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SUMMARY OF SOME

NORTH DAKOTA BANATERS

IN U. S. CUSTOMS AND IMMIGRATION

PASSENGER SHIP RECORDS

By David Dreyer of San Mateo, California

Copyright 2002-2137

 

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The U. S. Passenger ship records constitute a major resource on determining the village of origin for immigrants to America.  During the decade around the turn of the century the U. S. passenger ship manifests underwent a number of changes. In 1893 enforcement of immigration regulations and responsibility for maintaining ship passenger manifests was transferred from Customs to a Superintendent of Immigration.  The amount of data recorded on the ship lists was increased in 1897, in 1903 and again in 1906.  In 1906 the Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization was created and the ships lists after this date record not only the last residence but also the place of birth.

 

These lists were compiled by the shipping company at the port of departure.  The manifests were then used by the U. S. immigration inspectors as a basis for their examination.  The U. S. inspectors then reexamined the immigrants checking their responses against the data on the manifest.  The passenger ship lists are all available on microfilm either from the National Archives or the FHL in Salt Lake.  These lists are indexed except for the port of New York 1849-1896.

 

The major flow of Banat immigration to America occurred in the period 1900 until the first World War although migration to ND preceded this period a few years.  Up until 1904 Banat immigration occurred mostly from the North Sea German ports of Bremen and Hamburg with fewer numbers leaving from Antwerp and Rotterdam.  Ships leaving from Bremen were exclusively Nord Deutscher Lloyd (NDL) while those from Hamburg were Hamburg American Line. The NDL ships landed in either New York or Baltimore. Hamburg American Line, Holland-American (from Rotterdam) and Red Star Line (from Antwerp) ships disembarked passengers almost exclusively in New York.

 

In measures to capture some of the immigrant departure business the Hungarian government took measures to encourage its citizens to use the Adriatic port of Fiume as a port of departure.  In 1904, following an agreement by which the Hungarian goverment gave Cunard an exclusive concession for the shipping of immigrants from Fiume, many Banaters came to America by this route.  These Cunard ships disembarked exclusively at the port of New York.  For Banaters, departure from Fiume required the possesion of a Hungarian passport while at this same time the North Sea ports, as well as Antwerp and Le Havre, did not require a passport or other travel documents.  Immigration from the Banat to North Dakota occurred in three main waves (mini Schwabenzugs?) centered around the years 1892-1893, 1897-1898 and 1903. From the naturalization data it appears that about half of ND Banaters departed from the port of Bremen. The Baltimore records were systematically searched for ND Banaters for the period 1892-1912 and New York records for the years 1903, 1905, 1906 and 1907.  Banaters whose destination was given to localities in Montana are also included in this database.

 

Donau Schwabens were usually detectable in the records because by nationality they were Hungarian but ethnically German.  They traveled with Hungarian travel documents.  The fact that many Banat emigrants traveled in groups, especially in the early period, aided in their identification in the records. Nevertheless, the usual problems of illegible handwriting, faded records as well as the failure to indicate North Dakota as the destination certainly led to many entries being overlooked.  After residence for several years in St Louis, Chicago, etc., they moved on to North Dakota.  Unless one is looking for a specific individual these immigrants are difficult to detect in the passenger ship records.

 

The typical passenger list after 1906 contained among other facts, the individuals name, age, sex, marriage status, occupation, race, last permanent address, name and address of nearest relative in country from which they came, final destination, in possession of a ticket to the destination and by who paid, whether in possession of $50 and, if less, how much, name and address of who they were going to join, and place of birth. The spelling of a few surnames from these ship lists has been slightly altered to make them consistent with that of the same individuals in the other ND databases and make them consistent with the presently accepted spelling.  Supplemental data on the principals in some entries is given in brackets.  Most of this annotated material comes from family books for the village of origin (See references).