SS Potsdam, my great grandmother sailed to America from Poland (Rotterdam) on this ship

My great grandmother, Rose Bruderik Rosemarynoski, sailed across the Atlantic aboard this ship. I previously wrote a post on this blog about her passenger list, with her name on it. She sailed to America in 1907.

Some info taken from Wikipedia

SS Potsdam

Renamed SS Stockholm

Later SS Solglimt and SS Sonderburg  

SS Potsdam was an ocean liner built in 1900 by the Blohm + Voss shipyard in Hamburg, Germany for the Holland America Line for transatlantic service from Rotterdam to New York. She was the largest ship operated by HAL at the time.

In 1915 the ship was sold to the newly-founded Swedish American Line and renamed SS Stockholm for transatlantic service from Gothenburg to New York. In 1929 she was sold to Norwegian interests and converted to the whale factory ship SS Solglimt. Following the German invasion of Norway in 1940 the Solglimt was captured by the Kriegsmarine, transferred to the First German Whaling Company and renamed SS Sonderburg.

The Sondenburg was scuttled by German troops in 1944 to block entrance to Cherbourg harbour. In 1946 she was partially demolished to clear the shipway, with the final remains towed to the United Kingdom in 1947 to be scrapped.

ship 1 ship 2

Potsdam, c. 1910


Stockholm enters port with a thousand African Americans of the 369th New York Regiment returning from WWI


taken from the website


Renamed Stockholm (I)/ Solglimt/Sonderburg 1900 – 1947

The early decades of the 20th century were indeed prosperous times for the world’s shipping companies. A vast number of emigrants were leaving the homes in the Old World and set out to find a new life on the other side of the North Atlantic. Most of them came to the United States, where the unrestricted immigration laws welcomed anyone who was healthy and could earn their living in America.     This made the North Atlantic the most profitable shipping lane. The shipping lines were competing for popularity among the emigrants’, for it was in fact they who provided the real income. The steamship design had evolved rapidly, resulting in larger, faster and more luxurious vessels constantly surpassing each other. These liners carried the wealthy in luxurious settings, but it was the

The Potsdam‘s original appearance, as built.

steerage passengers – cramped in small staterooms below deck – who made it viable to built such large ships. It was, in a sense, all about carrying as many people as possible across ‘the pond’.     One of the companies embroiled in this fierce competition was the Holland-America Line, or HAL, which had started its business back in 1872 with their first steamer – Rotterdam. The company’s official name was Nederlandsch Amerikaanische Stoomboot Maatschappij, and the abbreviation of this – NASM – was suitably emblazoned on the line’s green and white houseflag.     During the closing years of the 19th century, Holland-America Line was enjoying prosperous times, and it was decided to expand the fleet with three new sister ships, the largest yet for the company. The contract for the first ship was granted to the German shipbuilding yards of Blohm & Voss in Hamburg, while the following two sisters would be built in the Irish yards of Harland & Wolff, Belfast. It was also the Belfast builders who designed the new trio, so even though she was built in Germany, the first ship was of Irish design just like her younger sisters would be after her.     Laid down as yard number 139 at Blohm & Voss, work proceeded on the new ship until, on December 15th 1899, the day of launch finally arrived. The new ship – the first of her class – was christened Potsdam, and was then sent down the ways into her proper element. However, there was still work to be done. Now she was to be fitted out with her engines, and craftsmen of different types were to transform her innards into comfortable passenger areas. Just short of five months later, the new ship was delivered to HAL on May 5th 1900 after satisfactory sea trials. She was now ready to start her career as a Holland-America liner.     Just twelve days after her delivery, the Potsdam set out from the port of Rotterdam on her maiden voyage on May 17th, bound for

 potsdam room
One of the Potsdam‘s public rooms, done in a classic turn-of-the-century style.

