Our World War I Family Story: The First Immigrants From Germany Post WW1

Ernestine Schumann-Heink Our family story begins with Madame Ernestine Rössler Schumann-Heink, an opera singer born 15 Jun 1861 in Libeň, outside Prauge, Czech Republic, at the time, a part of the Austrian empire (brief biography here).  She rose to opera stardom and was a larger than life, warm, engaging, witty, controversial, colorful, extremely strong willed woman who never quit.  Ernestine died in 17 Nov 1936 in Hollywood, Ca.  Ernestine was my husband Charlie’s 2nd great grandmother.

August Death (post war record)

During World War 1 Ernestine had family serving on both sides of the war: Lt. August Heink her son, and Capt. Karl Rössler her brother, fought for Germany, and her sons Henry, Ferdinand and George served with US forces.  August died on 15 Jun 1918 when the submarine he served on was sunk in the English Channel.

August left a widow Katharina Maria “Kathie” Finsen (26 Feb 1884 Finsberg, Germany – 14 Apr 1931 San Diego, Ca), and two children, Ilse and Hans, both born in Hamburg, Germany.  Life post World War 1 in Germany was hard.  Food shortages, housing and clothing were difficult and expensive to acquire, especially for a widow.

In early 1919 Ernestine received correspondence from Kathie detailing life in post war Germany, that she

The Salinas Daily Union 15 Aug 1919, p 9

(Kathie) was mentally suffering, and indicated the family was struggling to survive.  On 03 Aug 1919 Ernestine departed New York for Amsterdam,
Holland, Ernestine wasn’t able to enter Germany due to death threats for supporting the United States in World War 1.  The family accompanied Ernestine to New York on the Ship Rotterdam, arriving on 07 Sep 1919.  For two days they were barred from disembarking at the Port of New York; German citizens were prohibited from entering the United States.  Two days later, without fanfare, her family was permitted to disembark and pursue life in the United States.

How did Ernestine make this happen?   Either law or Executive Order (I have not yet identified which) prohibited immigration by German citizens during and following World War 1.  This was not a hidden, shush, sneak the family into the United States, wink-wink action.  This was typical Ernestine, I am doing this, it will happen, carried out on the front pages of newspapers everywhere. While there are at least one hundred (online) articles about this trip, many reporting factually, some against the family, but none explaining how Ernestine was able to bring her daughter-in-law and grandchildren into the United States.

I began my research at the National Archives in Washington, DC.  While meeting with a Congressional Archivist we determined the 3 most likely ways to legally receive an exemption from existing law/executive order:

  1. Congressional act
  2. State Department authorization
  3. Presidential order

The archivist eliminated Congressional act; no act was passed prior to summer recess and Congress was in recess during this time.  Additional searches located a news article describing a performance given by Ernestine on 17 October 1919 to State Department employees in Washington, DC. The suggestion was made this “smelled like a DC quid-pro-quo” and my next avenue of research.

In the State Department records in College Park, Md (NARA 2), while attending Gen-Fed, I found my answer.  The correspondence shows (with more to be located) an evolving story, culminating with the Secretary of State granting visa’s.  Ernestine was heavily involved in selling War Bonds to finance the US war effort, and this is suggested as a reason for permitting her family to enter the US.

Document and Summary
20 May 1920 Letter from Ernestine saying her daughter would never return to Germany, implying she was leaving husband and getting a divorce. Only interpretation in file, not Ernestine’s original letter.

RG 59, Entry 705, Box 278, packet Ernestine Schumann-Heink

18 Jul 1919 Summary of an interview encouraging the State Dept. to grant entrance to her family (story of daughter and daughter-in-law are intermixed, Kathie had 2 children, her daughter married to a doctor had 3).

RG 59, Entry 705, Box 278, packet Ernestine Schumann-Heink

18 Jul 1919 Page 2 “it is probable that it will be acted on favorably, in view of the great service …” Ernestine’s involvement in US efforts during WW1 are worthy of several additional posts, they were that significant.

