Monday, October 3, 2016

Some Recent Discoveries....The Tapply Immigration Mystery Partly Resolved

As you know, I've been teasing out the puzzle of great-grandfather Charles Tapply's immigration. Family stories had him "stowing away" to come to America. Professional genealogists tell us that story is right up there with "grandma was an indian princess".  Seldom true. But I have recently found a few more clues from records that are now available online.

Ellen Tapply appears as Mrs. Tapply along with Annie and Daisy on the manifest for the steamship Bolivia in June 1881. The Bolivia was on the Anchor line and this journey took them in steerage from London to Castle Garden Immigration Station  in New York. (Ellis Island wasn't opened yet) The two pictures above are of sister ships on that line. I'm thinking the one on the left is the closest image.
Ellen Tapply was only 26 years old and Daisy was an infant. The passenger list doesn't reveal much more about them besides age, gender and country of origin. I looked for someone of the right age to be an incognito Charles, but haven't found that yet. I will go over the list more carefully, but what I mostly see are family groups.
This is a period photo of Castle Garden. I'm thinking Charles had already arrived and was there to meet them. The evidence for this is what I found next.
The newest piece of information to go digital was immigration documents. Jon had already gotten this one, but I had been convinced that immigrants filled in a much more extensive question document. Apparently, NOT.  One thing I've learned doing indexing for Family Search (data entry for files they've photographed to make them searchable) is that they wrote down as much or as little as the immigrant volunteered. So if you gave the city, county and country or origin, they often wrote it all down. Charles is very specific here. He arrived "on or about the 10th of March 1881". So now to find a boat arriving in New York around that time. Well, so far nothing. But I will continue to look.
I've tried using just his age, just his first name, just his last name, and variations on that. I also tried using Ellen's maiden name and her mother's surname. I figure at the very least he was traveling under an alias.

This is the type of record I'm looking for. We have Charles Freed. The age is correct, his occupation is given as carpenter which isn't too much of a stretch. The problem is that the Nederland arrived in New York in August of 1881. If Charles were going to lie to immigration, I suspect he would have just been vague and given the year. So this isn't Charles.

I also found the documents for his father James Henry Tapply and his brother-in-law Stephen Hodge. Nothing so far for Thomas. In those days wives and children were grandfathered in when the man took his citizenship. That's a shame, because there's always interesting information.

At least with this latest information we know that he didn't sail back and forth. It settles the question of the timing of Daisy's birth. (when I thought he has arrived earlier, I wondered about that) I still think about that young woman traveling with a tiny infant and a 3-year-old in steerage for a long ocean voyage. The motivation for a new start must have been strong. This doesn't completely discount the story Charles told his children and there is still a bit of mystery there for me to pursue.
Good. I like a good mystery.


  1. I came across an entry today at that fits in with Ellen traveling alone with the two girls. It is from the 1881 census for the James Tapply family living at 36 Milton Street, Maidstone, England. The family includes James Tapply, 56; his wife Elizabeth, 56; Harry Tapply, 19; George Tapply, 16; Ellen Tapply, 24; Anne Tapply, 2; and Daisy Tapply, 0. No mention of Ellen's husband, Charles, living there. Ellen is listed as a carpenter's wife.

    I don't think that Ellen's age of 26 is correct on the ship's log, as she is listed as 24 years old in the 1881 census. Also, her gravestone shows her as being born on January 31, 1857, so that would make her 24 years old in 1881.

    Thank you for all of your wonderful research!

    Lindy D.

    1. Yes Lindy, the FIRST clue I found years ago was actually that very 1881 census. If you go back to an earlier post I talk about Ellen's birth, christening and early life. I found a birth record in England for Annie, but none for Daisy. They do things a bit differently there. You have to appear at a registry office and register the child. I suspect Daisy was born very close to the travel date and was never officially registered there. BUT she does show up on a Newton registry as born in England and registered in Newton. Thanks for commenting and for visiting.