[APG Public List] age on shiplists

Ray Beere Johnson II raybeere at yahoo.com
Mon Nov 2 20:30:46 MST 2009

     I know nothing about Johanna in specific, but I _can_ answer several of your questions. First of all, you are correct that the information on a ship's manifest is not necessarily accurate. Several of my own ancestors appear on such lists, and the information in their entries is _not_ all correct.
     I do not know how - or if - the ship's officer responsible for these lists attempted to verify the information, but the evidence is clear that, if any such attempts were made, they were not always successful.
     In the specific case you mention, there is one factor which may explain the discrepancy between the record and what you might expect Johanna's appearance would suggest. It is possible that one person provided _all_ the information for everyone in this party. Unless that person was Johanna, the officer keeping the list would not even know what she looked like.
     A valet is sometimes called a manservant, someone who lays out his master's clothes, in some cases even helps him to dress, and provides other personal services to him. A valet is, _roughly_, the equivalent of a ladies' maid for a woman.
     Although you did not ask about this, I can't help remarking on the Kronprinzessin Cecilie. I read of her years ago, an article detailing the history of her internment at Bar Harbor, Maine shortly after the start of World War I, and subsequent seizure by the United States in 1917. I don't recall all the details, but do remember there was enough material for a nice little article. I did look up her history, quickly, online, and was struck by the fact that the Mount Vernon, as she was renamed, was essentially abandoned in 1919, when she was only thirteen years old. We think of the early twentieth century as a time when obsolescence was not as pronounced as today, but for such a capital intensive thing as a liner, thirteen years is a very short lifespan. (Even if she was not scrapped until 1940.)
                             Ray Beere Johnson II

--- On Mon, 11/2/09, Rolgeiger at aol.com <Rolgeiger at aol.com> wrote:

> It's clear that all ages and other data provided on ship manifests 
> arriving for example in NY harbour were given by the people to the 
> officers of the ship without any chance to proof the data were okay
> (that's right, isn't it?). 
> Well, currently I'm researching the life of a woman from my hometown, 
> Johanna Riefer, who in the  1880s lived in Paris, France, as a servant. 
> At the end of that decade she met Arabella Huntington and became a 
> servant of her. From 1904 until 1924 she accompanied Arabella on her
> annually trips to France. 
> The first  ship list I could find was that of the "Kaiser Wilhelm II" 
> arriving in NY  harbour on Jan 20,1904. 
> She is mentioned "Reifer, Jane" (I assume  that "ei" was pronounced 
> "ee" as in Germany the name is pronounced "Reefer").
> Also on board and belonging to the Huntington party were:  
> Mrs. C.P. Huntington
> Miss Campbell
> Mr. Archer M.  Huntington
> Mrs. Archer M. Huntington
> and their servants
> Dominez Martinez, 27, male, occupation: "valet" (what is a valet?),  
> Spanishr
> Angus Mc Gilverey, 30, valet, Scotch
> Suzanne Gilomene, 27, maid,  Swiss
> and – not a servant -:
> Miss Cummings, 25, USA
> Johanna – "Jane" –'s age is mentioned as "24" but actually she was born 
> 1855. Hey, you can see the difference between 24 and 51, even if that 
> girl is from my hometown, St. Wendel, Germany. 
> 1907 when she takes the "Kronprinzessin Cecilie" from Cherbourg to New 
> York she is mentioned "41" which is nearer but wrong as well. 
> Someone out there with an idea?


More information about the APGPublicList mailing list