‘They Didn’t All Come Through Ellis Island’

By David Fleet
Ortonville — They arrived at the ports of Boston, Baltimore, Philadelphia, New Orleans and San Francisco. Prior to 1855, the nation’s first immigrant processing center was Castle Garden, located in the Battery of Lower Manhattan across the bay from Ellis Island.
Consider too, that between 1830-1930, more than 36 million additional immigrants entered the U. S. through other ports.
Unlocking the stories of ancestors arriving through a multitude of ports in the U.S. is a challenge that a Michigan genealogist will provide some insight.
From 6:30-7:30 p.m., May 10, the Brandon Township Library will host at the temporary location 48 South St., Ortonville, “They Didn’t All Come Through Ellis Island: Finding and Analyzing Passenger Arrival Lists.”
Registration is required.
Katherine R. Willson, professional genealogical researcher, speaker, educator and author will discuss the three significant time periods for passenger lists, the major points of departure from Europe, the major ports of entry to the U.S., and how to find passenger arrival lists online and offline.
“We’ll discuss how to analyze these lists as a means of filling in your ancestors’ life stories,” said Willson. “If as many ancestors came through Ellis Island as families are led to believe, the island would have sunk.”In the mid-1800’s, nine out of 10 immigrants were from Ireland, England or Germany, about 15-20 percent of the passengers died on the 45 day trip often crammed into cargo ships.“Many of the passengers booked their trip to the U.S. based on price, so where they landed was the result of cost.”
One of the biggest myths about immigrants coming to the U.S. was that immigration workers missed spelled names.
“Actually, travelers would change their name to ‘act’ American, some were illiterate and were unsure how to spell their own name. At that point sometimes the ticket office person would spell it phonically.”

One Response to "‘They Didn’t All Come Through Ellis Island’"

  1. Brian Andersson   May 9, 2023 at 10:53 am

    Castle Garden was known as an “emigrant depot,” operated by New York State. It was not so much a processing center, but train tickets, money exchange services, and lodging arrangements could be made in a safe environment. Ellis Island, however, was an Inspection Station…..


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.