Ester's journey from Sideby to Fitchburg

- as tracked on WWW

by Staffan Storteir

In the year of 1911 Ester Karström (Karstrom) - as one of many others previously from Sideby - at the age of 21 emigrated to America. Her journey, which started at the end of August 1911, can be followed in detail thanks to the searchable archives on WWW. Samples are shown below in order to demonstrate the feasibility of WWW for tracking the emigrant/immigrant journey

Emigrant ship departure






New York - Ellis Island


San Francisco

Emigration areas   Emigrant office of FÅA in Kristinestad   s/s NORDEN   s/s NORRA FINLAND   s/s POLARIS   s/s CEDRIC Ship manifest

Ester Karström

Up Ester ca 1911. Detail of group photo

Ester started her emigrant journey from Sideby (arrowhead at the map below, click for bigger picture) at the end of August 1911. As will be seen from the ship manifest from the archives of Ellis Island there were five young women from Sideby traveling together. Sideby, as well as many other parishes in Ostrobothnia was plagued by unemployment. Gone, by many decades, were the days when shipbuilding brought employment, welfare and a subsequent heavy increase in population to the village. Ester's grandfather, Gustaf Karström, was one of the renowned shipbuilders of Sideby in the mid and late 1800s, who had a reputation for building numerous sailing vessels such as barks and barkentines. The ships of the day were the steamers which frequently plied the Finnish coast from Torneå in the north to the Russian metropolis and capital St. Petersburg in the southeast. The Grand Duchy of Finland was still, and for six years until 1917, sailing under the Russian tricolor.

Emigration from Finland map

Up Geographic distribution of emigration from Finland 1870 - 1914 (4, 6)


Many of the passenger steamboats touched at Kil harbor in Sideby, if there were passengers or cargo, where Ester's brother-in-law Axel Lassfolk was the harbor-master,

s/s Norden at Kilhamn                      Drawing by Axel Nelson

but Ester started her sea voyage from Kristinestad, probably because she bought her ticket at the Emigrant office of the Finska Ångfartygsaktiebolaget (Finland Steamship Company) in Kristinestad. It is known that Ester's younger sister Vera was standing on the shore at Kil point in Sideby, waving farewell when the passenger ship "Norden" from Kristinestad passed by (1).

Sideby Thursday, August 24 1911









FÅA emigrant office

Up The emigrant office of "Finska Ångfartygs Aktiebolaget" in Kristinestad was stationed in the warehouse to the left since ca 1885 and in the newly built house (second from the left ) at the street "Östra Långgatan" since ca 1908 when this photo was taken.

s/s Norden

The "Norden"

The "Norden" arrived in Kristinestad every Tuesday on her trip towards north and left two days later at 2 o'clock p.m. towards south. Ester obviously went aboard the "Norden" on Thursday, 24 August 1911 as she was on board the steamer "Polaris" leaving from Hangö on Saturday, 26 August 1911.


Calendar (show the days of the weeks for a chosen year and month)

Kristinestad Thursday, August 24 1911

Up Passenger steamers passing by Kristinestad during 1839-1919

ULEÅBORG (1839-1843) Torneå-Åbo. SVITHIOD (1856) Stockholm-Hudiksvall-Björneborg-Kristinestad. ÖSTERBOTTEN (1857-1874) owned by the Österbottniska Ångfartygs Aktiebolaget, damaged by fire in 1874 off Björneborg when 18 persons lost their lives. SUOMI (1858-1875). HUDIKSVALL. NORRLAND. ÖRNSKÖLD. OULU. POHJOLA. AAVASAKSA. WASA (1871-). THOR (1868-1871) Stockholm-Björneborg-Kristinestad-Vasa. VOLONTAIRE (1872-1873) Kristinestad-Björneborg-Stockholm; Vasa-Kristinestad-Björneborg-Lübeck. Wrecked at Östra Finngrundet, Gävle in Sept 1873. Passengers and 31 horses salvaged. J.L. RUNEBERG (1876-end of 1880s) Stockholm-Gävle-Sundsvall- Härnösand-Örnsköldsvik-Vasa. TELEGRAF (1891-1893) Kristinestad-Sundsvall. CARL VON LINNÉ (-1911) -Stockholm. VON DÖBELN. LENNÄTÄR. VEGA Uleåborg-St. Petersburg. ULEÅBORG. FINLAND. FENNIA (1874-) Vasa-Kristinestad-Räfsö-Lübeck. JAKOBSTAD. EBBA MUNCK fridays 07.30 -> N, sundays 23.00 ->S. NORRA FINLAND (at the steamers' pier in Kristinestad), (1885-1909) Torneå Ångbåts A/B, since 1892 owned by Finska Ångfartygs Aktiebolaget, Torneå-St. Petersburg. NORDEN (-1919) built and owned by Rosenlew & Co., 1905 sold to Åbo Läns Kustångbåts Ab. Vasa-Björneborg-(Hangö) tuesdays 08.00 ->N, thursdays 14.00 ->S. FREDRIK WILHELM (1905-) considered as Finland's most elegantly equipped steamer, since 1905 owned by Åbo Läns Kustångbåts Ab, fridays 07.30 -> N, sundays 23.00 ->S. THORVÖST Kristinestad-Stockholm wednesdays, retour saturdays. TORNEÅ (1876-) Torneå Ångbåts A/B. WESTKUSTEN ex FALKEN ex ESKILSTUNA (1899-1913). Lost off Vasa in 1913 with 38 passengers, 48 cows and horses. (2 , 3 , 5 )



