Manifest Question #poland

Lee Jaffe

This a question I posed about a year ago to the FB Tracing the Tribe group with no real help.  I thought I'd try again here.

I found a found a manifest record for my great-grandmother Bessie JAFFE's arrival using her Hebrew name, Pesche, in 1893.  The record shows she was traveling with two sons, Sender 9 and Gedale JAFFE, age 7.   I managed to match Sender and Gedale to my great uncles Samuel and Charles from the inscriptions on their graves. 

My great-grandfather Henry was already in the US since 1875.  Another son, Albert,  remained behind to complete his rabbinic studies and joined the rest of the family in 1905.

This leaves one crucial gap in the record: What happened to my to my grandfather Jacob, the youngest child born in Poland?  We gave a rage of birth dates for my grandfather but our best guess would make him 5 or 6 years old when his mother and two older brothers made the crossing.

I can find no manifest record for Jacob anywhere and a friend who does genealogical research was unable to find anything showing when my grandfather arrived.  For years, we believed a story he told about making the journey with a younger cousin when he was thirteen.  But there are numerous inconsistencies with that version, not the least of which him appearing in the 1900 census. I have Jacob's passport application in which he uses his father's 1895 naturalization petition to establish citizenship.

 I can think of no version of the story where my great-grandmother would have made the crossing without her youngest son. But everything  I've read and heard says that Jacob could not have been with his mother and 2 brothers on the 1893 crossing if he doesn't appear on the manifest.   I know of no other family to make the crossing after who could have accompanied him (except Albert, but that would have been too late to be on the 1900 census).

Any thoughts about avenues to explore that might help us figure out how and when Jacob arrived?

Thanks,    Lee Jaffe  <leejaffe54@...>

Jill Whitehead

It is not impossible that your ancestor arrived unaccompanied or at a different time to the rest of the family. Part of my family arrived in Edinburgh in 1870 to join other family already there who had arived in 1867/8.  The young men were escaping being conscripted by the Tsar after the 1863 Polish Uprising. In 1870 my great grandparents (who were first cousins) arrived aged 11 and 15 (they later married in 1877), together with the two younger brothers of my great grandfather who were both aged under 10 years old. They seemed to have been unaccompanied by an adult, with my 15 year old great grandfather responsible for all the younger children. In those days, a 15 year old was considered an adult. Yet other family members came in 1872, my great grandmother's younger siblings and her mother.

Jill Whitehead, Surrey, UK

Lynne Schneider

Lee, please check your dates. If your ggf Henry was in the US since 1875, then your gg-uncles had to be considerably older than 9 and 7 in 1893. Unless Henry’s arrival date of 1875 is a typo.

Lynne Schneider

David Oseas


I'd start by gathering two pieces of info:

1. every census that your grandfather will appear in should have a column asking either "How long has this person been in the US" or "What year did they arrive in the US".  Many states (especially NY) did their own censuses in between federal census years and also asked this question.  From the answers, you should be able to get a good approximation of the year that your grandfather arrived.

2. if any of your foreign-born family members naturalized, or, if any of the foreign-born males registered for the WWI draft, those documents will list the town from which your family came.

3. if you know the name of the cousin that family lore says your grandfather came with, so much the better

Using the above information, head over to Steve Morse's One-Step webpage ( ).  Steve's search forms will let you search passenger manifests in a variety of different ways.  If the town had a small population, you may be able to locate your grandfather's manifest by using just the year of arrival, his age & the town name, for example.  I've done the same for cases where the name was badly mangled, or if I didn't know the original surname or person's Yiddish name. The Ellis Island form also allows you to search with a companion name.

Remember to search all of the ports -- not everyone landed at Ellis Island!

David Oseas

KLEIN: Satoraljaujhely (Ujhely), Hungary > New York > Los Angeles
Hungary > New York
OSEAS/OSIAS/OSIASI/OZIAS: Iasi, Romania > Chicago > Milwaukee > Los Angeles
SCHECHTER/SHEKTER: Kishinev, Bessarabia > New York  
SHERMAN: Iasi, Romania > New York > Los Angeles
STRUL:  Iasi, Romania > Haifa, Israel
WICHMAN: Syczkowo (Bobruisk), Belarus > Milwaukee > Los Angeles

Sally Bruckheimer <sallybruc@...>


1. every census that your grandfather will appear in should have a column asking either "How long has this person been in the US" or "What year did they arrive in the US".  Many states (especially NY) did their own censuses in between federal census years and also asked this question.  From the answers, you should be able to get a good approximation of the year that your grandfather arrived.

2. if any of your foreign-born family members naturalized, or, if any of the foreign-born males registered for the WWI draft, those documents will list the town from which your family came.

3. if you know the name of the cousin that family lore says your grandfather came with, so much the better"
Not necessarily true. I have seen censuses and WW I draft notices which don't give this information.  Just because you have seen the year of arrival on a couple censuses, that doesn't mean they all have them.
And if family lore says somebody came with somebody, that isn't necessarily true either. My mother, for example, mixed lots of stuff up. My grandfather was born in Missouri or Wisconsin or somewhere, for example.
Sally Bruckheimer,   Princeton, NJ    <sallybruc@...>

Lee Jaffe

A few follow ups, corrections and comments about my post and the replies I received here and privately.

