I know I told you that we’d meet the other Wissmanns today but I’m not feeling one with the words tonight so I’m giving you a short post that’s related to one of those other Wissmanns – the other Ludwig to be exact. But first…
My boss is fond of saying that every box at the National Archives contains a story. And it’s true – some of them are pretty boring but some of them are pretty exciting. I, on the other hand, am fond of pointing out that you never know who you’ll meet in the records. One day I’ll tell you about the day I ran into Lizzie Borden. And boy did she have an ax to grind.
My favorite box – make that file – in the whole entire National Archives is a great example of people I never expected to meet when I opened the folder. At first, I just thought I was going to find a letter written by the U.S. Marshall in Arizona about pesky cowboys and disturbances at a little place called Tombstone and some guys named Earp who helped to restore order. I expected that – it was the whole reason I was in the file in the first place. But then I ran into General Sherman – that General Sherman – who sent a lengthy telegram complaining about cowboys – everybody hated on cowboys back in the day. Last but not least, I met a grocer in Prescott, Arizona named Morris Goldwater who wrote a letter about a lawsuit he was involved in. Morris’ nephew Barry would eventually become the most famous Goldwater Republican ever.
You just never know who you’ll meet – or run into – in the records.
That’s what happened when I was looking at the manifest for the ship that brought the other Ludwig Wissmann to America in 1923. Ludwig’s on Line 24. But it was Line 7 that caught my eye.
Did I run into someone else I knew in the records?
CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE. Image via ancestry.com via NARA
SS Vaderland Manifest - CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE. Image via ancestry.com via NARA
CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE. Image via ancestry.com via NARA
While I know you’d like to drag out our examination of this manifest over four weeks like I did the last time, I think we can probably cover everything in one post. Well, I’ll try anyway. If you get tired of reading, just take a break and come back later.
We’ve been spending a lot of time on the Schellhardt part of our family – and for good reason, it’s the name of our website! But it’s time to meet the maternal side of the family – Nanny’s relatives. The best place to start is with her immediate family - her parents, Ludwig and Mathilda Wissmann, and her brothers, Alfred and Alphonse. Lucky for us, they just happen to be on the manifest that we’re looking at today!
This manifest is for the S.S. Vaderland which sailed from Antwerp via Dover (the English Dover, not the Delaware Dover, FYI) on September 23, 1905 and arrived at the Port of New York on October 2, 1905.
The Wissmann family is listed on Lines 8-11. The patriarch of the family, Ludwig, is first. He’s listed as a 34 year old married male carpenter from Eichenbiehl, Germany. His wife, Mathilda (or Mathilde) is listed next – a 32 year old married female with no calling or occupation. She, like her husband, is listed as being from Eichenbiehl, Germany. Their sons, 3 year old Alfred and 11 month old Alphonse, round out the list. They could all read and write – although I think this was an over-exaggeration when it came to the boys! The final destination for all – the City of Brotherly Love, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Why isn’t Anna Wissmann listed on this manifest?!
Let’s see how well you’ve been reading these posts.
CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE. Image via ancestry.com via NARA
Again, it’s the second half of the manifest that always floats my boat. The family does not have tickets to their final destination although – unlike Max – they have quite a bit of money in their possession - $400 to be exact. With inflation, that’s like…a whole lotta coin in today’s money!
The next two columns are intriguing – it’s kind of hard to make out whether Ludwig was previously in the United States but Mathilda was – and this will be important to remember when we meet her sister Ida in a few days. So, who are they joining in the States? According to the manifest, Ludwig’s brother-in-law, W. Pet. Parr at the Delanco Hotel in Philadelphia. I’ve never heard of the name Parr but where have we heard Delanco before? Anna Wissmann lived with relatives in Delanco, New Jersey after living in an orphanage as a child. Delanco Hotel. Delanco, New Jersey. Coincidence? Misunderstanding? Mistake? I ended up spending my lunch hour doing what archivists should never do – researching. I tried to track down the Delanco Hotel without any luck. So then I did what archivists really shouldn’t do – I started making conjectures. What if there was no Delanco Hotel? What if they were confused and meant Delanco, New Jersey? I haven’t found the answer yet but I will not rest until I get to the bottom of it!