New York. At over 12,000 gross tons she was the largest HAL liner yet, and she sported the classic steamship look with two masts and a single funnel painted in the colours of Holland-America Line – yellow, green and white. She measured 571 feet from her straight stem to the tip of the counter stern, and she was indeed the latest masterpiece of the Dutch merchant marine. But although fitted with luxurious First Class areas and comfortable Second Class staterooms, there could be no misunderstandings about her primary role as an emigrant ship when looking at her carrying capacity; 282 people in First Class, 210 in Second and as many as 1,800 people in Steerage.     Potsdam went through her first summer of service on the North Atlantic, but she quickly proved to be slowish and it was not long before she was known as a ‘poor steamer’. The cause of this soon turned out to be insufficient flue draught, and the company decided that something had to be done to remedy this unfortunate flaw. So, during her first winter overhaul from 1900-1901, the Potsdam’s funnel was heightened by a full 23 feet, or nearly seven metres, to improve the draught. When she emerged from the refit, her funnel was an easily identifiable feature that soon earned the ship a suitable nickname – ‘Funneldam’. Nevertheless, the cure had been successful, and Potsdam’s speed had been noticeably improved. The original flaw left one scar though, as the ship never had any reserves of speed.     Returning to service, Potsdam settled into her service on the North Atlantic. In the following years she was joined by her two sisters; Rijndam in October 1901 and Noordam in May the year after. As ships of the same basic design, they were in most aspects

 potsdam tall
A picture showing the Potsdam‘s distinctively tall funnel, and with neutrality markings on her side.

very similar to the Potsdam, but their Harland & Wolff-built machinery proved better than the German-built one of their older sister. Thus, Potsdam became the only one of the class to sport the extremely tall funnel, although the funnels on the two sisters were slightly taller than in the original design.     So, known by many as ‘Funneldam’, Potsdam continued her service with the Holland-America Line. The shipping industry continued to prosper, but in 1912 an event took place that shocked the world. White Star Line’s brand new Titanic – the largest and most luxurious liner in the world at the time – collided with an iceberg on her maiden voyage and sank with a loss of more than 1,500 souls. At this point, the steamship design had come to such a stage that such an accident had been unthinkable. But the fact that Titanic indeed had foundered, and perhaps most importantly that she had not carried enough lifeboats to accommodate all her passengers, made all shipowners rethink their safety procedures. HAL was no exception. The Potsdam was given two extra pairs of lifeboats, fitted aft on a deckhouse.     And at this time, a menacing dark cloud was looming on the horizon. As the political situation in Europe grew more and more tense, the danger of a great conflict became a very real fact. And so, in the summer of 1914, the shots in Sarajevo triggered what was to become World War I.     As a nation, the Netherlands kept a neutral position, but submarine warfare in the Atlantic endangered the line’s vessels. To protect them as much as it was possible, the Holland-America ships were painted with neutrality markings – the ship’s name and home port in large letters – on their sides. But the war resulted in a serious decline in passenger numbers, and the Potsdam was subsequently laid up at Rotterdam for sale.     But, as it were, there was another company that had a great interest in the laid-up Potsdam. In Sweden, the Broström Group was realising the dream of a Swedish transatlantic shipping line. Originally the plan had been to build two 18,000-ton ships to start operations, but it was soon realised that this idea had to be revised. So instead, the newly-formed Swedish American Line (SAL) purchased the Potsdam in September of 1915, and renamed her Stockholm.     The Swedish American Line was in many ways a result of the great emigration. The idea was to provide a route from Sweden to America without any unnecessary detours, as well as giving the emigrants a chance to sail on a Swedish ship with a Swedish crew.

A postcard of the Stockholm, at the time of her arrival to SAL the largest ship in the Swedish merchant fleet.

With the Stockholm, the new service could soon begin. But first, the ship had to be brought up to contemporary Swedish standards, mainly in the Third Class areas.     When finished, the Stockholm was ready to inaugurate SAL’s sailings. But before she set out on her second maiden voyage, a gala dinner was held on board to celebrate the birth of the new company. This attracted a great deal of attention in the press, and had Sweden’s Prime Minister Hjalmar Hammarskjöld as guest of honour. Then, finally, on December 11th 1915, Stockholm sailed out from Göteborg bound for New York. It was a joyous occasion, but there were a few reminders about the fact that war was raging in Europe. For one thing, the ship was painted with neutrality markings. And during the crossing, she had to call at Kirkwall to undergo an inspection for contraband.     Thanks to Sweden’s neutrality, the new company soon prospered despite the fact that they had only one ship in their fleet. But the service had to be postponed after two years, when unrestricted submarine warfare was introduced on the North Atlantic. Neutrality markings were no longer protection from lurking U-boats, and so the Stockholm was laid up at Göteborg in May 1917.     But when the bloody conflict finally came to an end in 1918, SAL could recommence their sailings. After a little more than a year in lay-up, Stockholm resumed her service in June. But despite that the war was over, there was much work to be done before everything would be back to normal. Soldiers from many nations had been brought in to fight the war in Europe, and now those who had survived were to be shipped home again. So, in 1919 the Stockholm was chartered to the United States for troop repatriation.     Shortly afterwards, the Stockholm was returned to the Swedish American Line, still as their only vessel. But this came to an end in February of 1920, when the Virginian was bought from the Canadian Pacific Railway Company and renamed Drottningholm. At last, the Stockholm had a fleet mate. SAL’s intention to improve their fleet was also reflected when in 1922 the Stockholm was sent