I didn't provide as much detail as some asked or expected.  I didn't imagine that others would try to research my family for me.  Also, I wrote the note on my phone and tried to same myself typing more than absolutely necessary.  I have reasonably good records of some key highlights of my family history once they arrive in the US.  But only sketchy information about life in the Pale and immigration.   I do  have the yizkor book for Suchowola which features a passage (with a photo) about my great-great-grandparents Leyzer and Freydl Jaffe, and a long obituary of Henry's brother Zalman, who died in Tel Aviv, 1954.  I have naturalization papers for Henry and individually for his sons Samuel and Albert, the manifest for Bessie, Samuel and Charles.

I have census records for the family starting 1900 with a farm in New Jersey (one of Baron de Hirsch's scheme).  In the 1900 census, Bessie reported having 8 children, 8 living.  Seven are recorded in the household in 1900.  Elexander (Samuel), Charles, Jacob (born in Russian (Poland), Elizabeth (Memphis), Maurice and Freda (Phila.) and Solomon (NJ).  Albert remained behind to finish rabbinic studies and immigrated in 1905, settling in Pittsburgh.  I have various family entries from city directories, draft registrations. death certificates  ...  I'm in touch with Albert's granddaughter and Solomon's son.   Henry, Bessie, Charles, Jacob and Elizabeth are buried in the family plot outside of Philadelphia (Mt. Sharon). 

My ggf Henry didn't immigrate in 1875 as I wrote.  (1875 was reported as his arrival date in the 1910 US census but 1887 arrival, reported elsewhere, is more likely.)  He filed his intention to become a citizen in 1890 and I have what looks like the original Certificate of Naturalization filed in criminal court in Shelby County, Tennessee, 20 May 1895.  Neither form provides information about his arrival.  There is some family lore that Henry went back and forth, looking for a place to settle his family, apparently fathering some of the children during visits.  I heard from a couple of sources that he and his brother Zalman went to Ottoman Palestine in the early 1880s.  Henry left, either because of allergies or because he didn't like laws prohibiting Jews from owning land, but Zalman remained.  

Henry apparently followed his younger brother Moses to Memphis when he arrives in 1887(-8).  I have my ggm Bessie (Pesche) Steel Jaffe on a manifest traveling with two sons, Sender (Elexander or Samuel) and Gedale (Charles), arriving NY on the Red Sea from Bremen, 17 July 1893.  I was able to line up Pesche, Sender and Gedale with Bessie, Samuel and Charles with the names on their gravestones, and the Last Residence entry on the manifest reads Suchowola, which we know to be their hometown.  

Someone suggested I try to research and collate as much family data as possible to 1) look for other relatives who could have brought Jacob over with them and 2) establish as much data about Jacob to help search other arrival dates.  To the first point, I can identify no other relatives on the Jaffe side who could have brought Jacob in time for him to be enumerated in the 1900 census.  The only family remaining behind arrived in 1903 or later.   The missing piece, which might provide an answer,  is his mother Bessie's family.  I barely know her parents' names (from her death certificate) and know nothing of siblings or other relations. Once I accept that Bessie came with two of her sons but left the youngest behind, the most likely scenario was that he arrived with other family, but I haven't found a record showing when or how this happened.   For the second case, I have a spreadsheet with every data point I've encountered.  Jacob reports immigrating 1892 (1910 census), 1893 (1900 census), 1897 (1920 census), 1899 (1930 census) and naturalized 1892 (1920 census), arrived 1893 and father naturalized 1895 (on Jacob's passport application).  His year of birth varies from 1884 to 1888 depending when you asked.  

Finally, at least two of you suggested using the searches available at  I've looked at this site but haven't discovered anything I wasn't able to find using the Ellis Island manifest search.  Specifically, someone suggested searching simply by the Residence name but no service I've tried allows me to search without entering a family name.  If there is a search tool that allows a broader approach, please provide a name or other pointers,   Thanks.


p.s. For those who might be interested, the story my grandfather told me (and I recorded) is that he made the crossing at the age of 13, accompanying a younger cousin.  They were smuggled across the Russian border and put on a train to Antwerp.  The train was delayed and they arrived too late for the boat, requiring them to wait a week for the next ship.  Since he was at leisure, my grandfather decided to explore the city.  While in a public park surrounded by nice houses, a well-dressed man approached my grandfather and said to him, in perfect Yiddish, "Would you do me a favor?   I need you take something to one of the houses here.  Someone will give you an envelope in return.  Bring it back to me.  I'll be waiting for you." My grandfather said he knocked on the door and a woman answered, holding an envelope as if she expected him.  He gave her his package and took the envelope back to where the man was waiting.  The man took a large denomination bill from the envelope and gave it to my grandfather and walked away.  (When I asked my grandfather what he thought that was about, he just shrugged.)  He continued his trip, arriving in NY, where the cousin's family received him, took him to the baths and gave him a set of "modern" clothes.  On the way to the baths, a ruffian called my grandfather a "greenie" and they got in a fight ("I got the best of him, believe you me.").  The next morning they put him on a train to Philadelphia, with a note instructing the conductor where he needed to get to.  Arriving in Phila., the conductor handed him over to a policeman who escorted him to his father's address.  At his father's home, they were told that everyone was at work and the policeman took him there.  However the foreman had them locked in and only after negotiations, one of the brothers was allowed to leave to take Jake to the house. 

