History Hans Högman
Copyright © Hans Högman 2019-12-06

A Journey to America in 1904

About 24 years has passed since the journey accounted for in An Emigrant Journey Across the Atlantic in 1880. The conditions aboard the emigrant liners had improved by 1904 but traversing the North Sea and the Atlantic was still an adventure. Lars Nilsson’s grandfather Oskar Nilsson made the journey in 1904 when he emigrated to the USA. Lars Nilsson writes in the introduction of his article: There was no extensive emigration to North America from where I came from, Jonsberg in Vikbolandet, Östergötland. Even so, there were some people who made the journey and one of them was my grandfather, Oskar Nilsson. However, Oskar only stayed in the US for 4 years and then returned to Sweden. In 1953 he recorded his memories about his journey to the USA. The journey began at his home in Jonsberg with horse and carriage to the Norrköping railway station and from there by train to Gothenburg. Thereafter there were many stormy days traversing the North Sea and the Atlantic before arriving in Boston, MA. Oskar’s travel book is accounted for in a condensed state in the article. Information about Oskar Nilsson’s destination in the US.

The names of the passenger ships in the Article

There are four emigrant liners mentioned in Oskar’s travel book; the Kalyposo, Eurenia, Saxania and Maurick. However, none of these ships were spelled like that by their respective shipping company. Oskar sailed with the Kalypso from Gothenburg to Hull in England. This ship was the Wilson Line’s ship the RMS Calypso. From Liverpool Oskar sailed with the Cunard Line’s ocean liner Eurenia to Boston. However, there has never been a Cunard ocean liner by the name Eurenia. Oskar presumably traveled with the Cunard ocean liner, the RMS Ivernia, which is a ship with a similar name. Further, Oskar wrote in his travel book that the Eurenia was a twin ship to the Saxania (really Saxonia). The Saxonia and the Ivernia were twin ships, so everything points to the Ivernia as the ocean liner Oskar sailed on. More about the Passenger ships and their names further down.

