from Sideby to Fitchburg
- as tracked
by Staffan Storteir
the year of 1911 Ester Karström (Karstrom) - as one
of many others previously from Sideby - at the age of
21 emigrated to America. Her journey, which started at
the end of August 1911, can be followed in detail thanks
to the searchable archives on WWW. Samples are shown below
in order to demonstrate the feasibility of WWW for tracking
the emigrant/immigrant journey
New York - Ellis Island
Emigrant office of FÅA in Kristinestad
s/s NORRA FINLAND
Ester ca 1911. Detail of group
Ester started her emigrant journey
from Sideby (arrowhead at the map
below, click for bigger picture) at the end of August 1911.
As will be seen from the ship manifest from the archives
of Ellis Island there were five young women from Sideby
traveling together. Sideby, as well as many other parishes
in Ostrobothnia was plagued by unemployment. Gone, by many
decades, were the days when shipbuilding brought employment,
welfare and a subsequent heavy increase in population to
the village. Ester's grandfather, Gustaf Karström,
was one of the renowned shipbuilders
of Sideby in the mid and late 1800s, who had a reputation
for building numerous sailing vessels such as barks and
barkentines. The ships of the day were the steamers which
frequently plied the Finnish coast from Torneå in
the north to the Russian metropolis and capital St.
Petersburg in the southeast. The Grand Duchy of Finland
was still, and for six years until 1917, sailing under the
Geographic distribution of emigration from Finland 1870
- 1914 (4, 6)
Many of the passenger steamboats touched at Kil
harbor in Sideby, if there were passengers or cargo,
where Ester's brother-in-law Axel Lassfolk was the harbor-master,
s/s Norden at Kilhamn
Drawing by Axel Nelson
but Ester started her sea voyage from Kristinestad,
probably because she bought her ticket at the Emigrant office
of the Finska Ångfartygsaktiebolaget (Finland Steamship
Company) in Kristinestad. It is known that Ester's younger
sister Vera was standing on the shore at Kil
point in Sideby, waving farewell when the passenger
ship "Norden" from Kristinestad passed by (1).
Sideby Thursday, August 24 1911
The emigrant office of "Finska Ångfartygs Aktiebolaget"
in Kristinestad was stationed in the warehouse to the left
since ca 1885 and in the newly built house (second from
the left ) at the street "Östra Långgatan"
since ca 1908 when this photo was taken.
The "Norden" arrived in Kristinestad every Tuesday on
her trip towards north and left two days later at 2 o'clock p.m.
towards south. Ester obviously went aboard the "Norden"
on Thursday, 24 August 1911 as she was on board the steamer "Polaris"
leaving from Hangö on Saturday, 26 August 1911.
(show the days of the weeks for a chosen year and month)
|Kristinestad Thursday, August 24
Passenger steamers passing by Kristinestad during
ULEÅBORG (1839-1843) Torneå-Åbo. SVITHIOD
(1856) Stockholm-Hudiksvall-Björneborg-Kristinestad. ÖSTERBOTTEN
(1857-1874) owned by the Österbottniska
Ångfartygs Aktiebolaget, damaged by fire in 1874 off
Björneborg when 18 persons lost their lives. SUOMI
(1858-1875). HUDIKSVALL. NORRLAND. ÖRNSKÖLD.
AAVASAKSA. WASA (1871-). THOR (1868-1871)
(1872-1873) Kristinestad-Björneborg-Stockholm; Vasa-Kristinestad-Björneborg-Lübeck.
Wrecked at Östra Finngrundet, Gävle in Sept 1873. Passengers
and 31 horses salvaged. J.L. RUNEBERG (1876-end of 1880s)
Kristinestad-Sundsvall. CARL VON LINNÉ (-1911) -Stockholm.
VON DÖBELN. LENNÄTÄR. VEGA
Uleåborg-St. Petersburg. ULEÅBORG. FINLAND.
FENNIA (1874-) Vasa-Kristinestad-Räfsö-Lübeck.
