Topics

Logistics of emigration from Pale of Settlement to America #poland #lithuania

elkus@...
 

My paternal great-grandparents all came from Suwalki Gubernia, now split between Poland and Lithuania.  I'm interested in reading about how during the 1885-1900 period (a) relatives in the US sent money and tickets to those wanting to come to USA  (b) how they traveled to the ports given that for many Jews, travel was restricted, (c) what documentation was required to cross borders and to board the ship, (d) how easy it was to falsify surnames or change surnames during the process, (e) how they navigated from entry (usually New York) to final destination without speaking English or knowing how things work in the US.  Would greatly appreciate seeing links to articles on these topics. Thanks.

Mark Halpern
 

Read the "Background" of this part of the JewishGen USA database https://www.jewishgen.org/databases/USA/PhilaBlitzstein.htm donated to JewishGen by the Jewish Genealogical and Archival Society of Greater Philadelphia. This will answer some of your questions.

Mark Halpern
JGASGP 

 

On 2020-06-19 5:50 pm, elkus@... wrote:

My paternal great-grandparents all came from Suwalki Gubernia, now split between Poland and Lithuania.  I'm interested in reading about how during the 1885-1900 period (a) relatives in the US sent money and tickets to those wanting to come to USA  (b) how they traveled to the ports given that for many Jews, travel was restricted, (c) what documentation was required to cross borders and to board the ship, (d) how easy it was to falsify surnames or change surnames during the process, (e) how they navigated from entry (usually New York) to final destination without speaking English or knowing how things work in the US.  Would greatly appreciate seeing links to articles on these topics. Thanks.

Alyssa Freeman
 

     My grandmother, three of her sisters, and their parents walked from Odessa (now Ukraine) to Rotterdam (family name at the time FAVILYUKIS) around 1920 - a little passed the time you mentioned but probably very similar. They had false papers saying they were from Tiraspol (where my great-grandmother was from - maiden name DIKERMAN), which was in either Bessarabia or Romania at the time and not part of Russia (not quite the USSR yet and not part of Russia at the time, but there was a lot of infighting in Ukraine, at the time, and there were allied troops that had entered into Odessa to try and fight the Bolsheviks on behalf of the Tsar, and Poland was threatening from the west). The papers were very expensive. To the best of my knowledge, they avoided countries that were known to be hostile to Jews and probably took a southern route. It took them about a year. It's my understanding that they had help from HIAS and they sewed up all their money and their silver in their clothes so no one would see it and steal it. I don't know all the details, but I do know my great-grandfather was arrested for murder along the way and was released based solely on the testimony of my grandmother (who was 8 at the time). When they got to Rotterdam, my grandmother and her sisters got sick and ended up in the hospital. 
      I believe my great-grandfather knew English - or enough to get by. He had visited the US once before. They were processed through Ellis Island and my grandfather's brother has been in the US for a while so I think he's the one that came to greet them and helped them get set up in NY. The agent who spoke Russian to them to find out if they could read and write, etc, didn't speak to my grandmother who was small for her age. He thought she was about 6. She got very indignant and told her father, "Tell him I'm not a baby and I've been to school and I know how to read."
 
Alyssa Freeman
Henrico, VA

ciara77055@...
 

Howdy,

At the 2019 Texas State Genealogical Society's conference last October, David Passman presented "From Minsk to Manhattan:  Using Maps to Retrace an Ancestor's Journey."  It was an extremely detailed and fascinating talk.  I think you would find it quite enlightening.  From the syllabus:

OVERVIEW
When an immigrant ancestor leaves no letters, journals, or other mementos; retracing their journey proves problematic. Three records, all passenger lists, reveal that David Passman travelled from Minsk to Manhattan in spring 1891 with fellow landsman (countryman) Abraham Kriegel. Using historic maps in conjunction with research into extant integrated transportation systems illuminate David and Abraham’s journey city by city during the Age of Steam.

You should contact David (dbpdallas@...) to:
1)  Ask him when and where this presentation will next be available to view;
2)  When will his book on this topic be published and where / how to purchase it.

Chris D.

Jill Whitehead
 

As Suwalki was close to the Baltic, it was easier to get to the Baltic ports either by being smuggled across the border with Konigsberg/East Prussia or by travelling via the Augustow canal (at least partially) to Libau in Latvia. By the 1880's the railway went through Suwalki town and trains could be caught to Hamburg, to either cross the North Sea to UK and then onwards to USA, or directly across the Atlantic to USA. By the 1880's, the journey was done by steamship and many lines plied the Baltic/North Sea/ Atlantic routes including those that operated out of Hull on the NE Coast of England. The University of Hull has a lot of information on its immigration website about these shipping lines. Also the 2008 IAGS conference in Chicago had a series of lectures on this theme, especially one on New East Prussia (which Konigsberg was then part of) on the border with Suwalki Lomza, where there was a whole industry in getting people across the border, sometimes involving false passports if the immigrant did not come from Suwalki Lomza gubernias but from further afield. 

Jill Whitehead, Surrey, UK 

Emily Rosenberg
 

I visited Suwalki in 2016 and by lucky chance, went to the railroad station, which was the likely departure place for our ancestors in 1886. There were no trains scheduled when I was there so I stood in the tracks and looked in the distance, imagining what my family and seen and felt  as they went to their new life.  Our fabulous guide explained that today’s sturdy brick station was probably a re placement for the one of my grandfathers era but the track was the same, going to the same places. I have a photo of the station which I am happy to share, just p.m. me if you would like it.

jbonline1111@...
 

Family lore says that my maternal grandfather and his uncle escaped Czarist Russia (now Belarus) hidden in a hay wagon in 1905.  On the other hand, my great-grandfather often worked in NYC, so it is difficult to know what to think.  
--
Barbara Sloan
Conway, SC