Oskar Nilsson’s Travel Book

"A beautiful spring morning on 18 April 1904, I begun the first stage of my journey — with horse and carriage to the city of Norrköping. I said goodbye to the driver, my father, and bought a railway ticket to Gothenburg. There were six other emigrants at the railway station, buying tickets to Gothenburg. When the word spread that we were emigrants, both older and younger women came up to us with flowers to be fastened on our chests and wished us all the best, which was customary back then. When we entered the train, people at the platform were cheering and waving us off. When the train stopped at other stations along its journey to Gothenburg, more emigrants entered the train. Everyone was going to the ocean liners in Liverpool. The image to the right shows Oskar Nilsson. Private photo, the Nilsson’s Family. When we arrived in Gothenburg, representatives from different emigrant hotels were waiting for us, bringing us to their respective hotels. They were wearing hats with wide brims equipped with the name of the shipping company they represented. We gathered around the men wearing the name of our shipping company. Thereafter they brought us to their hotel. We stayed at the hotel for two days. It was a fine hotel with good service and excellent food. It was a fierce competition between the different shipping companies about the travelers and they tried to offer the very best service. All four major shipping companies had offices and hotels in Gothenburg. We weren’t idle during our two days in Gothenburg; we stood in line several times for all the necessary papers that had to be filed and for a medical examination, including vaccination. During our stay at the emigrant hotel we witnessed an intermezzo, which gave us a foretaste of the big world. During our train journey to Gothenburg, a man had entered the train at a railway station along the route. He told us that he had made the journey to and from the US several times. He cooked up story after story and we listened carefully and swallowed everything he said. He appeared self- confident, had a relaxed manner and his stories appeared to come from his heart. He showed us his ticket with his destination in the US; Takoma in the state of Washington. He claimed that he was the owner of a wood processing company and made big money. The man was pleasant and brotherly, actually more than expected, which made us suspicious even if we might have been stupid and naive. When we lined up for the medical in Gothenburg he was missing and when we came back to the assembly hall there was no sign of him or of some of our suitcases. However, later we heard that he had been arrested by two police detectives. Apparently, he had carried out this shady business before, to the despair of many emigrants. Part of the emigration process was an interrogation. We accepted of course, because no one could risk losing his tickets. The regulations had to be followed but the officials asked the political questions with a smile. At this point everyone was tired, although the journey had just begun. We were a motley crowd; many wives traveling to their husbands in the US who had gone ahead to get things in order for the rest of the family. These women had one or several children and their suitcases with them which made it difficult for them in the crowded lines. I assume they also were hesitant about the long voyage ahead of them and what it might bring. Departing Gothenburg Then it was time for departure. The servant girls at the hotel, who had been taking good care of us, gave us farewell gifts and keepsakes. In the harbor, the America quay-berth was sealed off. The pier was crowded with people who had come to watch the departure and wave off relatives and friends, people who in most cases they were never going to see again. There it was, the big ship which was going to take us across the North Sea, The Kalypso of Hull. At 2:00 in the afternoon the midship doorway on the starboard side opened and a gangway was rolled out - the embarking commenced. Young seamen took care of us and showed us the direction to our staterooms according to what was stated on our tickets. Thereafter we went up on deck watching the waving and cheering crowd on the pier who in their turn were trying to spot relatives and friends among us 600 passengers. They watched closely for us with tearful eyes until the ship disappeared from their field of vision far away at sea. Maybe it was a good thing that I had no relatives and friends among the people on the pier; thereby I didn’t have the painful separation anxiety who many had. The journey to England began with the most beautiful sunny spring weather. We made new acquaintances, became friends with many and we had discussions about the new unknown world we were going to, as we were watching the last islets of our native country disappear behind us. We were trying to get acquainted with the ship’s many areas, however we were told to remain in the area assigned to us, period. We opened our provisions in the evening; we preferred the nice sandwiches our mothers had made for us, maybe for the last time, rather than the food in the ship’s restaurant, “kabeljo” (dried and salted cod) with potatoes without sauce, food that we had to pay for. The free food rations didn’t begin until we were aboard the ocean liner from England. We claimed our nice berths in our worn staterooms. Our staterooms had either two or three bunk beds. Finally, we fell asleep. However, in the morning around 4 o’clock we were awakened by stormy weather. The ship was too light and began to roll terribly in the rough sea and the seasickness began. The roaring sea washed over the ship’s gunwales. The storm didn’t calm until 10 in the evening. However, we were never scared during the storm; we trusted the men on the bridge. During the worst part of the storm it was imposable to leave our staterooms without risking being smashed against the walls in the passageway or the door frames etc. After the storm we had about 12 hours of calm sea before the arrival in Hull, so we had plenty of time to get ready and tidy up the staterooms before disembarking in Hull. Now we sensed a new mood on board the ship; a brass band was playing and speakers, singers and other entertainers did their best to cheer us up after the bad storm with its seasickness. We saw the outline of Hull rising in the horizon and soon we were going to be on dry land again. The Arrival in Hull, England We were for the first time in a foreign country and foreign city. However, we didn’t feel like foreigners. It was as if we had been here hundreds of times through our fellow countrymen who had made the journey before us. We did some shopping in Hull, necessities for the rest of the journey. For the first time we had good English food on our tickets at a large restaurant. It is a mystery how they managed to serve all guests. I guess we were about 1,000 guests being served food in 4 hours. Our break in Hull only lasted for 5 hours. Then we had to assemble at the railway station for the train ride to Liverpool. The train journey went through beautiful landscapes and England was already dressed in its spring suit. We passed green hills and valleys with a deeper green tinge than back in Sweden. The leaves were about to bud. It was so tempting that you could have stopped anywhere if you had been invited. Potato planting was taking place and young women in spring clothes and white kerchiefs were waving to the emigrant train which we answered with all the different languages aboard the train. We were puzzled by the poor state of the English railway cars on this route. They were old fashioned and must have been neglected for at least 25 years. Well, it was only an emigrant train. These travelers could obviously be treated as they wished. The cars were black, with broken compartments and small windows without curtains. We never managed to find out if the cars were equipped with springs or not. The government of the UK had a contract with the train company to transport emigrants to Liverpool. There was no comfort at all to speak about. On this route any old and obsolete scrap was used until it was worn out. Luckily, the train journey only took 5 hours, but nevertheless it was a dreadful train ride. Liverpool The train passed through many black tunnels, the longest took 20 minutes to pass. Once in Liverpool we were brought to an emigrant hotel where they welcomed us. Young, happy women were cleaning and attending for us in the very best way as if they were our sisters or relatives. The emigrant hotel was enormous, jointly owned by the transatlantic shipping companies. There were even physicians and nurses for the benefit of us emigrants. At times there could be up to 4,000 emigrants lodging at the hotel. During our stay there were 2,647 registered emigrants waiting for the departure of the two ocean liners in the harbor. The image to the right shows the Cunard Line’s ocean liner the RMS Saxonia circa 1900. The RMS Ivernia which Oskar probably sailed on was a twin ship to the Saxonia. Image: Wikipedia. The following day we went up early and those of us who were curious went for a walk in the rainy mist to the docks to look at the huge transatlantic liners in the harbor. A hotel porter offered to guide us down to Pier Head where the Cunard ships were residing. There they were, the huge transatlantic liners, ships we heard so much about, fantastic, remarkable big liners. About 150 m (450 ft.) away from the quay were two huge liners anchored closely together. It was our ship, the Cunard Line’s RMS Eurenia, 19.000 tons, and the White Star Line’s RMS Maurick, 15.000 tons, which was departing one day after us. We admired the liners for a long while, then returned to the hotel. A small episode happened on the way back to the hotel which might be worth mentioning. It was raining again, as it seems to do very often in England, and we had no rainwear, which wasn’t common in Sweden at the time. However, we passed a rainwear store on our way from the pier and the entire party of us, 150 people, went in to the store and emptied their entire stock of rainwear. It was big business, we bought everything they had in the store. We thanked the storekeeper, who with a big grin welcomed us back. Departing Liverpool After our last night’s rest at the emigrant hotel where we sent greetings back home to family and friends we embarked the Eurenia. We were 1.600 steerage passengers and the liner was full. The boarding of the liner wasn’t done at the quay; a large steamer brought 200 to 300 passengers at a time from the quay to the emigrant liner. Soon all passengers were aboard. The doorway on the side of the ship closed; now we were separated from Europe. A great confusion arose among the passengers about the location of their staterooms. Some passengers were looking for their staterooms several days before finding them. This was especially difficult for elderly people. The departure of Liverpool was unforgettable. Three tug boats were coupled to the Eurenia, pulling us out of the harbor entrance. A brass band of 18 musicians was playing the English national anthem and all English emigrants sung along. Aboard all ships in the bay area, from the smallest vessel to the large merchant ships, men were on deck cheering us. It was magnificent, touching and beautiful when the mighty Eurenia slowly passed these ships with 2,000 souls aboard, together with the roaring music of drums and other instruments performed by the brass band. It was a fabulous triumphal procession lasting for about 20 minutes which became a memory for life. The two twin ships, the Eurenia and Saxania, were lauded wherever they sailed. The transatlantic traffic took a gigantic leap forward when these two ships were launched in 1899. If the number of emigrants hadn’t been so enormous then the other ships would have been sailing empty. Every emigrant was trying to get a ticket for the liners owned by the Cunard shipping company. Aboard the ship there were two large steerage bars with soda and beers for sale; two barbershops and many stores where you could buy items such as fruit and tobacco. Before departing Liverpool, we received news that there was a storm on the Atlantic and many emigrants became fearful about the crossing with the terrible storm on the North Sea fresh in memory. Scotland was disappearing from our field of vision. The high swell was screening off the horizon. A bunch of youngsters, who were enjoying watching the swell, were thrown together in a pile against the high railing by a huge wave washing the deck. They became soaking wet, some so shattered that they needed medical attention and were taken to the sickbay. The ship’s officers then became concerned for our safety and ordered all passengers below deck. We now passed the worst part of the storm. We got acquainted with a Danish sailor who had long experience of sailing on the North Sea and had crossed the Atlantic 40 times as Second Mate but was now traveling as an emigrant going to the US to live with his daughter and son-in-law. He told us that the North Sea had gotten its world-wide reputation of being a difficult sea to cross because of the relative smaller ships trafficking the North Sea compared to the larger ships on the Atlantic. The smaller ships on the North Sea were more difficult to handle in the rough sea with high breakers being whipped up between the Scandinavian peninsula and the British Isles. The North Sea is on the other hand not big enough to work up the huge swell of the Atlantic Ocean. We were told that there hadn’t been such a bad swell on the Atlantic since October 1901 as the one we had on our voyage. However, we were on a good modern ship which we trusted. The long and heavy Eurenia of 19,000 tons was no small piece of log that the Atlantic could throw around as it pleased. We only noticed a light tremble through the hull, when her 18,500-horsepower propelled her forward into waves with heights up to 12 to 15 meters (36 to 45 ft.). Despite the swell, we could walk freely on deck and through passageways. The seasickness was light but at least half of the passengers suffered from queasiness which made them lose their appetite. We were glad that we didn’t sail on the White Star liner Maurik, who was one day behind us, still struggling with the wrath of the elements. The Maurik was 15,000 tons, 4,000 tons less than the Eurenia; not a lot but probably enough to have a negative impact on her on a stormy ocean. Aboard the Eurenia we had our nice staterooms without bunk beds. The number of tables, chairs, blankets etc. matched the number of beds in the stateroom. There was also a mirror in the stateroom. We wondered if the second-class passengers really had it any better than us steerage travelers. I believe they just paid the higher fare for the sake of it. When the storm was over the sea officers allowed us up on deck again. We felt like birds being released out of a cage and were happier than a prisoner being released out of a prison. At first glance we saw the still roaring sea, which we now hadn’t seen for four days. When we had pulled ourselves together and were acquainted with the outer world it became very noisy and buzzy in the big beehive which a 19,000 tons ship replicates. The happiness was enormous. Stores and barbershops were again full of people. In less than three days we were arriving in Boston, although two days behind schedule due to the storm. According to the timetable the crossing should have taken 7 days and 20 hours. Arrival in Boston, USA We now realized that we were close to our destination. The number of ships increased; ships were plowing through the Atlantic in all directions, some with the Stars and Stripes hoisted. In the morning of 5 May the outline of Boston became visible in the haze. The Eurenia anchored in the bay, at a distance from the quay. We saw strange vessels the likes of which we had never seen. The crowd gathered on the deck was in a devout mood. A sort of longing and a question were mixed together; Is this really America, our wishful destination? Anyhow, we were happy to have safely escaped the wrath of the elements on the ocean. While the ship was anchoring, the huge brass band on the foredeck was playing the American national anthem, so loud that it rumbled in the entire harbor and quay area. People walking in the harbor area stopped, even if they appeared to be in a hurry, and gathered in large groups listening to the brass band aboard the Eurenia. Honor to the band and the music they played; they were worthy of all the recognition they got. During the difficult and stormy days on the Atlantic they were an encouragement and a strength. When the band was playing, we came alive and got into a happy cheerful mood. During the worst days of the storm the band could only perform in the lounge and the dining room, not on deck. Now we had arrived at our destination, America, which had been in our focus since we departed Gothenburg. It wasn’t as easy as I was told by friends to adapt and become successful in America. Some immigrants were successful, employed by farms and industry, others ended up in prisons or became drunks, lost in bars. Everyone came in the hopes of succeeding after listening to all the songs of praise about the US, so often heard in Sweden. These songs of praise and loud cheering sometimes ended when the serious side of life began in the new world. At 2 o’clock in the afternoon we were on the paved streets of Boston. Many immigrants were met by relatives who had come from a long way off. There were even reunions of people who hadn’t seen each other for 70 years. The parting tears of sorrow in Gothenburg were now exchanged for reunion tears of joy. Hugs and embraces were exchanged, although many didn’t even recognize each other after such a long time. It was more peaceful for the immigrants who had no one meeting them at the gangway. We glanced a last time across the bay, where the beautiful Eurenia resided in the bright sunshine. It was as if we didn’t want to leave her. We saw her twin ship, the Saxania, on the ocean before arriving in Boston. We couldn’t remain in Boston for long. We had to say goodbye to our recent friends and stateroom companions. We were inevitably scattering like chaff in the wind on different trains across the American continent. Many of us had 6-day or more train journey ahead of themselves. Mine lasted only for 4-day but was nevertheless tough. As a curiosity I can mention what I found in the war columns in newspapers during WWI; the Kalypso (our ship to England) was torpedoed and sank on 16 April 1916 and the Eurenia on 19 August 1918.” Writen by Oskar Nilsson, Salsbäck, Jonsberg, Sweden, born on 7 September 1880, died on 8 October 1953. Oskar stayed in the US for four years, then returned to Sweden. Special thanks to Lars Nilsson, Sollentuna Genealogical Society, whose grandfather wrote the travel book, and gave me the consent to publish it on my website.

