Traveling Great Grandmother #general

Ellen Gottfried


My great grandmother married in London in August 1898.  In December 1898 she traveled by herself to New York, listing her occupation as servant.  At some point she returned to London, where she gave birth in March, 1899.  My great grandmother, great grandfather and the baby then traveled to Montreal by ship, and by train to Hartford, Connecticut during the summer of 1899.  Does anyone have an idea as to why a pregnant woman would travel by herself across the Atlantic Ocean?   Ellen GOTTFRIED, Plainview, New York

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Stephen Weinstein

On Sat, Dec 25, 2021 at 07:21 AM, Ellen Gottfried wrote:
married in London in August 1898.  In December 1898 she traveled by herself to New York, listing her occupation as servant...returned to London...gave birth in March, 1899...  Does anyone have an idea as to why
Could she conceal the pregnancy from the immigration inspectors?   Would admit her if they knew she was pregnant (women travelling alone generally weren't admitted until someone came to claim them, even when they weren't pregnant)?

If the answer to both questions is no, then you've confused the records of two different women, perhaps with the same name.

If she was able to conceal the pregnancy shortly before the birth, that suggests it was a premature birth.  But if it wasn't, then she was already pregnant when she got married, and the reason for travel might have been part of an effort to conceal the pregnancy from her husband or his family.
Stephen Weinstein
Camarillo, California, USA


Could she have been working for some family that was on the same ship?  The fact that she apparently returned to England fairly soon after arriving in the states suggested this possibility.  I know that pregnant women and even just married women often did not work outside the family at the time, but she may have been an exception.  If the birth was premature, that would explain why her pregnancy did not show at the time.
Barbara Sloan
Conway, SC

Michele Lock

Pre-1900, it can be challenging to confirm if an immigrant one finds on a ship passenger list to the US, is the relative that you are searching for. There was not much definitive information about these immigrants on these earlier lists, such as where their last residence was, who they are going to, what their final destination was, who paid for their ticket, etc. For the immigrant woman that you found traveling on her own in Dec. 1898 - does the list say where she is heading? Does it have her marital status on the list? Any other information? Or is she someone who has the same name and age of your great grandmother, but not much more that is definitive?

These ocean voyages to the US were not easy to endure, let alone for a woman who is about six months pregnant. The voyages took 12-16 days, and traveling in steerage was uncomfortable (and that is a euphemism). There is the also the cost for these voyages. 

Another thought - is it Ancestry or FamilySearch who is suggesting that the woman who came in Dec. 1898 to the US is your great grandmother? These hints are often wrong, and need to be considered carefully. Both websites often mix people up, when they have the same name and similar ages.
Michele Lock

Lak/Lok/Liak/Lock and Kalon/Kolon in Zagare/Joniskis/Gruzdziai, Lithuania
Lak/Lok/Liak/Lock in Plunge/Telsiai in Lithuania
Rabinowitz in Papile, Lithuania and Riga, Latvia
Trisinsky/Trushinsky/Sturisky and Leybman in Dotnuva, Lithuania
Olitsky in Alytus, Suwalki, Poland/Lithuania
Gutman/Goodman in Czestochowa, Poland
Lavine/Lev/Lew in Trenton, New Jersey and Lida/Vilna gub., Belarus

Shelley Mitchell

Almost anything can be. Bought, especially if she worked for a well-to-do family. My grandmother arrived in 1920 while pregnant. She had also survived typhus. My grandfather’s sister married a man “with connections.”  He paid someone off and she was able to get out before the physical. 

It’s also likely it’s 2 different women. I haven’t seen any Jewish women working as servants. What was her name?  The servants I’ve seen were all single Gentiles. 

Shelley Mitchell, NYC 

Eva Lawrence

The most likely explanation for a pregnant married woman apparently
travelling across the Atlantic on her own, is that she didn't, but that
someone else with the same name and similar details was the passenger,
particularly as no record of a return journey has been found.
Eva Lawrence
St Albans, UK.
Eva Lawrence
St Albans, UK.