Electronic mail message of 19 September 2001 from Arthur E. Flegel, Menlo Park, California
In response to your question regarding the route your ancestors may have traveled from the Volga to Hamburg where they boarded the ship Fuerst Bismarck, there is very limited documentation to submit. The only book of which I know having to do with this subject is Ships of Our Ancestors by Michael Anuta of Menominee, Michigan. It is a fine collection of photos along with brief description of the ships that brought our ancestors to these shores, but nothing on how they got to the seaports.
Consequently, I shall herewith submit what I have learned in conversations, etc. with people whose family connections can possibly provide information to that end. I am also forwarding a copy of this message to Michael Miller with the hope that he may be able to establish a clearing house on this subject through his office which is already in the process of accumulating all types of data.
Since your people came from Russia to Hamburg, Germany, in 1898, would indicate that they, as did the majority of emigrants from the Volga at that time, acquired the needed passports and any other required documentation at Saratov. From there they traveled by ship or train to Moscow where they boarded a train headed west for Warsaw, Berlin and eventually Hamburg.
The families who came through Liverpool usually boarded a ship at the seaports Liebau, Lithuania, (present day Liepaja, Litva), or Riga in Latvia. These vessels were usually cargo ships used to transport produce, often cattle, bound for England. They carried a limited number of passengers and offered a lower cost than regular passenger ships or railway lines. They landed at Hull on England's eastern shore and were transported across the land to Liverpool from where they embarked for America.
By 1898 Ellis Island in New York was in full operation, so a lessor number arrived at other ports such as Philadelphia, Baltimore, etc. However, at times small pox or other epidemics required that the ship proceed to Halifax, Nova Scotia or Quebec in Canada. From there the passengers continued on their journeys to their destinations in the USA by a variety of conveyances, which included oxcarts.
It would be excellent if people would share whatever family lore they may be able to provide on this subject which will enable Michael or others to compile a meaningful documentation on the routes taken along with associated histories which can ultimately be so helpful to many.