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ELLIS ISLAND THE IMMIGRATION EXPERIENCE


This page belongs to greg krenzelok.


ELLIS ISLAND THE IMMIGRATION EXPERIENCE


The Great Hall


The Stairs of separation

Just think Paul, Frank, Frances and Elizabeth walked down these stairs once. Can you imagine their feelings! Can you imagine what they went through!

Paul Krenzelok entered Ellis Island on November 2 1909 and was 19 years old

Frank Kellner entered Ellis Island on July 6th 1907 under the name Franz Kellner age 25. Make sure you look for page 0398 line 6

Elizabeth ( Berta ) Kellner Krenzelok and her mother Frances ( Franciszka ) Kellner entered Ellis Island on March 15 1910 and was 11 years old ( age 13 is correct ) . This date has now been confirmed with Ellis Island records thanks to Alan Krenzelok, Ed's son . You can find Franciszka ( Frances ) and Berta ( Elizabeth ) Kellner in the Ellis Island record's website. Originally we were not able to locate them due to a miss spelling of their last name which was spelled Okellner. Alan found another person on the ship manifest for the date Frances and Elizabeth sailed and went through the manifest where he located them both.

SPECIAL NOTE JANUARY 7 2005:
I have been able to correct the spelling of Frances and Elizabeth's last name at Ellis Island and you will now find it spelled correctly ( Kellner )

Ellis Island, in upper New York Bay near Manhattan, is best known for the immigrant station located there between 1892 and 1954. An estimated 12 million immigrants passed through the station. In 1965, the island was designated as part of the Statue of Liberty National Monument. In 1990, after six years of renovation, the former immigration station, shown here, was made into a museum. An estimated 12 million immigrants entered the United States through Ellis Island in Upper New York Bay, drawn by tales of fortune and opportunity. A complex on the island served as a district headquarters for U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Services until 1954, when immigration waned and activities transferred to Manhattan. Ellis Island reopened in 1990 as a museum documenting four centuries of immigration to the United States.

ELLIS ISLAND
We are always trying to get information on the stories of our family and coming to America. So please help us by adding or correcting.

We know that Paul Krezelok came to America on the passenger liner " Kronprinzessin Cecile " on November 2 1909 according Ellis Island records. Records can be found at:

Click on the below link:

Ellis Island Website

This is where the ships manifest have been found. Also the original index card from Ellis Island is on Microfilm available from the National Archives under T-621, roll 357. In Anchorage Alaska it was in cabinet 34, draw 4-10. This is only a card with little information on it but it was enjoyable to see a copy of the original

We have copies of Paul's

Declaration of Intention, submitted Oct. 24 1925 Rusk county court Wisconsin
Petition for Naturalization, submitted Nov. 4 1925 Rusk county court Wisconsin
Interrogatories in Depositions of Witnesses, submitted Nov. 20 1925

Paul, his brother Jozef and their sister Anna's husband came to America to earn their " Bread and Butter " according to Anna Haratyk. I have located a " Jozef Krenzelok " at Ellis Island and I thought this was Paul's brother but his age is recorded at 41 which would be wrong. The town where they came from were both Istubua (Konaikow) Silesia. Paul had a cousin in Wyoming that he and Elizabeth would visit and Jozef could be part of this branch of the family. I have not been able to get any solid information on this branch of the family. Jozef and Anna's father returned to Poland to fight in a war. Paul stayed

Paul and his brother where probably looking for a better life and probably decided one day that America was the place to go. It has been said that due to the death of their mother they had a little inherence money. Money surely was very hard to come by in Poland. Threats of World War 1 were pending and Europe had many problems. So the young men decided to make, I'm sure a big move! Coming to America was a very big deal and the whole family would gather together just to see the ticket and dream of a better life! I believe they would then take one of the many trains that were taking emigrants to a port to ship out. One can only imagine what was going on in their minds! Living in a small town their whole life and now this. And then the morning would come and they worked their way up the gangway into the ship with so many others. Conditions on the ship for steerage passenger would be just bearable at best. The shipping lines would crowd these passengers in like sardines in a can. It is very interesting reading about making your way to America in articles that are available on the internet and in books (see Kronprinzessin Cecile page). At least the new ships were very fast compare to the days of the sailing ships and before they knew it they would see the Statue of Liberty if they were coming to the port of New York like Paul and his brother. How scary it must have been to be coming to a new country and a new life filled with so many unknowns! American's were also becoming weary of all the emigrants coming into their country! Would they take their jobs?

