When I first found the obituary of my great, great grandfather, George Leo Groucutt, I was a bit confused. I’ve long known of his early years in New Castle, Pennsylvania, but there was a new addition to the story:
“… came to St. Louis in 1891 and to New Castle in 1892…”
This was the first I had heard of George or any of these Groucutts living anywhere except in western Pennsylvania and northeast Ohio. Why had he decided to go to St. Louis? Did he know people or receive information in England of available jobs? These questions are still unknown, but his travel information no longer is.
George set sail from Liverpool, England, the busiest departure port in England around 1 September 1891. Aboard the SS Nevada of the Liverpool and Great Western Steamship Company, known commonly as the Guion Line, he was in steerage, traveling without his family. It was likely crowded, with open berthing. Whether we had a bunk, a hammock, or even just the floor, he would have shared this berthing space. His record in the ship’s manifest reads:
Number: 323 [of 679]
Name: George Growcutt
Country of which they are citizens: England
Intended destination or location: St. Louis
Date and cause of death: — [thankfully!]
Location of compartment or place occupied: Forward steerage No. 1
Number of pieces of baggage: 1
Transient, or in transit, or protracted sojourn: Protracted
The SS Nevada arrived in New York Harbor on 10 September 1891. His view from the deck would have looked similar to this circa 1891 image of the Statue of Liberty. Imagine traveling alone, looking for work, and this image is one of the first things you see in America. It’s a beautiful sight!
From the SS Nevada, it’s likely that he boarded a tender to be taken to the temporary immigration station being run by the Federal government at the Barge Office at the Battery on Lower Manhattan. Winding through corrals, he likely would have received a medical screening. Eventually, after successfully completing the exams, he was released into Manhattan with his bag, any money he was carrying with him, and the expectation that he would soon move on to find work.
How did he get to St. Louis from Manhattan? We will likely never known, but it likely involved a train. Several railroads provided service from New York to St. Louis without requiring extensive transfers. The Baltimore & Ohio and Pennsylvania Railroad both provided this service.
Regardless, we do know that the SS Nevada didn’t wait in New York Harbor long before it’s next journey. On a transatlantic voyage just three months after George’s, 17-year old Annie Moore of Ireland was on the manifest. She would gain fame as the first person to enter Ellis Island, the replacement for the Barge Office that George passed through, beginning 32 years of immigration through this famous port of entry. The SS Nevada would make several more transatlantic crossings before being struck from the roster of the Guion Line in 1893.
“Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957,” database and images, Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/7488/images/NYM237_575-0426 : accessed 26 Nov 2020) > 1891 > Sep > 10 > Nevada, passenger list, SS Nevada, Liverpool to New York departing abt 1 Sep 1891, entry for George Growcatt [Groucutt], image 8 of 16; citing “Passenger and Crew Lists of Vessels Arriving at New York, New York, 1897-1957,” Microfilm Publication T715, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C.