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Ellis Island Special Inquiry -anyone else?


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HerNameIsBuffy

So this is a very specific scenario but it's brought up more questions than answers.  I'll try to be succinct.

Family history per our parents/grandpa:  Our paternal grandfather was one of 9-13 kids, all or mostly boys born in Weitmar/Bochum, Germany.  His parents were killed in an accident when he was a teenager and all the kids got split up and sent with various family members.  Before his parents died he had quit school at an early age to work in the mines.  He was the only one who was sent to America.  Per my older siblings (who knew him) he never mentioned his parents nor siblings.  My dad didn't even know the names of his father's siblings.  So he said - he also claimed not to know how many there were but my dad never liked talking about family stuff.  

Several years ago I found his Ellis Island ship manifest and confirmed his age of immigration, birth date, original first name (he hated it so changed it once he got here), and occupation.  He was 16 and listed as a bergmann (miner.)  Confirmed that he'd come to live with an uncle/aunt and the uncle paid his passage.  Address of uncle matches neighborhood where he said he lived when he got here - so far everything matches the family story.

But stupid me never realized there were multiple pages to the manifest until recently and it for next of kin in country of origin it lists a name and relation is "mother."

I'd always wondered what kind of accident would kill both of them at the same time, before cars, and was never able to find a train crash or anything cataclysmic for that time frame in the region (which means only that I couldn't find it.) 

So either the family story was false, or he lied on the manifest about next of kin back home.  Now I'm fascinated.  Everyone who knew him loved him - he was by all accounts a very kind and gentle man and exceptionally smart.  He quit school quite young to work in the mines, but spoke 7 languages (4 fluently - English, German, Polish, and French) and knew advanced mathematics and engineering to a high degree without formal training.  

He was held as one of the Aliens for Special Inquiry at Ellis Island which means he was pulled aside and had to go before the board where they'd determine whether they'd let these immigrants in or deport them back.  There is additional information on the special inquiry pages - and every single other person has something written in the cause for detaining column but him.  Everyone!  as is typical most are LPC (likely public charge - if you have to prove you can support yourself or someone else will take responsibility) or a health reason indication.  There is literally nothing next to his name.  

He arrived on 12/31/09 and was released 01/02/10 to get on a train to Chicago.  They note how many meals he ate there (they'd charge the ships for those) but no reason why he was held?  I can't even find info on "what does it mean when they don't write down a reason?"

I have a theory - which is based on nothing...in the description it shows his height as 5' even.  He ended up as 5'7" as an adult, but my brother and one of my nephews got their height later and were very short in their early-mid teens.  Men in my family tend to be late bloomers puberty wise and even as adults my dad/brother couldn't grow full beards.  I'm wondering if he looked so young that they had to verify his age since he was travelling alone?  

I would be interested in knowing why he was held, but I'm mostly dying to know about his mother.  I finally have a name but if it's his mom why did he say they were both dead before he left Germany?  Or did he give another female relatives name and lie about the relationship on the document?  Or did he just lie and say she was alive when she wasn't?  

There is one other instance of finding dodgy info regarding his family relationships.  He enlisted in WWI and while stationed in Germany (as a German born but US Army solider - there were a lot of them it turns out) he met my Grandma.  They married and had my dad while still in Germany.  On my dad's US Consulate Birth registration (different than his German issued birth certificate) there is a notation on the back, "X says his naturalization papers are in the possession of his aunt, Jeanette (anglicized version of his aunt/uncles surname) at (listed address.)

That was the address of his family (per census) but Jeanette was his cousin - not his aunt.  She was a few months younger than he.  And the family never anglicized the surname (think Smithski but the notation said Smith) as their death records all still have the polish suffix.  

So either the person writing it jotted it down wrong or he gave inaccurate information.  I'd assume the US Consulate would be pretty good about getting names, right?  

And he loved his wife, kids, and grandkids so not like he was anti-family.  Had to be a reason he never mentioned his parents or siblings...I just always assumed it was too sad but maybe there were more complex reasons.

And his cousin?  She outlived him by 13 years and both lived in the Chicago area until their deaths and none of my siblings remember him mentioning her or meeting her.  My kids don't know extended family on my side, but there is a reason.  He would have had to have had a reason, I'd think? 

I can't even find records so not like I'm going to be able to get into his head - but I'm dying of curiosity now and wish I'd paid more attention to the little information we were told as kids.  

TLDR I'm distracted and rambling while trying to psychoanalyze people who are long dead...not worth reading!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Florita

Aren't mysteries fun?!? Maybe the dates that your grandfather was passing through Ellis Island are significant - New Year's, middle of winter in New York. My understanding is they didn't allow minors or women to just leave alone. They needed to have a train to catch or someone to pick them up. If they didn't, they were detained.

I think the next of kin "Mother" is pretty significant. I doubt an orphan would say that.

Whatever his past was in Germany he wanted to leave it behind!

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HerNameIsBuffy
24 minutes ago, Florita said:

Aren't mysteries fun?!? Maybe the dates that your grandfather was passing through Ellis Island are significant - New Year's, middle of winter in New York. My understanding is they didn't allow minors or women to just leave alone. They needed to have a train to catch or someone to pick them up. If they didn't, they were detained.

I think the next of kin "Mother" is pretty significant. I doubt an orphan would say that.

Whatever his past was in Germany he wanted to leave it behind!

I wondered that, too.  If due to the holiday travel was disrupted or the people verifying stuff working on a skeleton crew.  That's why I wonder if his age came into play.  At 16 they should have been able to release him on his own, but it's possible that if he looked much younger they wanted to verify that before turning them out.

Just so strange there is no notation, other people who were waiting for relatives to be contacted had it noted.

and I do feel kind of creepy sometimes looking into this - clearly if it was something he wanted people to know he'd have told my siblings.  I'm digging into things that are none of my business.

I'd give anything if someone had kept a journal.

 

 

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