Previously Known as the Napier
In addition to the normal puzzles and mysteries of locating your ancestors, have you ever wondered what the journey to America was actually like for them?
In addition to my interest in genealogy, I have also been fascinated by the sea ever since reading those wonderful classics such as Treasure Island as a child and later, the memorial Hornblower series as a young adult.
Growing up near the Chesapeake Bay and serving in the U.S. Navy only intensified my interest. This curiosity led me to my research of the vessel that carried my ancestors from Bremen to Baltimore in 1851 and 1863. My 2nd great-grandparents, Leury and Frederike Bolte, arrived on the vessel Adolphine in 1851 and my 2nd great-grandfather, Johann Hartung and family arrived on the same ship in 1863.
The first step in this process was determining the port of entry of my ancestors. From that information one can usually locate the vessel’s name. There are arrival lists for most of the ports of entry such as New York, Boston and Baltimore. The arrival lists for Baltimore were indexed by the WPA during the 1930s and can be found at the Baltimore City Archives & Records Management Offices.
After ascertaining the name of the vessel on which my ancestors traveled, the next step was to determine the type of ship - sail or steam? Immigrant vessels entering the US up to about 1880 were usually powered by sail but were gradually being replaced by steam power. If you are unsure what type of vessel you’re searching for, there is a good book to check first. It’s titled Ships of Our Ancestors by Michael Anuta Jr. and can probably be found in most large libraries. It is a compilation of photographs of the steamships that were employed in transporting immigrants to this country. It can also be ordered from Genealogical Publishing Co., 1001 N. Calvert St., Baltimore, MD 21202-3897. Phone 410-837-8271.
If you are unsuccessful locating a photo in Ships of Our Ancestors, next try writing to the Steamship Historical Society of America, Langsdale Library, University of Baltimore, 1420 Maryland Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21201. There will be a slight charge for the photo if it is located.
If you ancestor arrived via a sailing vessel, there are other sources you can contact. A list of these can be found in Ernest Thode’s excellent book, Address Book for Germanic Genealogy (Genealogical Publishing Co.)
In the case of my ancestors, I was unable to locate any information dealing with my ancestors’ ship, the Adolphine, in the various US repositories, so I decided to try Germany in the hope that the vessel might have been registered there. I wrote to two museums, Seutsches Schiffahrtsmuseum in Bremerhaven, Schloss Schoenebeck of Bremen and the HAPAG-Lloyd shipping line, which was a merger of major German shipping lines.
I choose these two museums because my ancestors departed from Bremen. If your family left Germany via Hamburg, as many did, first try the Museum fure Hamburgische Geschichte. The addresses may be found in Mr. Thode’s book.
Five months after making my inquiries, I received a reply from the Schloss Schoenebeck museum. Not only did they have the dry statistics of length and breadth of the Adolphine but also who owned it, where it was constructed and the voyages that it made to America, along with the names of the Captain and crew! This was much more then I could have expected. In addition, they also included a few copies of pencil sketches of the Adolphine by a local marine artist of the last century named Oltmann Jaburg.
With some persistence and a little luck, you can probably expect your results that match mine.
The following is a slightly condensed version of the museum’s letter:
Thank you for your letter of March 24-1992 and the patience you had with us - but now, here is the reply and we are willing to tell you all what we know about the ship in question.
When "Adolphine" came under Bremian flag she was a lady - not so quite young but ever fast as a young girl, specially on a voyage to Baltimore in 1850 but you can read about that more later on.
Let us start with the year and the place where she was born.
"Adolphine" was born in 1833 in Baltimore/Maryland under the name of "Napier". Main dimensions: length 123 feet - 6 inches, breadth 29" - 0", depth 14" - 6", and measured 469-53/95 American tons, had 2 decks - 3 full rigged masts, square stem - no gallions and billet head.
You will find her in the Baltimore shipping register under the date of May 2 - 1848.
Her owners had been Messrs. George Christian Denke of Baltimore.
Her masters had been during the years she sailed under American flag - Master George Maple, Master R.H. Ramsey, Master Wm. M. Haynie.
Between 1848 and 1849 "Napier" changed hands and flag.
In 1849 the "Napier" starts a new career.
Documents noted, that on November 18 - 1849 the full rigger "Napier" has been purchased my merchant men Messrs. Hinrich Garrels, senior, Bremerhaven 3/4 part Louis F. Kalkmann & Co., Bremen 1/4”.
The ship sailed under the new Bremian flag from Baltimore to Bremen under the command of master Georg Ludwig Sammy, citizen and inhabitant of Bremerhaven, the town was established in 1827.
Now let me inform you about voyages in question. All the following departures are from the mouth of the river Weser (Bremerhaven).
depart. Mar 21 - 1851 master J. Hohorst w/ 212 passengers. arriv. Apr 30 - 1851 40 days to Baltimore.
depart. Mar 19 - 1863 master F. Meyerdierck w/ 72 passengers. arriv. May 4 - 1863 46 days to Baltimore.
depart. Jul 4 - 1864 master F. Meyerdierck w/ 275 passengers. arriv. Sep 4 - 1864 62 days to Baltimore
"Adolphine" sailed under Russian flag, because there has been a war between Prussia and Denmark.
Ship's complement March 14 - 1851
Master Johann Hohorst, Vegesack
1st mate Frerich Meyerdierck, Grohn
2nd mate Johann Diedrich Döscher, Altenesch
carpenter Johann Heinrich Nordenholz, Neurönnebeck
cook Johann Otker, Altenesch
able seamen Heinrich Fritze, Altenesch
Hermann Bolland, Engeln
Cord hinrich Fastenau, Schönemoor
Johann D. Wesemann, Neuenlande
Wilhelm Vosteen, Schierbrook
Hermann Hinrich Kunze, Schönemoor
Gerdt Bringmann, Farge
seamen Johann Grau, Grohn
Johann Meyerdierck, Grohn
Arend Meyer, Brundorf
boy Moritz Koch, Hammersbeck
On June 24 - 1869 "Adolphine" has been purchased by Norwegian interest. We know nothing about the end of the brave "Adolphine".
With kind regards to you
in behalf of curator