Traveling With and Without Kids

March 11, 2010

Partial SS Switzerland passenger list, 1883 (

I think airports are fascinating. As an avid people-watcher, I love the hustle and bustle of crowds. I wonder what their story is, why they’re traveling and who’s waiting for them at the other end.

There’s one thing at airports that unnerves me, however, and that’s watching families with young children. Extra luggage, short attention spans, naturally inquisitive adventurers—oh, the stress of traveling with young children! As the mother of four, my empathy abounds for the young, wayfaring family.

Ruth’s grandparents, Rudolph and Elise (Elisa) Hooge, were such a family.

Back in the 1880s, they traveled by steamship from Germany to the United States. Once here, they likely traveled by train to Chicago, Ill. They did this with their four children, ages 2-10.

Can you imagine the stress of it all?

Oh, but there’s more. As I research historical documents provided by, I’ve come across some interesting possibilities.

According to multiple censuses, Rudolph arrived in the United States in 1883 (at that time, censuses listed an immigrant’s year of arrival and origin). My search for him on ship passenger lists is inconclusive until I vary the spelling of his name, a common thing in those days of handwritten documentation. On a ship named the Switzerland, I find a listing of Rudolph Hoage and his dates coincide with our Rudolph.

If this is our guy, Rudolph arrived in New York on June 11, 1883, and then headed for Chicago. is pretty cool. Not only can you view Rudolph’s info, but also the full passenger list and an image of the ship itself. Unfortunately, it looks like you have to become a member to access my links. But, hey, you can do so for free for 14 days! If you sign up, let me know so we can connect and share information.

Anyway, on with the story.

According to a passenger list for the ship Hermann, Elise Hooge, age 30, arrived three years later in July 1886, with the couple’s four children: Otto, 10; Emma, 8; Carl, 5 (Ruth’s father); and Hermann, 2. Not only was this a young, wayfaring family, they also were traveling with only one parent. It’s exhausting to even think about.


Are you also thinking something doesn’t quite calculate? Little Hermann was 2-years-old in 1886. Rudolph left for America three years earlier, in 1883.

Well, such is the intrigue of genealogy. So many questions and so many possibilities.

“The Gjenvick-Gjønvik Archives – The Future of Our Past,” is an interesting article about 19th century transatlantic travel. According to its author S.G.W. Benjamin, by the 1880s, steamships were making the passage from Europe to the U.S. in as little as seven days. If this is true, Little Hermann could have been conceived before Rudolph left Germany and be 2-years-old when Elise arrived in the U.S. with the children.

Or, what about this…

According to the passenger list for the ship Habsburg, an Elise Hooge, age 27, arrived in New York on November 22, 1883. Perhaps Elise was missing Rudolph and came over for a visit. Perhaps, at that time, she traveled without her three children and, aha, went back with a fourth.

Oh, the questions arise. What’s the likelihood of Elise coming without her children? Was her family of means to afford such an extravagance? Is this even our Elise? Without further data, one can only speculate.

There are some things, however, of which we’re certain. Once they all were here, the Hooges settled in Chicago. Rudolph, according to censuses, worked as a carriage fitter. Carl eventually grew up to become a policeman and marry Miss Emma E. Hornburg.

And together, they had their children Carl and Ruth.

Partial SS Hermann passenger list, 1886 (


One Response to “Traveling With and Without Kids”

  1. Ann Says:

    Very interesting! I can see how genealogy can be addictive.

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