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New Orleans: Destination or Stopover

A ticket to New Orleans did not mean a settler had any intention of spending time there. This port city was merely the beginning of the journey for many arrivals.

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Type: Article
Resource: GenWeekly
Prepared by: JudyRosella Edwards
Word Count: 501 (approx.)
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During the earlier years, passenger lists didn't always indicate where a ticket-holder was headed. But, by the early 1800's, most lists indicated where the passenger was from and where they intended to settle.

This information is helpful in tracing ancestors. Often, emigrants would sail to Nova Scotia or other ports where they would board a smaller ship for New Orleans. These travelers were usually headed up the Mississippi or points farther west. The main reason for this is it was a way to travel.

Most passenger lists indicate only a state. On November 28, 1826, the Ship Edward Downes arrived in New Orleans with a small group of immigrants from Ireland. Most were bound for "America."

There were exceptions, however. Thirty year-old Mary Lyons, a dressmaker from Ireland, and her three children were onboard but their destination was Kentucky. A couple of others were headed for Alabama.

By the middle of the 1800s, passenger lists began to show more variety in destinations – and much more detail than the numerous lists that simply report the "United States" as a destination! When the Ship New England arrived in New Orleans two days after Christmas 1853, it carried 380 passengers from Germany. Almost all were German residents but they intended to scatter once they arrived in New Orleans. The passenger list shows less than two dozen were planning to remain in New Orleans.

Probably due to a lack of familiarity with the geography of the New World, some reported they were traveling to Cincinnati or St. Louis. Others were less detailed and reported Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Missouri, Ohio, Texas, and Wisconsin as their destination.

Another ship from Germany, the Bark Edmund, arrived in New Orleans on November 3, 1854, with a more detailed list of destinations. These 345 passengers were heading for St. Louis, Evans Wille (probably Evansville, Indiana), Cincinate (Cincinnati), Quinsie (probably Quincy, Illinois, on the Mississippi River), Bethlehem (probably Pennsylvania), and Luis Wille (probably Louisville, Kentucky). The only passengers who were not heading for a specific city were what appears to be two families heading for "Wisonsin" (probably Wisconsin).

The Bark Edmund passenger list does not list occupations. However, one might assume that these passengers were heading for a city where they were intending to work, probably in blue collar jobs. Professionals rarely travelled on these very large ships. The two families heading to Wisconsin might have been farmers, as a farming family might not necessarily identify with a city.

Those who settled near New Orleans followed certain patterns. There was a concentration of German settlers along what became known as "German Coast."

By 1812, the settlement pattern was documented in The Geographical and Historical Dictionary of America and the West Indies.

"The settlements of the Acadians, which were begun in the year 1765, extend on both sides of the river, from Germans to the river Iberville, which 99 miles above New Orleans, and 270 from Pensacola, by way of lakes Ponchartrain and Maurepas."

The area remains known as The German Coast today. Your ancestor's ethnicity might help identify where they settled upon arriving in New Orleans, if they remained in the area. Also, be aware that life was so hard for the very early settlers that some of the Germans who arrived, demanded return passage to Germany!

Source Information: GenWeekly, New Providence, NJ, USA: Genealogy Today LLC, 2009.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Genealogy Today LLC.

*Effective May 2010, GenWeekly articles that are more than five years old no longer require a subscription for full access.

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