Listing for the arrival of the ship Paul was on. Depart Bremen and arriving at New York

11/2/1909
Kronprinzessin Cecilie
North German Lloyd (Express Service)
Leaves Bremen Germany
Arrives: New York

The ship would then tie up at Norddeutscher Lloyd (North German Lloyd) dock and if you were in 1st or 2nd class the medical examiner from Ellis Island would come on board to inspect the passengers. If you got a clean bill of health that was it! You were clear to come into this country. If you were a Steerage passenger you would now unload and then reload on to a boat and go to Ellis Island for processing.


New Jersey ( NewYork ) 3rd street North Germany Lloyd Dock. Paul, Elizabeth and her mother Frances would have gotten off here and then would take a ferry over to Ellis Island for processing.


The entrance to the Great Hall.


In line to go into the Great hall.


Ellis Island 1909 as Paul saw it. THE INSPECTION PROCESS
When they landed, the immigrants had numbered tags pinned to their clothes, which indicated the manifest page and line number on which their names appeared. Immigration inspectors to cross- reference immigrants about their right to land and enter this country using these numbers. The Ellis Island processing station was meant to channel and filter the seemingly endless supply of human beings.

Greeted with pointing fingers and unintelligible commands, the new arrivals formed a line which stretched from the Ellis Island dock into the Baggage Room of the Main Building, winding its way up to the second floor where the immigrants were met by a team of doctors and inspectors who would decide which way the Golden Door would swing. Jostling three abreast, the immigrants made their way up the steep flight of stairs and into the great hall of the Registry Room. Although many did not know it, the inspection process had already begun. Scanning the moving line for signs of illness, Public Health Service doctors looked to see if anyone wheezed, coughed, shuffled, or limped as they climbed the steep ascent. Children were asked their name to make sure they weren't deaf or dumb, and those that looked over two-years-old were taken from their mothers' arms and made to walk. As the line moved forward, doctors had only a few seconds to examine each immigrant, checking for sixty symptoms, from anemia to varicose veins, which might indicate a wide variety of diseases, disabilities, and physical conditions

Of primary concern were cholera, favus (scalp and nail fungus), insanity, and mental impairments. In 1907, legislation further barred immigrants suffering from tuberculosis, epilepsy, and the physically disabled. The disease, which resulted in the most exclusions, however, was trachoma, a highly contagious eye infection that could cause blindness and death. At the time, the disease was common in Southern and Eastern Europe, but relatively unknown in the U. S. (A Japanese immigrant later discovered the cure.) Physicians checked for trachoma by turning the eyelid inside out with their fingers, a hair-pin, or a button-hook to look for inflammations on the inner eyelid-a short but extremely painful experience. The "buttonhook men" were the most dreaded officials on Ellis Island.

During line inspection, those immigrants who appeared sick or were suffering from a contagious disease were marked with blue chalk and detained for further medical examination. The sick were taken to Ellis Island Hospital for observation and care, and once recovered, could proceed with their legal inspection. Those with incurable or disabling ailments, however, were excluded and returned to their port of departure at the expense of the steamship line on which they arrived. In an attempt to discourage steamship companies from transporting ill, disabled, or impoverished passengers, an immigration law of 1903 imposed a hundred dollar fine for every excluded passenger. Medical inspectors developed a letter code to indicate further examination, and roughly every two out of ten immigrants received mystifying chalk marks. This alphabet of ailments ranged from Pg for pregnant to K for hernia and Ft for feet.

Those suspected of having feeble minds were chalked with an X, and along with those marked for physical ailments, about nine out of every hundred immigrants were detained for mental examination and further questioning. Usually this consisted of standard intelligence tests in which immigrants were asked to solve simple arithmetic problems, count backwards from twenty, or complete a puzzle. In an attempt to deal with immigrants' cultural differences, Ellis Island's doctors developed their own tests which allowed them to base their decision on problem solving, behavior, attitude, and the immigrant's ability to acquire knowledge. Requiring immigrants to copy geometric shapes, for instance, was only useful for testing those who had some schooling and were used to holding a pencil. Favored were comparisons and mimicry tests which did not have to be explained by an interpreter, nor did an immigrant have to know how to read and write to solve them. After passing the line inspection immigrants were waved toward the main part of the Registry Room.

There they entered a maze of open passage ways and metal railings which divided entire floor. As crowded as a country town on market day, the great hall was "a place of Babel" where all languages of the world seemed to cry out at once.At the far end of the Registry Hall the legal inspectors stood behind tall desks, assisted by interpreters fluent in major languages and any number of obscure dialects. Although the interrogation that immigrants were to face lasted only a matter of minutes, it took an average of five hours to pass through the inspection process at Ellis Island. Wearing starched collars and heavy serge jackets, the inspectors verified the twenty-nine bits of information already contained on the manifest sheet. Family names were recorded with care, especially if they were spelled Andrjuljawierjus, Grzyszczyszn, or Zoutsoghianopoulos.

