Below is an example of emigrants from Skaftung in Southern Ostrobothnia who traveled the Ripela line (The Ripela-line: The last voyage of Karl Haglund on Nov 4 1916). They had no proper passports but were equipped with so called bicycle passports - certificates for owners of bicycles. I have tried to reproduce parts of the narrative (1,2) and crosschecked the information regarding dates and persons with the current online databases.

It would be interesting to look at a bicycle passport. Is there anyone on this board who has seen one? It is possible to link to an image from a message at this board, so if anybody has a picture of a bicycle passport from the 1900-20´s, please post it to the board!


The villagers of Skaftung who went to America by the Ripela line in November 1916


November 13 1916 Planning

A Russian officer which just had arrived from Petrograd on November 12 1916 told the crew -among them Axel Norrgård Lindström - on the tug boat ´Skaftung´ of the Grankull company, that he has heard that Russia was now going to carry out draft of young Finnish men for war service. In the same evening Axel Lindström brought this rumour to Grankull. Next day eight men gathered and after a palaver prompt decided it was time to leave Finland. These men were in addition to Axel Lindström the two Grankull brothers Gunnar and Verner, the Bodman brothers Evert and Elis, the fisherman Emil (Henrik) Teir who owned a suitable boat, Konrad Juusela and Josef Ingves, the latter a pilot who like the doyen of pilots in Skaftung, Johan Erland Skogman, had protested against the initiated russification of the Finnish pilotage service in 1912 and refused to be in service under Russian rule and was therefore disapproved by the Russians.

Berg-Artur from Sideby joins the group

By Village shopcoincidence the group of eight villagers from Skaftung got a ninth member. Berg-Artur (Arthur Norrgård Hanses) from Sideby on a bicycle passed by the gang as they sat discussing their America-journey outside Axel Grankull's village shop in Skaftung. Artur was actually heading for the sheriff's office in Lappfjärd to order a passport, but was stopped by Lindström and was persuaded to join the group.

Axel Grankull's village shop in Skaftung

In contrast to the others was Berg-Artur an experienced traveller, he had already been working in New York and could only tell good things about work and life over there. He got money for his expenses for the voyage from Erland Grankull, the father of the Grankull brothers. The group members were equipped with the so called bicycle passports, which were certificates issued by the Russians to owners of bicycles.

The journey

Emigrant route of the 9 men from Skaftung Nov 14 - Dec 5 1916

emigrant route

1. From Skaftung, Skoängen on November 14 1916 with a fisherman's boat to

2. The harbor of Bönhamn near the lighthouse of Högbonden on November 15 1916 and by boat to

3. Sundsvall and by train to

4. Trondheim from which they sailed on a coastal boat to

5.Bergen on November 22 1916

1. Departing Skoängen in Skaftung in the evening November 14 1916 on board Emil (Henrik) Teir's boat
In the evening on November 14 the group gathered at Skoängen and tried to be cautious to not draw any attention from the Russian post at Fribacka which was close to the place where Emil Teir kept his boat. After some mishaps they were sailing with straight course on Sweden.

2. They reach Sweden nearby the lighthouse Högbonden in the evening on November 15 1916
They arrive at the shore of Sweden in a little bay and in the morning on November 16 they see a lighthouse on the other side of the bay which they learn is the lighthouse of Högbonden when they later visit the place. They sell Emil Teir's boat in the harbor Bönhamn where they arrived and travel to the nearby Sundsvall by boat.

3. In the city of Sundsvall they go straight to the police office, explain the situation and show their bicycle passports. They are adviced that there is an atlantic steamer departing from Bergen in Norway within a few days. They took the train to Trondheim in the same evening.

4. By train from Sundsvall to Trondheim in Norway, November 17 1916

They spend several days in Trondheim. A coastal boat took them to Bergen on November 22

emigrant journey

5.S/S Bergensfjord departed Bergen, Norway in the evening on November 22 1916

6. Kirkwall Scotland where S/S Bergensfjord was waiting for clearance signal for a couple of days and she eventually arrived at

7. New York on December 5 1916 where the Skaftung villagers went through the Ellis Island inspection procedure


5. Departing Bergen on board the S/S Bergensfjord of the Norwegian America Line on November 22 1916

Digitalarkivet Evert Alfons Josef Henriksson Bodman can be found from the archives. His place of residence is recorded as "State of Nevada" and destination "Amk Beresford So Dak". He had no ticket.

6. Kirkwall Scotland. There had been movements of submarines and S/S Bergensfjord was for a couple of days waiting for clearance signal

7. Arriving at Ellis Island on December 5 1916

ship's manifest
Extract from the ship's manifest of S/S Bergensfjord      Ellis Island archives

Axel Norrgård 28

Konrad Juusela 33

Gunnar Grankull 20

Verner Grankull 22

Josef Ingves 34

Arthur Norrgård 29

(Emil) Henrik Teir 23

Elis Bodman 19

Evert Bodman 22

- Elis Bodman and Josef Ingves were taken to hospital for further examination and care from the EI inspection
- Arthur Norrgård who had been living and working in New York before showed the town to his fellows
- Evert and Elis Bodman, discharged from the hospital, went to their brother Valter in Worcester
- Axel Lindström headed for his sister in Springfield
- Gunnar & Verner Grankull went by train to their aunt Hilma in Muskegon, Michigan. They had not announced their arrival to the US, but aunt Hilma was very delighted to get guests for Christmas


1. Grankull, Gunnar: På flykt till Amerika.In Nybond, Gunnar: Erland Grankull. Anor och ättlingar. Vasa 1986
2. Appel, Erik: Kom Blankus kom Skarpus. Fiskare och skeppsbyggare i Sideby. Scriptum Vasa 1994.
3. Digitalarkivet, Norway
4. The Ellis Island Archives

Staffan Storteir 15.08 2002, rev. 09.04.2003



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