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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Finding German Ancestor's Arrival in USA

Teresa asked
I'm trying to track down precisely when and where my ancestors, George and Wilhelmina Loupee, came to the United States. I know an approximate year, and have a few other clues gleaned from census records and county histories, as well as some stories passed down as family lore. The problem is that I don't have any idea how to continue researching this, having tried the online immigration indexes (, Immigrant Ship Transcribers Guild, etc.) that I've been able to find and come up empty.Here's the scoop:

1825: George Loupee weds Wilhelmina Steiner, Germany (Baden)
1826: March 15, eldest son George Loupee born in Baden.
1828: August, 2nd son Lewis Loupee born in Baden (date from 1900 census)
1829: November, third son Fred Loupee born in New York (some stories say on boat crossing over) (date from 1900 census)
1829: Family immigrates to America, settles in/near Lebanon (city or county?), Pennsylvania "was brought to America by his parents, in an old-style sailing vessel, which, during the voyage, was driven on a rock upon which it stuck fast for thirty-six hours." Another family history created in the early 1970s reads "In the year 1829, a poor family by the name of Loupee emigrated from Baden, Germany to America. The voyage to America in a sailing ship, required three months. During the trip, the vessel was shipwrecked on the rocks for three days. Some were singing, some were crying, and some were praying. They had all given up hope, when finally the tide raised the ship and carried it from the rocks."

Is there any source that records unusual details of the trip - such as the boat having gotten stuck on rocks on the way over?

Olive Tree Answer: Hello Teresa, You have some good dates to help you find your ancestors. I wouldn't rely too much on the 1970 family history if it has no sources! But you can estimate a time frame for immigration of 1825-1830 or even a bit later. (that is the range I would use in searching) It seems you have searched the New York arrivals but unfortunately there's a problem with those for the years you want. Late 1820s and early 1830s seem to be missing many ships so there is a good chance your ancestor may not be found. However you may want to check Pennsylvania Ship arrivals on just in case they came in that way.

Don't forget to be very creative in spelling of names and use the wildcard feature to allow for mistakes and mis-spellings. Also, George was probably Anglicized to George from something more like Jury or Jurgen (and variant spellings). Lewis and Fred likewise probably began as something else. Fred would possibly be Friedrich. For Lewis I am not certain, perhaps a reader knows. Wilhelmina could be Mina on that passenger list.

Unfortunately your arrival years are before the publication of the New York Times, which printed details of ship arrivals, departures, weather conditions, shipwrecks and bad storms affecting arrivals. All of this makes me wonder where the author of that 1970s family history obtained his/her information. Unless a descendant has a family bible or journal from your ancestor, I would be very sceptical about that story of the voyage and shipwreck.

Did they naturalize? Check the 1870 census to see if there is a check mark in the column for American citizen age 21 or over. If they did, you may want to search for the Naturalization Records as they may help you

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