The popular First Class Music Salon on board the Stockholm.

to the yards of Götaverken in Göteborg for conversion into oil-firing. This refit greatly enhanced the performance of her engines, and therefore the funnel was reduced in length by some seven feet, or two metres.     At this time, after only two years of service, the Drottningholm was also in need of a refit. Through her career, her machinery had not been working quite satisfactory, and SAL had now decided to do something about it. However, the absence of Drottningholm resulted in a gap that had to be filled somehow. As fate would have it, this gave the Stockholm a chance to get reacquainted with her Holland-America Line ancestry, when her sister Noordam was chartered to SAL in 1923 and temporarily renamed Kungsholm.     But this was merely a short reunion. After only a year in Swedish America service, Noordam was returned to the Holland-America Line, and the Drottningholm could resume her duties with the company. Together with Stockholm, the two ships provided a link between Sweden and USA. However, the great emigration wave for which the line had been created was now wearing off. In fact, at the time of the company’s birth back in 1915, the emigration had already started to decline. 1923, however, became known as the year of ‘the last wave’ of emigrants. After that, it was all over. SAL had been too late to earn a big share of the business, and now they had to rethink their strategy.     The company would no longer function as a route to a new life for emigrants, but as a link between the former emigrants and their former homeland. And by this time, the cruising industry was beginning to take shape, and SAL wanted ships to earn their share. In 1925, the brand new Gripsholm was delivered, and she was followed three years later by the second Kungsholm.     By now, the old Stockholm was considered surplus of the SAL fleet, and on September 29th 1928 she set out on her final voyage for the Swedish American Line. The following November, she was sold to the Norwegian whaling company Atlas. Under their ownership, the ship was sent to Götaverken for conversion into a whale factory ship. For this less glamorous purpose, she was renamed Solglimt, and she entered service in her new role on September 12th 1929.     Solglimt remained in service as a whaling ship for another decade, although she was sold to the company A/S Thor Dahl in 1930. When World War II erupted in 1939, she continued her operations. But as a Norwegian ship, her career would soon take another turn.    

 whale ship
In 1928, the Stockholm was sold and converted into the whale factory ship Solglimt.

Germany invaded Norway in the spring of 1940. A few months later, while in the Antarctic, the Solglimt was captured by the German auxiliary cruiser Pinguin (formerly the liner Kandelfels) on January 14th 1941. As a prize, the ship was taken to Bordeaux with a cargo of whale oil and taken over by the Erste Deutsche Walfangesellschaft (First German Whaling Company). Renamed Sonderburg, she was now put under the German flag and used as a supply ship in various French ports.     In 1942, the Sonderburg was anchored in Cherbourg when the port was under several air raids. The ship subsequently sank in the harbour due to the damage she sustained. She was salvaged at a later date, but there were not enough resources to repair her damages. Two years later, on June 15th 1944, she was scuttled by the Germans and sunk as a block ship when Cherbourg was evacuated.     The wreck remained in the port of Cherbourg until peace was achieved in Europe. In August of 1946, the French partly demolished the ship with explosives in order to clear the port. The final remains of the former Potsdam were raised in January the following year, towed to Great Britain and scrapped there. Thus ended a long and eventful career in maritime history.




