Sentimental Sunday: Ellis Island

Every genealogy researcher eventually comes across Ellis Island. For me, my first experience was when my mother started to get me into genealogy. She was researching the Thorward Family. There was a ship manifest from Ellis Island that listed George Thorward. I’m sorry, he was listed as Georg Thorward. To be perfectly honest, there were two manifests. There you’ve dragged it all out of me. One manifest was from 1898 and the other from 1901. Funny enough, both trips were made aboard the ship Southwark. In both trips, his departure city is listed as Antwerp, Belgium. That’s a good clue to keep in handy when I finally start trying to track him in Germany.

He most likely was making trips back to his homeland for some reason or another. That or he was going there on business. I wasn’t even a twinkle in the universe yet, so I can’t tell you exactly. I can theorize though, which is one of my favorite things to do by the way. Ask me next week and I’ll spin you a yarn about his trip home for a cousin’s wedding, or maybe how he was going home for his granny’s funeral. It’s just how I get kicks. As long as I’m not passing these stories down to my currently non-existent grand kids, I figure it’s harmless fun. You should see what I do when there are traffic jams, boy can I spin some yarns with that!

So there’s some sentimental reasons I feel a kinship with Ellis Island. Technically, I haven’t found a single relative that actually immigrated through Ellis Island. All my relatives came before it opened in 1892. In fact, besides George’s trips I don’t think I’ve found more than two other relatives passing through on trips abroad.

Ellis Island Recreation

You probably can imagine my surprise when I found the building you see above. My mother has a little bit of a Christmas Village obsession. Every now and again, Cecil’s Country Store will have a blowout sale. They sell all kinds of buildings for Christmas villages. It’s an awesome place to go and look through. It’s actually an old post office and store from 1906. While Mom was salivating over houses, castles, and other buildings for her village, I ran across one box that said Ellis Island. Then I looked closer and the price tag said $5! Well, I got in the spirit of the moment and just went for it! Sure it’s only a small part of the actual building. Could you imagine fitting a reproduction of the whole thing somewhere? Where would you even put that?

I know it’s not exactly the most meaningful purchase I’ll ever make but it was one of the more sentimental. In the few hours I’ve had it setup on my desk (what a great way to avoid clutter!), I’ve already looked at it and smiled more times than I can count.

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