Oskar’s Destination in the US

Oskar’s final destination in the US is not revealed in his travel book. However, he wrote that, once in Boston, he had a 4-day train journey ahead of him. Lars Nilsson, Oskar’s grandson, believes that Oskar went to Minnesota to work, probably in a town called Evansville. I have found Oskar in the Calypso passenger lists and Oskar’s destination is listed as Evansville, MN. Oskar departed Gothenburg on Friday 22 April 1904 according to the passenger list. The Calypso passenger list. The rail line West out of Boston, even today, goes to Albany, New York. Although there are some through trains today, in Albany, trains from New York City are met – cars are coupled together and go as one on to Chicago. All that takes time and the old steam engines had to take on coal and water not only there but at other places along the route. Chicago was a major rail center and getting in and out of there was no 5-minute adventure. From Chicago, Oskar would then go on to Minnesota and I can see 4 days a reasonable time to get there in those years. So, I think Evansville, Minnesota, is a safe bet. The distance by car between Boston, Massachusetts, and Minneapolis, Minnesota, is 2,252 km (1,400 mi.), a substantial distance. As a comparison; the distance between Stockholm, Sweden and Nice in south of France is 2,351 km (1,461 mi.). I have also found Oskar in the Ivernia ship manifest. The Ivernia sailed from Liverpool on 26 April 1904 and arrived in Boston on 5 May, 2 days late due to a storm on the Atlantic. Somehow Oskar must have changed his destination in the US during the voyage. In the Ivernia ship manifest Oskar’s destination is Veblen, South Dakota. Veblen is located about 100 miles (160 km) west of Evansville, MN. The Ivernia ship manifest. Evansville, Minnesota Evansville is a small town in Douglas county, about 245 km (152 mi.) northwest of Minneapolis, MN. The population was 612 at the 2010 census. Evansville was permanently settled in 1865 and established as a township January 7, 1868. The town was platted in 1879 when the railroad was extended to that point. There are photos from the early years of the 1900s at http://www.lakesnwoods.com/EvansvilleGallery.htm Veblen, South Dakota Veblen is a small town in Marshall County, South Dakota and is located in the northeastern corner of South Dakota, close to the state lines to both North Dakota and Minnesota. Veblen was founded in 1900 and the population was 173 in 1910. During the 1910s the population increased to 530.

About Oskar Nilsson

Karl Oskar Nilsson was born on 7 September 1880 in Skallgärde, Jonsberg parish, Östergötland, Sweden and died on 8 October 1953 in Jonsberg. His parents were Johan Nilsson (b. 1851) and Inga Karolina Andersdotter (1851 - 1891). Oskar had a younger sister, Elin Maria Nilsson (b. 1886). As we have read above, Oskar immigrated to the USA in 1904 and stayed for 4 years. He returned to Sweden where he arrived on 31 December 1908. Oskar married Hilda Helena Jonsson (b. 1885) on 22 October 1910 and became the new farmer on her late parent’s farm Sahlbäck, Jonsberg.

The Emigration from Sweden to the USA (4g)

Contents this page:
The chapter “The Journey” is divided into several subpages:

An Emigrant Journey Across the Atlantic in 1904

Introduction

During the period beginning in 1850 and ending in 1930 about 1,249,800 Swedes emigrated from Sweden to North America. Roughly 200,000 of these emigrants returned back to Sweden. The journey to the USA could be very grueling. The early emigrants had to organize the journey to the United States by themselves. There were no passenger ships across the Atlantic at this time. Instead these emigrants had to travel as “ballast” aboard the cargo sailing ships carrying iron. This was not a comfortable way of traveling; the conditions were very bad, and the journey could take from 6 weeks to 3 months. From the 1860’s there were pure passenger sailing ships and from the 1880’s fast steam ships where the comforts of the passengers were in focus. The traveling time was reduced to between 16 to 24 days. There was no direct passenger traffic between Sweden and North America until 1915 when the Swedish American Line (SAL) was established. Instead the Swedish emigrants had to travel by ship from Gothenburg to England and from there on passenger ships to the United States. The journey from Gothenburg was undertaken by smaller passenger ships, often by the Wilson Line, across the North Sea to Hull on the English east coast. This journey took 2 days. In 1850 the Wilson Line received the rights to postal traffic from Sweden. The Wilson Line’s ships were green and all had a name ending on the letter ”o”, like Rollo, Hero, Ariosto and Romeo. The image to the right shows the Wilson Line’s passenger ship the RMS Calypso in the beginning of the 1900s. The emigrant in the travel book below sailed on the RMS Calypso from Gothenburg to Hull in 1904. Image Wikipedia. In England the emigrants had to go by train from Hull to any of the major ports of departure; Liverpool, Southampton or possibly Glasgow. Here they boarded the big transatlantic liners with destinations of New York or Boston in the United States or Quebec and Halifax in Canada. New York was however the major port of arrival for the emigrants Shipping lines that brought emigrants from England to the United States were Inman Line, Cunard Line, White Star Line, Allan Line and Guion Line. The Wilson Line was the major shipping line on the route from Gothenburg to England. Liverpool with Pier Head was the major port of emigration for most of the European emigrants

The Emigrant Agents

A factor that affected the raising of the mass emigration was the many emigrant agents. The agents helped the emigrants with all practical arrangements necessary for the journey to the United States. They were in other words a kind of travel agency. The agents commonly worked together with one or more emigrant shipping lines. The different shipping lines usually had a general agent in Sweden. Each general agent in turn had several subagents all around Sweden. The subagents had representatives in most parishes. The emigrant agents simply made it easier to emigrate to the United States. The agents’ representatives handed out leaflets and posted up placards. The image to the right shows an example of the routes from Sweden to the USA. Hans Högman 2013. Sillgatan in Gothenburg was the number one emigrant street (The street was renamed to Postgatan in 1895). Sillgatan stretched from the Central Station to the harbor and Stora Tullhuset (The Grand Customs House) and Packhusplatsen (Storehouse Square) where the "Amerika piren" (the America quay-berth) was located. All the major transatlantic shipping companies had their offices along this street. Here, the different emigrant agents’ offices were also located.

An Article About an Emigrant’s Journey in 1904

The Swedish Sollentuna Genealogy Society’s member paper An-tecknat had in the January 2019 issue an article which in detail described an emigrant’s journey across the Atlantic in 1904. The name of the article was ”En Amerikaresa 1904” (An America Journey 1904) and was published by Lars Nilsson. The travel book was written in 1953 by Lars’ maternal grandfather Oskar Nilsson who made the journey to the US in 1904. The travel book gives an account of Oskar’s journey from his home in Jonsberg, Östergötlad, to Gothenburg and the voyages to Hull in England and from Liverpool to Boston, USA. Oskar’s travel book was also published in a local Swedish newspaper in 1953, Jonsbergs Tidning. The travel book has also been published on the Östkind Local history Society’s (Östkinds hembygdsförening) webpage at http://www.ostkind.se/ Lars Nilsson’s grandfather’s travel book is published on this webpage with the consent of Lars Nilsson.

The Passenger Ships and their names

The Wilson Line

Thomas Wilson Sons & Co. was an English shipping line founded in 1840. The company expanded and by the early 20th century operated a relatively large fleet. In 1850 the Wilson Line received the rights to postal traffic from Sweden. The Wilson Line’s ships were green and all had a name ending on the letter ”o”, like Rollo, Hero, Ariosto and Calypso. The Calypso was launched in 1904, built by Earle's Shipbuilding and was the largest North Sea passenger vessel of her day. She was the first two-funneled vessel in the owner’s short sea fleet. Her tonnage (GRT) was 2,876, length 94 m (310 ft.) and beam 13 m (43 ft.) She entered the Hull-Gothenburg service together with the older, but now modernized, Aristo. The Calypso held 45 first-class, 46 second-class and 200 steerage passengers. However, the tween-decks, normally cargo space, could temporally be transformed into steerage space holding further 570 passengers. In 1914 she was converted by the Admiralty to an armed merchant cruiser and renamed HMS Calyx to avoid confusion with an existing HMS Calypso. She was employed on northern patrols but was found to be too small for the high seas often encountered and was returned to ferry services. However, she was torpedoed and sunk by U-53 on 11 July 1916. The image to the right shows the Wilson Line’s passenger ship the RMS Calypso departing Gothenburg. Image Sjöhistoriska museet’s collection at Digitalmuseum. Oskar wrote in his travel book that the Calypso was torpedoed and sank on 16 April 1916 which is a few months earlier than the information found on Wikipedia. RMS stands for Royal Mail Ship. Source: Wikipedia.

