Archiver > POLAND-ROOTS > 1999-09 > 0936415201

From: "ETM" <>
Subject: [POLAND] Ships/Castle Garden/Ellis Island
Date: Fri, 3 Sep 1999 23:20:01 -0400

This is an article which Paul had written, and dedicated to all the
of TheShipsList. It was recently reposted in memory of Paul Petersen.
The following is dedicated to all the members of the
TheShipsList mailing list who work unselfishly to
help others.

This document is placed in the public domain, historians
please copy.

- --------------------------------------------
by Paul Petersen

They were =big= ships, larger than anything people had
seen in their entire lifefime. and they actually moved
....slow...lumbering...unstopable. The Dreadnaughts
plowed the wild Irish sea and ordinary men stood at the
rail and dreamed about having a farm, their =own= farm.
America, in the 1850s was a place of free-land giveaway's,
of homesteads and hearths.... and all you had to do was
get there.

and get there they did, in great waves of humanity,
millions and millions of them.

And it all started with ships.

There was a bubbling mass of energy and excitement
in America in the 1850s, most of it brought on by
the invention of technology. Indeed, the Columbia
Exposition of 1890 was a showcase of technology for the
masses. There was a steam engine on display as big as a
4 story building, it worked! and it dazzled everyone.
But just as impressive was the electric light, the
telephone, and the telegraph. It was an age of
possibilities, of things that =could= be done, of
dreams that seemed reachable, BIG dreams that matched
a big, brave new world, a world where anything and
everything was possible, a world where streets were paved
with gold. It was a new start, a new beginning,
and it started with the words "We're Going To America"

and it started with ships.

Before Ellis island there was Castle Garden, a big
old barn of a building pictured as being shingled....
they got off the boat en masse' and walked (1st class
rode in horse carriages) to the processing center under
the watchful eye of many guards.... inside the processing
center they sat on wooden bench's awaiting their name to
be called for a physical exam and again for an immigration interview,
one tried not to cough too much... the central hall was a
hodge-podge of noise, kids crying and different languages
being spoken.... they huddled on the bench's saying prayers
and hoping against hope they would be acceptable....it was
faith and hope that got them this far.... they had braved
wind tossed seas on so-called 'cattle-boats' with poor
food, drinking water and sanitation.

After the INS interview, several hours later, if they were
accepted, they gathered up their meager belongings, the
old suitcase and the box's and went through the 'out' door
onto the street... ...where they were pounced on by a
multitude of thieves, union army recruiters, salvation army
evangelists, ethnic organization representatives, and hawker's
of all sorts...If the inside of the building was a mass of
confusion the outside street was pandemonium and a circus
all at once.

If it was raining they got wet, and many ships arrived in
the dead of winter... the immigrant was on their own to find
help or directions. Bewildered, poorly clothed for the
miserable new York weather, and often alone in a strange
new world, they somehow made their way to a new life...

though many did not...there was a public outcry in the 1860s
over the "deplorable" conditions on the docks where newly
arrived immigrants were often robbed and killed.

Our ancestors did for themselves...and their children,
they made it through the rain and got a point of view....
They gave to us the gift of hope, of life in a new world, a new
beginning, and a remembrance of times past when life held
little or no hope... ...They did it on faith alone (and the
echo's of the shipping line boy's who ran through the streets
back in the old country extolling the glory's of the new world,
of America, where men lived free, where land was given to all
who wanted it...simply for the asking...) ...They did it because
they wanted better....and they left to you and me a legacy that
yearns to breath free, a circle of people, events, and promise
that somehow strains to be known....It is, to this knowledge,
that we all work with diligence and patience in seeking out our
family history....and somewhere along the way of our search
we too have hope....hope that they, as yet unnamed and unknown,
will know that we remembered, that their struggle was not in
vain, that we know and appreciate what they did....which was,
after all, done for us.

cheers, paul

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