SS Volturno survivors rescued by SS Rappahannock

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SS Rappahannock was a ship of the international rescue fleet that responded to the burning SS Volturno’s distress calls on 9 October 1913. During the night of 9–10 October, Rappahannock rescued 19 women and children from Volturno. After the rescue operations were complete on the morning of 10 October, Rappahannock headed for Halifax and landed the survivors there four days later. Halifax, coincidentally, was Volturno’s intended first stop after departing from Rotterdam on 2 October.

Below is my list of the 19 rescued by Rappahannock. Afterwards I’ll examine the sources that helped me compile the list.

The names of those rescued by Rappahannock are listed in the following manner:

  • name
  • passenger class
  • sex
  • age
  • nationality
  • destination

Presented in alphabetical order:

  • Biks, Perl, steerage, 17, F, Russia; New York, NY
  • Biks, Privil, steerage, 20, F, Russia; New York, NY
  • Friedman, Hinda, cabin, 19, F, Russia; New York, NY
  • Geduch, Nikolaj, steerage, 1, M, Russia; Hamilton, ON
  • Geduch, Paraska, steerage, 20, F, Russia; Hamilton, ON
  • Isenberg, Mariam, steerage, 18, F, Russia; New York, NY
  • Kaplan, Ester, cabin, 18, F, Poland; New York, NY
  • Katske, Ester, steerage, 20, F, Russia; Philadelphia, PA
  • Katske, Feige, steerage, 22, F, Russia; Philadelphia, PA
  • Kontkowska, Alexandra, steerage, 24, F, Russia; Camden, NJ
  • Landon, Basy, steerage, 20, F, Russia; Baltimore, MD
  • Lonczycka, Ester F, 16, S, Russia; Patterson, NJ
  • Nikitczuk, Dimitri, steerage, 5, M, Russian Poland; Sydney, NS
  • Nikitczuk, Katrina, steerage, 1½, F, Russian Poland; Sydney, NS
  • Nikitczuk, Marie, steerage, 27, F, Russian Poland; Sydney, NS
  • Nikitczuk, Petro, steerage, 7, M, Russian Poland; Sydney, NS
  • Pollack, Pia, steerage, 33, F, Russia; New York, NY
  • Ridensky, Beile, cabin, 20, F, Russia; Minneapolis, MN
  • Wojciak, Leocadia , steerage, 19, F, Poland; Sydney, NS

All 19 of the Volturno survivors saved by Rappahannock are listed on two Canadian manifest pages presented below. Those saved by Rappahannock are the 7 listed at the top of page 1, and all 12 listed on page 2. The bottom 7 names on page 1 are reported as Volturno survivors rescued by and brought to New York by SS La Touraine and headed to Canadian destinations, but I believe that only 6 of the 7 were from Volturno. (See my rationale on the La Touraine survivors page for why I don’t think Nedelscho Zankoff, the first man listed, was on Volturno.

SS Volturno passenger manifest (Canada), Halifax, October 1913, p. 1 (of 2)

The names of the 7 rescued by Rappahannock on page 1, in manifest order and as spelled:

  • Wojoyik, Leokadin
  • Nikitszuck, Marie
  • Nikitszuck, Pears
  • Nikitszuck, Dimitri
  • Nikitszuck, Katrina
  • Geduck, Paraska
  • Geduck, Nikola

All 7 were headed to Canadian destinations, 5 to mining settlements in Sydney, Nova Scotia. The manifest notes that all 7 departed Halifax on the Intercolonial Railway of Canada (IRC).

SS Volturno passenger manifest (Canada), Halifax, October 1913, p. 2 (of 2)

The 12 on the second page were all destined for points in the United States.

The names of the 12 on page 2 in manifest order and as spelled:

  • Kaplan, Ester
  • Isenberg, Mariam
  • Katske, Feige
  • Katske, Ester
  • Ridensky, Beile
  • Lenchiska, Ester
  • Biks, Privil
  • Biks, Perl
  • Kontkowska, Alexandra
  • Landon, Basy
  • Friedman, Hinda
  • Pollack, Pia

The city and state destinations of these women were noted on the manifest, unlike many other Canadian manifests, which were often just stamped “United States” for the destination.

Eleven of the 12 headed to the US boarded the Red Cross Line steamer SS Florizel for New York, departing from Halifax on 15 October arriving in New York on 18 October. The group actually appears on two different Florizel manifest sheets. On the first sheet they are listed amongst Florizel’s other passengers, and on the second sheet by themselves. (Separating Volturno survivors from other passengers was done by the US immigration officials so that the Uranium Steamship Company could be billed for the head tax, instead of the ship lines that actually delivered the survivors.) There are some spelling differences from the Canadian manifest above and, surprisingly, between the two Florizel sheets, despite the fact that the first sheet was most likely the source for the second.

