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1904 "Continuous Certificate of Discharge" -- info please!

1904 "Continuous Certificate of Discharge" -- info please!

Posted: 12 May 2013 4:13PM GMT
Classification: Query
Hi --

We have recently unearthed my great-grandfather's "Continuous Certificate of Discharge" -- a little book with a Board of Trade emblem and his record number stamped on it. Inside -- along with many other rules and details -- it says to return to the Registrar General of Shipping and Seamen, Carlisle Place, Westminster, London, SW.

My great-grandfather, Carl Emil Hjelte, was Swedish: born there and lived there until he immigrated to America in 1905. Or so we thought...

This book records 3 journeys he made on 3 different ships during the 1904-1905 time frame: to Cape Hatteras, to the Black Sea, and to Rio (and the USA, on this trip). The dates and places of discharge are all centered around Cardiff or Barry. There are a few more details (ship names, captains' names, Carl Emil's jobs, etc.).

Can anyone tell me what this is? How would he have hooked up to a UK Merchant Marine while living in Stockholm? What was being in the Merchant Marine all about? Is this how he could've earned his passage to America? And is there anywhere that I can do further research about Carl Emil Hjelte, specifically, and his time in the Merchant Marine?

This is a big surprise to the family! I am very excited to learn more about what it all means. I am grateful for any information or suggestions for further investigation.

Thank you!

Re: 1904 "Continuous Certificate of Discharge" -- info please!

Posted: 25 May 2013 1:29PM GMT
Classification: Query
Edited: 25 May 2013 1:36PM GMT
Here's the definition from a UK site:

"This document contains personal information and a record of each voyage undertaken. The certificate acted as both a passport and a reference. The captain of a ship would record the name of the ship, the dates of the voyage and the ability and conduct of the seaman on that voyage." (From Memorynet: http://www.twmuseums.org.uk/memorynet/)

Below is a link to a Google Book called "Sessional Papers, Volume 77" By Great Britain. Parliament. House of Commons.

http://goo.gl/CqP7Q (It should take you directly to page 67 of the book.)

This link will take you to the Registry of Shipping and Seamen: http://www.dft.gov.uk/mca/mcga07-home/workingatsea/mcga-trai... - at the bottom of the page, under the Historical Information heading, click the link for details of their historical records - it opens as a Word document but explains where certain documents are stored and how to make a request.

My dad was a US Merchant Marine in World War II, so I don't really have any suggestions in your case. I hope the links help! My dad took several trips to South America, and they were usually to pick up crude oil and bring it to a US refinery; however, I've seen a few that also exported "exotic" fruit like bananas. If you have the names of the ships, please post them - sometimes you have better luck searching the ships than searching the crew!

Happy Searching,

Nancy

Re: 1904 "Continuous Certificate of Discharge" -- info please!

Posted: 25 May 2013 11:57PM GMT
Classification: Query
Hi Nancy --

Thank you so much for your input and information! I really appreciate it. My mom remembers her grandfather, Karl Hjelte, the Merchant Marine I am researching, as a quiet, reserved man, who rarely spoke about himself -- so, naturally, the later generation (me) has no stories to go on. Just this little Discharge book...

I did find out, since posting the original message, that the records during the time period my great-grandfather was a seaman are lost (some are partially complete). It seems sadly unlikely that I will be able to find his original contract, documents, etc. But I am glad to have the links you provided so I can get more background on what he did.

I know he went to Rio and to Calcutta. I have no idea what the ship picked up...You think I could find out details like that with the ship names (which I do have)? I will give it a shot. I know he was a fireman on at least one voyage (which makes sense, in a way, as he probably barely spoke English but was a strong young man, used to farm labor).

Onward! Thanks again for responding and being so helpful. After he left the Merchant Marines in 1905, he went to America and married his Stockholm sweetheart, and started a family. His days of voyages to places like Calcutta were over, so it would be nice to relive what he may have experienced.

Take care --
Meredith

Re: 1904 "Continuous Certificate of Discharge" -- info please!

Posted: 26 May 2013 3:43PM GMT
Classification: Query
Edited: 26 May 2013 3:53PM GMT
Meredith,

This was my experience with US records: I had a stack of Discharge Certificates (example attached, from the SS Texaco Oklahoma). It shows where travel began and ended, but it doesn't show every stop along the way. Based on the dates, I requested Ship Movement Cards with the names of the ships and the dates my father was on board. (Example attached - same dates highlighted.) Although the Discharge Certificate indicates the place of shipment [outbound] and the place of discharge [inbound] as New York City, you'll see the Ship Movement card shows the trip was from NYC to Aruba to NYC.

While the records MAY be lost, I would definitely suggest that you make inquiries.

Also, please post (or send me a message containing) the ship names and dates of travel. I may be able to find corresponding information in the Genealogy Bank or Fold3 newspaper archives (papers frequently listed arrivals and departures, and even cargo, during peacetime).

I also found this link for Finding Seafarers on Crew Lists: http://www.crewlist.org.uk/findingoncrewlists.html (for British-registered vessels).

Hope this helps!

Nancy
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Re: 1904 "Continuous Certificate of Discharge" -- info please!

Posted: 26 May 2013 6:43PM GMT
Classification: Query
Hi Nancy --

It's so nice to have a "conversation" about this! And thank you for sharing your own US records experience (and a sample of the documents themselves). I often do a lot of foreign (well, foreign to me) research (Swedish, Polish, Hungarian) and am sadly not very up-to-date with US or UK records, how and where to find them, etc.