The Potsdam/Stockholm/ Solglimt/Sonderburg – Specifications:
Length: 571 feet (174.5 m)
Beam: 62.2 feet (19 m)
Tonnage: 12,606 gross tons
Engines: Triple-expansion steam engines turning two propellers.
Service speed: 15 knots
Passengers: 2,292 people


The Ray Book: A Family of Central Kentucky, 1705-1993

If anyone has any Ray ancestors from Central Kentucky, who migrated there from Maryland, I encourage you to locate and review this fabulous book.

The Ray Book: A Family of Central Kentucky, 1705-1993
by Ann Tyson Sipes, Louisville, Kentucky: Historical Research Publishers, 1993.

It is a lengthy book, about 1,200 pages with an index. It is well researched, with sources. Some of the information will be quite unique, as the author received letters, family trees, and copies of obituaries from members and descendants of the Ray Family that may be difficult, if not impossible, to locate elsewhere.

I have Ray ancestors and found this book invaluable. My great grandmother was Sarah Catherine Ray, born in Hardin County, Kentucky.

Many of the Catholic families that originated in Maryland in Colonial America days, later migrated together to Central Kentucky. The Ray Family is one of those families. This book is a wealth of information. A researcher can use it as a source and as a finding aid to locate sources she herself used in writing the book.

I highly recommend this book.

My Polish Immigrant Ancestors: Rosalie Bruderik

My maternal grandfather was named Rosemarynoski. His parents, my great grandparents, immigrated from Poland. But when, and from where?

My Rosemarynoski great grandfather died in 1948 in Massachusetts. My mother was born and raised in Kansas and never met him. My Rosemarynoski grandfather had four daughters, including my mom, and no sons. He had almost all sisters; he had a brother, but he died relatively young with no wife or children. So really, the Polish Rosemarynoski surname is all women now and so the name is not passed down to any other generations for this branch of the family.

While my great grandfather died in 1948, my great grandmother died in 1981. Her name was Rosalie Bruderik, and she married Stanislaus Rosemarynoski. So her married name was Rose Rosemarynoski. Rose and Stanislaus were Polish immigrants.

When I was a kid in the 1970s, my mom travelled to Massachusetts to visit her grandmother and her aunts. She remembers a big box in the backyard filled with photos and immigration documents. While others ate food picnic style, she remembers looking at this rich history of Polish immigration. She remembers seeing American citizenship papers for her grandparents, and old photos. It was a lovely rich history in documents. A genealogist’s dream!

In 1981, when her grandmother died, she reached out to her aunts and cousins, asking about that box of documents. No one knew anything about it. No one remembered what she was talking about, and no box of papers or photos existed. The storage rooms and houses had no such thing, it did not exist. For the genealogist, this is a tragedy. Lost documents are something we never wish on anyone. No one can be blamed, it is no one’s fault. But the genealogist and family historian has a primary mission to save, scan, preserve and share documents and photos. It’s sad that such a thing happened. And every genealogist, unfortunately, has a similar story. So, when I started, I had to find the documents all by myself. There was no scrapbook or box of papers to look at for the Rosemarynoski family.

The first fun document was the marriage record of Rose and Stanislaus.

Stanislaus Rosemarynoski and Rose Broderick Marriage Record image

New England Historic Genealogical Society; Boston, Massachusetts; Massachusetts Vital Records, 1911–1915. Massachusetts, Marriage Records, 1840-1915, page 300, line 100; Marriage record of Stanislaus Rosemarynoski and Rose Bruderick, June 26, 1911., 2013, Provo, UT, USA.
On this image, look at line 100, which lists the details for the marriage record of Rose and Stanislaus. It provides the age of both at the time of marriage (Rosalie was 19), the address for each, and the occupation. Both were born in Poland, Russia; at the time, Poland was not a country, but had been invaded by both Germany and Poland, but the language they spoke was Polish. This record also names the parents of both bride and groom. Notice the mother of the bride is listed only as Anna, with no last name. For whatever reason, Rosalie did not know the maiden name of her own mother.

The next fun document is the passenger list for Rosalie. This comes in two images, left and right, both pages of a large ledger type document.

Rosalia Bruderick passenger list 1907

Rosalia Bruderick passenger list 1907 b.jpg

Year: 1907; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 0954; Line: 27; Page Number: 78.