The rest of the manifest is routine – nobody was an anarchist, a polygamous, or a forced child bride. They were all in good health and without any physical deformities. Ahh, the perfect immigrants!
Tomorrow – a more personal look at the Wissmann family.
Anyone figure out why Nanny wasn’t on the manifest yet? Come on #19, you know you’ve got this!
We’re celebrating another birthday today! #20, Karen Schellhardt Bade, is today’s birthday girl! Happy birthday Karen! We’re so glad you’re a part of our family!
It’s our last Manifest Monday for the Sierra Ventana! Let’s bid bon voyage by discussing fun immigration facts! Warning - this is a little long so just grab a cup of coffee and settle in.
If you study immigration history, you’ll quickly learn that there were major waves during which immigrants came to America. In fact, someone else’s family research shows that there were Schellhardts in America as early as the 1780s. These Schellhardts and their short Shelhart descendants are related to us somehow but I’ll tackle that in my post “The Long and Short of It.”
Okay – back to our Schellhardt immigration story. Max emigrated to America in 1924 which was actually pretty late in the immigration game. This time period was pretty significant – both for Germany and America.
What was Max emigrating from? He came of age during the Weimar Republic when things weren’t exactly great in Germany – think strikes, hyperinflation, putsches. Not exactly good times for an 18 year old carpenter, right? Sure, things stabilized a bit in Germany in the late 1920s but you can’t blame a kid for wanting to get out while the gettin’ out was good.
Then there was America. Sure, Lady Liberty was all “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.” But by the mid 1900s, the American government was like whoa! Hold on one second. We can’t just let anyone in. Hey, I get it. I love people but I have a hard time letting them in too.
So, the U.S. Government instituted a bunch of laws that restricted who they’d let in to America. It seems like they really only wanted literate white people from northern and western Europe. And they sure as heck only wanted them to have one wife!
In 1921 and 1924, Congress enacted laws that restricted the annual quota of immigrants to a percentage of each nationality that was resident in the United States at the time of the 1910 census. According to the Immigration Station at Ellis Island, approximately 315,000 immigrants arrived in 1924. One of those was Max Schellhardt.
The above is all just background for the columns we’re going to examine today. If anyone can make a long story longer, it’s Number 33. Have I told you about the movie War Horse?! I urge you to take all of the following information with a grain of salt – see, there’s another facet of this period of immigration history. It was marked by waves of young men looking for work who ultimately intended to return to their country of origin. This isn’t something you admit when you’re "immigrating," at least on paper. When I was in my early 20s, K-Mart was giving away atlases if you signed up for a credit card. I would’ve said anything to get that free atlas. I kinda feel like Max might’ve said anything just to get to America. That doesn’t make us liars…we just both really wanted something. Max got a future with some money and I got a bunch of maps.
Anyhoo...here are Columns 20 - 26
Column 20 – Purpose of Coming to America
Whether alien intends to return to country whence he came after engaging temporarily in laboring position in the United States – NO (sure…)
Length of time alien intends to reside in the United States – ALWAYS (at least until 1934...)
Whether alien intends to become a citizen of the United States – YES (uh-huh!)
Column 21 – Ever in prison or almshouse or hospitalized for care and treatment of the insane or supported by charity? If so, when? – NO (like, who is going to admit to that?!)
Column 22 – Whether a polygamist? – NO (clearly, this was way before everyone had their favorite Sister Wife on TLC)
Column 23 – Whether an anarchist? – NO (seriously, back in those days you did not want to identify as an anarchist!)
