One hundred years ago today, my grandmother Katarzyna Bosakowska arrived at the dock in Cuxhaven, Germany where the S.S. Kaiserin Auguste Victoria was taking on passengers for the journey to New York. After a 900 mile trip overland from her hometown of Zalozce, Austria, she faced the prospect of a ten day trip in steerage.
My grandmother was undoubtedly excited about the new life that awaited her, including a reunion with her younger sister Honorata and a handful of cousins.
But as Katarzyna and her fellow passengers waited to board the ship, something else was surely occupying their minds. On that day – Tuesday, April 16, 1912 – every single newspaper in the Western world looked something like this:
The Titanic disappeared under the waves in the early morning hours of April 15. While news certainly didn’t travel as fast then as it does now, this story was a worldwide sensation. Who doubts that the passengers of the Kaiserin Auguste Victoria all heard about it?
I wonder how my grandmother reacted to the news. She was only 22 years old. It was her first time away from home. She had never even seen the ocean, much less spent ten days crossing it. I imagine it was scary.
I have written about my grandmother’s immigration experience in two separate posts. One interesting tidbit I found since then is a list of departing passengers compiled in Germany. It shows that 238 people boarded the Kaiserin Auguste Victoria in Cuxhaven. The ship would then go on to pick up passengers in Southampton, England (where the Titanic set sail on April 10) and Cherbourg, France.
You can find my grandmother on the right page, seven lines up from the bottom. Her name was misspelled “Bosalowska,” just as it was at Ellis Island. (This error made it very difficult to find my grandmother’s records in the first place.)
Reading from left to right, we learn that my grandmother reported her age as 21 (again, it was 22); she was single; her hometown was Zalozce, Austria; and she did house work.
It’s interesting to note that she is listed next to two other women from Zalozce, Wincenta Josefowicz (age 18) and Zofia Trojanowska (age 22). When I first wrote about my grandmother’s immigration story, I couldn’t find any evidence of traveling companions. It now seems clear that Katarzyna did not travel alone. That’s comforting, somehow.
From the manifest of arriving passengers on Ellis Island. we see that Zofia was of Ukrainian (“Ruthenian”) descent. She was headed to Hartford, Connecticut. Wincenta was going to stay with an uncle in Woonsocket, New Jersey. It does not appear that the three women were related. I wonder if they stayed in touch.