The Cunard Line

The Cunard Line was a shipping line established in 1838 by the British and North American Royal Mail Steam Packet Company. For most of the next 30 years, Cunard held the Blue Riband for the fastest Atlantic voyage. However, in the 1870s Cunard fell behind its rivals, the White Star Line and the Inman Line. To meet this competition, in 1879 the firm was reorganized as the Cunard Steamship Company, Ltd. The Cunard Line operated several routes between England and different ports in the US. Oskar wrote in his travel book that he sailed from Liverpool on the Cunard Line’s ocean liner Eurenia to Boston. However, there has never been a Cunard ocean liner by the name Eurenia. Oskar presumably traveled with the Cunard ocean liner, the RMS Ivernia, which is a ship with a similar name. Further, Oskar wrote in his travel book that the Eurenia was a twin ship to the Saxania (really Saxonia). The Saxonia and the Ivernia were twin ships, so everything points to the Ivernia as the ocean liner Oskar sailed on. The RMS Ivernia was one of the Cunard Line’s many transatlantic liners, built by the company Swan Hunter & Wigham Richardson and launched in 1899. She entered the Liverpool-Boston service. The Ivernia was a twin ship of the RMS Saxonia and Carpathia. Ivernia’s tonnage was 14,250 tons (GRT) which is less than the tonnage of 19,000 which Oskar mentioned in his travel book for the “Eurenia”. The length of Ivernia was 180 m (600 ft.) and the beam was 20 m (64 ft.). The Ivernia and the Saxonia were identical regarding measurements and tonnage. The RMS Carpathia was slightly smaller. The image to the right shows the RMS Ivernia circa 1900. Wikipedia. The Iverina and Saxonia each held 1,964 passengers (164 first-class, 200 second-class and 1,600 steerage). The steerage staterooms had a selection of different sizes and number of beds; 2, 4, 6, 8, 10 or 12 beds. The majority of all passengers traveled steerage (third-class). The steerage staterooms held in total 1,600 passengers compared to the 200 in second-class. Oskar was a steerage passenger. Both the Ivernia and the Saxonia had a top cruising speed of 15 knots. Following the outbreak of World War I in August 1914 the Ivernia was hired by the British government as a troop transport. On 1 January 1917, the Ivernia was carrying some 2,400 British troops from Marseille to Alexandria, when she was torpedoed by the German submarine UB-47. The ship went down fairly quickly with a loss of 36 crew members and 84 troops. The Carpathia was torpedoed and sunk by UB-55 in 1918. In April 1912, the Carpathia became famous for rescuing the survivors of rival White Star Line's RMS Titanic after the latter struck an iceberg and sank with a loss of 1,517 lives in the North Atlantic Ocean. Oskar wrote in his travel book that the Eurenia was torpedoed and sunk on 19 August 1918 which is a year and a half later than the information found on Wikipedia about the end of the Ivernia. GRT stands for Gross Register Tons. Source: Wikipedia.

The White Star Line

The White Star Line was a British shipping company which gradually emerged as one of the most prominent shipping lines in the world. While many other shipping lines focused primarily on speed, White Star branded their services by focusing more on providing steady and comfortable passages, for both upper class travelers and immigrants. Today it is most famous for the losses of some of their best passenger liners, including the infamous loss of RMS Titanic in 1912. Other well-known ocean liners in their fleet were the Britannic and Olympic. Many of the White Star Line’s ships had a name ending in the letters ”ic”, like Titanic, Britannic, Olympic, Civic and Medic. The first company bearing the name White Star Line was founded in Liverpool, England, by John Pilkington and Henry Wilson in 1845. There weren’t many ships owned by this shipping line beginning with the letter “M” and the White Star Line’s liner mentioned in Oskar’s travel book, “Maurick” wasn’t one of them. The closest liner was most likely either the Majestic or the Magnetic. Source: Wikipedia.

Images of the passenger ships

The Wilson Line’s RMS Calypso at the America quay-berth in Gothenburg. Swedish emigrants embarking the ship. Image: Norway-Heritage, http://www.norwayheritage.com/
The Wilson Line’s RMS Calypso between 1904 and 1914. Image: Norway-Heritage, http://www.norwayheritage.com/
The Wilson Line’s RMS Calypso, Swedish emigrants on deck. Image: Norway-Heritage, http://www.norwayheritage.com/
The Wilson Line’s RMS Calypso, view ahead from the poop deck. Image: Norway-Heritage, http://www.norwayheritage.com/
The Cunard Line’s RMS Ivernia, 4-berth stateroom, steerage. Image: Norway-Heritage, http://www.norwayheritage.com/
The Cunard Line’s RMS Ivernia, steerage passengers on deck. Image: Norway-Heritage, http://www.norwayheritage.com/
The Cunard Line’s RMS Ivernia, steerage dining room. Image: Norway-Heritage, http://www.norwayheritage.com/
The Cunard Line’s RMS Ivernia, steerage promenade deck. Image: Norway-Heritage, http://www.norwayheritage.com/
See also an Emigrant Journey in 1880

Source References

Source References Top of page
The images from Norway-Heritage are free to use for non-profit webpages if you list the organization as the source and state their web address.

The Immigrant Processing in Boston

The US authorities were trying to deny entry to those incapable of taking care of themselves, criminals, etc. These were people the authorities suspected of becoming a burden to society (Likely Public Charge, LPC) and were denied entry. Immigrants who had fallen ill were detained and kept in quarantine until their health improved. It was foremost steerage passengers who were carefully screened. It was primarily they who were submitted to a health checkup and had to prove they had the desired amount of money. First and second-class passengers were generally inspected on board the ship and allowed to proceed. The immigrants had to answer a large number of questions and among them name, profession and the amount of money carried. It was important to the American Government that the new arrivals could support themselves and have money to get started. Some unskilled workers were rejected because they were considered "likely to become a public charge". New York City had permanent facilities for the immigrant processing of steerage passengers; From 1855 Castle Garden and from 1892 Ellis Island. All steerage passengers were conveyed to these stations for immigrant processing. There was no permanent facility for immigrant processing in Boston until 1920. In 1845, a customs house was constructed on Long Wharf at the terminus of State Street and this facility was used as an immigration processing station until the early 20th century. Only immigrants who needed to be detained due to paperwork or further examination were held at the station. Most were processed on the docks. By the early 20th century, a new facility was needed as the Long Wharf facility was deemed a fire hazard. The East Boston Immigration Station, often referred to as “Boston’s Ellis Island,” opened in 1920 and operated until 1954. This immigration station was Boston’s first purpose-built immigration station. As with the previous station on Long Wharf, most immigrants were processed on the docks, but those requiring further examination were brought to the immigration facility. One of the great advantages Boston is supposed to have over New York - - and one which is widely advertised by the steamship companies of this port, is the fact that incoming passengers, this is, steerage passengers, are not obliged to go to one central point like Ellis Island, entailing quite a delay. Here, the conditions are deemed much better. Upon the arrival of a vessel at Boston the steerage passengers are landed at the dock, inspected, and those detained given a hearing before the Board of Special Inquiry. Those still detained by the Board are conveyed to the Immigration Station at Long Wharf, while those admitted either at the primary inspection or at the first Board hearing, walk out into another part of the steamship dock where they receive their baggage and directly proceed to the city proper or suburbs, excepting those passengers bound for the West. These, right there on the dock are placed aboard special trains, or cars, as the occasion demands, regulated by the number of people, and proceed directly to the West. Source about the Boston advantages above: Extract of a letter from George B. Billings, Department of Commerce and Labor, Immigration Service, Boston to the Commissioner-General of Immigration, Washington, D.C. on May 11, 1909.
xxxxx Swegen xxxxxxxxxxx

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Släktforskning Hans Högman
Copyright © Hans Högman 2019-12-06

A Journey to America in 1904

About 24 years has passed since the journey accounted for in An Emigrant Journey Across the Atlantic in 1880. The conditions aboard the emigrant liners had improved by 1904 but traversing the North Sea and the Atlantic was still an adventure. Lars Nilsson’s grandfather Oskar Nilsson made the journey in 1904 when he emigrated to the USA. Lars Nilsson writes in the introduction of his article: There was no extensive emigration to North America from where I came from, Jonsberg in Vikbolandet, Östergötland. Even so, there were some people who made the journey and one of them was my grandfather, Oskar Nilsson. However, Oskar only stayed in the US for 4 years and then returned to Sweden. In 1953 he recorded his memories about his journey to the USA. The journey began at his home in Jonsberg with horse and carriage to the Norrköping railway station and from there by train to Gothenburg. Thereafter there were many stormy days traversing the North Sea and the Atlantic before arriving in Boston, MA. Oskar’s travel book is accounted for in a condensed state in the article. Information about Oskar Nilsson’s destination in the US.

