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SS Orbita - deserting crew member

SS Orbita - deserting crew member

Posted: 17 Sep 2009 2:50PM GMT
Classification: Immigration
Surnames: Wilkes
Hi,
I have just found out an ancestor, Silas Emmanuel Wilkes was a crew member aboard the SS Orbita which was a mail ship between Hamburg - NY (via Southampton and Cherbourg).

He docked in NY on 1st December and was listed as a deserting seaman.

I can find no trace of him in the US Federal Census 1930 and no trace of him in any passenger list returning to the UK.

What would have happened to illegal immigrants in the US in the 1920's? I am guessing he maybe changed his name

Re: SS Orbita - deserting crew member

Posted: 6 Nov 2009 10:42PM GMT
Classification: Marriage
Surnames: WILKS
MAYBE

MARRIAGES

Name: Silas E Wilkes
Year of Registration: 1910
Quarter of Registration: Jul-Aug-Sep
District: Portsmouth (1900 Onw)
County: Hampshire
Volume: 2b
Page: 1040

Re: SS Orbita - deserting crew member

Posted: 20 Dec 2012 6:55PM GMT
Classification: Immigration
Surnames: Walden
Hello Danielle,
I have just discovered that my Grandfather Eustace Vivian Walden (called Eric by family) was also a deserter from SS Orbita! He We knew he was missing from home for ten years, he left in 1923 when my mother was a few months old, and he turned up again at home one day when she was 10. I have found him on the 1930 census. He told my grandmother that he jumped ship in NY, and the record shows he arrived there on Orbita on 13 August 1923. He said he was an engineer, but his merchant marine record shows he was a fireman. We have no idea why he left, or why her suddenly returned, but had a history of lying, and would not tell my mothers family anything about his past. I recently discovered he had been married before and divorced, but is down as a batchelor on gran's marriage certificate! I wonder if Grandad and Silas knew each other, I think it is very likely if Silas had been on the ship in August 1923.

Re: SS Orbita - deserting crew member

Posted: 21 Dec 2012 8:29AM GMT
Classification: Query
Surnames: Walden
This post was deleted by the author on 4 Dec 2013 11:19PM GMT

Re: SS Orbita - deserting crew member

Posted: 21 Dec 2012 9:27AM GMT
Classification: Query
This post was deleted by the author on 4 Dec 2013 11:19PM GMT

Re: SS Orbita - deserting crew member

Posted: 21 Dec 2012 10:16AM GMT
Classification: Query
Hi Anneradband. How interesting! I have periods where I try and find out what happened to my Great Uncle, Silas. He disappeared around the middle of the year 1923 and was never seen again by his family. A pile of clothes were found on the beach in Southsea, Portsmouth and it was assumed he had committed suicide. No body ever found and there was rumoured sightings of him. It was only a couple of years ago that I found the listings of him on the Orbita. Him jumping ship on 1st December 1923 fits in with his permanent disappearance from this country and all records.

Goodness, it may be likely he knew your grandad! I wonder what they got up to!! I guess we'll never know!

Re: SS Orbita - deserting crew member

Posted: 21 Dec 2012 10:35AM GMT
Classification: Query
Hi infosending1

Thanks for your reply on this involved mystery. My Great Uncle Silas Emanuel Wilkes was in his thirties when he disappeared from Portsmouth leaving his parents, a number of siblings and a wife of approx 13 years. They had one child, Silas who was born on 1911 and died shortly after. I also recently discovered they had another child in their care. I recently had a gentleman by the name of Wilkes in contacts go was the son of this man, who was orphaned and bought up by Silas and his wife, he took their surname.

Silas disappeared in mid 1923 and a pile of his clothes were found on Southsea Seafront, Portsmouth. Although no personal effects were left. It was initially assumed that he had drowned, but there were rumoured sightings of his after. Then nothing......

None of the family ever heard from him again and never knew what happened. Fast forward a hundred years and I found his name on the crew list of several crossings on the SS Oribita. He was listed as a scullion. I am guessing he got a job on the ships to get away from his life in Portsmouth. Prior to this he was a bootmaker! He did several crossing then was listed on the deserting crew list in NY on 1st Dec 1923. That is the last record I can find of him. Nothing else after this date in the UK or the US. I have tried several different spellings of his name to see if there were transcription errors, but to date have been unsuccessful.

