by Thomas Jay Kemp, Director of Genealogy Products at GenealogyBank
Over 40 years ago, I found multiple passport applications filed by my cousin George Kemp (1826–1893). In them he stated that he “emigrated to the United States on or about . . . 1834: sailing on board the Hector from Liverpool.”
Source: National Archives
I was able to locate his arrival in New York City in the passenger lists owned by the National Archives through FamilySearch.org. He arrived on July 29, 1834 on the ship Hector. The ship was led by Captain William Williams who brought them from Liverpool, England.
Source: New York Passenger Lists, 1820–1891, National Archives and Records Administration, accessed on FamilySearch.org.
There, I found it. I had the name of the ship and the date he immigrated—now what? Is there more to this story? Because international commerce was news back then, it is possible to track ship movements in the 1800s in the pages of old newspapers. Let’s track the ship Hector.
May 13, 1834—Cleared the Port of Mobile, Alabama
I searched GenealogyBank’s Historical Newspaper Archives and found that the ship Hector had sailed from Charleston, South Carolina, bound for Liverpool, England, and cleared at the port of Mobile, Alabama, on May 13, 1834.
Source: Charleston Courier, Mar. 24, 1834, 2, accessed on GenealogyBank.com.
This fits. The captain was William Williams and he was taking the ship from Charleston, South Carolina, to Liverpool, England before taking the next set of passengers from Liverpool back to the United States.
June 20, 1834—Departed from Liverpool, England
Digging deeper into GenealogyBank, I found more good information. The newspaper Evening Star informs us that the ship Hector under the command of William Williams had departed from Liverpool on June 20, 1834, and that the ship held 219 passengers, including eight-year-old George Kemp, who was coming to America with his family.
Source: Evening Star, Jul. 20, 1834, 2, accessed on GenealogyBank.com.
So the ship made a quick voyage to Liverpool and then loaded the passengers and cargo to return to the United States. The ship departed from Liverpool on June 20, 1834.
July 13, 1834—At Sea, Latitude 42.30, Longitude 60
According to the newspaper Columbian Centinel, the ship Lowell, led by Captain Crocker, arrived in Boston July 20, 1834 from Liverpool, England. They “sailed in co[mpany] with ships Hector, [Captain] Williams, [bound for] New York; [ship] Colossus, [Captain] Wylie, [bound for] Philadelphia; [ship] Grace Brown, [Captain] Higgins, [bound for] Baltimore – saw her 18th inst.[ant] [they were last seen July 18, 1834] lat[itude] 42.30, lon[gitude] 60.”
Source: Columbian Centinel, Jul. 26, 1834, 1, accessed on GenealogyBank.com.
This is great. We now know exactly where the ship was as it neared its arrival in New York City.
July 29, 1834—Arrived at Port of New York
A little over one month later, the ship safely arrived in New York City. The Commercial Advertiser describes the cargo and whom it was being shipped to, and states that it brought “219 passengers.”
Source: Commercial Advertiser, Jul. 29, 1834, 2, accessed on GenealogyBank.com.
1835–1836 Ship Hector Logbook
According to WorldCat:
“The logbook of the ship Hector consists of a very brief extract describing a shipping voyage from New York to Mobile, Liverpool, back to Mobile, Saint Joseph Bay (Fla.), returning to New York, Oct. 1835–July 1836. The master was D. R. Post. The logbook mentions passenger traffic aboard this cargo ship and three other vessels—the Junior, Russel, and St. John—all of unknown rigging.”
Source: “Hector (Ship) Logbook, 1835–1836,” accessed on WorldCat.com.
Looking on the internet, I see that the ship’s logbook for 1835–1836 is at the Peabody Essex Museum in Massachusetts. This should give me more insights into the operations of the ship within months of my cousin’s trip to America.
You can also get more of the details of your family’s history by researching the immigration of your ancestors. GenealogyBank lets you peel back time and document the voyage of the ship that carried your family to America. Find out how long it took—from the date the ship left for Europe, arrived there, loaded the cargo and passengers, and made the return voyage to America.
Once you get the whole story, document it, and pass it down to the rising generation.
It’s a great day for genealogy!
About the Author
Thomas Jay Kemp is the Director of Genealogy Products at GenealogyBank. Tom is an internationally known librarian and archivist. He is the author of over 35 genealogy books and hundreds of articles about genealogy and family history. Kemp is an active genealogist, and he has been working on his own family history for over 50 years.
Tom previously served as the chair of the National Council of Library and Information Associations (Washington, DC) and as the library director the Historical Society of Pennsylvania and the New England Historic Genealogical Society.
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