Category Archives: W. Europe

Arie Van Bree, woodcarver from the Netherlands

Ken Vanbree’s great grandfather, Arie Vanbree was born in 1845.  At the age of 11, Arie moved with his four siblings and father from the Netherlands to New York by sailing ship. It is believed that Arie’s mother died before the family decided to immigrate. They sailed  on the “Arnold Boninger” a Prussian ship which left from Rotterdam and arrived in ... Read More »

From Cotton in England to a Store for Jockeys in California

Mary Beth Train’s immigrant story is because of King Cotton. Her maternal grandparents arrived in the United States in 1920, with her mother, Winifred, age 6 and uncle, Geoffrey, age 4. They sailed from Liverpool, England to New York on the Corona.In England that family had lived in Colne, a small mill town in Lancashire in the northwest. Mary Beth’s ... Read More »

Ragnild Syversdatter and Kittel Groth

Another young woman who courageously made possible a “better life” for the family in America was Ragnild Syversdatter Groth. When her parents agreed to the request that their seventeen-year-old daughter marry Kittel Groth, who was fifteen years older, she had no idea that five years later her husband would succumb to the “America fever.” He sold the family farm in ... Read More »

Guri Syversdatter Sundbreen & Lars Paulson Troo

  In the steerage the family slept on a straw-covered plank bunk with barely enough room for four – let alone five. After much seasickness all of Guri’s children suffered from measles and her youngest son died. The greatest bravery was shown by Guri Syversdatter Sundbreen,a little woman in physical stature but a giant in faith. In May 1857 this thirty-eight ... Read More »

Vincenzo Cortese

The apricot trees in Santa Clara Valley have been planted and watered to flourish into a fruitful county. The nutrients of the soil in which these trees were rooted remain plentiful in the legacy of Vincenzo Cortese. In the year 1911,  thirteen-year-old Vincenzo Cortese followed his father and older brother to Chicago alongside his mother and sister. The journey from ... Read More »

Maja Greta Andersdotter

My great grandmother Maja Greta Andersdotter may have immigrated from Sweden to the US twice. She was born in Grevbak, Skaraborg, Sweden on Dec. 13, 1847, to Anders Johansson and Maria Svensdotter. She was the eldest of what eventually were six children in the family, including one who died in infancy. In the early 1850s the family was influenced by ... Read More »

Isobel MacGillivray and Arthur Cobb

My mother, Isobel, was born in 1891 in Inverness, Scotland and immigrated to Utica, NY in 1920. My father, Arthur Cobb, was born in Brechin, Scotland, in 1890, and in 1920 he came to Utica, NY. His mother had already immigrated to Clinton, New York, where she worked as a housekeeper. Isobel and Arthur met through the Scottish club in ... Read More »

Henry Drekmeier, Mathilde and Augusta Wagner

Grandpa Henry Drekmeier spent happy hours skating on the frozen estuaries of the Rhein near Bremerhaven where he was born. I suspect this may have been in the late 1860’s since he fathered the first of his five children in 1896. In order to avoid the Bismarckian military conscription he joined the German merchant marine and spent several years sailing ... Read More »

Francis Squair

Francis Squair (seated with his 3 brothers and 2 sisters) was my great-grandfather. He was born in the Scottish Highlands just east of Loch Ness in 1848. After studying pharmacology at the University of Edinburgh, he and his brothers immigrated to Chicago around 1868. I can’t say why, but I surmise they were victims of the Highland Clearances, efforts by ... Read More »

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