MUNCK fridays 07.30 -> N, sundays 23.00 ->S. NORRA
FINLAND (at the steamers' pier in Kristinestad), (1885-1909)
Torneå Ångbåts A/B, since 1892 owned by Finska
Ångfartygs Aktiebolaget, Torneå-St. Petersburg. NORDEN
(-1919) built and owned by Rosenlew & Co., 1905 sold to Åbo
Läns Kustångbåts Ab. Vasa-Björneborg-(Hangö)
tuesdays 08.00 ->N, thursdays 14.00 ->S. FREDRIK
WILHELM (1905-) considered as Finland's most elegantly
equipped steamer, since 1905 owned by Åbo Läns Kustångbåts
Ab, fridays 07.30 -> N, sundays 23.00 ->S. THORVÖST
Kristinestad-Stockholm wednesdays, retour saturdays. TORNEÅ
(1876-) Torneå Ångbåts A/B. WESTKUSTEN
ex FALKEN ex ESKILSTUNA (1899-1913). Lost off
Vasa in 1913 with 38 passengers, 48 cows and horses. (2
, 3 , 5 )
Some selected harbors along the Finnish coast in the early 1900's
The "Norra Finland"
The "Norra Finland" at the steamers' pier in Kristinestad
in the late 1890s. This passenger steamer, which was built in Motala,
Sweden in 1885 was in traffic between Torneå in the north
to St. Petersburg in the south. It brought many emigrants to Hangö
- the main transit harbor of Finnish emigrants - on their journey
which usually continued on board the passenger steamers of the Finland
Steamship Company (Finska Ångfartygs Aktiebolaget) to Hull
in England, by train to Liverpool and on board the big transatlantic
passenger steamers to Ellis Island, New York. (Departure
of emigrants )
Major emigrant passenger routes
of North Europe
Passenger records for Ester from the Emigrant
Register of the Finnish Institute of Migration.
It tells that Ester's destination is Fitchburg, MA USA,
that the price of the ticket on "Polaris"
which departed on August 26 1911 from Hangö is
FIM 276, that the date of departure in Liverpool, England
is August 31 and the ship from England is the "Cedric"
of the White Star Line.
The passenger steamer "Polaris"
of the Finland Steamship Company (Finska Ångfartygs
Aktiebolaget) departed on August 26 1911 from Hangö
August 26 1911
Victoria Dock, Hull
Ester's journey: Sideby - Kristinestad - Hangö
- Hull - Liverpool - New York-Ellis Island - Fitchburg
- Pittsburgh - San Francisco
The passenger steamer "Cedric"
of the White Star Line departed from Liverpool on August
Liverpool Thursday, August 31 1911
The excerpt of the ship manifest of the "Cedric"
concerning Ester and associated passengers from the
recently opened archives
of Ellis Island.
The manifest tells that Ester Karstrom, 21 years of age,
arrived at Ellis
Island on board the "Cedric" from Liverpool
on September 8, 1911. As co-travelers are listed Hilda Hedback
22y from Sideby, Ida Rintamäki 25y from Jurva, Hilma
Holm 22y from Sideby, Hilma Högback 18y from Sideby,
Fanny Saarni 23y from Helsinki, Verner Lehtinen 20y from Merimacker
(Merimasku?) and Hilma Lamm 21y from Sideby, all of them Finnish
Ship manifest for Ester and her co-travelers.
This is the original document from the commanding officer
of "Cedric" to the United States immigration officer
at Ellis Island. The manifest tells among other things that
Ester had a ticket to her destination in USA, which was Fitchburg
in USA, that she had paid her passage herself, that this is
the first time she is in the United States, that she is going
to join a friend (Gustafsson Mattson(?) somewhat blurred text)
whose address is 26 1/2 Franklin Street Fitchburg, Mass. Obviously
she was now traveling together with Hilma Lamm who has given
the same address where her sister Sigrid
Mattson was living. Furthermore the manifest tells that
Ester is neither an anarchist nor a polygamist and that she
is in good mental and physical health.
Aero view of Fitchburg, Massachusetts 1915
[with Street names, zoomable, credit
Memory from the Library of Congress (enter search
words: Fitchburg 1915)]. Franklin Street is in the middle
of the map between the Laurel Hill Cemetery and the
Ellis Island, New York
Friday, September 8 1911
First destination in USA is Fitchburg, Mass.
According to the Ellis Island documents Ester's first destination
in USA was Fitchburg, Massachusetts. It is known that
she sometime later on worked with a family in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
and then moved to San Francisco, California where she
among other things served as a nurse for the Red Cross during
the WW2 (1).