Casefile Clues

04 January 2013

Looking at an 1855 Manifest--Getting the Willies

This post is for those who have never seen a mid-19th century manifest. The image is typical for the era and, as we will see, makes a point that black and white images may hide some clues.

Lines 324, 325, 326 area the names of interest on this 1855 manifest of New York arrivals. No relationship is stated among the three men with the last name of Willi and while it can be assumed there is some relationship, the exact nature of that relationship cannot be determined from the manifest. Thomas was the person of interest.

Like most of the others on this manifest, the Willies were listed as farmers from Switzerland headed to New York.  It is doubtful that the final destination of all the passengers was actually New York and the use of hat destination may have simply indicated their port of arrival. Travelers with the same last name have their last name omitted to make less writing for the official writing out the manifest. The fact that the name on line 325 has the last name written down when the name on line 324 has the name written down as well probably has no significance because line 325 is the first name on the "next" page. It may not be clear, but black line appears between lines 324 and 325 and appears to be either a crease from a fold  in the manifest or the binding between two pages.  

Ship: William Tell; Arrival: 23 October 1855; Arrival: New YorkUnited States; Microfilm Serial: M237; Microfilm Roll: 157; Line: 28; List Number: 1056.; digital image on  Ancestry.com. 
This may be one of those times where the film may be hiding a thing or two. Also looking at the entire image makes it clear the line goes across the entire image and not just part of it.