30 May 2009


One of the many benefits of reading genealogy blogs is that I often get ideas for new sources of potential family history nuggets. For instance, a few weeks ago, on "Ask Olive Tree Genealogy a Question," I read the following:

It's fun to look for these ships in the New York Times newspaper Archives. You can find out when the ship arrived in port and sometimes other details especially if they encountered bad weather en route.

What a great idea! Since the archive only goes back to 1851, I started by looking for the earliest arrival I know from after that date. On ancestry.com, I had previously found a passenger list that showed my great-great grandmother, Catherine TOEMMES, arriving in New York from Le Havre on the ship Finland on Saturday, 23-Apr-1853.

From the image, I also learned that Catherine had immigrated with several other Toemmeses. These turned out to be her brother, Matthias, her mother, Maria, and her sisters, Anna, Maria and Anna Maria (AKA Emma).

Knowing the date of the Finland's arrival made it very easy to locate the following in the NYT archives. From the Monday, 25-April-1853 edition:

"In ballast" means that the ship carried no cargo, just the passengers and crew, their baggage, and enough extra weight to keep the ship from "heeling" or tipping over. "To master" means that there was no hired agent and the ship's captain (the master) was acting as the agent. "Johnson" was the ship's captain, Henry Johnson, as shown in the information from the first page of the passeger list.

Since the ship arrived on 23-Apr-1853 after 49 days at sea, it must have left Le Havre on Saturday, 5-Mar-1853. Just another interesting little tidbit of family history.

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