Carl Bischoff emigrates, landing March 15, 1872
on the steamship Holsatia, Hamburg to New York


Photograph of the SS Holsatia in Jonashafen, Hamburg in the 1870's
The steamship HOLSATIA was built for the Hamburg-America Line by Caird & Co, Greenock (yard #143), and was launched on 9 March 1868. She weighted 3,134 tons and her dimensions were 103,5 x 12,3 meters (length x breadth), and had accommodation for 90 passengers in 1st class, 130 in 2nd class, and 520 in steerage; crew of 120. She had a straight stem, 1 funnel, 2 masts, and was of iron construction. With her screw propulsion, the service speed 12 knots; Captains: N. Trautmann, 1868; H. Ehlers, 1868-1870; J. E. Meier, 1870-1872; B. H. A. Barends, 1872-1875; H. F. Schwensen, 1878; C. L. Brandt, 1878.

Her maiden voyage was on 10 June 1868, from Hamburg and then Southampton to New York. Her last voyage was just seven years later: 14 April 1875, from Hamburg and Havre to New York when she was laid up. In 1877, compound engines were installed, and on 30 January 1878 she resumed a short stint of Hamburg - Havre - New York service. Just five months later, on 6 June 1878, the SS Holsatia was acquired by the Russian Volunteer Fleet and renamed ROSSIJA. In November 1894, she was renamed DNESTR, and was a Russian navy transport and school ship. In December 1910, she was renamed once more as the BLOKSHIF N5 (hulk). After 48 years of service, she was scuttled at Trebizond in the Black Sea in October 1916.

Marine Intelligence—New York Times
Saturday, March 16, 1872

Arrived. Steamship Holsatia (N.G.) Barends. Hamburg Feb 28. Havre March 3, with mdse, and passengers to Kunhardt & Co. Experienced changeable winds during the voyage and several heavy gales from S.W. to N.W. and N. with very high sea; March 9, lat., 46 N., lon 38 49 W., passed a Cunard steamer bound E.


Hamburg embarkation list above; New York debarkation list below (Note: only the passenger lists departing from Hamburg still remain; lists from the more popular emigration port of Bremen were destroyed)
Carl Bischoff's first passenger list in 1872; click on picture for larger view, or here for Hamburg page (last entry) or New York page (9th from bottom)
Steamship Holsatia -- Captain Barends -- from Hamburg to New York departing February 28, 1972, embarkation list:
#492, Carl Bischoff, age 33, Male, from Braunschweig, Occupation: Farmer, Going to: United States, Part of Vessel: Between decks.
New York March 15, 1872 debarkation list (same order):
#480, Carl Bischoff, age 33, Male, Occupation: Farmer, Homeland: Germany, Going to: United States, Part of Vessel: Between decks.

Carl Bischoff traveled alone to America, landing in New York (at Castle Garden), after a 16-day voyage. It does not appear that he had any friends or relatives making this adventure with him, based on the entries next to his, since they were not from Braunschweig. However, for some reason, Carl is listed as seven years older on this list (the New York one is compiled from the Hamburg one, so the data all comes from one source) -- he was born in December 1845, so he should be only 26 on this voyage, not 33. Every other piece of age information on Charles is consistent with a December 1845 birth except for this Holsatia list:
Age 29 in 1875 on his passenger list for a return trip to Germany
Age 29 in 1875 on his intent to become citizen
(no age information on 1876 or 1882 marriage records)
34 on 1880 census
44 in 1890 on naturalization
54 on 1900 passenger list for a return trip to Germany
54 with December 11, 1845 birthdate on 1900 passport application
54 on 1900 census, and specifies that his birth date is Dec 1845
64 on 1910 census
74 on 1920 census
79-9-17 on September 22, 1925 death certificate, with birthdate of December 11, 1845
However, despite the age discrepancy, and the fact there is a better-matching Carl Bischoff entry on the SS Egypt in 1872, this is our ancestor's passenger list. Not only does the Hamburg list detail that this 33-year-old Carl is from Braunschweig, but conclusively Charles himself mentions the March 1872 Steamship Holsata (sic) in his 1900 passport application. As to the age discrepancy, although normally you believe the information from the source closest to the event, some of the subsequent information is not much later, and this later evidence consists of ten separate statements which are all consistent (and would he lie on his intent/naturalization?). It is possible that Charles "shaved off" seven years of his age when he started dating his first wife Justina Voehl, who was born in 1855, so he would be only 9 years older and not 16, and then continued this age-shaving with his second wife Elizabeth Stiebeling who was born in 1860. However, I think it is more likely that somehow this list is in error, although it is unusual to find such an age error on passenger lists. Should the birth/christening records be found, it will confirm Charles' accurate birth year and age.

