Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Collecting Sophia's Immigration Information

Sophia (Meinzen) Kropp is my current person of interest.  She is my great-grandfather Henry Meinzen's (assumed) sister.  I'm slowly going through sources suggested by her obituary to see if I can find a source that connects the two individuals as siblings.  Immigration documents aren't high on my list for satisfying the relationship but I decided it's worth finding whatever information I can about her immigration to the U.S.  I've come to think of this experience as "collecting" Sophia's immigration information because not every source had the same information. 

I began my search based on the statement in Sophia's obituary that she and her husband, Carl, "came to America in 1887 and settled here [in Steubenville/Jefferson County, Ohio]."  I knew this date could be wrong or just as easily be right.  It was a starting point.

I haven't searched immigration records for a while and didn't realize FamilySearch had images and transcriptions, so it was not my first choice for searching.  Instead, I headed over to the National Archives website where I searched their passenger lists at Access to Archival Databases.  There I found this information for three different individuals named Sophia Kropp.  I noticed that two of them travelled on the same ship.  (Click images to enlarge.)

I clicked through to see information for the 44-year-old Sophie Kropp and found this:
I looked at the images for Sophia, age 44, and Sophia, age 11, then found a record for Carl Kropp, age 52.  These individuals seem likely to be the correct family, but the transcribed information is limited to generally personal information.  Additional, non-personal information:  Sophie travelled from Germany to the USA and planned to stay here and she travelled in steerage.  I did not learn the date of arrival nor the name of the ship.

I next searched the Castle where I found this information about the older Sophia.
This confirms the information from The National Archives but adds the arrival date of September 23, 1887; the town of departure, Bremen; and the name of the ship, Saale.   I found Carl Kropp, age 52, farmer, and Sophie Kropp, age 11, on the same ship with the same arrival date.

"Germans Immigration to the United States" at MyHeritage had a similar transcription with the same information and added the port of arrival as New York.

At Ancestry I learned that the Saale's port of arrival was, more specifically, Southampton, New York, and found an image of the ship, details about the ship, the name of the shipping line, and an image of the passenger list.  The passenger list was not very clear.

Last, I went to FamilySearch to see if perhaps they had passenger lists.  I found a clear image and a transcription.  The ship's name was given as something other than Saale but I could imagine how a transcriber could have made the error.  FamilySearch gave the arrival date as only 1887.

I looked at previous pages on FamilySearch, hoping to find detailed information on the first page of the passenger list but did not.  Does one sometimes have to accept the transcription as accurate when the handwritten source can't be found, or should we always question a transcription?

Considering the variety of information and the number of sources, when it comes time to add Sophia and her family to my RootsMagic database citing these sources for this one fact will be a bear.

Looking at search results for the same information from five different websites was an interesting exercise and reinforces to me the usefulness of searching several websites when the first doesn't provide the details you seek. 


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  1. I appreciate this list of varied sources for passenger lists. I have one more immigrant ancestor of my husband's to find on a passenger list. (He came from Ukraine/Galicia in early 1890s).

    For citing these sources, I suggest using and citing all these sources. Best of luck!

    1. Hi, Elizabeth. I would think that it would be easier to find more recent passenger lists (1890s) than earlier ones, but maybe the country of origin makes it harder. Good luck!

      Yes, I think you're right: I should cite all these sources.

      Thanks for visiting and leaving a comment.

  2. It is interesting the different bits of info given by different vendors. I was frustrated looking for my great grandmother in immigration records because of her common name, but now I will try some of these other sources.

    1. Oh, yes, common names are so difficult to research, Wendy. With the common ones, there are so many results. (And with the uncommon ones, which are usually the odd ones, there are too few results and too many variations.) I hope you can find your great-grandmother's immigration records. Maybe one of these sources will help.

  3. Very interesting to see the different information on the different sites. Goods reminder for me that I need to go back and check some additional sites for a great grandfather.

    1. This was a good exercise for me, Anna, because I didn't realize how many sites had information available and how varied the information was. I hope you find more information about your great-grandfather.


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