Finding Serafina Albert (Part 2)

Click here for the first part of this post, Finding Serafina Kelm. My search for how the Kelm family ended up in Winnipeg led me to explore the family connections that made it possible. I also love a good puzzle.

Photograph of the Kelm family, around 1909 or 1910; scan courtesy of P. Reakes

When Serafina was twenty-two years old, she and her husband, Julius Kelm, and two children left their home in or near Hofmanofka, Novograd-Volynsk, Volhynia, for Winnipeg. What information we know about Serafina is from her arrival in Winnipeg in 1906 and her death four years later. Shortly before her death, Serafina posed for a photograph; she is blue-eyed and serious, wearing a black dress and a hat full of flowers. Posing alongside her are her husband, Julius; her daughter, around six years old, Olga; and her youngest son, William.

Serafina’s daughter, Olga, was born July 21, 1903, in Hofmanofka and baptized August 10 in nearby Neudorf.[1] The parents in this record are Julius Kelm and “Seraphine Albert.” There is a record of a “Serafine Albert” born June 17, 1883, in Maksimilianowka, Novograd-Volynsk, to Georg Albert and Marianna Abram.[2] The year of birth matches that of the aforementioned Serafina Albert. Additionally, Maksimilianowka was around twenty kilometers from Neudorf.

The month after their arrival in 1906, Julius and Serafina were enumerated in the 1906 Census of Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta. They lived at 677 Ross Street, Winnipeg, with “H. Albert,” thirty years old and having arrived in Canada in 1901.[3] A possible relative of Serafine’s, he may have helped them emigrate. Finding out who “H. Albert” is may flesh out the Kelm family’s immigration story, as well provide more insight into who Serafina was.

According to the Society for German Genealogy in Eastern Europe, Georg Albert and Marianna Abram also had a son, Julius Albert, born in 1862 in Augustopol, Lodzkie, Poland, who immigrated to Canada in 1906.[4] His family is found in the 1911 Census of Canada living on their homestead (31-51-24-W4) in Strathcona, Alberta (now merged with Edmonton).[5] Because family often lived close to one another, a search for any other Albert surname was conducted in the Strathcona area. According to the 1911 Census of Canada, Herman Albert and his family lived next to Julius at 31-51-25-W4, though they would be found in Township 43 in the 1916 Canada Census of Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta.[6] Additionally, Herman and his wife, Paulina Wilde, were possibly still living in Winnipeg in 1911. Three of their children were born in Winnipeg in 1908, 1910, and 1912.[7] Paulina’s place of birth was “Johannesdorf (Solomiak),” which was just seven kilometers north of Maksimilianowka.[8] Finally, Herman and Paulina also had a daughter named Seraphina, whose preferred name was Sarah. Serafina, an unusual name based on my observations, was a popular name in the family.

Looking at the facts, Herman Albert is likely the H. Albert living with Julius and Seraphina in 1906 and Serafina Albert is the same “Serafine” born in Maksimilianowka. Herman’s wife and three children joined him in Winnipeg in October of 1906, so he could have been erroneously marked as single in the 1906 census.[9] His death record does not reveal his parents’ names, if they were the same as Julius’ and Serafina’s. Herman died of “tertiary syphilis” in 1925.[10]


[1] “[Olga Kelm birth record]” from Volhynia Archives Birth Indexes – 1900-1918, accessed 12 Jun 2021 through Society for German Genealogy in Eastern Europe

[2] “[Serafine birth record]” from Volhynia Archives Birth Indexes – 1900-1918, accessed 12 Jun 2021 through Society for German Genealogy in Eastern Europe

[3] 1906 Census of Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta, Library and Archives Canada, accessed 13 Jun 2021 through Ancestry

[4] Master Pedigree Database, accessed 18 Jun 2021 through Society for German Genealogy in Eastern Europe

[5] 1911 Census of Canada, Library and Archives Canada, accessed 13 Jun 2021 through FamilySearch

[6] 1916 Canada Census of Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta, Library and Archives

[7] “[Herman Albert and Wilhelm Albert birth information]” in Manitoba Vital Statistics Agency database index, accessed 13 June 2021; 1916 Canada Census of Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta, Library and Archives Canada, accessed 13 June 2021 through Ancestry

[8] “Pauline Albert (Wilde)” in King/Burton Family Tree [Ancestry family tree], accessed 18 Jun 2021 through Ancestry

[9] “Panline Albert” in Canada, Arriving Passengers Lists, 1865-1935, Library and Archives Canada, accessed 11 June 2021 through Ancestry

[10] [“Herman Albert Registration of Death, 1961”], Provincial Archives of Alberta. Digital copy emailed 29 Mar 2021

Stories from the Past: The Move to Canada (Part 2)

This installment of “Stories from the Past” is a more personal version of the blog post I wrote from records and secondary sources. We can learn so much more from the people themselves.

Stories from the Past: The Move to Canada (Part 2)

Note: The following stories were written by a Kelm family member who was close to Julius and Martha. They were both interviewed and their stories retold revealing insights into their personal lives, marriages, births, and deaths. The stories were transcribed by Phyllis Kelm Reakes with permission to share from the original author.

Canada wanted immigrants and was aggressively advertising for people to come and settle in Canada. The Lutheran and Baptist church had ministers that acted as immigration agents. It  was through the auspices of the Lutheran Church that Julius Kelm and others from Volhynia immigrated to Canada. Martha Kirsch and others from Volhynia came under the auspices of  the Baptist Church. In each case they sold whatever they had to pay their fare to Canada and  arrived with very little. 