There is a Joseph Bischoff family in Washington, that had been there for 25 years, and while they may be very distant relatives, they are not close relatives as he was born in Saxony in 1825, and not Brunswick (although the city of Braunschweig is enveloped by the dutchy of Saxony). Carl anglicizes his name to Charles, perhaps because he is opening a tailor shop, and enters business by 1874 with a friend, presumably made in America, Henry Hetzel -- Hetzel did not emigrate with Charles, and while he was about the same age (36 on the 1880 census, so born circa 1844 -- the only Hetzel in DC) he too was born in Saxony not Brunswick. It is possible that Charles picked Washington DC because of distant Bischoff relatives, and that they knew Henry Hetzel. Washington D.C. annual directories have the following 1874 listings for Charles:
1874 C. H. Bischoff (Bischoff and Hetzel), 931 D. St, NW
1874 [second listing] Bischoff and Hetzel (C. H. Bischoff and Henry Hetzel), tailors, 931 D. St, NW

Return trip: 1875. Charles is our only ancestor to make a return visit to his homeland, and he makes not one but two. The reason for his revisit in just three years is perhaps to visit a sick parent; or perhaps he was looking for a wife; or perhaps he was trying to convince a sibling or friend to emigrate; I don’t know if we will ever discover the reason. On May 30, 1875 he files his intent (the first papers in the naturalization process), and he is found on a September 1875 return passenger list (outbound lists were not maintained). Six months after this return trip Charles marries Justina Voehl in Washington. Since Charles names two daughters Alma (one born 1876 to Charles and Justina, dies 1878), and our grandmother (born 1882), it is assumed that his mother’s name may have been Alma.

Photograph of Braunschweig circa 1900
Return trip: 1900. On Charles' second return trip, at age 54, he took 21 year old son Paul (by first wife Justina Voehl) with him. Unfortunately, their passport applications (Charles and Paul) do not mention where in Germany they plan to visit, so it is unknown if they are visiting Bischoff or Voehl relatives, or both. Since Paul filled in the information on Charles' 1925 death certificate, and did not know his grandmother's first or maiden names, it is assumed she was deceased long before the 1900 visit, although Charles' father Henry could still have been alive in 1900 and Paul may therefore have met him. Sadly, about 90% of the old structures in Braunschweig were destroyed by allied bombers in October 1944 during WWII.

I have not been able to find Charles' birthplace, even though I have checked passenger lists, church records at Concordia Lutheran Church in Washington, naturalization records, passport records, court records (no will), newspapers (no obituary), death and marriage certificates, and even contacted the Germania Masonic Lodge to which Charles and his brother-in-law Hermann Stiebeling belonged. While he may have lived in the city of Brunschweig prior to emigration, he was not born in the city of Braunschweig, based on Braunschweig city directories (no Bischoff’s at all in 1875 in the city). There are emigration “Auswanderer” directories -- however, the Auswanderer duchy directory, listing all emigrants from the entire duchy and not just the city, was only compiled through 1871, the year before Carl emigrated. (There was a female Bischoff in it from Zorge, but I wrote the church there, and there was no Henry with son Carl.) Since his occupation in 1872 was listed as "farmer", it seems likely that Charles was living near but not in Braunschweig just before emigration. Church records from Brunswick have not been microfilmed, however, I have enlisted some help in Germany, and have a few more leads, so more information may turn up. Death records for his parents may give clues as to the reasons for his two revisits.

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There is also an overview of some of the reasons why our ancestors emigrated, a list of the sources used in data collection and summaries, and a summary of the history of Germany in the middle of the 19th century.