The names of the passenger ships in the

Article

There are four emigrant liners mentioned in Oskar’s travel book; the Kalyposo, Eurenia, Saxania and Maurick. However, none of these ships were spelled like that by their respective shipping company. Oskar sailed with the Kalypso from Gothenburg to Hull in England. This ship was the Wilson Line’s ship the RMS Calypso. From Liverpool Oskar sailed with the Cunard Line’s ocean liner Eurenia to Boston. However, there has never been a Cunard ocean liner by the name Eurenia. Oskar presumably traveled with the Cunard ocean liner, the RMS Ivernia, which is a ship with a similar name. Further, Oskar wrote in his travel book that the Eurenia was a twin ship to the Saxania (really Saxonia). The Saxonia and the Ivernia were twin ships, so everything points to the Ivernia as the ocean liner Oskar sailed on. More about the Passenger ships and their names further down.

Oskar Nilsson’s Travel Book

"A beautiful spring morning on 18 April 1904, I begun the first stage of my journey — with horse and carriage to the city of Norrköping. I said goodbye to the driver, my father, and bought a railway ticket to Gothenburg. There were six other emigrants at the railway station, buying tickets to Gothenburg. When the word spread that we were emigrants, both older and younger women came up to us with flowers to be fastened on our chests and wished us all the best, which was customary back then. When we entered the train, people at the platform were cheering and waving us off. When the train stopped at other stations along its journey to Gothenburg, more emigrants entered the train. Everyone was going to the ocean liners in Liverpool. The image to the right shows Oskar Nilsson. Private photo, the Nilsson’s Family. When we arrived in Gothenburg, representatives from different emigrant hotels were waiting for us, bringing us to their respective hotels. They were wearing hats with wide brims equipped with the name of the shipping company they represented. We gathered around the men wearing the name of our shipping company. Thereafter they brought us to their hotel. We stayed at the hotel for two days. It was a fine hotel with good service and excellent food. It was a fierce competition between the different shipping companies about the travelers and they tried to offer the very best service. All four major shipping companies had offices and hotels in Gothenburg. We weren’t idle during our two days in Gothenburg; we stood in line several times for all the necessary papers that had to be filed and for a medical examination, including vaccination. During our stay at the emigrant hotel we witnessed an intermezzo, which gave us a foretaste of the big world. During our train journey to Gothenburg, a man had entered the train at a railway station along the route. He told us that he had made the journey to and from the US several times. He cooked up story after story and we listened carefully and swallowed everything he said. He appeared self- confident, had a relaxed manner and his stories appeared to come from his heart. He showed us his ticket with his destination in the US; Takoma in the state of Washington. He claimed that he was the owner of a wood processing company and made big money. The man was pleasant and brotherly, actually more than expected, which made us suspicious even if we might have been stupid and naive. When we lined up for the medical in Gothenburg he was missing and when we came back to the assembly hall there was no sign of him or of some of our suitcases. However, later we heard that he had been arrested by two police detectives. Apparently, he had carried out this shady business before, to the despair of many emigrants. Part of the emigration process was an interrogation. We accepted of course, because no one could risk losing his tickets. The regulations had to be followed but the officials asked the political questions with a smile. At this point everyone was tired, although the journey had just begun. We were a motley crowd; many wives traveling to their husbands in the US who had gone ahead to get things in order for the rest of the family. These women had one or several children and their suitcases with them which made it difficult for them in the crowded lines. I assume they also were hesitant about the long voyage ahead of them and what it might bring. Departing Gothenburg Then it was time for departure. The servant girls at the hotel, who had been taking good care of us, gave us farewell gifts and keepsakes. In the harbor, the America quay-berth was sealed off. The pier was crowded with people who had come to watch the departure and wave off relatives and friends, people who in most cases they were never going to see again. There it was, the big ship which was going to take us across the North Sea, The Kalypso of Hull. At 2:00 in the afternoon the midship doorway on the starboard side opened and a gangway was rolled out - the embarking commenced. Young seamen took care of us and showed us the direction to our staterooms according to what was stated on our tickets. Thereafter we went up on deck watching the waving and cheering crowd on the pier who in their turn were trying to spot relatives and friends among us 600 passengers. They watched closely for us with tearful eyes until the ship disappeared from their field of vision far away at sea. Maybe it was a good thing that I had no relatives and friends among the people on the pier; thereby I didn’t have the painful separation anxiety who many had. The journey to England began with the most beautiful sunny spring weather. We made new acquaintances, became friends with many and we had discussions about the new unknown world we were going to, as we were watching the last islets of our native country disappear behind us. We were trying to get acquainted with the ship’s many areas, however we were told to remain in the area assigned to us, period. We opened our provisions in the evening; we preferred the nice sandwiches our mothers had made for us, maybe for the last time, rather than the food in the ship’s restaurant, “kabeljo” (dried and salted cod) with potatoes without sauce, food that we had to pay for. The free food rations didn’t begin until we were aboard the ocean liner from England. We claimed our nice berths in our worn staterooms. Our staterooms had either two or three bunk beds. Finally, we fell asleep. However, in the morning around 4 o’clock we were awakened by stormy weather. The ship was too light and began to roll terribly in the rough sea and the seasickness began. The roaring sea washed over the ship’s gunwales. The storm didn’t calm until 10 in the evening. However, we were never scared during the storm; we trusted the men on the bridge. During the worst part of the storm it was imposable to leave our staterooms without risking being smashed against the walls in the passageway or the door frames etc. After the storm we had about 12 hours of calm sea before the arrival in Hull, so we had plenty of time to get ready and tidy up the staterooms before disembarking in Hull. Now we sensed a new mood on board the ship; a brass band was playing and speakers, singers and other entertainers did their best to cheer us up after the bad storm with its seasickness. We saw the outline of Hull rising in the horizon and soon we were going to be on dry land again. The Arrival in Hull, England We were for the first time in a foreign country and foreign city. However, we didn’t feel like foreigners. It was as if we had been here hundreds of times through our fellow countrymen who had made the journey before us. We did some shopping in Hull, necessities for the rest of the journey. For the first time we had good English food on our tickets at a large restaurant. It is a mystery how they managed to serve all guests. I guess we were about 1,000 guests being served food in 4 hours. Our break in Hull only lasted for 5 hours. Then we had to assemble at the railway station for the train ride to Liverpool. The train journey went through beautiful landscapes and England was already dressed in its spring suit. We passed green hills and valleys with a deeper green tinge than back in Sweden. The leaves were about to bud. It was so tempting that you could have stopped anywhere if you had been invited. Potato planting was taking place and young women in spring clothes and white kerchiefs were waving to the emigrant train which we answered with all the different languages aboard the train. We were puzzled by the poor state of the English railway cars on this route. They were old fashioned and must have been neglected for at least 25 years. Well, it was only an emigrant train. These travelers could obviously be treated as they wished. The cars were black, with broken compartments and small windows without curtains. We never managed to find out if the cars were equipped with springs or not. The government of the UK had a contract with the train company to transport emigrants to Liverpool. There was no comfort at all to speak about. On this route any old and obsolete scrap was used until it was worn out. Luckily, the train journey only took 5 hours, but nevertheless it was a dreadful train ride. Liverpool The train passed through many black tunnels, the longest took 20 minutes to pass. Once in Liverpool we were brought to an emigrant hotel where they welcomed us. Young, happy women were cleaning and attending for us in the very best way as if they were our sisters or relatives. The emigrant hotel was enormous, jointly owned by the transatlantic shipping companies. There were even physicians and nurses for the benefit of us emigrants. At times there could be up to 4,000 emigrants lodging at the hotel. During our stay there were 2,647 registered emigrants waiting for the departure of the two ocean liners in the harbor. The image to the right shows the Cunard Line’s ocean liner the RMS Saxonia circa 1900. The RMS Ivernia which Oskar probably sailed on