Posted by: downtothesea | December 28, 2008

Wee immigration rant.

I want so desperately to find anyone, ANYONE on my father’s mother’s side in immigration records.  It is so hugely frustrating.  I know (as much as I can know, without documentation other than census records) within a year of when the Gavins, McCabes, and Millers immigrated (1850, 1853, 1874, respectively) to North America, but my searches in the immigration records at have yielded a big, fat nothing.

A feature that I think would help me in my search would be the ability to search for family groups in the manifests.  I recognize this would require lots more work on behalf of the folks who make such documents available to the public, but heavens, how it would help.

I have had great luck digging up immigration records my Mum’s side (the Eriksons), as well as on my father’s father’s side (the Tanzers and Rauchs).  Heck, I found the Tanzers and the Rauchs despite rampant transcription errors in the searchable databases (Tauzer, Tanger, Tanzier, and Ranch were a few alternative spellings that yielded information).  But no dice for the Scottish and Irish contingent.

I suppose it would help if I could be sure whether the Millers, McCabes, and Gavins entered via Canada or through the States.  Both the McCabes and the Millers lived briefly on the “other side” of the Niagara River, in Southern Ontario, before settling in the States, and I’m just plain not sure if the Gavins did the same.

So much more work to do, and this brick wall is terribly high.



  1. You can search the passenger lists not necessarily with the whole family, but with one companion if you use Steve Morse’s one-step search. If you’re not familiar with Steve’s pages, go to For the years you are interested in, you’ll have to use the “search all NY passenger lists” option, but it sounds like you already have a subscription to Ancestry so that should not be a problem. You can enter the first and/or last name of a companion to the passenger.

    • Thank you so much for that link–no, I wasn’t familiar with all the work Steve has done, but bless his heart! You can bet I’ll be playing around with that site well into the new year!

  2. I have really enjoyed your writing. Spent the afternoon here on your blog and am looking forward to more.

    I also love your term “interdisciplinary genealogist,” although I think I’m an “interdisciplinary family historian.”


    • What a lovely compliment–thank you! I find I ride the line between genealogist and family historian myself…sometimes I’m more interested in the “scientific” aspect of dates and documents and citations, and other times I just delight in uncovering family stories and wonderful personal details about relatives. It depends on my mood, really! Thanks again for reading and commenting!

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