Immigrant ships that never made it to America #general

Bob Silverstein

We have all poured over those ship manifests recording the arrival of our ancestors on these shores.  However, I have always wondered about ships that may have been lost at sea and along with them, their hopeful passengers.  Can anyone shed any light on this?
Bob Silverstein
Elk Grove Village, IL

Researching Kaplan (Krynki, Poland) Tzipershteyn (Logishin, Pinsk, Belarus), Friedson/Fridzon (Motol, Cuba, Massachusetts), Israel and Goodman (Mishnitz, Warsaw, Manchester).


I too am interested in this, so look forward to any news. Wondered if my great grandfathers brothers all got to their destination - USA, or if something happened on the way -  my great grandfather was the only brother to land and stay in London, England.

Mandy Molava
Researching Belarus, Russia, Brest & Galacia

Sam Lorber

Here is a possible reason immigrants might not have made it to America.  While visiting Glasgow in 1997 I attended Rosh Hashanah services there.  I was told by my host family, which had been in Scotland since the 1880s, that unscrupulous ship’s captains had dropped off immigrants telling them they were in the U.S. 
Sam Lorber


Hi Bob

If ships were lost at sea between Europe and America it was usually written something about it in the newspapers in Europe and in the United States or Canada. Sometimes I found lists with the names of the people who were drowned or missing and sometimes also of the people who survived. 

Here is the story about the Ship Volturno, which had many Jewish passengers on board when the tragedy happened (in German language),_1906)

The Volturno Ship disaster with lists of names

Corinne Iten

Jill Whitehead

There are common stories amongst descendants of UK Jews that they had intended to go onto USA but never got there. Mine all arrived between 1865 and 1875 in Hull or Leith on the East Coast of Britain, having travelled across the Baltic, likely from Konigsberg or Libau, and by all accounts, they came by sailing ship before the advent of steamships.

The reasons given for not continuing onto USA include sea sickness (I get very seasick and can imagine this), being given the wrong ticket in the old country, being robbed on arriving in Britain, and intending to have a break in Britain to save money for part 2 of the journey, but  not needing to/wanting to or being able to afford the new journey. 

However significant numbers of my father's family emigrated a second time in and around 1905, when the UK Aliens Act came in, having been in the UK for 30-40 years, and having married and raised children in the UK.  Put quite simply, those who had naturalised did not migrate a second time, but those who had not bothered to naturalise (it was expensive) did go onto USA in 1905. Naturalized citizens did not need to report to police etc, under the Act, but those who had not become British Citizens, were subject to monitoring and controls. 

Jill Whitehead, Surrey, UK

michele shari

My friend's "mum" is from Glasgow and told me the same thing. She was born in Vienna and when she left and boarded a ship they landed in Scotland and told them it was the US, and since they spoke English, it made sense.
Michele Farkas
Boynton Beach, FL (formerly NY)
Researching Farkas, Izsak, Stauber/Stober/Shtober, Ganz, Malek
Romania (Marmoros) and Hungary and anywhere else they may have gone!


I too was told in Ireland that some of the people there were dropped off were told it was the US.

Joseph Weiss


I wonder how and when they figured it out, and how they would have reacted. 
Tema Frank
Edmonton, Canada