that part of Hungary which went directly to Cracow, and,
after that, perhaps continued north, but I suspect that there were steamship
line ticket brokers who encouraged many in Hungary, and, perhaps, Ukraine,
to take this route.

Because Libau was in Corland, part of Russia, it's possible that Mark's
relatives chose to leave >from there because they held Russian passports,
making the entire process simpler--versus departing >from ports in other
countries. Insights into this port are offered in the JewishGen article by
Deborah Glassman at:


where she writes:

<<Many more women than men exited this way because men had to show proof of
discharge >from military service and sometimes also >from reserve status
before they could qualify for a passport. The passport should have been
issued in their home town but been recorded by the Libau police before
allowing boarding. Around 25,000 Jews exited via this port in the year 1904
alone. Use an exit >from this port as a strong indication that your ancestor
was traveling on valid Russian papers!
Russian-America Line, after WWI renamed Baltic-America Line. Founded in 1900
by a company headquartered in Copenhagen, the East Asiatic Company. In 1906,
its mission to run services >from Russia and Asia was cancelled after the
Russo-Japanese War of 1905 and it was given the Libau-NYC run in 1906.>>

At the IAJGS conference in New York, Professor Nick Evans will be giving a
talk which touches on the port of Libau in his session: "Jewish
Transmigration Through Britain, 1836-1924."

In an article he wrote for the "Moving Here" UK website at:

www.movinghere.org.uk/galleries/ histories/jewish/journeys/thames1.htm

-he also explains how the opening of the railway line between Kovno (today,
Kaunas, Lithuania) made emigration easier for Jews in the most northerly
parts of the Pale of Settlement, but it is clear that train routing
contributed to emigration choices.

There's also an interesting article available online which mentions
migration through Libau at:

"Trains, Shelters and Ships" at:


If any other genners have information, research, or theories about why
sailing >from or via Libau was chosen, please let us know!

Pamela Weisberger
Santa Monica, CA

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