RG 59, Entry 705, Box 278, packet Ernestine Schumann-Heink

18 Aug 1919 Urgent telegram from The Hague to Secretary of State asking for permission to sail to US.  Note telegram now says daughter-in-law is of Danish birth and seeks to come to US and re-establish her Danish citizenship!

RG 59, Entry 705, Box 56, packet Kate Heink

23 Aug 1919 Telegram from The Hague, urgently requesting Visa before ship sails 27 Aug 1919

RG 59, Entry 705, Box 278, packet Ernestine Schumann-Heink

23 Aug 1919 Letter from State Dept, US to The Hague granting visas to Kate Heink and 3 children (there were only 2).  Notice the signature (in red) is Lansing.  Robert Lansing was Secretary of State under Woodrow Wilson and served from 1915-1920.

RG 59, Entry 705, Box 56, packet Kate Heink

30 Aug 1919 Rules prevent immigration of singers grandchildren. By the time this article is published the ship has left Rotterdam and headed for the US, with family aboard.
Buffalo Evening News, 30 Aug  1919, page 3, http://www.newspapers.com
The Heink family arrives in New York City on 07 Sep 1919!  Note that Kathie Maria Heink “Marie Heink” was born in Germany (not the Netherlands)

Ancestry.com. New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957. Year: 1919; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 2675; Line: 22; Page: 80

17 Oct 1919 Schumann-Heink performs for State Department employees including Secretary Lansing!
The Washington Post, 17 Oct 1919, page 7, http://www.fold3.com

As a final note, Katharina, Ilse and Hans became naturalized American citizens.  Who says researching family history isn’t interesting?

 

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What Is My Tree View?

The My Tree View is a traditional block view of your tree combined with the power of My Research Progress!  What is a traditional block view of your tree?

Traditional Block View of Family

Does this look familiar?  Different desktop and internet product display of family trees vary slightly in appearance, but the rectangles with names and dates connected with lines to the ancestors of a person are consistent.  Even the arrows on the “ends” to navigate to the next or prior generations, adjusting the view is standard.

My Tree View leverages this uniform way of working with our family members and augments it with the information from your personal research goals.  The foot prints from My Research Progress chronicling your progress walking the path of your ancestors, with the number of steps noted on the footprint, have been added to each block.

My Family View

The My Tree View can be viewed as containing four quadrants:

  1. Upper left (primary area): navigation
  2. Lower left: timeline
  3. Upper right: family members & reports
  4. Lower right: details of research progress

In the next several posts we will look at each of these areas in My Tree View!

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My Research Progress: Religious Research

The fourth research area we will explore in the My Research Progress view is Religious Research. If you click on the Religious research link, the center area of the screen in My Research Progress view will appear. Religious research information is highly customizable in GenDetective using My Personal Research Goals. Due to this flexibility the link for religious research may be disabled.  Unlike the other research areas in GenDetective, there are no standards, 1 record (like a birth certificate), or even set number of “instances” to find.  The research and personal goals depends on the religious participation of your ancestors, how diligent their faith was at creating records and preserving those records and your desire to locate these records.  Because of this GenDetective uses a very simple solution for religious research: How many target records do you search for on average?  Meeting your personal research goal is a matter of you found the number of records, or have not.

In the top 2/3 of the screen you will see a bar chart and below the chart a series of links that echo or repeat the information that is graphically displayed in the bar chart.

Religious Research

Each bar in the chart displays a series of statistic labels and up to 3 colored bars:

  1. Located research: people where you have located your target number of religious records
  2. No research: people where you have not yet located your target number of religious records

Below the bar chart, look to the left of the text that says “414 Direct Relatives”. Do you see the hyperlink “Print this list”? Anytime that you want a list of the people listed in the lower section of the screen, click this link and press print!

