8 Replies Latest reply on Jun 23, 2021 9:08 AM by Heidi Smith

    Deciphering notations on ships' manifests from early 1900s

    Heidi Smith Wayfarer

      My husband's ancestors immigrated from Japan in the early 1900s.  I have found several of the ships' passenger manifests from the early 1900s, but am still missing the original immigration information on two of them.  Both individuals made subsequent trips back to Japan and returned, and on those manifests, there is a notation referring to their original immigration.  Does anyone know how to decipher these notations to try to find the documentation of their original entry into the US?

        • Re: Deciphering notations on ships' manifests from early 1900s
          Susannah Brooks Navigator

          Could you either post an image of the record you want deciphered or post a link to the passenger list (later list that references an earlier arrival)?

            • Re: Deciphering notations on ships' manifests from early 1900s
              Heidi Smith Wayfarer

              Suannah, thank you for your response.   Yes, I can post the images.  On the first one, the passenger in question is Isaburo Hashimoto, who is on Line 20.  Per census information, he originally entered the country in either in 1906 (per 1910 census) or in 1905 (per 1930 census).  Per his granddaughter's recollections, he used to tell about being present in San Francisco at the time of the great earthquake (April 18, 1906), so it would have been not too long prior to that.  This passenger manifest is from 1915; he went back in 1914 to bring his wife back, she promptly got pregnant, so they remained there until the baby was born (early in 1915), and then left him with family (and with his two older siblings, who immigrated later) and Isaburo returned to California, bringing Asa (line 21) with him.

              Isaburo and Asa Hashimoto passenger manifest 1915 p1

              Isaburo and Asa Hashimoto passenger manifest 1915 p2


              close up of notation

              As you can see, there is a penned annotation in the left margin that appears to be part of the original--and then there is a penciled notation added later.  From what I've managed to glean from the articles that Mr Miller shared, one of these has to do with his travel back over to Japan.  I'm hoping one might make reference, though, to his original immigration.

              Thanks for any help you can provide.  I'll put the second one in question in a separate response.

                • Re: Deciphering notations on ships' manifests from early 1900s
                  Susannah Brooks Navigator

                  So far I have not been able to determine what the number in the left margin is.  Possibly a visa number for a non-citizen resident of the US allowing them to get back into the US.  The other number under Asa, is her alien registration number.  It matches her number on the Final Accountability Roster of Evacuees at Relocation Centers.

                  Ancestry.com - U.S., Final Accountability Rosters of Evacuees at Relocation Centers, 1942-1946

                  • Re: Deciphering notations on ships' manifests from early 1900s
                    Susannah Brooks Navigator

                    I wonder if this is Isabur Hashimoto arriving in Hawaii on 18 May 1905.  On the later arrival list that you posted he stated that he had been in the US May 1905- Apr 1914. 

                    [last person on this page ]

                    Ancestry.com - Honolulu, Hawaii, U.S., Arriving and Departing Passenger and Crew Lists, 1900-1959

                      • Re: Deciphering notations on ships' manifests from early 1900s
                        Heidi Smith Wayfarer

                        Thank you!  I had missed the detail of matching the alien registration numbers!  I will have to go back and check the similar penciled notes on some of the other ancestors who were interned!


                        In going over the 1915 manifest again, I see that it states that Isaburo's original immigration is listed as 1905, which would match the Hawaii manifest.  The age is close enough to be plausible (within a year) and the province of origin (Fukui) matches.  On the 1915 manifest, there is a typical listing of town, district and prefecture (Hayase, Mikata, Fukui).  On the Hawaii manifest, the prefecture is listed (Fukui) and then it says "Saigomura."  I can't find a Saigomura, ("mura" is like a district or a county), but there are all sorts of businesses named "Saigo" in and around Mikata-gun, named after an historic war hero from the area, so I suspect this is a match as well, and that "Saigomura" is a district which has been renamed.   Looking at the actual handwritten manifest, the penmanship is pretty clear--and it does read "Isaburo" instead of "Isabur."  (One runs into that a lot, I've found.  If the other details match, it's a pretty safe bet.)


                        Although my mother-in-law (who was quite close to him) does not recall her grandfather ever mentioning Hawaii, there is always a possibility that he remained there to work for a few months before coming on to San Francisco.  That would explain him saying he had come in 1906 in the 1910 census, versus saying he came in 1905 in the 1930 census (after he had learned by subsequent experience with travel that the Hawaii date was considered his entry date).

                        I think this is a likely match, and that there just isn't any record of when he moved on to San Francisco, since that would have been just a move from a US territory to another point in the US, instead of an actual immigration.

                    • Re: Deciphering notations on ships' manifests from early 1900s
                      Heidi Smith Wayfarer

                      The second ancestor in question is Kuhei Okamoto.  (He later married a daughter of Isaburo Hashimoto, who had not yet immigrated at the time her parents came per the 1915 manifest in my previous response--Kuhei was my mother-in-law's father.)  I have found Kuhei listed in a Sacramento census in 1920, employed as a farm laborer and living in the home of his employer, and which lists his date of immigration as 1910.  Per my mother-in-law, he had come as a teenager (so that date fits) to work for an uncle of his in the fruit orchards up around Penryn, CA, but did eventually go to Sacramento, and by the time she was born, he was a farm foreman on Ryer Island in the Sacramento Delta.  This manifest is from when he went back to Japan in 1922 to return with his arranged bride, Oshige.  (Oshige subsequently returned to Japan on her own, came back, and apparently collected her belongings and went back--one of the tragic ends to arranged Japanese marriages in which the wives could not stand the loneliness and isolation of American farm life.  Isaburo Hashimoto's daughter Hisae came in 1922 via Seattle and came to Sacramento by train, as one of the rare single Japanese women to immigrate in that era, and Kuhei subsequently married her in 1926.)  Kuhei is on line 5 of the manifest below.

                      Kuhei Okamoto 1922 passenger manifest p1

                      Kuhei Okamoto passenger manifest p2

                      As previously, here is a crop of the annotation penciled in by Kuhei's name:
                      Kuhei Okamoto crop of annotation 1922 manifest

                      Any help you might be able to offer would be greatly appreciated!

                    • Re: Deciphering notations on ships' manifests from early 1900s
                      Charles Miller Adventurer

                      Dear Heidi Smith,


                      Thank you for contacting History Hub.


                      A number of independent genealogists have addressed the question regarding annotations on passenger lists. Here is what seem to be two of the better of these web pages.


                      “A Guide to Interpreting Passenger List Annotations”, https://www.jewishgen.org/infofiles/manifests/


                      “Immigration and Passenger Lists Research Guide”




                      We hope this is helpful.  Best of luck with your research.