Line 27 on both pages lists the details for Rosalie Broderick. She was 18 years old, and coming from a town in Russia (Poland) called  perhaps Dąbrowa. At this point, I need help from someone who knows more about Poland than I do. But we have a hometown. The nearest relative from home is listed as living in Łomża. I do not see a name of either parent listed as nearest relative, so I wonder if both of her parents are already deceased, which may be one of the reasons for her immigration to America. The nearest relative in America she is coming to see is her uncle, [illegible] Bruderik, living in Haydenville, Massachusetts. Of course, this makes sense, as she lives the rest of her life in Haydenville, and that’s where her children, including my grandfather, were born. At the top of the pages, we notice she arrived on the SS Potsdam, departing from Rotterdam on 20 July 1907, arriving at Ellis Island in New York on 30 July 1907.

Read more about her ship in another blog post here.

Now, this raises questions. If she was 19 when she was married in 1911, then in 1907 she would have been only 15 when she came to America. But the passenger list says she was 18, which sometimes has been transcribed as only 10. Sometimes young men lie about their age to serve in the military. An older person gets better privileges. Perhaps she fibbed a little about her age to obtain the privilege of sailing to America. This is in a time before passports and driver’s license documents. The reality is, she was young and likely sailing alone. No one else on that page is from her hometown.

With a request for Immigration and Naturalization papers, we find that Rosalie never became a US Citizen. We cannot determine why this is so, and we cannot ask her. In looking at various documents, she never signed her name, but made her mark with an “x” with a witness, which suggests she never learned how to read and write. I remember her son, my grandpa, talking about how she was such a good cook, making Polish kielbasa at home. But if she never learned how to read and write, then a cookbook was never used. She had all the recipes memorized!

This is a lot of information about the immigration of my great grandmother, Rosalie Bruderik. I have other documents once she was in America, but this is what I have concerning her travel to America.

Lucky Find: Find A Grave to American Patriot and Mayflower

Earlier, I wrote about Find A Grave and the problem with unsourced facts that are so common online. This does not mean that we don’t do research online, however! I want to tell you about a Lucky Find for me, which started with Find A Grave.

Ruth Ann Smith is my 3rd great grandmother. She was born in 1842 and died in 1881. She married Matthew Gooding Reed. My maternal grandmother’s maiden name is Reed. Several years ago, I didn’t know a lot about her, and was not having any luck with the wide net search of ancestry, and was getting frustrated. I decided to check out Find A Grave for clues. I use the clues on Find A Grave as a hint to find other sources and facts. (I have since learned a lot more about specific, targeted search tactics online.)

However, when I found the Find A Grave memorial for Ruth Ann Smith, I was greeted with this photo of a stone monument at her gravesite:


(Find A Grave memorial # 46871009 for Ruth Ann Smith,, accessed in 2012 by Mark Cross)

I backed up, hit the reload button, and checked again. Wow! I had never heard of George Soule, but the Mayflower was exciting!

Thus began a long road of research, that I am so glad I took steps on. I found a couple of distant cousins who placed the stone monument at her gravesite. The monument itself is not acceptable as proof for the Mayflower Society, but evidence behind it is. The cousins shared with me some newspaper articles about their placing the monument in Nebraska, and two cousins shared with me a copy of their accepted application for the General Society of Mayflower Descendants, with membership numbers, that I could use.

From Ruth Ann Smith, I am descended from Solon Reed, and my cousins were descended from siblings of Solon. But I found out I do not need to prove the entire line to George Soule; from Ruth Ann Smith up to George Soule has already been proven, assisted with the copy of the approved membership applications my distant cousins sent me. All I had to do was prove from Ruth Ann Smith down to me! Once I did so, I was accepted into the General Society of Mayflower Descendants! My mom and my sisters have also joined, and some cousins on mom’s side as well. George Soule, Mayflower pilgrim, is my 10th great grandfather. We are looking forward to the 400 Anniversary in 2020!

One cousin also sent me a copy of her DAR application as well. It seems our ancestors had a rather fortuitous marriage; the ancestors of Ruth Ann Smith lead to George Soule, a Mayflower passenger, and the ancestors of her husband Matthew Gooding Reed lead to John Lecky, who fought in the American Revolutionary War! John Lecky is my 6th great grandfather, born in 1744 in Scotland, and since he fought for American Independence, he is a Patriot that qualifies his descendants for membership in either the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) or the Sons of the American Revolution (SAR).

