Here in the United States, all of our ancestors at one point or another traveled to this land of opportunity and ethnic diversity. Some may have come over on the Mayflower. Others perhaps came here during the early stages of this new nation. Still more perhaps came through Ellis Island or even later. What was their journey like?
Both of my maternal grandparents James Francis Fox and Margaret Nora Doyle came through Ellis Island. For those of you who aren’t aware www.ellisisland.org has most ship manifests available for free on it’s website. That is where I was able to obtain all of the following information about my grandparents.
- James Fox set sail on the Cedric from Queenstown on May 14, 1911.
- He arrived at Ellis Island on May 22 1911.
- He was born in Ballinamore, Ireland.
- He was 5/10″ tall with a fair complexion had brown hair and blue eyes.
- He was traveling to she his sister at 163 High Street in New Britain, CT.
- Margaret Doyle set sail on the Baltic from Queenstown on Oct 6, 1911.
- She arrived at Ellis Island on Oct 13, 1911.
- She was born in Carrickslavin, Ireland.
- She was 5’4″ tall with blue eyes.
- She was traveling to see her sister Kate Doyle at 22 Holy St in Bristol, CT.
There are more facts which can be obtained from the ships manifest on the Ellis Island website so search for your ancestors who may have come through Ellis Island today. To me these are just facts and figures but what was the journey on the ship like? There’s a great book called Ellis Island Interviews by Peter Morton Coan. It was published in 2004 by Barnes and Nobel Books.
Here are some very brief quotes from people who were interviewed who came through Ellis Island.
- Page 88 “…the S.S Cedric. All five of us were in one room with two wooden bunk beds. There was no porthole. We traveled in third class….”
- Page 112 “The S.S. Baltic was beautiful. I didn’t want to get off. I didn’t want to get off because I loved the blue waters….”
Reading interviews of some people who came on the same ship your ancestors came on gives to a glimpse at what their experience was when traveling to America.