Searching for Early Arrivals
3. The first three hits proved to contain similar information, but look what a gold mine! Not only did I find the year and arrival port in Philadelphia, but the names of his wife and the children who accompanied them.
Finding Post-1820 Immigrants
1. In Ancestry.com’s main Immigration and Travel Advanced search form, I entered the basic information I was most sure of, typing the name Mary used in Sweden and presumably on her first US records. I entered my best guess of her birth year, plus 1875 for the migration date — but I didn’t check Exact for either, to see what Ancestry.com would come up with. (Selecting male or female from the Gender drop-down box at the bottom of the search form can dramatically focus your finds, though some passengers may have been mistakenly miscategorized.)
2. After hitting Search, at first I was disappointed. But Ancestry.com’s results — and how it ranks them — are only as good as the data you enter. I’d forgotten to type Sweden in the Origin field, thinking I’d covered that by saying she was born in Sweden. So my top results were both German women who immigrated in 1886. Not my Maria — not even close. “Maria Esterman,” the first 3-star entry, was clearly a miss, too. But hold on: Further down the list, what about Maria Ekström, born about 1856, arrived May 12, 1876 (not 1875, but our ancestors weren’t always precise about dates when responding to the census enumerator)? Plus she’s even from the right county, Örebro.
Don’t despair if the first few results from a very general search fail to match your ancestor. Keep scrolling down and add your intelligence to that of the software search engine. I wouldn’t have thought to be so specific as Örebro, for instance, but once I spotted it among the results I knew I had my great-grandmother.
3. Not all Ancestry.com immigration databases are linked to images of original records, but this transcription gave me the crucial information I needed: Mary has arrived in Philadelphia, not New York, and left Sweden in 1876, not 1875.
4. Refining my search to add the exact migration year and place of arrival, I now got the Swedish emigration record plus Maria’s Philadelphia passenger list as my top two hits.
5. Picking the Philadelphia link, I could click to an image of her original arrival record. And look who’s listed right after her: sisters Amanda and Caroline. The sisters traveled from Sweden to England to book passage to America, a common pattern.
More great genealogy resources from Family Tree Magazine: