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Magaziner Genealogical Puzzles: Did Sarah Magaziner Enter The US at Philadelphia or through St. Albans, Vermont in the fall of 1907? The Plot Thickens!

June 9, 2020

The marriage photo (?) of Sarah and Julius Magaziner, Grodno, Belarus, 1900 or 1901 (?)

Magaziner Genealogical Puzzles: Did Sarah Magaziner Enter The US at Philadelphia or through St. Albans, Vermont in the fall of 1907?

Magaziner Genealogical Puzzles..

There they are, I am pretty sure, this is a marriage photo. My grand parents were too poor to take too many photos back in Grodno from whence they came. This time I noticed Grandma Sarah’s hand gently on Grandpa Julius’ shoulder which I interpret as a sign of quiet affection. Who knows?

What a lovely photo, she a trim young bride, really stunning. He, built like a brick. We were told he could bend a silver dollar in his fingers. Here in the USA he worked construction, worked in a steel mill in Buffalo for a while, died in 1924 after drinking prohibition alcohol before work on a cold day. It poisoned his system and he died in agony at home three days later.

Sarah Magaziner is our (my sisters’ and my) maternal grandmother. There are stories that have become nothing short of legends in our family as to the travails she suffered in finally making it to the United States sometime in the fall of 1907. That this is the season and the year she arrived is well established, but…

Did she arrive in a ship, the Westernland from Liverpool to Philadelphia or did she arrive from somewhere else in Europe to Halifax, Canada and then descend to the United States (New York City) through St. Albans, Vermont.

The plot thickens…


Family Genealogy. Tedious.

I come back to it after having not touched it for several years. In this case stimulated to look into it again by an old friend, now living in NYC, but whom decades ago, lived in Denver. We’ve reconnected since and he has given me a number of hints, things to follow up on. And I have.

Thank you John Duggan.

And as a result, I have come across some interesting documents I had never seen before, shedding new light on Grandma Sarah Magazine’s (then Magaziner) fall 1907 journey from Europe to the United States.

They give a somewhat different picture from the anecdotal legendary descriptions of Grandma Sarah’s journey as told by our Aunt Mal (b. Molly Magaziner, changed her name to Malvina Magaziner and the Malvina Magazine) in the years prior to her 2007 death.

As to not to confuse Aunt Mal’s version with what the documents have to say, for the moment I’ll leave it aside and just the new information as it appears in the documents.

There are some obvious changes, even in the documents themselves. A few examples.

– The dates of Grandma Sarah’s birth vary anywhere from 1877 to 1880 – and her stated age. Most of the documents suggest that she was born in 1880 but at her death in 1947 (April 18), her tombstone clearly says 70 years old at the time of death, which would put her birth at 1877.

– There are a few differences in spelling both of her maiden name, Wychejvsky (spelled at least five different ways – Wachevsky, Wichefsky, Wichevsky, Wychevsky, etc…). These different versions make it very difficult to monitor her maiden name. There are different spellings of the family name “Magaziner”; in one document it is Maguziner. Later the family would legally change the name, dropping the name to “Magazine”.


There are no documents (that I could find) suggesting that Sarah Magaziner came to the United States through Ellis Island, like her husband, our grandfather Julius Magaziner did in 1904.

Although the documents I have are somewhat confusing as detailed below, my best estimate is that according to the documents available sometime in October of 1907, she passed through immigration from Canada with her four year old son, Leiza (Louis Magaziner) at St. Albans, Vermont. She had arrived in Canada at the port of Halifax, traveled probably from there by train to Montreal and from Montreal south to the U.S. Canadian border at St. Albans.

That this is the case is reflected in the following documents:

1. UK and Ireland. Outward Passenger 1860-1940 for Sarah Magaziner. – Will be referred to as “Doc -1″

2.a Copy of Ship Manifest, Westernland from Liverpool (September 11, 1907) – “Doc -2″

3. U.S., Border Crossings from Canada to U.S., 1895-1960 (Record of October 1907) – “Doc – 3″

According to Doc 1, UK and Ireland, Outward Passenger Lists, 1890-1960 for Sarah Magaziner, on September 11, 1907 Grandmother Sarah along with her four year old son named Leizer tried to embark upon a ship from Liverpool, destination Philadelphia. In that document there are two lines crossed out – one for Sarah Magaziner – described as “wife” and just below hers, one for Leizer (Louis) Magaziner.

In script there is the word “Rejected” clearly written. That means they were not permitted to board. Main point here, is that they were not rejected after the voyage had been completed in the USA at Ellis Island, but were not permitted to board from Liverpool in the first place. There is no reason given.

This helps explain the confusion of the three above documents, which contradict one another, one having her enter the U.S. at Philadelphia in late September, the other through Canada sometime in October.

Doc 2, the Manifest of the Westernland has Sarah Magaziner as a passenger, leaving Liverpool on September 11, 1907 and arriving in Philadephia.

But Doc 3, which I believe to be more accurate, has Sarah Magaziner and son Leizer entering the United States from Canada at St. Albans, Vermont in October, 1907 after having landed at Halifax (no ship given).

So… what’s the deal? Did Grandma arrive in Philadelphia from Liverpool in late September or did she enter the U.S. through Canada

Doc 1 makes clear that Sarah Magaziner and Leizer were “rejected” at Liverpool and had to find another way to get to America. She found another ship – I believe from Bremen, Germany which landed in Halifax and entered the U.S. through Canada as noted above.

How to solve the dilemma more accurately? Find what ships landed in Halifax, Canada in late September, early October 1907 and determine if she and little Leizer are on the manifest of one of them. This is not as complicated as it sounds. Those records exist and of course, now I’ll have to see if I can find such records (based upon the “Border Crossings from Canada to U.S. 1895-1960 document).


Note: The documents cited are on my website which I would share with those family members who are interested. Could not download them as I had hoped.

On the roof. 325 Ocean Ave. Flatbush, Brooklyn in 1944 or 5. Grandma Sarah surrounded by daughters and daughters-in-law with my cousin Joel on the right.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Phil Jones permalink
    June 9, 2020 3:09 pm

    Sarah had a tiny waist when she was young. A perfect “hour glass figure.” Very fashionable then and now. In the later picture, which is your mom?

    • June 9, 2020 3:25 pm

      On the far left Phil. I do think this photo is 1944 and that she is pregnant with me in it

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