A Genealogical Study


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Szejna Rajchel Kowalska

New York, 1921




Szejna Rajchel Kowalska was born in Radzilow around 1898, the youngest of five children to Izrael Moszk Kowalski and Leja Linenberg. Her father died when she was about two, and her mother remarried about five years later. In 1905, her sister, Brajna, moved to London and, in 1917, their eldest sister died tragically young. In March 1921, she decided to follow in the footsteps of various cousins and emigrate to America, along with her first cousin, Pesza Kowalska. The girls, aged about 23 and 17, made the trip together, along with some members of the unrelated Litauer family, also from Radzilow.


Having sailed from Danzig to Boston, MA and made the journey from there to New York, the two girls both married that same year. Szejna Rajchel married her first cousin, Moszk Kowalski, who had come to New York in 1912, and Pesza married Irving Rogoff (formerly Rogowski), who was also an immigrant from the Bialystok region of Poland, not far from Radzilow.


Sadly, Szejna Rajchel died in 1933, aged about 35, having lost two children in the 1920s, neither of whom lived more than a few days. However, her third child, Herbert, survived and kept all her travel documents, which are reproduced here.







The stamps on the top of this Inspection Card show that Szejna Rajchel left the port of Danzig, on Poland's north coast, on the Susquehanna on 12 March 1921. The abbreviation used for March is "Mrz", which is short for the German "März", as Danzig was in the former Kingdom of Prussia. Szejna Rajchel's name is spelt in its original Polish form, including the feminine form of her surname. Her last residence is given clearly as Radzilow.


The card was stamped again at her port of arrival, Boston, MA, on 13 April, obviously some time after she had arrived.


The figures 40 and 30 relate to her entry on the ship's manifest of passengers.


See photos of Szejna Rajchel and her family in New York


Inspection card donated by Robin Kavall








Today, most travel tickets pertain only to the single person buying them, but this was not usual in times gone by. At the time our ancestors made the often-perilous journey from the heim to the West, most tickets themselves had a facility to include more than one person. Thus, whole families could travel on the same ticket. This explains why this ticket belonging to Szejna Rajchel is so large.


The ticket again gives her name in its Polish form and her last residence as Radzilow. It also gives her age as 22 and her marital status as single. The rubber stamps confirm she sailed on the Susquehanna on 12 March 1921, and paid $128 for the ticket.


See photos of Szejna Rajchel and her family in New York


Steamship ticket donated by Robin Kavall







The Susquehanna was built by Blohm & Voss Shipbuilders of Hamburg in 1899, and named the Rhein. Its weight was 10,058 gross tons, and was 520 feet long and 58 feet wide. It had steam quadruple expansion engines, of the twin screw type. Its service speed was 14.5 knots (16.7 mph). It could carry 3,451 passengers, of whom 369 would travel Second Class and 3,082 would travel Third Class.


The Rhein sailed under the German flag of North German Lloyd out of Bremerhaven to New York, Baltimore, Philadelphia and Australia. It was laid up at Baltimore from 1914-17 due to World War I. In 1917, it was transferred to the ownership of the US Government and renamed the USS Susquehanna. It carried troops to Europe towards the end of the war. In 1920, it was chartered by United States Mail Lines, and served as a passenger liner. It was during this short period that Szejna Rajchel used it to travel to the US. The Susquehanna was laid up from 1922-28, and was finally scrapped in Japan in 1929.


See photos of Szejna Rajchel and her family in New York


Source: American Family Immigration History Center


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