SS Florizel passenger manifest, New York, 18 October 1913, p. 170–71

The names in manifest order and as spelled. Names in italic type are spelled differently than the Canadian manifest:

  • Kaplun, Ester
  • Landon, Basy
  • Eisenberg, Maria
  • Biks, Perl
  • Biks, Privie
  • Friedman, Hinda
  • Lonczycka, Ester
  • Kotski, Feige
  • Kotski, Ester
  • Konkowski, Alexandra
  • Polick, Pia

SS Florizel passenger manifest, New York, 18 October 1913, p. 154–55

The names from the second Florizel manifest, in manifest order and as spelled. Names in italic type are spelled differently than the first Florizel list:

  • Kaplun, Ester
  • Landon, Basy
  • Eisenberg, Maria
  • Biks, Perl
  • Biks, Privic
  • Friedman, Hinda
  • Lonczycke, Ester
  • Katske, Feige
  • Katske, Ester
  • Konkowski, Alexandra
  • Polick, Pia

On the second Florizel manifest, Ester Kaplan, Basy Landon, and sisters Perl and Privie Biks are all curiously listed as “sailor” under occupation, which is strange, considering the occupations of the 4 on the Canadian manifest are recorded as “tailoress”. A closer examination of the first Florizel manifest may provide clues to this curious mistake. As it turns out, these 11 Volturno survivors weren’t the only shipwreck victims on Florizel! The the rest of those listed on the first manifest are noted as being from “S.S. Cearence[sic]”. A search of sources turns up the fact that SS Cearense (coincidentally a formerly a line-mate of Florizel) had run aground at Marsh Point in the estuary of the Nelson River in Hudson Bay on 13 September. In the process of copying the Volturno 11 to the separate manifest, the copyist may have been unable to clearly read the “Tailor” notation written there but—seeing the nautical occupations of “Sailor”, “Fireman”, and “Donkeyman” for the others—perhaps assumed that these four 18–22-year-old Russian women were also sailors.

Having accounted for the destinations of 18 of the 19 Volturno survivors rescued by Rappahannock, we now turn to the 19th. This passenger was Beile Ridensky, listed on line 5 of the second Canadian manifest. Now, for whatever reason, Ridensky was listed on a separate US manifest for Rappahannock. In general, cabin-class passengers were recorded separately from steerage passengers on US manifests. Ridensky was a cabin-class passenger on Volturno but not the only one rescued by Rappahannock. Hinda Friedman and Ester Kaplan were also cabin-class passengers, but they were not listed separately on a Rappahannock or Florizel manifest. Ridensky’s separate manifest may have been completed by US immigration officials just to cover all bases, or perhaps to help the Red Cross in New York, who were endeavoring to assist all Volturno survivors in the US and Canada. Even though it is clearly marked “copy”, it does provide firm proof that Ridensky was on Rappahannock and landed at Halifax.

SS Rappahannock passenger manifest (US), duplicate, Halifax, October 1913, p. 198–99

All of the manifests list Ridensky’s destination as Minneapolis, and ordinarily, passengers headed for upper Midwest locations like that would depart Uranium Steamship Company ships during the stop at Halifax and continue by rail, a faster and shorter trip than if disembarked at New York. And, in fact, the next manifest shows that was the case with Ridensky.

A US passenger manifest was prepared for people that landed in Canadian ports headed to US destinations to record their arrival in the US by rail. (These have been compiled into the so-called St. Albans Lists, named for the St. Albans, Vermont, District, the collection point for these manifests after the US office in Montreal closed.) In the following manifest page, Ridensky is listed as having entered the US via the Grand Trunk Railway at Port Huron, Michigan.

SS Volturno passenger manifest (US), Halifax, October 1913 (St. Albans List)

In conclusion, even if the spelling of the names is not completely consistent, we have a good, solid list of those rescued from the Volturno by Rappahannock, and know what all of their intended destinations were.

©2011 Andrew Baker.
Revision 1.11, 15 November 2011, more descriptive title; update links for other, similarly renamed pages
Revision 1.10, 15 November 2011, changed two passengers surnames to Geduch
Revision 1.01, 1 September 2011, some copy-edits for clarity; switched images to new source
Revision 1.00, 20 August 2011, initial post

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