Feed on

Isaac Kischenowsky leaves Tiraspol bound for Chicago, 1896

I have been researching the history of my Kishinevsky family for more than 20 years. I found the passenger list for the arrival of my grandfather, Jacob Kishinevsky, with his mother and 4 sisters early on. And I did it the old fashioned way – with Soundex, and microfilm at the Family History Library in West Los Angeles. So I knew they had arrived in Philadelphia in 1899. I always assumed that great-grandpa Isaac K had arrived earlier, found a job and saved money to bring over the rest of the family – a common story. But when had Isaac arrived?

The same techniques used to find Jacob and his mom and sisters did not work to find Isaac. I tried looking at New York arrivals – this was before the Ellis Island web site existed – no luck. I checked microfilmed for arrivals from Baltimore, Boston, Galveston, Philadelphia – nada. I checked Chicago city directories, but the earliest year in which Isaac was listed was 1901. What to do?


One day I was canoodling around on a well-known commercial genealogy web site and somehow came up with the magic combination of wildcards and consonants for the last name, in the right international database, and voila! Isaac Kischenowsky from Tiraspol left Hamburg, Germany on 13 August 1896 on the SS California and arrived in Baltimore, presumably about 5-7 days later.

I wasn’t as consistent with proper source citations then as I am now, but amazingly enough, I was on the ball enough that day to record it properly: Staatsarchive Hamburg,  373-7 I, VIII A 1 Band 094 A, Seite 762(Mikrofilm Nr.  K_1755).

The Soundex/microfilm search techniques from 20 years ago were just too cumbersome (and my tolerance for tedious searching too low), to allow me to find what I needed back in the day. Basically, online databases and computer search technology that were not available when I started out enabled me to find this needle in a haystack.

Leave a Reply