Finland map

Some selected harbors along the Finnish coast in the early 1900's


s/s Norra Finland

The "Norra Finland"

The "Norra Finland" at the steamers' pier in Kristinestad in the late 1890s. This passenger steamer, which was built in Motala, Sweden in 1885 was in traffic between Torneå in the north to St. Petersburg in the south. It brought many emigrants to Hangö - the main transit harbor of Finnish emigrants - on their journey which usually continued on board the passenger steamers of the Finland Steamship Company (Finska Ångfartygs Aktiebolaget) to Hull in England, by train to Liverpool and on board the big transatlantic passenger steamers to Ellis Island, New York. (Departure of emigrants )  



Passenger traffic map

Up Major emigrant passenger routes of North Europe


Up Passenger records for Ester from the Emigrant Register of the Finnish Institute of Migration. It tells that Ester's destination is Fitchburg, MA USA, that the price of the ticket on "Polaris" which departed on August 26 1911 from Hangö is FIM 276, that the date of departure in Liverpool, England is August 31 and the ship from England is the "Cedric" of the White Star Line.


s/s Polaris

Up The passenger steamer "Polaris" of the Finland Steamship Company (Finska Ångfartygs Aktiebolaget) departed on August 26 1911 from Hangö


Hangö Saturday, August 26 1911

Up Victoria Dock, Hull


North America - Europe


Up Ester's journey: Sideby - Kristinestad - Hangö - Hull - Liverpool - New York-Ellis Island - Fitchburg - Pittsburgh - San Francisco












s/s Cedric

Up The passenger steamer "Cedric" of the White Star Line departed from Liverpool on August 31 1911





Liverpool Thursday, August 31 1911







Up The excerpt of the ship manifest of the "Cedric" concerning Ester and associated passengers from the recently opened archives of Ellis Island.

The manifest tells that Ester Karstrom, 21 years of age, arrived at Ellis Island on board the "Cedric" from Liverpool on September 8, 1911. As co-travelers are listed Hilda Hedback 22y from Sideby, Ida Rintamäki 25y from Jurva, Hilma Holm 22y from Sideby, Hilma Högback 18y from Sideby, Fanny Saarni 23y from Helsinki, Verner Lehtinen 20y from Merimacker (Merimasku?) and Hilma Lamm 21y from Sideby, all of them Finnish citizens.

Up Ship manifest for Ester and her co-travelers.

This is the original document from the commanding officer of "Cedric" to the United States immigration officer at Ellis Island. The manifest tells among other things that Ester had a ticket to her destination in USA, which was Fitchburg in USA, that she had paid her passage herself, that this is the first time she is in the United States, that she is going to join a friend (Gustafsson Mattson(?) somewhat blurred text) whose address is 26 1/2 Franklin Street Fitchburg, Mass. Obviously she was now traveling together with Hilma Lamm who has given the same address where her sister Sigrid Mattson was living. Furthermore the manifest tells that Ester is neither an anarchist nor a polygamist and that she is in good mental and physical health.

Up Aero view of Fitchburg, Massachusetts 1915
[with Street names, zoomable, credit of American Memory from the Library of Congress (enter search words: Fitchburg 1915)]. Franklin Street is in the middle of the map between the Laurel Hill Cemetery and the Rollstone Hill



Ellis Island, New York

Friday, September 8 1911






First destination in USA is Fitchburg, Mass.



North America map

Up North America

According to the Ellis Island documents Ester's first destination in USA was Fitchburg, Massachusetts. It is known that she sometime later on worked with a family in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and then moved to San Francisco, California where she among other things served as a nurse for the Red Cross during the WW2 (1).



San Francisco





North America ports






New York






San Francisco 1910
credit of American Memory from the Library of Congress (enter search words: San Francisco 1910 panoramic)

A Panorama of San Francisco, California showing the reconstructed city photographed February, 1912
credit of American Memory from the Library of Congress (enter search words: San Francisco 1912 panoramic)

Emigration areas   Emigrant office of FÅA in Kristinestad   s/s NORDEN   s/s NORRA FINLAND   s/s POLARIS   s/s CEDRIC Ship manifest






New York - Ellis Island


San Francisco

©2001-2010 Staffan Storteir


  1. Appel, Erik: Kom Blankus kom Skarpus. Fiskare och skeppsbyggare i Sideby. Scriptum Vasa 1994.
               Appel, Erik: Skeppsbyggnad i Sideby under 1800-talets senare del
  2. Haavisto, Olle: Kristinestad - En småstadsidyll. Kristiinankaupunki - pikkukaupunkiidylli. Vaasa OY 1985.
  3. Norrvik, Christer: Stad under segel. Kristinestads sjöfart efter 1809. Kristinestad 1999. Purjeiden kaupunki. Kristiinankaupungin merenkulku vuoden 1809 jälkeen. Suom. Hannes Virrankoski. Kristiinankaupunki. 636 p.
  4. Kummel, Bengt: Emigrationen från svenska Österbotten 1870-1970. In Svenska Österbottens historia III pp. 433-553. Vasa 1980.
  5. Suviranta, Br.: Finska Ångfartygs Aktiebolaget 1883-1958. Tilgmanns Helsingfors 1958.
  6. Kero, Reino: Suureen Länteen - Siirtolaisuus Suomesta Yhdysvaltoihin ja Kanadaan, In Suomen siirtolaisuuden historia I.1996.

World Wide Web:

Emigrant journeys & experiences

updated 20.04.2005
Publisher Staffan Storteir