Thanks for offering to do a quick look-up of the ships my great-grandfather sailed on. I have a few database/genealogical website subscriptions (besides Ancestry, they are mainly European), but not to the ones you mentioned. I have done a little research on the actual vessels and may know more than I think I know, if that makes sense. I don't have that material in front of me, but I will compile it and, as you wisely suggest, post a query on these message boards.

In the meantime, I do have his Discharge book right here:

Karl Emil Hjelte was on the SS Glenfruin (#119134 built 1904) out of Calcutta (how he got there, I have no idea) on August 23, 1904; discharge date November 4, 1904 at Barry, UK. Description of voyage: Cape H.

Then he was on the SS Verbena (#102726 built 1895) out of Barry, UK on November 15, 1904; discharge date January 28, 1905 at Cardiff, UK. Description of voyage: Black Sea.

Finally, he was on the SS Corby (#115220 built 1901) out of Barry, UK on January 31, 1905; discharge date May 28, 1905 at Barry, UK. Description of voyage: Rio and USA.

And that's it. He was only in for a short time, perhaps enough to raise some money to start his life in the US. Sometime in July 1905, he departed from Hull, England and landed in Philadelphia -- so ended his Merchant Marine career.

The only other material in the book is a report of character; he was marked "Very Good" in ability and character for all 3 voyages.

I also plan to take your advice re: inquiring anyway about locating his records/contract/documents, even though it seems a fair number are missing or lost or destroyed. There is an email address in one of the links you sent yesterday; I will gather up all I know and give it a shot.

Thank you again for helping me investigate this further; I appreciate it very much. Your information and advice are so useful to me.

Take care --
Meredith

Re: 1904 "Continuous Certificate of Discharge" -- info please!

Posted: 27 May 2013 2:46PM GMT
Classification: Query
Edited: 27 May 2013 2:47PM GMT
Hi Meredith,

I looked up the ships at "UK Records: Crew lists at Record Offices" (http://www.crewlist.org.uk/data/sourcesRO.php) and here are the search results:

Crew Lists in British Institutions:
SS Glenfruin 119134: None
SS Verbena 102726: None
SS Corby 115220: 1914-1924 only

Maritime History Archive:
SS Glenfruin 119134: None
SS Verbena 102726: None
SS Corby 115220: 1908-1913 only

Misc, gathered around the web:

This is a book from 1906 that discusses shipping from Cardiff:
http://goo.gl/Y1XEH

This is a book from 1904 that discusses general exports from Rio:
http://goo.gl/dgD4k

Calcutta's main exports were minerals (iron ore and coal) - they were the world's top supplier - as well as TONS of tea and coffee.

Sadly, the SS Glenfruin, carrying iron ore, was sunk by a German U-Boat on 29 Jan 1918 off the coast of Ireland, and the crew of 32 had no survivors. The link will take you to a site with details and a wreck map: http://www.wrecksite.eu/wreck.aspx?37301

I did find various mentions in online newspapers, but they were mostly Speaking Reports: When a ship makes contact with another ship and reports its location, it was reported to the shipping office and occasionally printed in the local papers (i.e., "Br str [British Steamer] Glenfruin at [longitude, latitude]. Reported strong wind from the NE may delay arrival.") but I couldn't find any mentions from 1904-1905.

I stumbled across this article, called "An Ocean Liner's Crew - Working on a Steamship in 1906" that you may enjoy: http://www.gjenvick.com/SteamshipArticles/SteamshipCrew/1906...

I'm sure you've already checked the crew lists available on Ancestry and have seen the available records on Karl Emil Hjelte - I did see one of them.

I hope that SOME of this is new information! Let me know if I can provide any further assistance - good luck!

Nancy

Re: 1904 "Continuous Certificate of Discharge" -- info please!

Posted: 27 May 2013 7:05PM GMT
Classification: Query
Hi Nancy --

You have given me a wealth of information; I am grateful. It does sound pretty definite that the crew lists (or, rather, the lists Karl Emil would have been on) for those ships are not in existence. The links for the usual exports of the places he voyaged to gives me a picture of what his ship might have carried -- thanks for that.

While I may never find details specific to him, the information you have passed along does create a general picture of what he probably did on board, what his ship probably carried, a good sense of his experience at that time.

A few years ago, I did find a crew list record for a Karl Emil Hjelte (the one you probably saw), leaving from Hull, I believe, to NY. This could well be him, BUT the date is wrong (1901 -- a gap of 2+ years where he is unaccounted for, so to speak, in New York), this K E Hjelte is from Sodermanlands and "my" Karl is from Ostergotland, and this K E Hjelte is listed with his "Bror Eric" and "my" Karl did not have a brother Eric. Well, it's something I had put aside, but will now pursue a bit more closely, now that I have the understanding that he was in the UK Merchant Marines (I did not know that prior).

I really value all the work and effort you have put in to help me, Nancy: thank you! If I run into any more questions, I may call on you!

Oh, because you've sort of entered his life, even if only academically, I thought I would attach a photo of Karl Emil, one that he apparently had taken in Calcutta (which had always confused us -- before we knew about his Merchant Marine experience -- we thought it was some kind of "costume portrait" he had done in Stockholm, you know, those photos that have the sitter in a "Paris" or "Old West" or whatever setting. We couldn't understand how it could REALLY be from Calcutta...and now we know it was indeed!)

Thank you again, Nancy.
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