When in my research I found suggestions that some of our ancestors, after sailing from Norway, had arrived on the coast of Quebec, rather than New York, my first reaction was skepticism. After seeing such suggestions about more than one ancestor, however, I considered that it might be neither an error nor an anomaly. I wondered what route and form of transportation these Norwegians, once in Quebec, would have taken to the American Midwest, their ultimate destination.
So I did a little on-line research. It turns out the Canadian route was the most common route for those migrating from Norway to the Midwestern United States during part of the 19th century. The more closely I examine maps, the more I begin to understand this. After sailing from Norway to Canada, many made their way by some combination of steamer and rail to certain American Midwestern cities — Milwaukee, Green Bay, and Chicago, for example — with the entire journey roughly illustrated by the major departure and destination points in the map below. I took a memorable tourist boat ride on the St. Lawrence River in Quebec several years ago and enjoy the thought that it could have been a migration path of my ancestors some 150 years earlier. In our family’s case, I am inclined to believe that Chicago was their first American destination, followed by a westward migration into more rural parts of northern Illinois (Grundy and Kendall counties) and into Iowa (Hamilton County).
So far I have not found really consistent information about how one might have traveled from Quebec to Chicago in the late 19th century, only that the journey likely involved both land and water. More than one possibility has been proposed and comes to mind, such as sailing to Detroit and going by rail to Chicago. I would love to learn more about how and where our own ancestors traveled — I am fascinated by the probable complexity of their journeys. While I know much more about this than I did when I started, I still have a good deal more to learn … feel free to stay tuned … family history research is full of discoveries!
Maritime Monday is a blogging prompt from Geneabloggers that encourages family history bloggers to post about anything having to do with the sea.