GEN-DE-L Archives

Archiver > GEN-DE > 1998-10 > 0907548977

From: "Michael Palmer" <>
Subject: Re: Ships to the US from Le Havre France or Germany
Date: Sun, 4 Oct 1998 16:56:17 -800

On Thu, 24 Sep 1998, Ralph Fries <> wrote:

> My great grandfather John Michael Mayer came to the US in either 1852
> or 1853. He would have been 17 or18 years old and came from the
> Wuerttenberg area of Germany. He may have been traveling with two
> brothers Aloysius and Carl aka Charles. In 1855 my great grandfathers
> sister also came to the US and her name was Theresa Mayer, she would
> have been 19 years old and possibly traveling with her father. I am
> not sure which port any of them would have arrived.

The surname "Mayer" and its alternate form "Maier", are very common in
southern Germany, and the task of researching immigrants with common
surnames can be a daunting one. The task can be made considerably easier
if the given names are unusual and/or the immigrant arrived in a large
family group. In this instance, however, the given names are in and of
themselves not particularly unusual--and while an individual named
"Johann Michael" may appear in a record under his full name, he may also
appear as "Michael" (in most cases, the name by which he was known to his
family and friends), or even (though less often) simply as "Johann"--and
the family members did not emigrate in a single group.

Ira A. Glazier and P. William Filby, _Germans to America; Lists of
Passengers Arriving at U.S. Ports_, vol. 9 (Wilmington, Delaware:
Scholarly Resources, 1989), p. 167, prints the following abstract from the
passenger manifest, dated 19 February 1855, for the ship REGULATOR,
Wallace, master, which according to the New Orleans _Daily Picayune_
arrived at New Orleans on Sunday, 18 February 1855, from Havre, via
Plymouth 2 January 1855, with 324 steerage passengers, to Jenkins,
Williams & Co.:

Mayer, Martin, age 51, male, farmer
Carl, 8, male, child
Alois, 5, male, child

The family's country of origin is given as "Baden".

While the given names "Carl" and "Alois" [= the German form of "Aloysius"]
are not in and of themselves unusual, the appearance of the two names
together suggests that they may possibly be your Johann Michael Mayer's
brothers, traveling to the United States with their father. Unfortunately,
your post does not give an age for either Carl or Alois, nor does it
indicate where in the United States Johann Michael and his family settled,
often an important clue as to the most probable port of entry (e.g., most
German immigrants who settled in the Midwest in the 1850's entered through
the port of New Orleans).

The abstract of the passenger manifest for the REGULATOR published in
_Germans to America_ indicates that among the other passengers on this
same voyage was a "Therese Mayer", age 21, female. Three factors,
however, strongly suggest that she was *not* a member of the same family
as Martin, Carl, and Alois, and thus, if these are members of your Johann
Michael's family, that she is not identical to your Johann Michael's
sister of the same name:
1. Her age is given as 21, rather than 19.
2. Her country of origin is given as W"urttemberg rather than Baden.
(Your post states that Johann Michael and his family were from the
'W"urttemberg area', but you do not indicate whether this information
is taken from a documentary source or from family tradition.)
3. Her name is entered on the passenger manifest quite some distance
from those of Martin, Carl, and Alois, not, as would be expected if
she were indeed a member of the same family, along with them.

In fact, the following is much more likely to be your Johann Michael's
sister Therese: the abstract of the passenger manifest, dated 19 February
1855, for the ship WURTENBERG, Wilner, master, which arrived at New
Orleans on Sunday, 18 February 1854, from Havre 23 December 1854, with 338
steerage passengers, to H. V. Baxter, printed in _Germans to America_,
vol. 9, p. 170, lists a "Theresia Maier", age 19, female, from Baden. If
Martin, Carl, Alois, and Theresia are indeed all members of Johann
Michael's family, I can give no definitive explanation as to why they
would have traveled on two different ships, sailing from Havre within 9
days of one another. However, it is possible that Johann Michael arranged
for Therese's passage himself, making arrangements for her to travel on a
vessel managed by the same firm as the vessel on which he sailed (see
below), but leaving his father to make the travel arrangements for himself
and two youngest sons.

Turning to Johann Michael, _Germans to America_ prints a number of
passenger manifest listings that might refer to him, in particular:
1. Joh. Michael Mayer, age 19, male, farmer, from W"urttemberg, on the
ORLANDO, from Havre to New York, passenger manifest dated 23 April
1853 (_Germans to America_, vol. 4, p. 373).
2. Michel Mayer, age 18, male, farmer, from Bavaria, on the GEORGE
HURLBUT, from Havre to New York, passenger manifest dated 15 July
1853 (_Germans to America_, vol. 5, p. 202).

With reference to the first, while his given age is certainly "within
reason", and his country of origin agrees with that you give in your post,
the differing countries of origin and ports of arrival make it extremely
improbable that this individual belongs to the same family as the Martin,
Carl, Alois, and/or Therese to whom I refer above. With reference to the
second, while his given age is "spot on" with your sources, his country of
origin differs from those given both by your source(s) and by the
passenger manifest entries for Martin, Carl, Alois, and Therese; his port
of arrival also differs from that given for Martin, Carl, Alois, and

In my opinion, your Johann Michael Mayer is much more likely to be
identical to the "Michel Mayer", age 18, male, farmer, from Baden, who
appears on the passenger manifest, dated 24 May 1854, for the ship
CHARLEMAGNE, Crawford, master, which arrived at New Orleans on 25 May
1854, 40 days from Havre, with 373 steerage passengers, to W. H. V.
Baxter [_Germans to America_, vol. 7 (1989), p. 195]. As I indicated
above, the shipping agent for the CHARLEMAGNE was also the agent for the
WURTENBERG, on which Theresia Mayer arrived in February 1855.

I must stress that the above is supposition, based on circumstantial
evidence, and without additional information (such as the ages of Carl and
Alois, where in the United States the family settled, and whether the
statement that the family originated in the 'W"urttemberg area' is based
on documented evidence or on family tradition) I cannot venture more than
an "educated guess" that the entries above refer to your Johann Michael
and to other members of his family.

I should point out that the transcripts in _Germans to America_ are
notoriously inaccurate, so you should check the printed information I
have quoted above against the microfilm copies of the original passenger
manifests as follows:

CHARLEMAGNE, dated 25 May 1854 - National Archives Microfilm
Publication M259, roll 40 (Family History Library microfilm

REGULATOR and WURTENBERG, both dated 19 February 1855 - National
Archives Microfilm Publication M259, roll 41 (Family History
Library microfilm #0200181)

ORLANDO, dated 23 April 1853 - National Archives Microfilm
Publication M237, roll 125 (Family History Library microfilm

GEORGE HURLBUT, dated 15 July 1853 - National Archives Microfilm
Publication M237, roll 128 (Family History Library microfilm

You can borrow copies of these microfilms at any LDS (Mormon) Family
History Center (see the Family History Library microfilm numbers above),
as well as from AGLL ( or through Interlibrary Loan.

Finally, if you determine that any of the above references do indeed
concern your Johann Michael and/or his family, and wish to have
information on the ship on which (s)he/they arrived, please do not
hesitate to contact me.

Michael Palmer

This thread: