JewishGen Discussion Group #JewishGen Successful research on Internet #general


Several months ago I requested suggestions, on Jewishgen, for resources on the
Net where I might find help in the interpretation of the Captain's Notes for
the crossing of the "Umbria" (Cunard Line) >from Liverpool to N.Y. in July,
1903. It was this crossing that brought my grandmother, Basie SOSNOVSKY to
America with her four young children; the youngest of which was an 11 month
old baby - my father. Thus, began my first truly successful "all Internet"

I received some excellent suggestions as a result of that posting, as usual,
from the group. One such suggestion, >from John Weiss, was to subscribe to the
Marine History Information Exchange Group
< MARHST-L@POST.QUEENSU.CA > and pose the question there.. I did that, but
even before my subscription kicked in, one of their members, who regularly
monitors Jewishgen, Harry Dodsworth of Toronto (not Jewish but is interested
in the questions pertaining to Passenger Liners that are posted here)
contacted me privately offering to help. He spent hours interpreting the
abbreviations used in the notes, some which looked like scribbles to me <G>
but which, in fact, had definite nautical significance.

In the course of events I was contacted by the former Head Archivist of the
Cunard Archives at the University of Liverpool, Edwin King, and several other
extremely knowledgeable marine historians. In addition to Harry Dodsworth,
there was Dana Netherton, who between them, interpreted, in infinite detail,
every recorded moment of the voyage, including geographical markers along
the Mersey River while departing Liverpool, the crossing of the Irish Sea and
entry into the port of Queenstown (the port for Cork, Ireland, now called
Cobh.) Even the number of mailbags taken on in Queenstown. Passing the
lighthouse while rounding the southern tip of Ireland and then heading out
into the Atlantic. The weather, the winds, the health of the passengers, and
a wealth of nautical details including the number of miles covered each day
and the amount of coal used.. But, the best part is the arrival at Sandy Hook
(off the coast of NJ where they anchored for the check by the Quarantine
Station. The description of the markers along the lower NY bay and through
the "Narrows" into the upper NY bay (where the passengers would get their
first glance at the Statue of Liberty.) >from the time entries, one can
actually calculate the time in which they would have passed the statue in
route to the Cunard Co. berth on N.Y. side of the Hudson River. All this from
one page of meticulous notes obtained >from the University of Liverpool, which
I found referenced at the Cunard website!

But the best was yet to come. In the course of my correspondence with Mr.
Edwin King, the former Cunard archivist, (who gave me a thorough explanation
of the Liverpool harbor in 1903 and it's "Landing Stage" >from which the
ocean liners departed) I mentioned that my grandmother's route was from
Hamburg to the port of Grimsby on the E. coast of England and then presumably
to Liverpool by railway. He told me that the trip >from Hamburg to Grimsby
would have been on a steamer/ferry line owned by the Great Central Railway
which would then have provided the connection at Grimsby for at least the
Grimsby to Manchester portion of the rail transport.

After the thrill of reaching back ninety-five years to capture the details of
the ocean portion of the trip, I couldn't resist searching the web for some
information on the Great Central Railway which might detail the Hamburg to
Liverpool portion of the trip.

By pure serendipity, I happened upon the website of a railway history
enthusiastic in the UK, Mr. Christopher Tolley. Because he had an
interesting, attractive and well organized website, I sent him an e-mail
message requesting his suggestion for a way to obtain more information on the
GCR's ferry line on which my grandmother crossed the English Channel in route
from "Russia" to the US in July 1903. He replied that he knew little about
the sea operation, BUT just happened to have a copy of the Timetable for the
Ferry and the Railway for July, Aug. and Sept. 1903! Not only did he have it
but he put up a temporary link to his webpage >from which I could view the
cover. (The timetable is actually a 96 page book with a gorgeously
illustrated cover showing the trains, boats and hotels owned by the GCR.)

When, in the course of further communication with Chris Tolley, I asked for
permission to mention this on Jewishgen, he volunteered to put up a series of
pages linked to his website, which show the many routes of these ferries from
N. Sea ports to Grimsby and Hull, in route to Liverpool. So, for anyone
whose ancestors took the indirect route >from northern Europe to Liverpool and
then across the Atlantic, I suggest taking a look at Chris Tolley's wonderful

Lois Sernoff [Philadelphia, PA]

FRIEDMAN >from Beltsy (Bessarabia) Moldova to Phila.
KUSHNER >from Tomashpol & Yampol (Podolia Gub), Russia to Phila.
Gub),Russia to Phila.
SOSNOVSKY/SOSNOWSKY, >from Gorodishche (Kiev Gub, Cherkassy d.),Russia to
SHAROVSKY, SWOEJETSKY/SWOYETSKY >from Gorodishche (Kiev Gub, Cherkassy
d.),Russia to Phila.

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