was a twin ship to the Saxonia. Image: Wikipedia. The following day we went up early and those of us who were curious went for a walk in the rainy mist to the docks to look at the huge transatlantic liners in the harbor. A hotel porter offered to guide us down to Pier Head where the Cunard ships were residing. There they were, the huge transatlantic liners, ships we heard so much about, fantastic, remarkable big liners. About 150 m (450 ft.) away from the quay were two huge liners anchored closely together. It was our ship, the Cunard Line’s RMS Eurenia, 19.000 tons, and the White Star Line’s RMS Maurick, 15.000 tons, which was departing one day after us. We admired the liners for a long while, then returned to the hotel. A small episode happened on the way back to the hotel which might be worth mentioning. It was raining again, as it seems to do very often in England, and we had no rainwear, which wasn’t common in Sweden at the time. However, we passed a rainwear store on our way from the pier and the entire party of us, 150 people, went in to the store and emptied their entire stock of rainwear. It was big business, we bought everything they had in the store. We thanked the storekeeper, who with a big grin welcomed us back. Departing Liverpool After our last night’s rest at the emigrant hotel where we sent greetings back home to family and friends we embarked the Eurenia. We were 1.600 steerage passengers and the liner was full. The boarding of the liner wasn’t done at the quay; a large steamer brought 200 to 300 passengers at a time from the quay to the emigrant liner. Soon all passengers were aboard. The doorway on the side of the ship closed; now we were separated from Europe. A great confusion arose among the passengers about the location of their staterooms. Some passengers were looking for their staterooms several days before finding them. This was especially difficult for elderly people. The departure of Liverpool was unforgettable. Three tug boats were coupled to the Eurenia, pulling us out of the harbor entrance. A brass band of 18 musicians was playing the English national anthem and all English emigrants sung along. Aboard all ships in the bay area, from the smallest vessel to the large merchant ships, men were on deck cheering us. It was magnificent, touching and beautiful when the mighty Eurenia slowly passed these ships with 2,000 souls aboard, together with the roaring music of drums and other instruments performed by the brass band. It was a fabulous triumphal procession lasting for about 20 minutes which became a memory for life. The two twin ships, the Eurenia and Saxania, were lauded wherever they sailed. The transatlantic traffic took a gigantic leap forward when these two ships were launched in 1899. If the number of emigrants hadn’t been so enormous then the other ships would have been sailing empty. Every emigrant was trying to get a ticket for the liners owned by the Cunard shipping company. Aboard the ship there were two large steerage bars with soda and beers for sale; two barbershops and many stores where you could buy items such as fruit and tobacco. Before departing Liverpool, we received news that there was a storm on the Atlantic and many emigrants became fearful about the crossing with the terrible storm on the North Sea fresh in memory. Scotland was disappearing from our field of vision. The high swell was screening off the horizon. A bunch of youngsters, who were enjoying watching the swell, were thrown together in a pile against the high railing by a huge wave washing the deck. They became soaking wet, some so shattered that they needed medical attention and were taken to the sickbay. The ship’s officers then became concerned for our safety and ordered all passengers below deck. We now passed the worst part of the storm. We got acquainted with a Danish sailor who had long experience of sailing on the North Sea and had crossed the Atlantic 40 times as Second Mate but was now traveling as an emigrant going to the US to live with his daughter and son-in-law. He told us that the North Sea had gotten its world-wide reputation of being a difficult sea to cross because of the relative smaller ships trafficking the North Sea compared to the larger ships on the Atlantic. The smaller ships on the North Sea were more difficult to handle in the rough sea with high breakers being whipped up between the Scandinavian peninsula and the British Isles. The North Sea is on the other hand not big enough to work up the huge swell of the Atlantic Ocean. We were told that there hadn’t been such a bad swell on the Atlantic since October 1901 as the one we had on our voyage. However, we were on a good modern ship which we trusted. The long and heavy Eurenia of 19,000 tons was no small piece of log that the Atlantic could throw around as it pleased. We only noticed a light tremble through the hull, when her 18,500-horsepower propelled her forward into waves with heights up to 12 to 15 meters (36 to 45 ft.). Despite the swell, we could walk freely on deck and through passageways. The seasickness was light but at least half of the passengers suffered from queasiness which made them lose their appetite. We were glad that we didn’t sail on the White Star liner Maurik, who was one day behind us, still struggling with the wrath of the elements. The Maurik was 15,000 tons, 4,000 tons less than the Eurenia; not a lot but probably enough to have a negative impact on her on a stormy ocean. Aboard the Eurenia we had our nice staterooms without bunk beds. The number of tables, chairs, blankets etc. matched the number of beds in the stateroom. There was also a mirror in the stateroom. We wondered if the second-class passengers really had it any better than us steerage travelers. I believe they just paid the higher fare for the sake of it. When the storm was over the sea officers allowed us up on deck again. We felt like birds being released out of a cage and were happier than a prisoner being released out of a prison. At first glance we saw the still roaring sea, which we now hadn’t seen for four days. When we had pulled ourselves together and were acquainted with the outer world it became very noisy and buzzy in the big beehive which a 19,000 tons ship replicates. The happiness was enormous. Stores and barbershops were again full of people. In less than three days we were arriving in Boston, although two days behind schedule due to the storm. According to the timetable the crossing should have taken 7 days and 20 hours. Arrival in Boston, USA We now realized that we were close to our destination. The number of ships increased; ships were plowing through the Atlantic in all directions, some with the Stars and Stripes hoisted. In the morning of 5 May the outline of Boston became visible in the haze. The Eurenia anchored in the bay, at a distance from the quay. We saw strange vessels the likes of which we had never seen. The crowd gathered on the deck was in a devout mood. A sort of longing and a question were mixed together; Is this really America, our wishful destination? Anyhow, we were happy to have safely escaped the wrath of the elements on the ocean. While the ship was anchoring, the huge brass band on the foredeck was playing the American national anthem, so loud that it rumbled in the entire harbor and quay area. People walking in the harbor area stopped, even if they appeared to be in a hurry, and gathered in large groups listening to the brass band aboard the Eurenia. Honor to the band and the music they played; they were worthy of all the recognition they got. During the difficult and stormy days on the Atlantic they were an encouragement and a strength. When the band was playing, we came alive and got into a happy cheerful mood. During the worst days of the storm the band could only perform in the lounge and the dining room, not on deck. Now we had arrived at our destination, America, which had been in our focus since we departed Gothenburg. It wasn’t as easy as I was told by friends to adapt and become successful in America. Some immigrants were successful, employed by farms and industry, others ended up in prisons or became drunks, lost in bars. Everyone came in the hopes of succeeding after listening to all the songs of praise about the US, so often heard in Sweden. These songs of praise and loud cheering sometimes ended when the serious side of life began in the new world. At 2 o’clock in the afternoon we were on the paved streets of Boston. Many immigrants were met by relatives who had come from a long way off. There were even reunions of people who hadn’t seen each other for 70 years. The parting tears of sorrow in Gothenburg were now exchanged for reunion tears of joy. Hugs and embraces were exchanged, although many didn’t even recognize each other after such a long time. It was more peaceful for the immigrants who had no one meeting them at the gangway. We glanced a last time across the bay, where the beautiful Eurenia resided in the bright sunshine. It was as if we didn’t want to leave her. We saw her twin ship, the Saxania, on the ocean before arriving in Boston. We couldn’t remain in Boston for long. We had to say goodbye to our recent friends and stateroom companions. We were inevitably scattering like chaff in the wind on different trains across the American continent. Many of us had 6-day or more train journey ahead of themselves. Mine lasted only for 4-day but was nevertheless tough. As a curiosity I can mention what I found in the war columns in newspapers during WWI; the Kalypso (our ship to England) was torpedoed and sank on 16 April 1916 and the Eurenia on 19 August 1918.” Writen by Oskar Nilsson, Salsbäck, Jonsberg, Sweden, born on 7 September 1880, died on 8 October 1953. Oskar stayed in the US for four years, then returned to Sweden. Special thanks to Lars Nilsson, Sollentuna Genealogical Society, whose grandfather wrote the travel book, and gave me the consent to publish it on my website.