In GenDetective the following demographics are included in religious research statistics:

Demographic or Statistic Sample Chart
Religious Research: people where the target number of research records have been located or people where the target number of research records have not been located

People without the desired number of religious events

You can see the power of this graphic depiction of your research and how quickly you can identify research opportunities.

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My Research Progress: Occupational Research

The next research area we will explore in the My Research Progress view is Occupational Research. If you click on the Occupation Research link, the center area of the screen in My Research Progress view will appear.  In the top 2/3 of the screen you will see a bar chart and below the chart a series of links that echo or repeat the information that is graphically displayed in the bar chart.

In My Personal Research Goals occupation research is simple and straight forward: does a person have an occupation (job) or not?  Occupation is tracked separately by gender (male & female) and you can configure different target years for men and women.  Looking at the chart below, it may seem odd that more occupations have been located for more women than men.  However, I have configured tracking of occupations for women beginning in 1920, when many societal changes were occurring, but for men the target date is from 1750 forward, because it is much more likely the occupation of a male will be mentioned in historical documents.

Occupation Research

Each bar in the chart displays a series of statistic labels and up to 3 colored bars:

  1. Located research: people whose occupation has been located
  2. Missing research: people whose occupation has not been identified

Below the bar chart, look to the left of the text that says “414 Direct Relatives”. Do you see the hyperlink “Print this list”? Clicking on this link results in a report that looks similar to the report above. The report generated will reflect the context of the bar that you clicked on (missing death date, has an obituary, etc).

In GenDetective the following demographics are included in occupation research:

Demographic or Statistic Sample Chart
Men’s Occupational Research: men who have an occupation identified or men whose occupation has not been identified

Men without an identified occupation

Occupation Research

Women’s Occupational Research: women who have an occupation identified or women whose occupation has not been identified

Women with an identified occupation

You can see the power of this graphic depiction of your research and how quickly you can identify research opportunities.

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My Research Progress: Immigration Information

The next research area we will explore in the My Research Progress view is Immigration Statistics. If you click on the Immigration Statistics link, the center area of the screen in My Research Progress view will appear. Immigration information is highly customizable in GenDetective by using My Personal Research Goals.  Due to this flexibility you may not see as many of the research areas listed in your bar chart as discussed here, or if you do not research immigration, the link for immigration statistics may be disabled.  In the top 2/3 of the screen you will see a bar chart and below the chart a series of links that echo or repeat the information that is graphically displayed in the bar chart.

Immigration Statistics

Each bar in the chart displays a series of statistic labels and up to 3 colored bars:

  1. Located research: people with an identified date or location
  2. Partial research: people with approximate date (about 1783, circa 1850, between 1850-1850) or a generic location (Germany, England, California).
  3. Missing research: people without the date (dates in report are guesstimated by GenDetective) or people without any location for the event (born 15 Jan 1783, no country identified, information left blank)

Clicking on any single bar or link below the chart will display the names of the people who meet the selected criteria. For example: people with a full immigration date, or people with an approximate immigration date or people with an estimated immigration date. To get a list of people who have estimated immigration dates (maybe they disappeared between census years), click on the colored bar or link for people with partial immigration dates! Once you click on a colored bar, below the graph a list of the people who meet the criteria will appear. It is really is that easy, your research opportunities with a click of the mouse!

Below the bar chart, look to the left of the text that says “414 Direct Relatives”. Do you see the hyperlink “Print this list”? Anytime that you want a list of the people listed in the lower section of the screen, click this link and press print!

In GenDetective the following demographics are included in immigration statistics:

Demographic or Statistic Sample Chart
Immigration Date: people with immigration date or an approximate immigration date, or missing immigration date

People with an immigration date

Immigration Location: people with a specific immigration location, a generic immigration location or a missing immigration location

People missing an immigration location

Emigration Date: people with a specific emigration date, a generic emigration date or a missing emigration date

People missing an emigration date

Emigration Location: people with a specific emigration location, a generic emigration location or a missing emigration location

People with a generic emigration location

Naturalization Date: people with a specific naturalization date, a generic naturalization date or a missing naturalization date

People with a naturalization date

Naturalization Location: people with a specific naturalization location, a generic naturalization location or a missing naturalization location

People with a generic naturalization location

You can see the power of this graphic depiction of your research and how quickly you can identify research opportunities.

