Travel Tuesday: Born on a Ship in NY Harbor?

Recently I made contact with a newfound cousin on the Edwardson side of the family.  This cousin has been researching family history for over 35 years and has amassed a collection of family documents and photographs.

I look forward to many conversations with her about the family history in the near future. This week, an email conversation ensued about the details of the birth of Marie Edwardson, which I summarize here.

The birth of Marie Edwardson has been a mystery to the family. Her granddaughters heard from another cousin that she was born on Ellis Island, but a search in the Ellis Island records was fruitless. Marie’s children had at one time attempted to find a birth certificate for her, but that search was unsuccessful as well.

Our newfound cousin (who I will call cousin L) shed some light on this mystery: Marie Edwardson (called “Aunt Mary” by cousin L) was born on the ship as it entered Boston Harbor. Family lore has it that the ship was the Star Line, from Bergan, Norway, via Liverpool, England. As for Marie’s birth certificate, cousin L said at one time in her life Marie had to show an entry of her birth in the family Bible to obtain a birth certificate.

The birth date cousin L has on family documents is 5 May 1885, which “coincides with the family’s arrival in America.”

A family member passed on to me copies of  a search for Marie’s birth through the City of New York Bureau of Vital Records and Statistics. There is a handwritten letter:

“Dear Sir -

Will you please see if you find the birth record of Engerberg Marie Edwardson Born May 2, 1885 on English Boat in New York Harbor. Parents Lars T Edwardson, Annie Larson Edwardson, Norway. If found will you please send me the birth certificate and the charge, and I will send a check by return mail. Thank you. Marie E Frost.”

The returned document is dated May 26, 1943, and states:

“This is to certify that a search was made of the records of BIRTHS in the Borough of Manhattan for the calendar years 1885 and 1886 for the name of Engerberg Marie Edwardson who is said to have been born on the 2 day of May, 1885 and the name was NOT FOUND.

Thomas J. Duffield, Registrar of Records.

Information supplied by the applicant for the purpose of identifying the proper record. (See other side)

Father’s name: Lars Edwardson

Mother’s maiden name: Annie Larson

Place of birth: English boat, Cunard Line, New York Harbor. “

Another document, passed on to me, that was handwritten by a family historian shows:

“Engerberg Marie Edwardson born May 2 1883 or 1885 English Boat N.Y. Harbor? Evangeline.”

So between the two branches of the family, there are discrepancies in the day of birth (2nd or 5th?), year of birth (1883, 1885, or 1886?), place of birth (NY Harbor or Boston Harbor; Cunard Line or Star Line), and to which port the family actually arrived (New York or Boston).

Perhaps a search for naturalization papers will shed some light on the birth of Engerberg Marie Edwardson, a.k.a. Aunt Mary.

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