Oskar’s Destination in the US

Oskar’s final destination in the US is not revealed in his travel book. However, he wrote that, once in Boston, he had a 4-day train journey ahead of him. Lars Nilsson, Oskar’s grandson, believes that Oskar went to Minnesota to work, probably in a town called Evansville. I have found Oskar in the Calypso passenger lists and Oskar’s destination is listed as Evansville, MN. Oskar departed Gothenburg on Friday 22 April 1904 according to the passenger list. The Calypso passenger list. The rail line West out of Boston, even today, goes to Albany, New York. Although there are some through trains today, in Albany, trains from New York City are met – cars are coupled together and go as one on to Chicago. All that takes time and the old steam engines had to take on coal and water not only there but at other places along the route. Chicago was a major rail center and getting in and out of there was no 5-minute adventure. From Chicago, Oskar would then go on to Minnesota and I can see 4 days a reasonable time to get there in those years. So, I think Evansville, Minnesota, is a safe bet. The distance by car between Boston, Massachusetts, and Minneapolis, Minnesota, is 2,252 km (1,400 mi.), a substantial distance. As a comparison; the distance between Stockholm, Sweden and Nice in south of France is 2,351 km (1,461 mi.). I have also found Oskar in the Ivernia ship manifest. The Ivernia sailed from Liverpool on 26 April 1904 and arrived in Boston on 5 May, 2 days late due to a storm on the Atlantic. Somehow Oskar must have changed his destination in the US during the voyage. In the Ivernia ship manifest Oskar’s destination is Veblen, South Dakota. Veblen is located about 100 miles (160 km) west of Evansville, MN. The Ivernia ship manifest. Evansville, Minnesota Evansville is a small town in Douglas county, about 245 km (152 mi.) northwest of Minneapolis, MN. The population was 612 at the 2010 census. Evansville was permanently settled in 1865 and established as a township January 7, 1868. The town was platted in 1879 when the railroad was extended to that point. There are photos from the early years of the 1900s at http://www.lakesnwoods.com/EvansvilleGallery.htm Veblen, South Dakota Veblen is a small town in Marshall County, South Dakota and is located in the northeastern corner of South Dakota, close to the state lines to both North Dakota and Minnesota. Veblen was founded in 1900 and the population was 173 in 1910. During the 1910s the population increased to 530.

About Oskar Nilsson

Karl Oskar Nilsson was born on 7 September 1880 in Skallgärde, Jonsberg parish, Östergötland, Sweden and died on 8 October 1953 in Jonsberg. His parents were Johan Nilsson (b. 1851) and Inga Karolina Andersdotter (1851 - 1891). Oskar had a younger sister, Elin Maria Nilsson (b. 1886). As we have read above, Oskar immigrated to the USA in 1904 and stayed for 4 years. He returned to Sweden where he arrived on 31 December 1908. Oskar married Hilda Helena Jonsson (b. 1885) on 22 October 1910 and became the new farmer on her late parent’s farm Sahlbäck, Jonsberg.

The Emigration from

Sweden to the USA (4g)

An Emigrant Journey Across the

Atlantic in 1904

Introduction

During the period beginning in 1850 and ending in 1930 about 1,249,800 Swedes emigrated from Sweden to North America. Roughly 200,000 of these emigrants returned back to Sweden. The journey to the USA could be very grueling. The early emigrants had to organize the journey to the United States by themselves. There were no passenger ships across the Atlantic at this time. Instead these emigrants had to travel as “ballast” aboard the cargo sailing ships carrying iron. This was not a comfortable way of traveling; the conditions were very bad, and the journey could take from 6 weeks to 3 months. From the 1860’s there were pure passenger sailing ships and from the 1880’s fast steam ships where the comforts of the passengers were in focus. The traveling time was reduced to between 16 to 24 days. There was no direct passenger traffic between Sweden and North America until 1915 when the Swedish American Line (SAL) was established. Instead the Swedish emigrants had to travel by ship from Gothenburg to England and from there on passenger ships to the United States. The journey from Gothenburg was undertaken by smaller passenger ships, often by the Wilson Line, across the North Sea to Hull on the English east coast. This journey took 2 days. In 1850 the Wilson Line received the rights to postal traffic from Sweden. The Wilson Line’s ships were green and all had a name ending on the letter ”o”, like Rollo, Hero, Ariosto and Romeo. The image to the right shows the Wilson Line’s passenger ship the RMS Calypso in the beginning of the 1900s. The emigrant in the travel book below sailed on the RMS Calypso from Gothenburg to Hull in 1904. Image Wikipedia. In England the emigrants had to go by train from Hull to any of the major ports of departure; Liverpool, Southampton or possibly Glasgow. Here they boarded the big transatlantic liners with destinations of New York or Boston in the United States or Quebec and Halifax in Canada. New York was however the major port of arrival for the emigrants Shipping lines that brought emigrants from England to the United States were Inman Line, Cunard Line, White Star Line, Allan Line and Guion Line. The Wilson Line was the major shipping line on the route from Gothenburg to England. Liverpool with Pier Head was the major port of emigration for most of the European emigrants

The Emigrant Agents

A factor that affected the raising of the mass emigration was the many emigrant agents. The agents helped the emigrants with all practical arrangements necessary for the journey to the United States. They were in other words a kind of travel agency. The agents commonly worked together with one or more emigrant shipping lines. The different shipping lines usually had a general agent in Sweden. Each general agent in turn had several subagents all around Sweden. The subagents had representatives in most parishes. The emigrant agents simply made it easier to emigrate to the United States. The agents’ representatives handed out leaflets and posted up placards. The image to the right shows an example of the routes from Sweden to the USA. Hans Högman 2013. Sillgatan in Gothenburg was the number one emigrant street (The street was renamed to Postgatan in 1895). Sillgatan stretched from the Central Station to the harbor and Stora Tullhuset (The Grand Customs House) and Packhusplatsen (Storehouse Square) where the "Amerika piren" (the America quay-berth) was located. All the major transatlantic shipping companies had their offices along this street. Here, the different emigrant agents’ offices were also located.

An Article About an Emigrant’s Journey in

1904

The Swedish Sollentuna Genealogy Society’s member paper An-tecknat had in the January 2019 issue an article which in detail described an emigrant’s journey across the Atlantic in 1904. The name of the article was ”En Amerikaresa 1904” (An America Journey 1904) and was published by Lars Nilsson. The travel book was written in 1953 by Lars’ maternal grandfather Oskar Nilsson who made the journey to the US in 1904. The travel book gives an account of Oskar’s journey from his home in Jonsberg, Östergötlad, to Gothenburg and the voyages to Hull in England and from Liverpool to Boston, USA. Oskar’s travel book was also published in a local Swedish newspaper in 1953, Jonsbergs Tidning. The travel book has also been published on the Östkind Local history Society’s (Östkinds hembygdsförening) webpage at http://www.ostkind.se/ Lars Nilsson’s grandfather’s travel book is published on this webpage with the consent of Lars Nilsson.

The Passenger Ships and their

names

The Wilson Line

Thomas Wilson Sons & Co. was an English shipping line founded in 1840. The company expanded and by the early 20th century operated a relatively large fleet. In 1850 the Wilson Line received the rights to postal traffic from Sweden. The Wilson Line’s ships were green and all had a name ending on the letter ”o”, like Rollo, Hero, Ariosto and Calypso. The Calypso was launched in 1904, built by Earle's Shipbuilding and was the largest North Sea passenger vessel of her day. She was the first two- funneled vessel in the owner’s short sea fleet. Her tonnage (GRT) was 2,876, length 94 m (310 ft.) and beam 13 m (43 ft.) She entered the Hull-Gothenburg service together with the older, but now modernized, Aristo. The Calypso held 45 first-class, 46 second-class and 200 steerage passengers. However, the tween-decks, normally cargo space, could temporally be transformed into steerage space holding further 570 passengers. In 1914 she was converted by the Admiralty to an armed merchant cruiser and renamed HMS Calyx to avoid confusion with an existing HMS Calypso. She was employed on northern patrols but was found to be too small for the high seas often encountered and was returned to ferry services. However, she was torpedoed and sunk by U-53 on 11 July 1916. The image to the right shows the Wilson Line’s passenger ship the RMS Calypso departing Gothenburg. Image Sjöhistoriska museet’s collection at Digitalmuseum. Oskar wrote in his travel book that the Calypso was torpedoed and sank on 16 April 1916 which is a few months earlier than the information found on Wikipedia. RMS stands for Royal Mail Ship. Source: Wikipedia.

