From Pommern to Milwaukee 2


Discovering Great-Grandparents_Roeder/Steldt

Thus far I have been unable to uncover who my great-grandfather Frederick Roeder’s parents were nor have I been able to find his immigration record. Census records indicate he immigrated to America in 1875 making him about nine-years-old on arrival. One thing that I  have noted since starting genealogy is that birth years and immigration years vary. The census taker would ask the question and the person would answer not really remembering their birth year or immigration year.  For example, the Milwaukee census records I have for my great-grandmother Steldt list her as having immigrated in 1885, 1887 and 1891! All that to say I have nothing for great-grandfather Frederick (sometimes Fritz, sometimes Friedrich) other than his guess he arrived in 1875.

I did get lucky and found out who my great-grandmother Emilie Steldt’s parents were. I discovered this information by finding the ship manifest that recorded their journey.

The name of the ship was the Rhynland. It departed from the Port of Antwerp, Belgium and arrived in New York on April 13th, 1887 thus confirming one of the census dates for arrival in America.

Here’s what I know about the ship:


Red Star Line, the Rhynland, flagged British

Built by Vickers, Sons & Maxim Limited, Barrow-in-Furness, England, 1879. 3689 gross tons; 402 (bp) feet long; 40 feet wide. Compound engine, single screw. Service speed 12.5 knots. 1150 passengers ( 150 first class, 1000 third class ).

Built for Red Star Line, British flag, in 1879 and named Rhynland. Antwerp-New York service. Also chartered to White Star for Southampton to New York 1898. Sold to Italian owners, in 1906 and renamed Rhyna. Scrapped in Italy in 1906.

An article in the New York Times from 1890 describes the harrowing experience of the immigrant ship illustrating that it was not without risk thousands of people crossed the Atlantic on ships like the Rhynland.

The Red Star steamship Rhynland arrived late yesterday from Antwerp, after the stormiest passage which she has yet experienced. None of her officers can remember such severe weather during the last thirty years. (Full article in the attached PDF 103225572 )

It’s also interesting to note that the Rhynland carried 1000 passengers in third class. Unless I am mistaken third class is synonymous with steerage class. Things had improved on immigrant ships since the dismal 1840’s and 50’s when thousands of German and Irish immigrants made their way to America.

For one thing, the ships of the 1880’s were faster thus reducing the time you had to spend jammed into a tight place with 999 other people!

Even with improvements steerage class meant over crowding, food not very good, no privacy and limited sanitary facilities. Never-the-less, by 1887 and the fourth wave of German immigration of which my great-grandparents were a part millions had made the trip believing it worth it.

Great-grandmother Emilie is recorded as being 13 years old at the time of arrival. Emilie arrived with her family listed on the manifest as:

The Emilie Steldt Family on arrival
Father-Otto Steldt, age 46
Mother-Dorothea Steldt, age 46
Brother-Robert, age 22
Brother-Wilhelm-age 18
Unknown-Whilie, seems to be a misspelling although it appears to be female ending in “ie” which indicates in the German a feminine name. She is reported to be age 9.

Steerage passengers on deck of an immigrant ship, early 1900’s

Early Residence

Census records show that the family arrived in New York but I have unable to find a record of them via Ellis Island.

According to the ship’s record the destination of the family was Chicago. This suggests that perhaps the Steldt’s had relatives already in America and they lived in the Chicago area. Thus far I have not been able to make a family connection in the Chicago area. (Chicago is about 90 miles from Milwaukee.)

At some point the family made their way to Milwaukee. I have a residence record for Otto in 1900 that lists him living at 1115 Janke Place in Milwaukee. His occupation is laborer.

In 1900 Frederick and Emilie Roeder (Steldt) are living at 1014 Center Street in Milwaukee (20th Ward) and according to the record have been married since 1890 although I cannot find a record. They have five children at this point:

1900 Milwaukee Census Record
Fred Roeder 33
Amelia Roeder 27 (note the alternative spelling for Emilie)
Elsie Roeder 9
Willie Roeder 8
Freddie Roeder 7
Selma Roeder 5
Edwin Roeder 3

My grandfather, Harry Roeder Sr., would be born two years later (b. 1902-d. 1962)


22 comments on “From Pommern to Milwaukee 2

  1. It’s neat you’re able to find all this out.

    I had a question too. You know more about WWII then I ever will. Have you ever run across the name Ronald Gervase Mountain? One website says “1941 – 1942
    Commanding Officer 25th Indian Brigade”. I think Mountain may have been the Titanic’s 6th Officer’s cousin.