Seen as he disappeared from the lives of his family in Portsmouth, I just assumed he must have stayed in the States after jumping ship there. That's why I was wondering what happened to illegal immigrants over there in the 1920s. I guess he could have applied to stay, but am still baffled as to why there would be no formal record of him anywhere. I also wondered if he may have changed his name.

Thanks, not sure if I've looked into Canada in any great depth. Will definitely have to explore that avenue. But if you had any ideas they would be very, very welcome as it would be lovely to solve the mystery.

Thanks for taking the time to reply

Re: SS Orbita - deserting crew member

Posted: 21 Dec 2012 1:56PM GMT
Classification: Immigration
Surnames: Walden
Thanks infosending1
I have the details for him in the UK thanks, He doesn't appear on the English birth records because he was born in Australia. His father James went out to Ballarat for the gold rush in 1852. (Found no gold but made a fortune as a merchant). Eustace lived in Australia and NZ until 1910. Then he appears to have come to the UK. His first British daughter was born to Annie in 1918 before they were married. I don't know where he was between 1910-18, but medal records show him in the Merchant Navy at sometime during WW1 as he was awarded the British War Medal and the Mercantile Marine Medal. I would love to know when he came from Australia to the UK, but I haven't yet found any passenger records for ships leaving Aus between 1910 and 1918. Annie Fish is my grandmother. They had 4 daughters. The youngest was born in 1934, after he returned home from his "missing" ten years. She is now a US citizen with a large family. His past was a complete mystery as he would not ever discuss it. He would not let anyone take his photo, and would disappear if anyone picked up a camera. He would not open the front door or allow anyone into the house, and my Aunt tells me he slept with a knife under his pillow for years. Mum is sure her mother did not know about his first marriage, or his two Australian children, born in 1897 and 1899. Finding out she had two much older siblings was a bit of a shock to her, aged 88. In the past 2 years I have found relatives in Aus. and NZ that we never knew we had, and they did not know about his 2nd marriage, or that the English family existed. He never contacted his Australian family again, and they did not know what became of him. Until I started searching for his past, we did not know about his 8 siblings and 2 children.
I would like to know what connection he had to Chicago, or why he was there, or if his statement about being connected to Al Capone is true. I think if he was there, he would possibly have worked in the Chicago Stockyards for a while as he was an experienced stockman, and had farmed in Australia and NZ. I know he went back to sea in 1927 (claimed his previous discharge book had been lost), but again, I don't know what he did between arriving in NY in 1923 and signing on to another ship in 1927.
Definitely the black sheep of his family.

Re: SS Orbita - deserting crew member

Posted: 21 Dec 2012 4:00PM GMT
Classification: Immigration
Surnames: Walden
Hi Danielle
It's just occurred to me that it may be possible they left the ship together. I have been told he was on the ship in August 23, and that he had jumped ship, and I assumed he had deserted on that date, which I assumed was his only trip, but I suppose it's possible he was on the ship after that date and did another trip. Its amazing to find someone else with an elusive relative on the same ship, it would be even more amazing to think they may have deserted at the same time or even together! They certainly seem to have had a lot in common.

Re: SS Orbita - deserting crew member

Posted: 21 Dec 2012 6:42PM GMT
Classification: Query
Sadly not. I have just re examined the crew lists and it looks like they missed serving together by one voyage. According to the records your grandfather signed on to the Oribita on 3rd August 1923, arrived in New York on the 13th August and was on the Deserting Crew List on 18th August, which was probably the date the ship left to return to Southampton/Hamburg. Your grandfather only did one voyage, one way.

My Great Uncle signed on for his first voyage on 7th September in Southampton! That must have been after the ship returned home from your Grandfathers trip (and desertion) in late August! Silas then did another voyage in October and a final one docking in New York on the 1st December 1923. He is on the Deserting Crew list on 5th December.

A small world and a shame they wouldn't have met. I have often looked at the other names on the Deserting list in December and wondered if he went with them!!
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