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Arrival of Sicilians on the Britannia, New Orleans, 1898

Arrival of the Britannia, Fabre Line, as recorded by The Daily Picayune--New Orleans, courtesy of Mary Ann Lipari Riviere. Note: in the original from the paper they sometimes spelled the name of the ship Britannic but this is an error.

Friday, September 30, 1898.

Left Port Eads, Sept. 29, 6 P.M., wind east-northeast. Weather cloudy and squally. Arrived at 10 A.M., steamship Britannia (French) Fournier, master, from Marseilles via Palermo with 408 Italian immigrants, to James Sawers and Sons.

Friday, September 30, 1898 p. 11

Italian Immigrants
The French Steamship Britannic, Capt. Fournier, from Marseilles, via Palermo, with 408 Italian immigrants, consigned to James Sawers and Sons, arrived at a late hour last night and came to anchor at the Point. The vessel will be boarded this morning by Immigration Inspector Montgomery and his assistants, after which she will land at the Northeastern Fruit wharf.

Marine News (same page)

Fr. steamship Britannia, Fournier, from Marseilles, Sept. 2 via Palermo, Sept. 8

Saturday, October 1, 1898, p. 10

Custom House Notes
The Sicilian Emigrants
There are over 400 Sicilian emigrants on board the French steamship Britannic, from Palermo, now at quarantine. Owing to the health conditions in this city, the board of health will not allow the Sicilians to disembark at the Northeastern Fruit wharf, nor will they be permitted to land in the parishes of Plaquemine, Orleans, Jefferson, St. Charles or St. John the Baptist.

This decision of the board of health was reached at a special meeting. Thursday night and was communicated to the agents of the Britannic and the US immigration agents. The later will be notified of the time the vessel will leave quarantine to come up the river and they will board her and go through the required examinations of the passengers at some point below the city limits.

The question will then occur: Will the people of Ascension Parish take kindly to this donation of a shipload of Sicilians?

October 3-October 8, 1898

The Britannia is listed as being in port.

Sunday, October 9, 1898, p.11.

The Sicilians
Will find an open door at Pensacola
And the Britannia has gone there after many delays and difficulties.
At last, the Britannia, the French steamship from Palermo, with its load of 408 Sicilian immigrants, has found a port willing to receive the foreigners, and is now on her way to Pensacola , Florida.

The vicissitudes through which the ship and the innocent immigrants passed, were not of a very agreeable nature, but were unavoidable on account of the conditions prevailing in this city, against which quarantines had been declared on all sides. It was not considered safe to allow several hundred fresh European subjects to land in this port. The Britannia, after having put in the required number of days at the quarantined station( where she had arrived on the 28th of Sept.) was allowed to come up the river and anchor opposite "the point", a few miles below Algiers. Her agents Messrs. James Sawers and Co., having been formally notified, by the state board of health, and by the collector of the port, the latter acting under the provisions of the national quarantine laws, which make it incumbent on the United States authorities to assist the state boards of health in enforcing their quarantine measures, that the Sicilians would not be allowed to land at any point in the state of Louisiana, decided to send the Britannia to Galveston.

Therefore the vessel was permitted to steam up to "the point" to take on provisions and coal. But there came the refusal of the Galveston authorities to allow the Britannia to seek their port.

This delay was not only irksome to the ship, and to her passengers, but also entailed daily expenses, which in the aggregate would amount to a large sum, as the Britannia had put in nearly 12 days in waiting at quarantine and at "the point." The agents instituted a suite for damages in the civil district court against the state board of health for $2500, and cast about for another port. Meanwhile, they had filed protests with the collector of the port against what they considered oppressive and unnecessary delays, and after a long and animated conference between the representatives of Sawers and Co. and of the board of health and Capt. Wimberly, the latter said that he had no power to interfere with the state board of health in carrying out its mandates.

Messrs. Sawers and Co. had the alternative of either sending the Britannia back to quarantine for 10 days, at the expiration of which Galveston would receive the immigrants, or of returning them to their own country. They would not accept either proposition, because the had a clean bill of health from Palermo, and had besides already put in her period of detention at the Mississippi quarantine station.

The situation remained unchanged until yesterday, when, after having wired to Pensacola, Messrs. Sawers and Co. received a satisfactory answer. Pensacola offered to receive the immigrants. This news was communicated to Collector Wimberly yesterday forenoon, and he said he was happy that a solution had been reached.

The Britannia cleared at noon for Pensacola and left at 3 P.M. Mr. Ed J. Wheelahan, manager of James Sawers and Co., said he did not know, what would be the destination of the Sicilians after they would have reached Pensacola. That will have to be hereafter decided. Another emigrant ship is on its way to New Orleans. The British steamship Bolivia left Palermo for New Orleans on the 30th of Sept. with 1500 emigrants, and will arrive here in the latter part of this month.

Collector Wimberly was asked what would be done in the case of the Bolivia. He replied that if quarantine conditions are still extant the vessel will have to go through the same ordeal as the Britannia. The agent of the steamship, Mr. F. J. Orflia, declines to discuss the matter, as many things may happen between this day and the 31st of October.


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