  2. hey,we might be kin possibly. My great grandparents were also Steldts. My great grandparents were Frank and Emma Steldt,nee Krebs of Milwaukee.I have an old russian coin dated 1883 which at some point my father aquired.
    They came from Riga ,Latvia ,and my dad I think said they got off the boat not at New York,but maybe Boston or another city.They used to write relatives in the old country as I have some postcards from an Uncle Wilhelm from Libau in Latvia.
    Don’t know when they came to Milwaukee. They had several children.
    There was William, Oscar, Erica, Hilda ,and Alex. My grandmother, Hilda Steldt married Ferdinand Hilpert in about 1915,1916 in Milwaukee.Have some old wedding photos of them,as well as photos of Frank and Emma with the kids.
    Not sure if they had a church wedding, but daddy told me that grandma agreed to raise the kids as Catholics. The reason for this is because Ferdinand’s family were Catholics from Bavaria.In the old days, the Catholic Church had as one of the marriage requirements that the non Catholic party would agree to raise the kids as Catholics.Now when my grandmother’s family came to Latvia,I don’t know. I do know that Peter the Great invited Germans and the Dutch to come to Russia,as did Catherine the Great. Also,there is a dutch family named van der Steldt.What connection they may or may not have to our families i don’t know.

    • Hi Hilda, thanks so much for stopping by and commenting.

      I am at a dead end with my Roeder and Steldt background. My primary sources have been early Milwaukee censuses. Usually, with Great G’ma (Steldt) her country of origin was simply listed as Germany. But in one case (I think the 1920 one) the country of origin is listed as “Russia.” Early census takers were not all that accurate and often the language was a barrier so I just assumed “Russia” should have been “Prussia” which was the other term used for Germany.

      However, when I was fishing around on a LDS site I did come across a Steldt from Russia, very possibly your relatives.

      Emilie Steldt, my great-grandmother (1875-1921) parents were Otto and Dorothea Steldt (both born 1841, Germany). They lived in Milwaukee. However, I do not have conclusive proof they are Emilie’s parents, only strong circumstantial evidence.

      The evidence is Emilie’s name on a ship manifest and the dates are about right. She has a brother named Wilhelm, b. 1871 (William). Robert, b. 1867 and a person of unknown gender that looks like “While”, b. 1878 on the manifest.The name of the ship was the Rhynland. The ship departed from Antwerp, Belgium and arrived in New York. Ultimate destination was Chicago, IL.

      My great-grandparents are buried in an old German Lutheran cemetery in Milwaukee in unmarked graves. No money I suppose.

      It’s interesting that our ancestors were all in German Milwaukee at the same time period so it would not surprise me if we are related. It’s finding that proof that is difficult. I do appreciate the info. Very interesting!

  3. Hi again;Hope the snow hasn’t driven you all crazy. Not too bad here right now in Texas.
    It’s possible we are kin.Still trying to dig around on the Steldts but like you don’t come up with much. Not having much luck but i might try ancestry .com and see if mention is made of Frank’s naturalization papers which I assume might be in Wisconsin.
    My great grandparents and that side of the family is buried in Wanderer’s Rest which is across from Holy Cross where the Hilperts are buried.Never have visited the Steldts to see if there were tombstones.I know according to my late father Frank had a construction business and there are some Steldts who build homes.May contact them for info as to who in the family
    might have more information.Apparently this side of the family was fairly well off.
    Also;recall my dad saying the Milwaukee Public Library had books in german .He found the
    Hilpert family in one of them.Don’t know what kind of book it was. Would love to get to Milwaukee some day and check out the reference section for any german hearldry booksetc.
    Might even find the Steldts and other kin in them.

    • Thanks for stopping by again Hilda. I’m pretty much at a dead end having exhausted ancestry.com. Not sure I mentioned it before but Steldt is an uncommon German name today. More common is Stoldt so sometimes I think it’s a misspelling. Part of the fun of genealogy work I guess! Interesting about the books in German at the library and finding the family name in one. At one time Milwaukee had a dozen German language newspapers so I suppose they had a library of sorts as well. My German is very, very weak and I’d need a translator to make sense of things. Blessings, Bruce

      • Hi Bruce;I know what you mean. Hilpert isn’t exactly easy either. I did find there is a dutch company named van der steldt.What if any connection I don’t know.
        I might go up to New Braunfels and check out their library.They must have some german books maybe but not as many as probably Milwaukee. If you go to Wisconsin Cousins they do have obits on people including my grandpa;Ferdinand Hilpert and even the Steldts and cousin Reinhold von Lilienschild. I need to order some copies to check out.Don’t know what if anything the Steldts in Milwaukee know about the family.I have a cousin Paul Steldt in San Antonio and I think I wrote them;but didn’t hear anything.That was some time ago.He’s a professor at one of the colleges in town.Might try again.
        Have a good day,Hilda

      • Thanks Hilda and thanks for the Wisconsin Cousins Center lead. I’m assuming a Catholic connection there? As far as I can tell my Amelia (Emilie) Steldt great g’ma was Lutheran. Both sides are buried in a Lutheran cemetery on Milwaukee’s north side-in what was little Germany (name of the road is still Teutonia) in unmarked graves other than a number. That suggests poverty. However, I still might check out Cousins and come up with a connection. blessings in your work Hilda.