Column 24 – Whether a person who believes in or advocates the overthrow by force or violence of the Government of the United States or all forms of law, etc.? – NO (they still ask this question when you’re employed by the Federal government!)
Column 25 – Whether coming by reason of any offer, solicitation, promise, or agreement, expressed or implied, to labor in the United States? – NO (cuts down on the mail-order grooms)
Column 26 – Whether the alien had been previously deported within one year? – NO
Well, that's it for the Sierra Ventana manifest. I hope you’ve enjoyed our in depth examination! Join us next week as we go further back in time to look at the manifest of the S. S. Vaderland, the ship that brought the Wissmann family to the United States!
Max - second to last line. CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE. Image via ancestry.com via NARA
Max on His Wedding Day
The post that I originally intended to write tonight has been pushed back until next Manifest Monday. I have a complicated recipe to make for dinner tonight so I don’t have time to expound on family history this evening. But I know you all look forward to Manifest Monday as much as I do, so I wanted to leave you with a little something tonight!
We’ve all seen pictures of a dashing Max with a crazy head of hair and really huge man hands (I notice things like that…don’t ask me why). But what does Max look like on paper? Let’s look at Columns 27 – 32 of the manifest to get a better picture of him. Max’s line is the very last one on the page.
Column 27 – Condition of health, mental and physical – GOOD. Whew!
Column 28 – Deformed or crippled. Nature, length of time, and cause – NO. Double whew!
Column 29 – Height – 5 feet, 7 inches. Go ahead, you know you want to do it – measure yourself to see if you’re taller than Max. Are you?
The next two columns are my favorite because I have a (totally baseless) theory about our family that I’ll share with you some day.
Column 30 – Complexion – Fair.
Column 31 – Color of Hair and Eyes – Black and Grey (I’m just assuming BL stands for black and not blonde because Max clearly had dark brown hair and they also use BL for eye color.)
Column – 32 – Marks of identification – None. (I don’t know what the 20-12 stands for.)
So – there you have him – Max on paper. Not too shabby, huh?
Take a look in the mirror – do you see a resemblance?
CLICK IMAGE FOR LARGER VIEW. Image courtesy ancestry.com via NARA
No, seriously, he got 7 more presents than me!
With all due respect to The Bangles, it’s just another Manifest Monday ‘round these parts! But before we start talking about ships and such, let me tell you about my Christmas.
I love Christmas and look forward to spending it with my entire family. I load up all the cats in my Honda and head up 95 so we can deck the halls with holly and be full of jolly with my parents and #32. Now, this might come as a bit of a shocker to some of you but #32 can be a little moo-dee with a capital “M” at times. But it’s okay because we love and accept him the way he is and he is amazing at so many other things! Anyway, I won’t bore you with how he ruined Thanksgiving – in 1994 or 2012 – let’s just say, we weren’t sure how Christmas was going to go.
Christmas morning arrived and #32 didn’t. But as some of us know better than others, #32 operates in his own time zone so we knew he’d get there later or later. When he finally arrived, he did come bearing gifts. Gift cards, that is. I gave him a little credit – at least they were wrapped. I was the recipient of a $25 gift card to Home Depot (not to mention $12.50 of a shared Cheesecake Factory gift card). Not to sound ungrateful but I think my exact reaction can be summed up in this picture circa 1986.
I spent hours making him a cat calendar and all I got was a $25 gift card?! I know – my priorities – not straight. Tis the season not to be greedy!
CLICK IMAGE FOR LARGER VIEW! Image via ancestry.com via NARA
So, what’s a $25 gift card have to do with a ship manifest? And why did it make me appreciate my life – and #32 – a whole lot more? It’s convoluted but just stay with me and we’ll see how this goes.
We’ve got Max on Line 9 of the Sierra Ventana manifest – we know he’s a literate 18 year old single German male traveling in steerage. What else can we find out from the manifest? Let’s look at Columns 15-19. He had a ticket to his final destination in a country to which he had never been before. His passage was paid by his aunt Johanna Toner of Wilmington, Delaware – the same location listed as his final destination. And in Column 17 – “Whether in possession of $50, and if less, how much?”
