When only part of the family emigrates to the US #usa

Marcia Segal

Hello and greetings to everyone,

Was it uncommon for the husband to come to the US _after_ his wife and children? I know anything is possible, and yet it seems like an oddity. I gathered that, in general, the husband (and perhaps one of the children, old enough to work) would come to the US, and earn enough money to bring over the rest of the family. But in my family a great-grandmother and her two oldest children came to the US (to Philadelphia), arriving in 1892. The note in the passenger manifest indicates that she was going to her sister's place, or perhaps it says her sister met her. It looks like "pp to sister and met." "PP" could be passage paid, but _to_ sister? If her sister met her, this still doesn't explain why her husband didn't meet her, or why he didn't travel with her. As I said, it could have been anything. Thanks for any thoughts on this.

Marcia Segal

Kenneth Ryesky


Though the husband would most commonly come over first and then bring over wife and children, it would seem to be an earning capability thing more than a male/female thing.  (At least two of my g-grandmothers came to Philadelphia from the old country, but they were widowed and their passage was paid by other relatives.).

If the wife had better prospects than the husband for earning money, then, all else being equal, it would make sense for the wife to go over first.   Situations where the wife would have better expected success in earning money would include (but not be limited to) husband has a disability, husband is incarcerated, husband is preoccupied with other matters (including military service), et cetera.

-- KHR
Ken Ryesky,  Petach Tikva, Israel     kenneth.ryesky@... 

GERTZIG, BRODSKY; Yelizavetgrad, Ukraine
IZRAELSON, ARSHENOV; Yevpatoriya, Ukraine (Crimea)

Sarah L Meyer

In addition to Ken's reasoning, in this case the wife was the one who had a family member to go to.  If it had been a brother instead of a sister, maybe the husband would have come first.  But to send him to live with her sister-- that would have been unacceptable under Jewish customs.   So she and the kids came (after all , the woman takes care of the children).  Once she has safely arrived and is established then he can come.

Sarah L Meyer
Georgetown TX
BIRGARDOVSKY, EDELBERG, HITE (CHAIT), PERCHIK Russia (southern Ukraine) and some Latvia or Lithuania


On Thu, Nov 26, 2020 at 01:44 AM, Marcia Segal wrote:
"pp to sister and met."
Pre-paid to sister, and met at the pier.  Sounds like the sister may have initiated the steamship tickets purchase from Philadelphia.  If you have access to Ancestry.com, you might search some of the ticket sales records at https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/1366/   They may be searchable elsewhere too (on Ancestry the source is listed as JewishGen :-).

Marian Smith

The Becker's Email

You don't say when the husband came.  Is it possible he did come first but, for some reason could not meet his wife and so she was met by her sister?  If she came w/ the two oldest children, when the did other children come and w/ whom?

Johanna Becker
Newport, RI

Michele Lock

What do 1900, 1910, 1920, and 1930 US census records say about years of arrival for both the husband and the wife? Do those match up with the wife arriving first? And have you found the ship passenger list for the husband?

Another possibility - Where did this husband and wife settle? If it was far enough away from Philadelphia, it may be that the wife and children were met by the wife's sister, simply because the sister lived closest to the port.
Michele Lock

Lock/Lak/Lok and Kalon in Zagare/Joniskis, Lithuania
Olitsky in Alytus, Suwalki, Poland/Lithuania
Gutman/Goodman in Czestochowa, Poland
Lavine in Trenton, New Jersey and Lida/Minsk gub., Belarus


I have two examples in my extended family with the husband arrived after the wife. In one case the husband came with their three-year-old son. In this case I wasn’t sure if he went back to Poland to pick up the son, or if it was his first journey.

A lot of women travelled on their own, including teenage girls.

Stephen Schmideg
Melbourne, Australia

Lee Jaffe

I want to say how much I appreciate this list.  Even when I peruse a question and the answers that are not obviously in my wheelhouse, I'm bound to learn something interesting.  This current topic is a good case-in-point.  Though I don't have any cases of wives crossing ahead of the husband (that I know of), I found the question and the answers interesting, deepening my understanding of the immigration journey.  I've been looking for sources that document the stages of the journey that might help me interpret records I find and focus my search strategy.   The link to the Ancestry ticket sales database was especially interesting since I'm still looking for records for my grandfather's arrival as a child after the rest of his family was already settled in Philadelphia.   I've been encouraging members of our local JGS to sign up for the list for just this reason.

Lee Jaffe


Robert Hanna

My grandmother and her sister, who were the two oldest of five children, came first.  Then their father came a year later with the next oldest daughter.  One year after that their mother arrived with the youngest two (a daughter and a son).

Robert Hanna

Adelle Gloger

Thought I would throw another thought into the mix.
My paternal grandmother arrived in the USA in 1921 with 4 children, ages 20, 16, 12 and 9.
My grandfather, her husband, did not arrive until 1924. He was denied passage with the family because of trachoma -- an eye disease. My grandmother and the children came to live with her brother-in-law, my grandfather's brother.
Adelle Weintraub Gloger
Cleveland, Ohio