  4. The Wisconsin Cousins has obituaries for a lot of people.Found they have cousin Reinhold von Lilienschild’s. Need to contact them. As far as Wisconsin Cousins go, the people they have obits for are catholic,protestant, etc.
    MY great grandparents Frank and Emma Krebs Steldt were Lutherans. When their daughter Hilda married Ferdinand Hilpert , she agreed the kids would be raised as Catholics.
    Later on she did convert to the Catholic Church.Daddy said while her side was Lutheran, they apparently weren’t that big a bunch of church goers.
    One time when we visited my great aunt Sister Mary Generose Hilpert at the School Sisters of Notre dame in Elm Grove, she mentioned to daddy that there was a sister there by the last name of Steldt.Now daddy later said that couldn’t be right as grandma’s family was Lutheran,so maybe the nun’s name was Stoldt or something.
    It just might have sounded like Steldt to her .
    Now is it possible that some of the family in Germany remained Catholic,,,,,yes.
    There are some Hilperts that are in Missouri and Minnesota who are lutherans,,but i don’t know what connection if any to me.
    Most of the Hilperts were Bavarian Catholics,and got cousins in Baden as well in the Black Forest whom I assume also belong to the Church.
    Going to try a couple of other websites. There are some german places one can write for information .I’ll have to go to the library and get a book with those adresses to pass ago.
    Have a good day.Hilda

  5. Interesting stuff. My grandmother’s name was Emiline Steldt, although that was her married name. She was born a Wuerster in 1915.

    • Thanks for stopping by Trevor. Where is Wuerst?

      • It was actually Wurster. (no umlaut) and the family was from Glarus in Switzerland. We believe that the family must have come from sausage makers.

      • Interesting. I’ll have a brat please 😉 as far as I can tell my great-grandmother Emilie was from Prussian Pommern same as great-grandpa but really it’s only a guess. There is a German website that shows current name distribution. Kind of helpful, but the DNA test on ancestry helps you localize a little better. In any event it’s nice to meet another Steldt.

  6. Hi Trevor,I really don’t know that much about the Steldts. I do know they lived in Riga. They may have been amongst the germans and dutch that Peter the Great invited to Russia. As far as I know the family was maybe prussian. I’m sorry now i never asked my dad to write whatever he knew down,as it might make it easier to check things out.
    The Hilperts kept a family history book in Nuremberg.My dad when he was TDY for Security Service in the Airforce got to Garmisch,and one of his cousins told him if he wanted to know more about the family history,he could go visit the cousins there.He never got to becuase of time constrants.Too bad he didn’t make it to Berlin either.
    He might have been able to see any german records pertaining to both families.

    • My mother’s maiden name was Dorothy E. Steldt. Her Father was William E. Steldt and my great grandparents were Frank W, Steldt and Emma L Steldt. My grandfather William E. Steldt born in 1890 did build houses. He actually was a bricklayer. He built the three smoke stacks at the power plant in Port Washington, WI also.. They did live in Milwaukee. I am related to Hilda.

      • Thanks for stopping by and sharing your background. I think the name Steldt is uncommon so there is a chance we are related. My great grandfather was a stone cutter and I think he got into the trade via his wife’s family. Unfortunately my paper trail is weak and both great grandparents died well before my father was born. My grand father apparently passed down little verbally. Thanks again and if you make a connection to Amelia Steldt please let me know.

      • Hi Dorothy, I’m your cousin Hilda Hilpert.Sorry I haven’t gotten back to you two. Your grandfather William E.Steldt was my  great uncle .His sister Hilda Steldt  married Ferdinand Hilpert.They had two sons,Thomas and Fred J.Hilpert.Fred was my father. I recall my dad saying the family was in the construction business and apparently there are some Steldts in Wisconsin who build homes,most likely cousins. Milton Steldt was in the Navy during WW2 as was Nedbourne Steldt. Now Milton was later a highschool principal up in Sheboygan according to my dad.Not sure what Nedbourne did after the war.My grandmother had an Uncle Mike who was a sea captian. He might have been great grandma Steldt’s brother. Also grandma’s Aunt Louise had a reputation in the family as being a psychic according to my dad.  I recall my dad mentioning something about one of the family  back in the old country having been a military observer at the russian court.Since I don’t recall a name right now,it might have been one of the Steldts or maybe the  family of grandma’s cousin Reinhold von Lilienschild. Cousin Hildagarde Rudolph who was the daughter of your grandfather’s other sister Erica,  had his officer’s sword on the wall of her living room back when we visited in the 1970s.Wish I had asked my dad to write a lot of this stuff down. I know grandpa’s family the Hilperts  have a family history book which one of the Nuremberg Hilperts  keeps. I assume the Steldts may have one ,unfortunately  wouldn’t know who to contact in Germany in that regard. Hilda Hilpert

  7. Hello Bruce. I jumped into your blog from another site, and now reading it for half a day! Very interesting!

    Just after reading this entry:
    If your family roots came from Pomerania, its quite a big chance, that now its Poland there…and one of the rules of archives are that all documentation stays in place of orgin. Im from Koszalin (Koslin before 1945) and we have big archive here full of old german documents. Maybe give a try and write a question to one of the archives?

    Check the website: http://archiwalna.archiwa.gov.pl/en/for-archive-users/genealogy.html

    or just write them in english. Im sure they will try to help!

    Ok, so now waiting for the next part of this story!

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