Line 9 – Max Schellhardt – $25.
An 18 year old immigrant arriving in a brand new country with just $25 in his pocket.
Sometimes, something is worth much more than its face value.
I’m thankful for – and humbled by – that $25.
And I’ll be sure to remember this lesson next Christmas.
Next week – Lies Our Grandpa Might've Told at Ellis Island!
Sierra Ventana manifest. Image courtesy of Ancestry.com via the National Archives and Records Administration
Grab a life vest and shout Chips Ahoy! ‘cause it’s the first installment of Manifest Mondays!
Ship manifests are pretty cool because – depending on the time period – they provide neat information about the ship passengers – ages, occupations, physical characteristics. Early manifests were handwritten and – as we’ll see with the Vaderland manifest – hard to read. Later manifests were typed and easier to understand! The manifests were required to be filled out by the steamship lines at the port of embarkation – you weren’t getting a voyage unless your name was on the manifest.
Today, we’re going to look at Line 9 of the Sierra Ventana’s manifest. That’s Max’s line.
But first, let me tell you why I don’t think Max and I are related.
So, this might be shocking to some people but I don’t really identify myself as “being a Schellhardt.” I mean, I know I am…well at least half of me is. But really, I’m my father’s daughter and am most comfortable “being a Henderson”. And I am really good at “being a Henderson”. See, Hendersons are kinda quiet and like to keep to themselves. This works out well in our family because when you have a mom who’s a Schellhardt, it’s usually hard to get in a word edgewise anyway so we just tend to watch and listen. And listen some more.
I think this sometimes bothers my mom – she’d like to see me engage more. Open up. Join things. Every once in a while, we’ll have a little back and forth –
Mom: You need to get out there and do things. Meet people. Join something.
Me: I know! But I don’t like to join things! I’m not a joiner!
But you know who was a joiner?
See, I'm just a Henderson in a long line of Schellhardt joiners.
Now, before I get a half dozen emails – yes, I know this refers to Max’s occupation as a carpenter. According to dictionary.com a joiner is a carpenter, especially one who constructs doors, window sashes, paneling, and other permanent woodwork.
This portion of the manifest indicates that the passenger line 9 - Max Schellhardt - was an 18 year old single German male who could read and write and who listed his occupation as joiner.
Next week - Max's destination and why I'll never get mad about a $25 gift card at Christmas again.
Starting tomorrow, we’re going to examine the various ship manifests that document the voyages of the Schellhardt and Wissmann families to America. Here’s a list of the four manifests that I think are important to our family history. (ARCHIVIST ALERT – listen up, archivists are supposed to be objective and neutral. I follow that rule in my day job. I don’t follow that rule here. Please don’t report me to the Archivist Cops.) Back to the list:
1. S. S. Vaderland – Ludwig Wissmann and family, September 1905
2. S. S. Sierra Ventana – Max Schellhardt, August 1924
3. S. S. Reliance – Adolf Schellhardt, May, 1926
4. S. S. Bremen – Max Schellhardt and family, March 1935
Quick notes –
The records themselves are in the custody of the National Archives and all images are from Ancestry.com. I think it’s legal to use the images as long as I provide proper citations. I should probably check first before I end up in Archivist Jail though.
The manifests record the names of passengers on ships arriving at U.S. ports. I swore a long time ago I was told that manifests for outgoing ships were not required or retained but some of my archivist pals recently told me that wasn’t the case. In any event, I haven’t found any outbound manifests.
Each week I’ll examine a manifest – or part of a manifest – to provide a sense of the information that was recorded and the clues that can help us fill some of the missing parts in the narrative of our family history.
Tomorrow – the Sierra Ventana and why I don’t think Max and I are related.