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When did Ferdinand Adermann Arrive in America?

September 12, 2011

For years, the family story about Ferdinand Aderman coming to America was that as a teenager he stowed away on a ship from Hamburg, Germany. His uncle was a paying passenger on that same ship. Ferdinand was not discovered until later into the journey and it was too late to return home, so his uncle paid his fare and Ferdinand was indentured to him for the first six years after they arrived in the U.S. It is a fun story. It also keeps this writer from getting too judgmental in the current illegal immigration conversation.

His obituary reported that he came with his mother and younger siblings. When did he immigrate?  According to:

  • the 1900 Census, he came in 1869;
  • the 1910 Census states he immigrated in 1876 at the age of 17;
  • the 1920 Census reports him coming in 1870.

There is an account of a Ferdinand Adermann, aged 20 and a butcher by profession, coming over on the Rhein to New York on November 29, 1878. This is four years older than our Ferdinand would have been in 1878. There were no other Adermanns on the ship so that passenger traveled alone. Why the discrepancies? He spoke German even into adulthood—maybe he did not understand the question. Maybe he did not care enough about the date to remember it. Maybe . . .

His son, Wilbur (Feeley), wrote that his father immigrated when he was 15. That would put his arrival in 1875 or 1876. That is not consistent with any of the census or passenger lists data. This is a curiosity that needs more attention.

What we do know: he became a naturalized citizen of the United States, the State of Illinois, in Effingham County on September 15, 1884. As part of his naturalization papers it states that he “arrived in the United States a minor under the age of twenty-one years, has resided within the limits and under the jurisdiction of the United States for and during the full term of five years, including the three years previous to his arrival at the age of twenty-one years, and one year within the State of Illinois;  . . .”

From → Aderman/Bates

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