SS Pennsylvania

Among my aunt’s vaudeville card collection were about 8 different ships that she must of sailed on or admired at some point in her life. There was also a photo of a “Captain Russ” and another photo of 3 women with the captain and 2 other ship-men on the deck of the SS Pennsylvania. In a future post, I’ll go over the history for each Ship’s card, but for today’s post I’ll start with the Captain of the SS Pennsylvania and a “roomate” my aunt had on the ship.

SS Pennsylvania and Capt. Russ

Mr. C. Russ, was the captain of the SS Pennsylvania, a Hamburg-American passenger line ship that mainly was used for passage from Germany to New York.

SS Pennsylvania was a cargo liner built by Harland & WolffBelfast[1] and launched in 1896 for the German Hamburg America Line for the transatlantic trade, particularly German emigration to the United States. She took refuge in the United States upon the outbreak of the First World War and upon the U.S. joining hostilities was seized and renamed the SS Nansemond. She was briefly commissioned as USS Nansemond in 1919,[2] and used by the U.S. military to transport American troops and supplies to Europe. After the war ended, the SS Nansemond transported over 20,000 troops back across the Atlantic. She was then laid up in the Hudson River before scrapping in 1924. Source: Wikipedia

My GG Aunt and GG Grandmom sailed on the SS Pennsylvania on July 12, 1913 on their trip back from visiting family in Germany. Captain C Russ was the current captain of the ship for their voyage home. He was mentioned in several newspapers, so he was easy to track down. What was most notable though, was his long career and recognition while a captain for the American-Hamburg line.

The New York Herald wrote a piece on him about his long career. In the 1912 newspaper article, he mentioned that he sailed 200 times to date across the Atlantic. It’s also noted in the article that he was awarded a medal from the British. While comanding the SS Batavia in 1911, Cot. Russ saved the lives of 283 passengers on the British RMS steamship Slavonia, who’s ship ran aground and sunk off of the Azores. Below is an article where a fellow SS Batavia passenger gives the newspaper a recount of the event:

Hickory Democrat, NC Feb 24 1910

I wasn’t able to find any further information on Captain Russ, other then what was noted in newspaper articles unfortunately.

Emilie Doernberger

2018-10-10 08-42
Captain C Russ (top middle). One of the other ladies is Emilie Doernberger.
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Postcard from Emilie Doernberger.


Along with Capt. Russ’ card was another card from an Emilie Doernberger. About 2 years ago, I had this card and other German postcards from my GG aunt translated by a nice lady in Germany who could read old German Script. Once it was translated, I found out that Emile was a “roomate” to my GG Aunt and GG Grandmom on the SS. Pennsylvania. The back of the card says:

“As friendly reminder of your sleeping companion, Emilie Dollnberger”
(had a shared bedroom)

To make sure that I had the right name, I checked the ships manifest, and I found her name listed!  She was 37 years old at the time that photo was taken, and the record says that she was German, married and lived in Muchen. This is all I know about Emilie. I’m not even sure which one she is in the photo, as all three women look to be in their 30’s. My hope is to find out more information on Emilie, and possibly track down which girl she is in the photo so that I can give the correct credit.

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2 thoughts on “SS Pennsylvania

  1. Thank you for blogging this. My Great-grandmother, Great-aunt and Grandmother (4 years old at the time) immigrated to America on the SS Pennsylvania, arriving at Ellis Island on July 30, 1914, the last voyage out of Europe for the ship before the start of WWI. If you have any further information on the ship, steerage or ports, or photographs, I would be most interested. Also do you have a source/date for the newspaper article on the captain’s 200 voyage? With deep appreciation, Cindy

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    • Hi Cindy! Thanks for reading my blog! The source date for the 200 voyage article was July 11, 1912 and it was written by the The Bamberg Herlald. I unfortunately don’t have any other photographs of this ship then what I have here from my aunt’s postcard collection. 😦 It’s amazing how much you can find online and in newspaper articles though, that would be a great way to start if you still want to look. 🙂

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