The 1890 Arrival of Victoria Rieder

Victoria Harlacher [Rieder] arrived in Philadelphia in 1890 from Tyrol, Austria on the Belgenland.

I began the search for my paternal second great-grandmother’s arrival in America with few facts.

1. My great grandfather’s death certificate listed her maiden name as Victoria Rieder.

2. She reported in the 1920 census that she immigrated in 1890.

3. Both sources list her birthplace as Austria.

Several ancestry.com searches for Victoria Rieder arriving in 1890 from Austria produced no clear matches. As I reviewed pages of similar matches, I found an entry for Victor Reider who sailed from Antwerp, Belgium, and last resided in Italy. Three months ago I would have skipped this result, but I had been looking at records long enough to know better. I knew that a mix of poor handwriting, transcription errors, and family myths could make this the person I was looking for. I was right.

The name written on the actual document was Victoria Rieder. She arrived in Philadelphia from Antwerp Belgium on 16 April 1890, on the Belgenland. The transcriber had accidently listed her last residence as Italy, because of the entry above her. She had given her residence as Tyrol, which is part of modern day Austria on the German border.

She was 25 years old, and not travelling alone. Victoria, (age 25) was passenger #520. Passenger #521 was Marie Rieder (age 6), and passenger #522 was Therese Rieder age 27. I have assumed that Victoria and Therese were sisters, though they could have been cousins. I have also assumed that Marie was the younger sister of Victoria and Therese, or Therese’s daughter, but not Victoria’s daughter. I say that because I have since found no other records of Marie with Victoria, and know that Victoria gave birth to a daughter named Marie 4 years later.

Why were these 2 women and one young girl travelling from Austria to America? Were all 3 leaving Europe for a life here? Did their parents die? Was there some scandal that forced them to flee, like a child named Marie being born out of wedlock? Were Therese and Marie accompanying Victoria on her journey and then returning home? Was Victoria traveling to re-unite with Joseph, whom she would marry the next year, or did she meet him after she arrived? I may never know for sure, but I’m sure there is more to find.

Family Tree Maker 2017

I joined ancestry.com before the holidays and started accepting every shaky leaf in a race to get my tree back as far as possible. That was a mistake. The point of looking at your family history is to understand where you came from and who your ancestors were. This requires careful review and thought, not blind collection. I watched Anne Gillespie Mitchell’s course Your Family History Online: Laying the Foundation, and started over with a new focus.

Starting with myself, I documented the information for the living people that I knew, and then went back documenting the names of the deceased people that I knew of.

Then I focused on the hints for each person in the most recent generation. I thoroughly reviewed each document, and if it fit in with everything else I knew, I saved a copy and accepted the facts in ancestry.

I started to realize that there was typically more information in a record’s image than ancestry recorded as a fact. For example, various documents listed a street address, but ancestry would only record the city, county, and state. This information was valuable and needed to be saved, so I started a spreadsheet for each person of the tree and began logging all of these little details there. It didn’t take me long to realize that my spreadsheet was going to quickly become so big and need so much information entered multiple times that it wouldn’t be manageable.

As I began to research alternatives to my spreadsheet, it became clear that serious genealogists do not keep the sole copy of their tree on ancestry. The maintain their tree in software on their own computers and then upload to ancestry and other sites using a GEDCOM file that can be exported and imported by genealogy software. Some of these software programs would even integrate directly with ancestry, which was a key feature for me as I’m currently focusing my research there.

Several people recommended RootsMagic as the most serious piece of software with ancestry integration. I was impressed with the walkthrough videos demonstrating the features, even if it did look like a dated piece of software. I downloaded the demo version to try. I liked what I could see, but it froze and crashed multiple times on my Mac in less than hour, so I moved on. If your using Windows I would recommend you try it.

Next, I downloaded the trial of Mac Family Tree, and was impressed with the look and feel of the program. It is clearly a professional Mac app, ran smoothly, and had several nice features. Unfortunately, it did not have the type of ancestry integration that RootsMagic did, and that was important to me.

In the end I decided to go with Family Tree Maker 2017 from MacKiev. They did the Mac version of Ancestry’s Family Tree Maker, and got the rights to continue development when ancestry chose to abandon it. I chose it primarily for the syncing with ancestry and the Familysearch and ancestry hints, but have also been impressed with the charts, reports & media tools. You may find some earlier reviews talking about issues or lack of features, but I have not had a problem with it, and recommend you try it out if you are using a Mac and ancestry.