Tuesday, January 21, 2014

ISHMAEL'S ADVENTURE: 1837 Immigrant Ishmael Smith 2nd GGF


Ishmael Smith, in Michigan

Call me Ishmael.  
Nine-year old Ishmael Smith first set foot on America soil on June 10, 1837. His transatlantic adventure had begun more than five weeks earlier when his parents William and Sarah and his two little sisters, Mary and Betsey, left Lincolnshire, England and boarded the American-owned packet ship, Samson, set to sail from London to New York under the command of Captain Sturgis. Although we have no record of the Smith family's voyage other than the ship's manifest, we do have an account of the experiences aboard the Samson by a more privileged passenger who traveled on her a few years later. He contrasted the quality of accommodations provided to those who could afford to travel first-class and those who could not. Of those many immigrant passengers aboard, he noted their fortitude: "...bolstered as they were by the thought that their suffering would not last long, and that the relations on whose invitations they were coming had encountered the same conditions, and now blessed the moment of their decision to emigrate to the happy land." (Augonton Haraszthy's Travels in North America, Utazas Ejszakamerikaban, 1844)

cross-section of packet ship

Samson's Swallowtail Lines docking pier NYC "Packet Row"
(NOTE: the passenger list at right shows "labourer" William and Sarah (ages 35 & 30) with their children, ages 9, 5 and 2. Ishmael's name was recorded in error as "Elizabeth" on the line above Mary and Betsey. The four-page list shows that most of the passengers were English skilled tradesmen and laborers.)

The following bio is from History of Detroit and Michigan by Silas Farmer, 1890. "Ishmael Smith, of Denton, Van Buren Township, was born in England, Jan. 10, 1828, came to America in June, 1837, going to Ypsilanti, and moved with his parents to Van Buren in 1842. He remained with his father until 1851, giving his earning toward supporting the family. July 4, 1850, he married Honour Reynolds, of Augusta, Mich. Honour was born in New York, Dec. 27, 1831. In 1856 Ishmael engaged in milling at Denton, and continued until 1887, when he sold the mill to Myron G. Cotton. They have 12 children." (of whom the eldest, William R., is my great grandfather.  Ishmael, the boy immigrant, died in 1903, after almost sixty-six years in America.)

Ishmael's parents: William H. & Sarah (Watts) Smith

 Many thanks to John Colsell for Smith family photos!

Ishmael's Draft Registration Record, June 1863

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