I sent the documents to my mom so she could work with the historians of her local DAR chapter to join, and once she was in, I started my application for the SAR, and was accepted.

So, if there are any other cousins out there that are descendants of Matthew Gooding Reed and Ruth Ann Smith, you qualify for membership in BOTH the DAR/SAR and the Mayflower Society! If this is you, contact me and I can help you get started. Similarly, if you are descended from one of the ancestors of either Matthew or Ruth Ann, you may still be related and qualify for membership in one of these lineage societies. If you have questions, let me know.

I want to point out that the stone monument photo on Find A Grave is not the proof I needed. But it was definitely a clue that I could use to proceed! A Lucky Find for sure!


Citing Sources: “Be Kind, Help Find”

I like Find A Grave, it’s a useful website. I say this with caution, however; not all information on Find A Grave is accurate. Online trees are notorious for being hotbeds of misinformation.

Find A Grave is accurate for the location of the cemetery, and for photos of the gravestone that provide names and dates. There can be errors, of course, but thankfully those are rare.

People, trying to be helpful, often post additional information on Find A Grave memorial pages, such as this person married that person, and their children include, and their parents were…but often without any sources. Where did they get this information, and is it accurate?

I have an ancestor with a certain name, and he has a grandson with the same name. The son/father between them has a different name than theirs. Someone has confused the grandfather and the grandson, and posted information that the grandson married a certain woman and had these named children. Just to make it more confusing, the grandson named his son after his father. (So the four generations of names appear similar to ABAB.) Without more information, one could easily confuse the families. However, the dates and the name of the wife are all wrong, because the Find A Grave memorial has the grandson (A2) matched with his own grandmother as spouse (who married A1)! I sent an email inquiry, and the person ignored me, and refuses to make any changes.

In another case, a person posted a memorial and they state the person is buried at this cemetery, but no photo of the gravestone is on the memorial page. I submitted a “photo request” and received an error report; the helpful volunteer (a different person than the one who posted the memorial) did some research with the cemetery records, and no burial for this person can be found at this cemetery.  I sent an email inquiry to the person who created the online memorial, asking where they got the information this person is buried at this cemetery, along with the findings of the helpful volunteer. The person practically yelled at me, and claimed “I don’t know where I got this information, I get info from lots of different places. I stand by my posting! Good luck finding your own research!” In other words, they wash their hands of the entire ordeal and accept no responsibility. They uploaded the data from an Excel spreadsheet, with thousands of other names. This person is clearly more interested in the numbers than in the accuracy. They want to be known as a “contributor,” but clearly a “researcher” or “genealogist” they are not.

This cautionary tale provides a few lessons. First, be kind to your fellow genealogists. Yelling at people is not nice, and just drives people away. I never want to communicate with this person again. Second, cite your sources. Keep track of where you get information, and pass this information on. Sources are important, and I am a little amazed at the number of people who do not realize this, with years in the game and still ignoring this simple advice.

And thirdly, do not post information that is inaccurate. Prove your stories and trees before you publish them. Similar stories abound regarding people putting up an online tree without sources, then people with no understanding or education copy that tree countless times and it spreads like a virus. Inaccurate information is bad information, do not share it, which means do not place it online anywhere. Verify your “facts” before you call them FACTS.

If someone points out an inaccuracy, be open to changing your story or your facts with new evidence. After all, this is one of the principles of good genealogy, as published in Genealogy Standards (more about that below). Yelling at someone because their facts dispute yours, telling them they are wrong, has no place here.

I must add that most people are not mean at all; most people are simply uninformed and need a little teaching. The fine line is how to do a little teaching without driving people away or sounding condescending. Mostly, I find people trying to help people. But some people…

So, here’s some ideas on why citing sources is so important, and how to do it right.

Manual      Evidence Explained

Board for Certification of Genealogists, Genealogy Standards, 50th anniversary edition (Nashville, Tenn. : Ancestry, 2014)
Elizabeth Shown Mills, Evidence Explained: Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace, 2d ed. (Baltimore : Genealogical Publ. Co., 2009)
Both are available on amazon.

