ROLL Family Genealogy - Emigration and Travel Experiences

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[ TRANSLATE: | Ship Travel | Train Travel | NY Harbor in 1891 | German-Russian Passports ]
Ship Travel

1840's German picture of The Danube River, German Donau, Slovak Dunaj, Hungarian Duna, Serbo-Croatian and Bulgarian Dunav, Romanian Dunarea, Ukrainian Dunay, river of Europe, the second longest river after the Volga in Russia. It rises in the Black Forest mountains of western Germany and flows for some 1,770 miles (2,850 kilometres) to its mouth on the Black Sea. Along its course, it passes through nine countries: Germany, Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria , Romania, and Ukraine. Many German-Russians floated down this river in the early 1800's to South Russia.

a.  b. c.
KAISER WILHELM II - In 1891, Sebastian ROLL (1873-1930) and Adam S. MISCHEL sailed on this ship from South Russia (via the port of Bremen, Germany) to New York; then on to North Dakota, USA by train. a) KAISER WILHELM II at New York Harbor in 1910. b) At sea in 1907, KAISER WILHELM II was built by North German Lloyd, a German ship company. c) 1914 portrait of Kaiser Wilhelm the II of Germany.

a.  b. c. d.  e.
a) 1852 - Bay view of Port Bremen, Germany. b) 1907 - Emigrants exiting the trains (left) and boarding a ship (right) at Port Bremen, Germany. c) 1920 - Bremen port. d) & e) 1891 - Emigrants on the deck of an Atlantic Passinger Ship. Bremerhaven, situated at the river Weser, is the seaport in Germany with the most intensive relations with America. After 1832 it became the central harbor for the mass immigration from central Europe to the USA. It was, besides Hamburg, the main harbor for the regular passenger's traffic across the Atlantic by steamships.

a.  b. c.  d.  e.  f.  g.
a) 1872 - Serving food to the emigrants in the galley. Late 1800's aboard a North German Lloyd ship - b) Men enjoying a smoke in the Gent's Room and c) women refreshing in the Ladies Cabin. d) 1897 - Smoke Room aboard Kaiser Wilhelm der Gross. e) & f) Early 1900's North German Lloyd Captain Ceremonies. g) North German Lloyd Flag.

a.  d.
a) Early 1900's - North German Lloyd Piers at Hoboken, NJ, USA. b) 1880 - Odessa, South Russia port.

Travel Costs

Train and Auto Travel

Mauri Rautavuori of Finland has an excellent Russian Railroad site. He writes: "Your question about the railway routes from South Russia to Bremen, Germany was quite interesting.
It seems to me that Novaja (New) Odessa is too far east of Odessa to make it practical for your ancestors to have left from there. It is possible to start at Nikolajev, which perhaps was easier to know that the old roads used to follow rivers. Perhaps they might have taken a boat from Nikolajev to Odessa. But it could even be by train northeast from Nikolajev to Znamenka (Snamenka) and then west to Balta, where they returned to the Odessa road. As a third alternative, it seems that the distance from Voznesensk to Podgorodnaja/Pervomaisk (between Znamenka and Balta) is shorter than to Nikolajev! How is it with the river Jushny Bug?
Then, I think the "common route" from both starting points could be further via Zhmerinka (Shmerinka) and Lvov (Lemberg on German maps) to Krakow in Poland of today. In the Austrian territory there was the Galician Carl Ludwig Railway (Galizische Carl Ludwig - Bahn), which was socialized ("verstaatlicht") in 1892. Soon after Krakow they would arrive to the old German/Prussian territory and there was quite good travel combinations via Berlin and Hamburg to Bremen. Most of the old great private companies in Germany were then already socialized, so the Prussian State Railways may have been able to arrange timetables.
About locomotives: The Southwestern Railway was the largest Russian railway during 1900, so the locomotives were surely not the worst of its kind. I have not personally seen any pictures. Maybe I can find some pictures in old books, but it will be some time before I can complete such a project. I hope this information is helpful to you."

Jerry Frank writes in May, 2001:
"According to a map in Historical Atlas of East Central Europe, the most direct route by rail from the Black Sea area would have been Odessa to Ternopil in Galicia, then L'viv, Rzezsow, Tarnow, Cracow, then into Silesia through Opole and Wroclaw, and finally into the other German states by way of Frankfurt an der Oder, Berlin, and on to Hamburg or Bremen. In looking at the map more closely, this seems to be the only logical route as any others would have taken them out of their way by many, many miles. This is because you have to go around the Carpathian Mountain range. That means going significantly south and then west before turning north or heading more directly in a northwesterly direction as I described. In fact, when I place a ruler between Hamburg and Odessa, the rail route I describe meanders quite nicely along that line.
Some stories indicate that their ancestors travelled north first, departing from the Baltic States by boat to Hamburg before crossing the ocean. This would involve a more circuitous route taking them eastward first and then northwest through Homel, Vilnius, and the coast. Though a longer distance, it may have been more economical. It also might be more direct for those in the eastern side of the Black Sea region (Don Gebiet, Crimea) as compared to those in the Bessarabian and Odessa areas."

