My First “Great Migration” Challenge

The Stroscheins were my grandmother’s genealogy love-hate relationship; she loved my grandfather but hated the fact that she was unable to find their origins in Germany.  A few years before she passed away, Mom-mom (my paternal grandmother) confided in me her frustrations. She intimated that when she attempted to find the nativity of Pop’s (my paternal grandfather) family, they thwarted her at every turn. Her memory was, anytime she entered a room, and the Stroschein family members were speaking of the old country, they would either immediately start speaking German or stop talking about their origins altogether.

The Stroscheins were so successful at concealing their hometown’s location that even Pop did not know where his father was born and raised. His grandmother immigrated to the United States, and Pop knew her, but he did not know the name of his grandfather. This fact was a huge complication for my grandmother and me, in the beginning. Speculation abounds to why they hid their origins with nothing concrete discovered yet.

I never inquired about Mom-mom’s knowledge of genealogical methods and analysis. Where her knowledge and use of records such as censuses, tax records, naturalizations, and the multitude of other record types came from I do not know. I do not know if she knew of the existence of the Family History Library in Salt Lake City. I do know that she was excellent at grave yard research, vital records, contacting and interviewing cousins, and gathering stories, photos, and memorabilia.

Sadly it was not until after my grandmother died that I got deep into the study and science of genealogy. When I took on the Stroschein challenge, I had no experience with finding the origins of immigrants, but I forged ahead with steadfast determination and ignorance. My grandmother had decades of experience researching the family. How was this veritable rookie going to figure out what she could not?  Though one thing my grandmother did not use was the power of the internet and online databases.

Through information provided by Mom-mom and the internet, I was able to discern August Stroschein had, at least, five siblings and his mother who all immigrated to Pennsylvania. Four brothers and one sister, Charles, John, Frederick, Herman, and Caroline, all immigrated to Western Pennsylvania. His mother, Wilhelmina Dombrowski Stroschein, also immigrated in 1903. Similar to many immigrant families, mine spelled their name differently in the homeland. My Stroscheins used an extra “h,” Strohschein…sometimes.

This large family group was very fortuitous to this beginner; they created a large target of people for me to find in Germany. I did not know it then, but this is a basic approach to successfully locating your immigrant ancestors in their mother country.

Baltimore Docks

  • Charles L Stroschein –arrived Baltimore 20 Sep 1883 on the Nurnberg [1]
  • John Stroschein–arrived 1888[2]
  • Frederick Stroschein New York 25 March 1882 on the Hermann[3]
  • August Stroschein Baltimore 26 June 1901 on the Köln[4]
  • Herman Stroschein Baltimore 26 June 1901 on the Köln[5]
  • Caroline Stroschein Baltimore 26 June 1901 on the Köln[6]
  • Gottliebe Dombrowski Stroschein New York 8 December 1903 on the Main[7]

This group of ancestors created a lot of records. Information gathered from these records pointed to a place of origin, but it was not quite that easy. The Strohschein’s “Great Migration” was a “chain migration[8].” Did they even come from Germany? How was the issue of language barriers going to play into the discovery of my family’s origins? There were many questions for this rookie researcher to tackle; maybe it was time for some education? I decided to get “institutionalized.”

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[1] Manifest, S.S. Nurnberg, 20 September 1883, unpaginated, line 78, Carl Strohschein, age 16,; ”Baltimore Passenger Lists, 1820-1964”, digital image, Ancestry.com, (http://www.ancestry.com: accessed 8 December 2015).

[2] 1900 U.S. census, Braddock, Ward 2, Allegheny, Pennsylvania, population schedule, Enumeration District 348, page 1A, dwelling 9, family 9, John Stroschaen [sic]; digital image, Ancestry.com, (http://www.ancestry.com: accessed 8 December 2015); citing NARA microfilm publication, T623, roll 1365.

[3] Fredrick Stroschein petition for naturalization (1919), naturalization petition file number 26733, Western District of Pennsylvania, U.S. District Court; digital image Ancestry.com, (http://www.ancestry.com: accessed 8 December 2015); NARA microfilm series M1537, Roll 225, Petitions 26661-26900.

[4] Manifest, S.S. Köln, 26 June 1901, stamped page 230, line 8, August Stohschein, age 23;“ Baltimore Passenger Lists, 1820-1964,” digital image, Ancestry.com, (http://www.ancestry.com: accessed 8 December 2015).

[5] Ibid, line 8, Hermann Strohschein, age 13.

[6] Ibid, line 7, Caroline Strohschein, age 19.

[7] Manifest, S.S. Main, 22 December 1903, stamped page 38, line 18, Gottliebe Strohschein, age 55;“ Baltimore Passenger Lists, 1820-1964,” digital image, Ancestry.com, (http://www.ancestry.com: accessed 8 December 2015).

[8] “Chain Migration” refers to the process by which a family member or a member of a town immigrates to a foreign land and paves the way for other members of that famiy or town to follow.

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