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.