The Cunard Line

The Cunard Line was a shipping line established in 1838 by the British and North American Royal Mail Steam Packet Company. For most of the next 30 years, Cunard held the Blue Riband for the fastest Atlantic voyage. However, in the 1870s Cunard fell behind its rivals, the White Star Line and the Inman Line. To meet this competition, in 1879 the firm was reorganized as the Cunard Steamship Company, Ltd. The Cunard Line operated several routes between England and different ports in the US. Oskar wrote in his travel book that he sailed from Liverpool on the Cunard Line’s ocean liner Eurenia to Boston. However, there has never been a Cunard ocean liner by the name Eurenia. Oskar presumably traveled with the Cunard ocean liner, the RMS Ivernia, which is a ship with a similar name. Further, Oskar wrote in his travel book that the Eurenia was a twin ship to the Saxania (really Saxonia). The Saxonia and the Ivernia were twin ships, so everything points to the Ivernia as the ocean liner Oskar sailed on. The RMS Ivernia was one of the Cunard Line’s many transatlantic liners, built by the company Swan Hunter & Wigham Richardson and launched in 1899. She entered the Liverpool-Boston service. The Ivernia was a twin ship of the RMS Saxonia and Carpathia. Ivernia’s tonnage was 14,250 tons (GRT) which is less than the tonnage of 19,000 which Oskar mentioned in his travel book for the “Eurenia”. The length of Ivernia was 180 m (600 ft.) and the beam was 20 m (64 ft.). The Ivernia and the Saxonia were identical regarding measurements and tonnage. The RMS Carpathia was slightly smaller. The image to the right shows the RMS Ivernia circa 1900. Wikipedia. The Iverina and Saxonia each held 1,964 passengers (164 first-class, 200 second-class and 1,600 steerage). The steerage staterooms had a selection of different sizes and number of beds; 2, 4, 6, 8, 10 or 12 beds. The majority of all passengers traveled steerage (third-class). The steerage staterooms held in total 1,600 passengers compared to the 200 in second- class. Oskar was a steerage passenger. Both the Ivernia and the Saxonia had a top cruising speed of 15 knots. Following the outbreak of World War I in August 1914 the Ivernia was hired by the British government as a troop transport. On 1 January 1917, the Ivernia was carrying some 2,400 British troops from Marseille to Alexandria, when she was torpedoed by the German submarine UB-47. The ship went down fairly quickly with a loss of 36 crew members and 84 troops. The Carpathia was torpedoed and sunk by UB-55 in 1918. In April 1912, the Carpathia became famous for rescuing the survivors of rival White Star Line's RMS Titanic after the latter struck an iceberg and sank with a loss of 1,517 lives in the North Atlantic Ocean. Oskar wrote in his travel book that the Eurenia was torpedoed and sunk on 19 August 1918 which is a year and a half later than the information found on Wikipedia about the end of the Ivernia. GRT stands for Gross Register Tons. Source: Wikipedia.

The White Star Line

The White Star Line was a British shipping company which gradually emerged as one of the most prominent shipping lines in the world. While many other shipping lines focused primarily on speed, White Star branded their services by focusing more on providing steady and comfortable passages, for both upper class travelers and immigrants. Today it is most famous for the losses of some of their best passenger liners, including the infamous loss of RMS Titanic in 1912. Other well-known ocean liners in their fleet were the Britannic and Olympic. Many of the White Star Line’s ships had a name ending in the letters ”ic”, like Titanic, Britannic, Olympic, Civic and Medic. The first company bearing the name White Star Line was founded in Liverpool, England, by John Pilkington and Henry Wilson in 1845. There weren’t many ships owned by this shipping line beginning with the letter “M” and the White Star Line’s liner mentioned in Oskar’s travel book, Maurick” wasn’t one of them. The closest liner was most likely either the Majestic or the Magnetic. Source: Wikipedia.

Images of the passenger ships

The Wilson Line’s RMS Calypso at the America quay- berth in Gothenburg. Swedish emigrants embarking the ship. Image: Norway-Heritage, http://www.norwayheritage.com/
The Wilson Line’s RMS Calypso between 1904 and 1914. Image: Norway-Heritage, http://www.norwayheritage.com/
The Wilson Line’s RMS Calypso, Swedish emigrants on deck. Image: Norway-Heritage, http://www.norwayheritage.com/
The Wilson Line’s RMS Calypso, view ahead from the poop deck. Image: Norway-Heritage, http://www.norwayheritage.com/
The Cunard Line’s RMS Ivernia, 4-berth stateroom, steerage. Image: Norway-Heritage, http://www.norwayheritage.com/
The Cunard Line’s RMS Ivernia, steerage passengers on deck. Image: Norway-Heritage, http://www.norwayheritage.com/
The Cunard Line’s RMS Ivernia, steerage dining room. Image: Norway-Heritage, http://www.norwayheritage.com/
The Cunard Line’s RMS Ivernia, steerage promenade deck. Image: Norway-Heritage, http://www.norwayheritage.com/
See also an Emigrant Journey in 1880

Source References

Source References Top of page
The images from Norway-Heritage are free to use for non-profit webpages if you list the organization as the source and state their web address.

The Immigrant Processing in

Boston

The US authorities were trying to deny entry to those incapable of taking care of themselves, criminals, etc. These were people the authorities suspected of becoming a burden to society (Likely Public Charge, LPC) and were denied entry. Immigrants who had fallen ill were detained and kept in quarantine until their health improved. It was foremost steerage passengers who were carefully screened. It was primarily they who were submitted to a health checkup and had to prove they had the desired amount of money. First and second- class passengers were generally inspected on board the ship and allowed to proceed. The immigrants had to answer a large number of questions and among them name, profession and the amount of money carried. It was important to the American Government that the new arrivals could support themselves and have money to get started. Some unskilled workers were rejected because they were considered "likely to become a public charge". New York City had permanent facilities for the immigrant processing of steerage passengers; From 1855 Castle Garden and from 1892 Ellis Island. All steerage passengers were conveyed to these stations for immigrant processing. There was no permanent facility for immigrant processing in Boston until 1920. In 1845, a customs house was constructed on Long Wharf at the terminus of State Street and this facility was used as an immigration processing station until the early 20th century. Only immigrants who needed to be detained due to paperwork or further examination were held at the station. Most were processed on the docks. By the early 20th century, a new facility was needed as the Long Wharf facility was deemed a fire hazard. The East Boston Immigration Station, often referred to as “Boston’s Ellis Island,” opened in 1920 and operated until 1954. This immigration station was Boston’s first purpose-built immigration station. As with the previous station on Long Wharf, most immigrants were processed on the docks, but those requiring further examination were brought to the immigration facility. One of the great advantages Boston is supposed to have over New York - - and one which is widely advertised by the steamship companies of this port, is the fact that incoming passengers, this is, steerage passengers, are not obliged to go to one central point like Ellis Island, entailing quite a delay. Here, the conditions are deemed much better. Upon the arrival of a vessel at Boston the steerage passengers are landed at the dock, inspected, and those detained given a hearing before the Board of Special Inquiry. Those still detained by the Board are conveyed to the Immigration Station at Long Wharf, while those admitted either at the primary inspection or at the first Board hearing, walk out into another part of the steamship dock where they receive their baggage and directly proceed to the city proper or suburbs, excepting those passengers bound for the West. These, right there on the dock are placed aboard special trains, or cars, as the occasion demands, regulated by the number of people, and proceed directly to the West. Source about the Boston advantages above: Extract of a letter from George B. Billings, Department of Commerce and Labor, Immigration Service, Boston to the Commissioner-General of Immigration, Washington, D.C. on May 11, 1909.