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My Research Progress: Military Research

The next research area we will explore in the My Research Progress view is Military Research. If you click on the Military Research link, the center area of the screen in My Research Progress view will appear. In the top 2/3 of the screen you will see a bar chart and below the chart a series of links that echo or repeat the information that is graphically displayed in the bar chart.

Looking at the screen shot below, you will note a difference from other research progress areas.  Instead of being static, the “labels” are labelled by a specific war (or draft) and the conflicts listed is constructed from the list of wars where your family lived, during the years they lived there and the males in your family were of an appropriate age to have served.

Military Research

Each bar in the chart displays a series of statistic labels and up to 3 colored bars:

  1. Served: men who served in this war
  2. May Have Served: men who may have served in this war
  3. Did Not Serve: men who did not serve in this war

How do you identify men that you have researched and determined did not serve in a specific war?  GenDetective includes a location Did Not Serve which has special meaning as a location.  When associated with military service it identifies men who did not serve.  For example:  Mark Smith has an event Military Service 1861-1865 at the location “Did Not Serve”.  GenDetective interprets this negative research to mean that you have researched possible military service for Mark, but in fact can find no record that he served.  This special location provides a way to differentiate between men who did not serve and men whose service you haven’t had a chance to research!

Clicking on any single bar or link below the chart will display the names of the people who meet the selected criteria.  Once you click on a colored bar, below the graph a list of the people who meet the criteria will appear. It is really is that easy, your research opportunities with a click of the mouse!

Below the bar chart, look to the left of the text that says “414 Direct Relatives”. Do you see the hyperlink “Print this list”? Anytime that you want a list of the people listed in the lower section of the screen, click this link and press print!

Demographic or Statistic Sample Chart
Conflict Name: men who served, may have served, and men who did not serve.

Men who may have served in the War of 1812

You can see the power of this graphic depiction of your research and how quickly you can identify research opportunities.

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My Research Progress: Census Research

The next research area we will explore in the My Research Progress view is Census Research. If you click on the Census Research link, the center area of the screen in My Research Progress view will appear. In the top 2/3 of the screen you will see a bar chart and below the chart a series of links that echo or repeat the information that is graphically displayed in the bar chart.

Looking at the screen shot below, you will note a difference from other research progress areas. Instead of being static, the “labels” are labelled by a specific census, either state or national and the list of censuses constructed from a combination of the defined censuses, their years, the list of places your family lived and the years they lived there.  To select a specific census, click on one of the bars; it does not matter whether it is the found/missing census records.  Either colored bar for each census will take you to the next bar chart of census research.

Census Research

Each bar in the chart displays a series of statistic labels and up to 2 colored bars:

  1. Located Research: people whose census record for this census, this year has been located
  2. Missing Research: people whose census record for this census, this year as not been located

Clicking on any single bar or link below the chart will display the names of the people who meet the selected criteria. Once you click on a colored bar, below the graph a list of the people who meet the criteria will appear. It is really is that easy, your research opportunities with a click of the mouse!

Below the bar chart, look to the left of the text that says “414 Direct Relatives”. Do you see the hyperlink “Print this list”? Anytime that you want a list of the people listed in the lower section of the screen, click this link and press print!

Demographic or Statistic Sample Chart
Year XXXX (ex. Year 1850): for each year in the census, people who have been located in this year of the census or people who have not been located in this year of the census

People not located in the 1860 US Federal Census

You can see the power of this graphic depiction of your research and how quickly you can identify research opportunities.

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