It is unclear why the Black Sea Germans did not sail southward from Odessa on the Black Sea through to the Mediterranean Sea and across the Atlantic Ocean. The narrow passage at Istanbul, Turkey, between the Black and Mediterranean Seas, may have been hostile. There were many stories of men returning from the Russian Army and the family hurriedly packed up and skedaddled out in the middle of the night. Czarist government approval for their hasty departure was highly unlikely.

1889 - Transcontinental Railroad Map.

1905 North Dakota, USA train pass.

1910 - Mott, North Dakota, train station.

1911 - German-Russian Railway Stock Certificate.

1980's - Weather-twisted train track in Siberia Russia.

Late 1800's - An Oldsmobile climbing famous steps in Odessa, South Russia. 193 steps; 30% grade.

New York Harbor in 1891

Prior to 1855, New York immigrant processing was handled by the Collector of Customs which handled the passenger lists from the shipping companies. After making the necessary customs declarations, the emigrants traveled to their final destination. Between August 1, 1855 and April 18, 1890, New York immigrants were examined and processed through Castle Garden (aka Castle Clinton), an island off the southwest tip of Manhattan. The Statue of Liberty was erected in 1886. Immigration was formally federalized in 1882; replacing State authority. In 1890, the federal government set up a temporary processing center in the old Barge Office building located in southeast Manhattan. The Ellis Island Immigration Station (pictures), constructed of wood and slate, was opened January 1, 1892. A fire totally distroyed the structure in 1897 and it was replaced in 1900 with the now familiar brick building. INS obstacles include detainment and quarantine. After July 1924, most of the passengers were processed on board their arrival ship. A number of our ancestors entered the United States through Canadian ports. Canadian and Argentinian (South America) immigration entry fees were much cheaper. Canada's offical immigration station was Grosse Ile which was converted to a Canadian National Park.

New York Immigration Timeline






German-Russian Passports and IDs


Majesty the Emperor (Czar)
Alexander Pawlowitlik (Alexander II of the Romanov family)
Sovereign of all Prussia (and Russia)


I do here in public, to all who are anxious to know, that the bearer of this document, Georg Jacob GROSHANS, from Siebeldingen, has permission to settle in the Russian province of Taurien. Each who sees this permit, must pass Georg Jacob GROSHANS with his wife and three children on the way to Russia. This passport is a document with my signature and the signet of consulate.

Frankfurt (at the river) Main, 22.April / 4.May 1809

Signature (and official seal)

a.   b.   c.   d.   e.   f.   g.   h.   i.   j.   k.
1906 - RUSSIAN PASSPORT of the Jacob (1874-1961) & Kathrina (1875-1938) LANTZ REICHERT family. Their two infant children, Frank (1902-1972) and Caroline (1903-1949), are listed. Jacob's grandfather is Carl REICHERT (1819-1912/4) Carl first imigrated from South Russia to North Dakota in 1892, 8 years before his son Jacob. a) Enlargement of page 5, b) Outer soft cover: olive green with no markings, c) Page 1, d) Pages 4 & 5, e) Page 7, f) Page 15, g) Enlargement of page 17, h) Pages 20 & 21, i) Pages 22 & 23, and j) Page 24. All the other pages were blank. k) A picture of grandpa Carl REICHERT in the early 1900's.

1919 - USA CERTIFICATE OF NATURALIZATION of the Paul REICHERT (1877-1954) family.

1890's - RUSSIAN PASSPORT of Annie SHAAL REICHERT KUHN KOFFLER (1856-1956). She outlived all three of her husbands and died at age 101! a) A picture of grandma Annie around the 1930's

1939 - German-Russia ID of Mr. Johann PEBALG (not related to the ROLL family).

World War II - German-Russia ID written in German, Ukrainian and Polish. (not related to the ROLL family).

Ethnic German certificate (Volkstumsausweis) issued on October 4, 1942 to Martz HILHELEU (not related to the ROLL family) who was born in the town of Berezovka (Odessa region). According to this certificate, he is Volksdeutscher - ethnic German. The certificate is written in two languages: German and Romanian. During WWII the Ukrainian territory (between the Dnestr and Bug rivers) was under German and Romanian occupation and the Romanians created a district (called Transdniestria) with the capital in Odessa. After 1944 the Red Army liberated the territory from Germany. By order of Chief of Staff, Comrade Stalin, all ethnic Germans from the Odessa region were deported to North Kazakhstan and allowed to return only in late 1970's.

1961 - A Russian Communist retraining certificate given to those who went through the russification process (brain washing).

ROLL Reunion

"The German is like a willow.
No matter which way you bend him,
he will always take root again."
- Alexander Solzhenitsyn -

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