Is That Ruined Manifest Entry the One I Want? by Michael John Neill

schollmeyer_ernst_mortiz_arndt-780429.bmpMurphy’s Law of Genealogy states that, “If there is one messed up line on a census record or a manifest, it will be for the family you need. Guaranteed.”

The ship Ernst Moritz Arndt landed in New Orleans in June of 1853 full of immigrants bound for the United States, including a few family members. Unfortunately, there is a partial tear in the manifest and it went right through the family whose information I was seeking–the Schollmeyers. Fortunately for me, this entry is partially legible. (Click on the image to enlarge it.)

From what I can read of the manifest, it lists

  • Friederich Schollmeyer
  • Cath. Schollmeyer
  • Nicodemus Schollmeyer, aged 12
  • Dorothe Schollmeyer, aged 7
  • Elizab. Schollmeyer, aged 2
  • Andreas Schollmeyer, aged 53
  • Marianne Schollmeyer, aged 52
  • Elisabeth Schollmeyer, aged 12

The last three names I recognized as the desired family. The preceding names (apparently another family related to mine) were originally unknown to me.

The tear in the manifest obscures the ages of Friederich and Cath. and leads to differing interpretations of his occupation, last residence and destination. The problem is that underneath Friederich’s entry, ditto marks are used to indicate the last residence and destination of all the other Schollmeyers, including the three of interest. Even though the tear only appears to affect parts of two entries, it actually affects the entire Schollmeyer entry. I needed to know what the entry said for Friederich.

One transcription of this manifest indicates that the entries for the Schollmeyers are “dittoed” from the previous entries. Those immigrants have a last residence of Lohr and a destination of New Orleans. Had I only looked at the transcription and not bothered with the actual manifest, I might have concluded that the Schollmeyers were from Lohr and were originally destined for New Orleans. (It must be noted that not every family actually settled in the location listed as their “destination” on an arrival manifest.) This would have created even more discrepancies as the Schollmeyers I was researching were not from Lohr.

The tear in the manifest makes the last residence for the Schollmeyers impossible to read, but it could be something other than Lohr. In looking at the original manifest, the destination for the Schollmeyers does not appear to be New Orleans, yet there is clearly something written on the line besides ditto marks. The location looks to be a short word, possibly “Iowa.”

A search of the 1856 Iowa State Census at Ancestry seems to bear this out as the following family was located in Davenport, Scott County, Iowa.

  • Frederick Schoolmier aged 50, in Iowa 3 years, born in Germany
  • Cath. Schoolmier, aged 47, in Iowa 3 years, born in Germany
  • Nicodemus Schoolmier, aged 15, in Iowa 3 years, born in Germany
  • Dora Schoolmier, aged 10, in Iowa 3 years, born in Germany
  • Elizabeth Schoolmier, aged 5, in Iowa 3 years, born in Germany

The names and ages and length of time in Iowa are a fit for the names on the manifest. It also leads one to initially conclude that there were two Schollmeyer families on the 1853 manifest, one headed by Frederick and another headed by Andreas.

The last three entries are slightly more problematic, but these individuals also appeared to have settled in the Davenport, Iowa, area.

The 1856 Davenport, Iowa, census lists

  • Andrew Schellmer aged 56, in Iowa 3 years, born in Germany
  • Bridget Schellmer, aged 56, in Iowa 3 years, born in Germany

Except for the first name of the apparent wife (Bridget instead of Marianne) the information is consistent with the entry on the manifest. Andrew/Andreas’ daughter Elizabeth is known to have married in Davenport, Iowa in 1855 to Paul Freund. She is also enumerated in the 1856 Davenport, Iowa, census with her husband and his family, as is Elizabeth Frent, aged 17, born in Germany and having lived in Iowa 3 years.

What’s Up with Bridget and Marianne?
Preliminary research indicates they are the same person and that Marianne might have been a middle name of Andreas’ wife or an error on the manifest. Records in Davenport, Iowa, for Elizabeth Schulmeyer Freund indicated she was born in 1840 in Beberstedt, Germany. Records in Iowa also indicated her father was an Andrew or Andreas Schulmeyer.

Records in Beberstedt indicated that an Andreas and Bridget (Schilling) Schollmeyer were the parents of an Elizabeth Schollmeyer born the same day in 1840 as the Iowa Elizabeth Schulmeyer. Andrew and Bridget Schulmeyer appear in the 1856 Iowa census apparently as husband and wife. Except for the first name on the manifest, all other details are consistent and indicate the Andreas Schulmeyer on the manifest is the same Andreas/Andrew Schulmeyer who settled in Davenport, Iowa.

Who Are the Other Schulmeyers?
Preliminary research into the other Schulmeyer family on the manifest indicates that most of them stayed in the Davenport, Iowa, area, at least through 1870. It is assumed there is a relationship between Friederich and Andreas, but at this time that relationship is not precisely known. More research needs to be done.


  1. Always refer to the original document or record to verify information.
  2. Locating a name on a manifest may require more than a simple search and it may require completely researching the family in the area where they settled.
  3. Immigrants rarely immigrated in complete isolation—remember the importance of chain migration.
  4. Keep analyzing information as you locate new information, making certain your new information is as consistent as possible with information already discovered.

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Michael John Neill is a genealogical writer and speaker who has been researching his or his children’s genealogy for more than twenty years. A math instructor in his “other life,” Michael taught at the former Genealogical Institute of Mid-America and has served on the FGS Board. He also lectures on a variety of genealogical topics and gives seminars across the country. He maintains a personal website at:

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3 thoughts on “Is That Ruined Manifest Entry the One I Want? by Michael John Neill

  1. This article was very helpful to me. I thought I found the manifest of my Taylor family from 1864, but was stumped as the wife’s name was Elizabeth (the same as their oldest daughter) rather than Catherine. The rest of the family’s ages and names agree with other informtion I have (except a slight variation in the youngest daughter’s name). Thank you for showing me what to do next.
    Your articles have often been helpful to me.

  2. When situations like this arise you might also check to see if there are alternate records available. In this case there are separately kept “Quarterly Abstracts” available for New Orleans passenger lists that cover 1820-1875 (with some gaps). You might check these abstracts to see if they might contain some of the information that is missing from a torn or illegible manifest or when a ship manifest is missing. See:

  3. Did you look at both image 4 0f 5 and 5 of 5 for the Schollmeyers on the Ernest Moritz Arndt? Page 5 starts with Dorothe Schollmeyer, aged 7. There’s a Joseph and Dorottea Hesse (?) right below your family. The dittos for them looks as though they were from the same area and going to the same US area as your family. The next family is from the same area but going to a different destination. Find if the Hesse family went to Iowa.

    I also found the letters are crisper looking at the Original scans instead of the Enhanced scans (Options in Advanced Viewer).

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