Ratners of Albany

Rattner ship manifests

Considering that both Walter and I had spent a good deal of time trying to find the records of our Ratner ancestors' passage to America, the story of how they finally came into our possession is somewhat anticlimactic. Ancestry.com now has a nifty feature of hints that automatically conducts searches and alerts users to information they may not yet have discovered.

Last week I received just such a hint for our great-grandfather Abraham Ratner pointing to an inter-European voyage from Hamburg to the Port of Hull near Liverpool. At first, I was inclined to disregard it: There were many Abram Ratners, and importantly we thought the Ratner name didn't come into use until Abe's arrival in America. Thus, a pre-arrival record for that name would not be him.

The 1890 date was the right year, however, and I clicked through to read more and view the actual document—the "directory" of passengers aboard the Esperanza sailing out of Hamburg on July 2, 1890. My excitement immediately grew as I saw the names of Abram's travel mates, listed as Schifre, age 42, and Rosa, 18. Abram was listed as 20. Exactly the right three names and ages for Abe, his bride Rose and mother-in-law Sophie. Here's the document (click to view close up):

At first, I thought the Esperanza sailed through to New York after a stop in England, but reading closer I realized that they disembarked at the Port of Hull and must have taken a different ship to New York. My quick reading about the Port of Hull supported that thought:

During the period 1836 - 1914, Hull developed a pivotal role in the movement of transmigrants via the UK. During this period over 2.2 million transmigrants passed through Hull en route to a new life in the US, Canada, South Africa and Australia. Originating from Denmark, Finland, Germany, Norway, Russia and Sweden, the transmigrants passed through the port, from where they would take a train to Glasgow, Liverpool, London or Southampton - the UK ports which offered steamship services to the 'New World' they had dreamed of.

On the document, New York is listed as "the aim of the emigration." But where was the record for the second leg of the journey? Easy. Now having the correct last name, the right month and year and departure port, another Ancestry search quickly came up with this passenger manifest for the July 16, 1890, sailing of the SS Teutonic.

Page 1 is included so you can see the cover information and column headings. Schrifre and Abraham Rattner appear about one-third of the way down on the second page, which is actually Page 3 of the manifest.

You'll see Sophie (Schifre) and Abe have the right ages. Oddly she is shown as a citizen of Finland, but that looks to be a random anomaly. More surprising is that Rose is not listed together with her family members. I've taken a quick scan of the rest of the manifest to see if she is listed elsewhere but didn't find her name.

So that remains as a loose end, but still we've made a big step forward in documenting our ancestors' journey to America, including finding an important clue to their previous lives that Walter follows up on in the next post.

Oh, here's a couple images of the Teutonic and a link to the Wikipedia article. She was a new state-of-the-art cruiser at the time of the voyage.

One last comment on why we hadn't found this information before. First, we weren't searching on Rattner. Second, the Esperanza record was not in any database we searched. Third, Ancestry's ongoing acquisitions in its international collections has exposed more existing records to its excellent search technologies. I'm pretty sure that Teutonic manifest must have been discoverable all along but we had missed it because the tools were not as good then as they are now.

We Had Em All the Way!


Brilliant work! I'm pretty sure thats what got him fired. That's two times Coca Cola comes into Ruby family lore and things turn out badly; let's not forget that our great-grandfather Abraham Bloch (Walter's eventual father in law, who was in the seltzer business in Albany around 1910) was offered the franchise for upstate new York by a small upstart company from Atlanta that offered a syrupy new carbonated drink and he said, "Naw, I've got more than enough business already." For the rest of his life, whenever he had an idea or made a suggestion, people would say, "Yeah, yeah, and you're the guy who said no to Coca Cola." I drank a Diet Coke today (eveybody in Georgia still seems to drink Coke in support of the home team) and it tasted kind of weird to think of all the pain and grief those corporate SOBs caused our family!

On a happier note, see this New York Times article on Bing Crosby's vintage taping of Game 7 of the 1960 World Series, which ends, of course, with Bill Mazeroski's epic game winning blast! 50 years ago in just a couple of weeks! Time flies when you're having fun. Certainly that was one of the very happiest moments of my life; the purest ecstasy and exaltation. The unheralded, scrappy Pirates upending the mighty imperial awful Yankees. Sublime justice for at least one moment. Miracles do come true, after all.

To paraphrase the Passover song: 'If the only great moment in my life had been Maz's homer slaying the Yankees, that would have been enough!' Not really of course, but its a good line.

Albany 1915 census

Here is one interesting lead, a Sofie and Morris Tulbowitz in Albany Ward 3 in a special NY State census in 1915. I can imagine that Sofey might be Sophia, but Morris doesn't sound right for Solomon.

Albany, New York State Census, 1915 Record
Albany, New York State Census, 1915 Record

Whether or not they are related, the 1915 census is worth looking into deeper. Here is info about the census database.

Although not the largest city in the state, Albany, New York is one of the most important urban areas along the Hudson River. This database is a collection of state census records from the city in 1915. It includes information regarding residents of the city's first eight wards. Researchers will find the resident's name, election district number, and ward number. Page and line numbers are provided to aid those wishing to find the original state document housed at the capital. This update adds nearly 65,400 names, making a total of 108,000 names now available. For those Ancestry.com patrons seeking ancestors from Albany, New York, this can be a useful collection of records.

Source Information:
Lommel, Brenda, ed.. Albany, New York State Census, 1915 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: MyFamily.com, Inc., 1999. Original data: State of New York. State Census of 1915. Albany, NY, USA: New York State Government, 1915.

Tulbowitz search

So far, I have not found more than the 1900 census document Walter discovered. Here it is blown up and divided into three panels left to right. The Tulbowitzes (Solomon, Sophia and Edward) are the bottom three rows in each image.


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