Saturday, September 3, 2016

Adjusting My Sails (And Dates?)

     I was very excited to find the immigrant ship of my great-great-grandfather James O'Hora, (aka James Hore), the other day.  In the early days the family used the "Hore" spelling, something I knew from other documents and news articles.

     In the New York Passenger Lists, on, I found--"Jas Hore arrived May 23, 1849 from Liverpool aboard the Ambassadress".  The name, the age and the debarkation port of Liverpool all exactly matched what I already knew about James !  He first appeared in US census records in 1850, so an immigration date of 1849 fit nicely too.  I'd finally discovered when James arrived, it all fit... only it didn't.  I've poured over newspaper lists of ship arrivals in New York Harbor for that year and the closest I can find is a ship that looks like it reads Ambassadress arriving May 1st, not the 23rd.

     It certainly resembles "Ship Amb..."with a "dre" near the end followed by the name of the ship's master, and contains the correct number of letters.

    Now take a look at the ship's manifest above, it clearly says  Michael Foody, Master, swore to the correctness of his passenger list on May 3rd, and he did so on a Port Of New York form.  I suppose it's possible the ship arrived very late on the 1st and Michael didn't get around to submitting his passenger list until the 3rd; after all in 1849 there was no immigrant processing going on in New York.  Passengers at that time simply strolled off their ships and onto the South Street wharves, hence no great rush to submit the passenger list.  It wasn't until 1855 that Castle Garden opened as a processing center.  That is why I always try to confirm the ship's arrival date in news articles, just to be precise.

     Still, why would the Ancestry index say it arrived on the 23rd?  Nothing in this document suggests May 23rd, I've read every single page of it.  And I'm not buying for a second that the ship sailed on May 3rd and made it from Liverpool to New York in under three weeks.

     I've seen the 23rd arrival date on other sites too, though perhaps it was copied from Ancestry.  I noticed in a British newspaper article, which I couldn't read in it's entirety due to the lack of a subscription, mention of a date of March 23 in connection with the Ambassadress. Perhaps that date, Mar 23, was mistaken for May 23, but again-- nothing on the form suggests that.  I'd go ahead and get a subscription to the newspaper site but for the fact I would use it only rarely; my Irish ancestors were never mentioned therein.

     Another one of those little contradictions that make genealogy so frustrating interesting.


  1. Great find, Ellie. Ancestry's indexes are chock-full of errors. I only use them to access their source. The date in your newspaper sounds far more accurate - when was this paper published? And, the March date mentioned in the archive could also refer to a different voyage.

    1. Thanks Dara, I never realized there were lots of mistakes at Ancestry, though I should have after they botched my Mother's information.