Julius and Serafina had one child that died in Russia [unconfirmed]. They came to Canada with the two remaining children, Olga and Gustav. They arrived in Quebec City in May 1904. Julius later would say that he came to Canada with nothing but 10 fingers [note: the ship manifest notes the Kelm family arrived with $5.00]. Julius said that when they arrived in Quebec City everything was in bloom. He and his family we glad to be in  Canada. Those who they were travelling with told them that it was more beautiful in Winnipeg. He wanted to stay in Quebec City but was unable to do so as their designation was Winnipeg. They boarded the train along with the other immigrants they had come with and  traveled to Winnipeg. Julius said that when they arrived in Winnipeg there was snow on the  ground and the weather was very cold.

Finding Serafina Kelm

Note: As always, I will update this blog entry with more information and sources as I find it. If you have more information about Serafina, or Seraphine, Kelm, feel free to comment or email me at sarika.l.kelm@gmail.com.

In my previous blog post, I talked about Julius’ and Serafina’s immigrating to Manitoba. Serafina was Julius’ first wife. The first record I have that mentions her is the birth record for her daughter, Olga Kelm, entered in a Society for German Genealogy in Eastern Europe database. Olga was born in Neudorf, Novograd Volynsk [Volhynia], Russia, on July 12, 1903, making her almost three years old when she arrived in Manitoba in May 1906. In the birth record, Serafina is recorded as “Seraphine Albert,” which makes me wonder if one of the boarders, H. Albert, mentioned as living at 677 Ross Street with the Kelms in the 1906 Census of Canada is a relative.

On June 24, 1906, just two days before the census takers arrived at 677 Ross Street, Serafina gave birth to a baby boy who soon died. Another son, William Kelm, was born the following year, on May 24, 1907. Serafina is recorded as “Josephine Herman” in the Manitoba Vital Statistics Agency genealogy database, but “Josephine” may be a transcription error. Herman is a surname mentioned in the 1906 Census (see previous blog post); a boarder and possible relative, Christian [Herman], was living with the Kelm family in 1906. I would need look at William’s birth record, which I don’t have at the moment, to see if I can glean more information.

“[Unnamed Kelm death record].” Manitoba Vital Statistics Agency. Retrieved 21 Jun 2012. Courtesy of Phyllis Kelm Reakes.

Serafina (recorded as Seraphine Kalm) died February 20, 1910, at the age of twenty-six at the St. Boniface Hospital in Winnipeg. Her death record (see below) states that she died of “organic heart failure” and that she had been sick for three months. The Brookside Cemetery Burial Search indicates that she was buried two months later, on April 16, probably because the ground was too frozen. At the time of her death, the Kelms were living at 261 Dorothy Street.1

Winnipeg Evening Tribune, 22 Feb 1910. Retrieved 14 Jan 2020 from Newspapers.com.

“[Seraphine Kelm death record]” Manitoba Vital Statistics Agency. Retrieved 21 Jun 2012. Courtesy of Phyllis Kelm Reakes.

1 Looking at the 1911 Census of Canada (see Census transcriptions at the Manitoba Historical Society website) reveals that 261 Dorothy Street, located next to the Canadian Pacific Railway station, was home to many tenants—at least 41 in 1911⁠—though there are no Kelms living there according to the 1911 Census (and I have been unable to find them elsewhere).

Journey to Canada

Note: This blog entry will expand as I verify more information.

According to this Canada Passenger Lists, 1881-1922 ship manifest (scroll down to view the relevant section), my great-grandfather, Julius Kelm (recorded here as “Julius Kelin”), made the journey from Volhynia, Russia (present-day Ukraine), to Canada in 1906. Julius; his wife, Serafin[a] (age 22); son, Gustav (age 3); and daughter, Olga (age 2), arrived in Quebec City, Quebec, in May 1906. They arrived by ship, the passenger cargo steamship SS Mount Temple, their final destination Winnipeg, Manitoba. Julius is described as a farm labourer and the family is recorded as German.

Canada Passenger Lists, 1881-1922. Retrieved 12 Jan 2020 from FamilySearch, https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:2Q38-S1J

One thing that I noticed while writing this blog entry was that all four members of the family have “N.A.T.C. Bonus Allowed” stamped beside their names. According to Library and Archives Canada, NATC stood for the North Atlantic Trading Company, a company contracted to find “suitable immigrants” from 1899 to 1910. I have always wondered why the Kelm family decided to migrate to Manitoba, so this is a good starting point—a future blog post maybe.

Tragedy struck soon after the family arrived in Winnipeg. On May 31, 1906, Julius’ and Serafina’s son, Gustav, died of pneumonia. According to family lore, Julius’ young son fell ill while crossing the Atlantic and died very soon after they arrived in Winnipeg. The following record was found through the Manitoba Vital Statistics Agency, under “Gustav Kahn.” Because his parents are not listed and because of the age discrepancy (he is listed as five years old and not three like in the ship manifest, but the two-year discrepancy also applies to other family members), I cross-checked information to make sure it was the same Gustav. In this record, Gustav’s birthplace is listed as Russia, and the address listed is 677 Ross Street, Winnipeg.

“[Gustav Kahn death record],” Manitoba Vital Statistics Agency. Retrieved 18 Jul 2018.

The address matches what is recorded in the 1906 Canada Northwest Provinces Census, which was recorded June 28. Julius (under “J Calman”), Serafina, Olga, and two boarders (H. Albert and Christian Geaman—possibly German or Herman) are living at 677 Ross Street. Gustav is no longer with them.

“1906 Canada Northwest Provinces Census,” Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved 12 Jan 2020 from Ancestry.