There are so many holes in the story, I don't know where to begin.  Maybe he was telling someone else's story.  Maybe it came from a book or a movie.


Hi Lee, just my two cents' but I certainly think it possible Jake traveled as a child with some other family, under their surname, as if he was part of their family during the voyage/travel.  These passenger arrival records can be very difficult to find for obvious reasons, and even if found, difficult to prove they are one and the same person.  

I've seen similar cases of people who also derived US citizenship from the father's naturalization and who later in their life needed documentary proof of that citizenship.  These cases would open at INS (now USCIS) from the 1930's through the 1950's and 1960's, where the applicant told a similar tale (traveled with aunt & uncle, traveled with friends of the family, etc.) and recorded under the other family's name (which they often did not remember).


It's entirely possible that he traveled by himself claiming an older age or with another relative of another surname.  My grandfather came to America with an uncle, but was separated from him at Ellis Island, so he lied about his age.  This was in 1905.  
Barbara Sloan
Conway, SC

Sally Bruckheimer <sallybruc@...>

Children weren't coddled in the 19th century. My ggrandmother came alone, at age 8, after her mother died and father remarried.  She wasn't in steerage, but she was sent to an aunt and uncle (probably at least) in NYC.
Children came in steerage too, at young ages.
Sally Bruckheimer,  Princeton, NJ   <sallybruc@...>

Ben Karlin <BenKARLIN@...>


It is hard to keep up with the updates made to the various Genealogy websites as they are “improved” but my experience is that FamilySearch does allow searching only on the place field. For example, my grandfather was born in Yanow ad Pinsk in Belarus and emigrated from Yakowlewo, near there.

The caveat is that there are easily a dozen alternate names and spellings (as well as their being located in four different nations depending on the year) for each of these cities. And these are only the legitimate alternatives. Add the misspellings and transcription errors .... I would consider it impossible to find all of the listings from either place.

In some cases I have been pleased and surprised by the results in US draft and military records, archives of Jewish immigration agencies, Yad Vashem, and passenger manifests. Not all of these are available through FamilySearch.

As a reminder, FamilySearch requires free registration for reasonably full access to its records. Many records online refer to indices of records on microfilm, some of which are accessible only at LDS Family History sites or affiliated public libraries. At present these are not all open but it should not be difficult to compile relevant records and, once the outdoors reopens, view them.

Hope this helps,
Ben Karlin
Aurora, IL

Researching KARLIN, KARLINSKY and KAROLINSKY: Motola, Yanow ad Pinsk, Yakowlewa Belarus; Israel; Baltimore, MD and Chicago, IL
TURNIANSKY, TURNER and TURNOY: Kobryn, Yakowlewa, Belarus; Israel; Chicago, IL; Wing, ND and South Haven, MI
RICE, RICH, REICH, REISEN, REIZEN, REICIN and RAJCZYN: Zhitomir and Cherniachiv, Ukraine
SAUER, SAUVER and SAUWER: Buenos Aires, Argentina and Belem, Brazil

Marvin Lauwasser


So when did Jacob Jaffe come over?   Here are some considerations from a guy who only dabbles in genealogy.


My GM Molly came through Ellis Island in 1921 bringing my 18 year old mother and a 15 year old "son", Reisik Leib Wiezisky.  That should have been my then 14 year old aunt Bella, but she arrived in December 1925 at age 19.  There was no son Reisik in the immediate family.  I expect he was snuck in as a favor to someone.   The visa application might have been of interest but I never pursued it.


Have you checked for your GF's arrival in other ports of entry?  My father came in through Canada and I found that in Family Search.


I played around in the SM site using search filters: Jaffe/male/birth 1884-88/arrival 1892-99.  There are 14 hits.  The first one is a Jaffe with given name obliterated.  He's an 11 yr old arriving June'95 from Glasgow going to Philadelphia.  Seems to be with a mom and 2 younger sibs.


Among the 14 Jaffes I see another spelling for the town.  Using the filters without Jaffe but with Suchawola, there's a 9 year old Jankel Weinstein arriving 1898 from Antwerp.


You might try to skim through Bertha's manifest for others from Suchowola.  Truly a long shot.  Or maybe the gubernia that the town was within.


Hope this helps.


Lee Jaffe

Thanks.  I was finally able to get from the stevemorse site to Ellis Island.  I found the same results you found.  My great uncles  – Sender and Gedale  – are there but don't see any possible entries for my grandfather.  -- Lee