Last week in A Photo Mystery, A Clue at a Time, I introduced you to a wonderful group picture of folks on a ship.
What I didn’t show you is the caption that runs along the bottom edge of the picture. Unfortunately, part of the cardboard is broken off, leaving us to guess at the rest of the information. I can’t make out the first word, but there is a “….noon” or “roon” followed by “on board German Ship Baltimore.” According to the owner of the photo, below the caption and cut off in the scan of the photo is “Capt. Hillr…” The rest of his last name is missing. So far, no luck in finding a man with a last name starting with those letters.
When you’re faced with incomplete caption information, it’s best to start with what you know. In this instance, I Googled Ship Baltimore. On theshipslist.com, I found a description. There was a German ship, Baltimore. It was built in 1868 for the North German Lloyd of Bremen and traveled from Bremen to Baltimore until 1872. In 1881, she was then used for the Bremen to South America service. The big problem with this ship being the one in the photo is the final date of service. This particular Baltimore was scrapped in 1894.
In the first column I dated the photo from 1896 to 1899.
There was another ship, the City of Baltimore that operated as part of the Baltimore Mail Line, but its dates of service are too late. It traveled from Baltimore to Hamburg in the 1930s. Not all information is online and I’m still looking for a good off-line resource.
There must be another ship with the same name that operated in the late 1890s. Just haven’t found it yet.
Jake Jacoby’s grandfather lived his whole life in either Mobile, Ala., or Pensacola, Fla. There is a BIG question about where this photo was taken. Mobile was a busy port and many immigrants arrived there, but right now we lack proof.
If you had an ancestor arrive at Mobile, the National Archives has an Index to Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at Ports in Alabama, Florida, Georgia and South Carolina, 1890-1924 (T517).
There is another possibility. The Sept. 1, 1904, Canebrake Herald (Uniontown, Ala.) mentioned Joseph Jacoby. He was a traveling salesman for his brother’s business, Jacoby Grocery Co.. Since in the 1900 federal census, Jacoby lists his occupation as a salesman, perhaps he traveled, and this photo might have been taken on a trip during the last years of the 1890s.
While I’ve been able to date the photo and work with the owner to sort through clues, the final answer is elusive. Jake Jacoby thinks the photo was taken in Mobile rather than Pensacola. It’s a good assumption. His grandfather had business and family connections in Mobile.
A single name of an immigrant depicted in this photo would help solve the mystery, but unfortunately no one’s name appears on the photo.
Got a mystery photo? Demystify it with help from Maureen A. Taylor’s book Uncovering Your Ancestry Through Family Photographs.