Ellis Island

Two months ago I visited Ellis Island, an Island next to that of the Statue of Liberty (Liberty Island). It was basically an island which welcomed immigrants (and by welcomed, i mean the only way in for them) and was kinda like a gate into America for people from all over the world.
I didn’t think it was worth writing about, since I didn’t see more to it to be anything more than a port.

But going through some of the pictures I took there, I realized what a big deal it was. I thought of all the people-Europeans, Asians, South Americans, setting assail from there homeland, for the land of opportunity, hoping for a better life. They all had their own reasons for doing the same. The also had their own stories.

A picture among the exhibits at Ellis Island of some newly arrived immigrants of the country.

In 1920, Johann karl Sceinder told his family that he was going to seek “golden opportunities” in America. He packed his belongings in a canvas satchel and journeyed from his village in Switzerland to France, where he set sail for New York. After a stormy two week voyage in steerage, he arrived at Ellis Island, and then went to upstate New York where he worked on a dairy farm. A year later he was able to send for his wife and three children. They eventually settled in Connecticut.
His daughter who was ten years old when she made the journey, saved some of the many things her mother brought with them to their new home.

Another such family, is that of Diab Catoni Thomas, who immigrated to the United States from Lebanon in 1892. After working for 9 years peddling dry good in Virginia, Diab returned to Lebanon where he married Ramah and had two children. Mary and the children, Salene and Alene, immigrated to the United States in 1907. The family settle in Virgina where Diab opened a succesful general store. Diab and Mary had 9 more children in America, bringing there family to a total of 5 daughters and 6 sons. By the 1930s the family had moved to Mullens, West Virgina where they operated a grocery store. Diab died in Mullens in 1971 at the age of 103.

A statue of Annie Moore, the first immigrant processed at Ellis Island.
One of the counters where the immigrants were  processed into the country

All these people brought with them their cultures and their traditions, which makes the United States as diverse as it is today.
For us, travelling to the other side of the world is nothing but taking a 24 hour long flight. For them, it meant taking a 2 month long journey. (Remember? No airplanes!) They did not know whether they would have enough money to return, or when they would talk to their family ( Remember? Not many communication services.)

Ellis Island marked the beginning of a new world, one where people lived together, worked together, learned to accept each other. I hope to see many more Ellis Islands in the world soon!



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