I know I’m giving my age away by referencing the old “Be Kind, Rewind” mantra of the old VHS videotapes back when we had video stores to rent movies. But really, citing sources is a way to be kind, and help others find the wonderful info that you already found, and want to share with others.

So, how do I treat information I find on Find A Grave and online trees? If it is verifiable information with sources, I go find the source myself (easy to do if they provided source citations), and if it’s right, I then use that source with my own tree (and cite that source myself!). If there is no source, then I must do my own research. I use the info I found online as a “clue” and try to go prove it. Sometimes it is helpful to have that clue. I may find a US Federal Census (1850 and later are the only ones that list the entire family) and look up the suggested parents, and I may indeed find the family I am looking for. Great! They were accurate with their info, but now I have a source to verify it (and cite that source myself!). If I am unable to prove it, I may even email the person and ask how they know this fact is true. But experience has taught me to expect a wide range of responses, and even no response at all. Some people still seem to be offended if you ask. But ask you must, or go research it yourself to answer it yourself.

Citing Sources is a basic, fundamental thing. To be honest, we all struggle with it. And to be more honest, I didn’t do it in my early genealogy research, either. This is a lesson we all had to learn. But I quickly learned that it’s just like a footnote in the term papers I used to write in high school and college.

So, “Be Kind, Help Find” with a simple footnote. After all, it is the Genealogy Standard.



Lucky Find: Behrman family tree to Passenger List

My great grandmother Frieda Behrman Cross hand wrote a family tree years ago. I somehow got a copy of it. I think she may have written out the family tree from memory. She may have used an old Family Bible as a resource, but if so, no one knows where that Family Bible was, or where it is today.

Of course, there were no sources. It was just a list of families, mother and father with children, for several generations.

But the Lucky Find was this; she wrote when her father’s family immigrated to America. She was born in America, and so was a natural born US Citizen. But her father sailed to America when he was only 6 years old, when the family all came together. She wrote the year of immigration as 1857. Somehow, the family had forgotten about this nice little fact. We knew German ancestors were part of our family tree, but who came to America and when? No one knew.

Great grandma Frieda wrote the family all together, which would have been her grandparents, her father and his siblings, as coming to America in 1857. That’s the only detail I had.

I did a search online, and on ancestry I found this little gem: the family sailed to America from Germany and arrived on 3 Oct. 1857.


[, New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957 (Provo, UT, USA, Operations, Inc., 2010),, Year: 1857; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: M237, 1820-1897; Microfilm Roll: Roll 179; Line: 38; List Number: 1173.]

And there we are, beginning on line 38, we get the listing of the same family that great grandma wrote in her family tree. Line 38 is Johann Behrmann, also known as John, Frieda’s grandfather, and a few lines below at the age of 6 is another Johann Behrmann, the father of Frieda, born in 1851 and so 6 years old in 1857.

They left Hanover, Germany, and their point of departure by sea was Bremen, Germany, and they arrived in New York on 3 Oct. 1857 aboard the Adonis, quite a name for a ship! With a little searching online, I can find other information about the Adonis here. A few years later, the Adonis was shipwrecked with a shipment of coal. Thankfully, my ancestors were safe in America by then! There is also an online site with a list of German immigrants and the ship they sailed on! Much more information can be found with some online searches!

Great grandma’s family tree was a little gem, that contained a Lucky Find. Her simple fact of immigration in 1857 lead to finding a passenger list, information about the ship, which verifies her fact with documented sources, and their hometown of Hanover in Germany.

I love these types of Lucky Finds!

What is a “Lucky Find” and what do I do with it?

On this site, I’ll use the term Lucky Find several times. We all have them. It could be a little fact in the family tree that great grandma wrote from memory, that everyone else in the family has forgotten about. It could be a clue in a photo, when examined closer, that leads to a big discovery. It could be connecting with a cousin who is a DNA match, and they have information about an entire branch of the family tree that you are missing.

A Lucky Find is some seemingly small clue or fact that leads you to a bigger find. It may be coincidence, or your lucky stars. It doesn’t matter what brought it to us, what matters is what we do with it once we come across it.

I have a series on this blog called Lucky Find about some of the Lucky Finds I have come across that have helped me in my research. Luck Find is a tag word, and can also be used in the search box for this site. Read them, they’re lots of fun!

And you can let me know what Lucky Finds you have also come across!