Firing questions at the immigrants, the inspector asked them their age, occupation, marital status, and destination in an attempt to determine their social, economic, and moral fitness. Influenced by American welfare agencies that claimed to be overwhelmed by requests for aid from impoverished immigrants, the exclusion of those "liable to become a public charge" became a cornerstone of immigration policy as early as 1882. The Alien Contract Labor Law of 1885 also excluded all immigrants who took a job in exchange for passage. Together these laws presented the immigrant with a delicate task of convincing the legal inspectors that they were strong, intelligent, and resourceful enough to find work easily, without admitting that a relative had a job waiting for them. In 1917 anti-immigration force succeeded in pressuring the government to impose a literacy test as a further means of restricting immigration. The law required all immigrants sixteen years or older to read a forty-word passage in their native language.

Those from the Punjab district of Afghans, for instance, had to follow a series of printed commands, such as picking up a pencil and handing it the immigration inspectors. Most immigrants, however, had to read biblical translations such as "Your riches are corrupted, and your garments moth eaten. Your gold and silver is cankered; and the rust of them shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh as it were fire" James 5:2,3), which was the requisite passage for Serbians. Working from 9am-7pm, seven days a week, each inspector questioned four hundred to five hundred immigrants a day. Those who failed to prove they were "clearly and beyond a doubt entitled to land" were detained for a hearing before the Board of Special Inquiry. As immigrants did not have a legal right to enter the U. S., there could be no lawyer present at this hearing, but friends and relatives could testify on an immigrant's behalf. The Board reviewed about seventy thousand cases a year, admitting five out of every six detainees. Those rejected could appeal the decision directly to the Secretary of Commerce and Labor in Washington, D. C. At this stage immigrants could hire a lawyer or offer a bond guaranteeing they would not become a public charity.

Along with medical detentions and immigrants facing a hearing from the Board, unescorted women and children were detained until their safety was assured through the arrival of a telegram, letter, or a prepaid ticket from a waiting relative. Furthermore, immigration officials refused to send single women into the streets alone, nor could they leave with a man not related to them. Fiancées, reunited with their intended husbands, often married on the spot. During peak immigration years, detentions at Ellis Island ran as high as twenty percent-thousands of immigrants a day. A detainee's stay could last days or even weeks, and accommodations were in constant shortage.

From 1900-1908 dormitories consisted of two long, narrow rooms, which ran along either side of the Registry Room mezzanine. Each room slept three hundred people in triple-tiered bunks (much like steerage) that could be raised, converting the rooms into daytime waiting areas. In 1906 Commissioner Robert Watchom seriously considered hiring barges to serve as extra detention space until an appropriation of $400,000 from Congress allowed him to begin construction of the new Baggage and Dormitory Building. However, this facility was not completed until 1910. In 1907, Ellis Island's peak immigration year, 195,540 people were detained. After inspection, immigrants descended from the Registry down the "Stairs of Separation," so called because they marked the parting of the way for many family and friends with different destinations. Immigrants were directed toward the railroad ticket office and trains to points west, or to the island's hospital and detention rooms.

Those immigrants bound for Manhattan met their relatives at the "kissing post," where many joyous and tearful reunions occurred Katherine Beychok, a Russian Jewish immigrant in 1910, remembers, "I saw a man coming forward and he was so beautiful I didn't know he was my father.... Later on I realized why he looked so familiar to me. He looked exactly like I did.... But that's when I met him for the first time. And I fell in love with him and he with me." The crush of immigration constantly tested the limits of Ellis Island's facilities, and over the years a constant appeal for more funds could be heard from the Station's commissioners.

Ellis Island's 125-bed hospital opened in March of 1902, and expanded in 1907 and again in 1910. Although these additions brought the hospital's capacity to 275, patients diagnosed with illness that warranted their detention and hospital care often numbered over five hundred at a time. Many times immigrants with infectious diseases such as measles and diphtheria had to be cared for at city hospitals in Manhattan and Brooklyn. This prompted the United States Public Health Service to build a 450-bed contagious disease ward at the Ellis Island Station-creating a third contiguous island-as well as a psychopathic ward and a morgue. "The Island is at once a maternity ward and an insane asylum," remarked one doctor. By 1911 more than fifteen buildings at Ellis Island were devoted to medical care. Forty doctors, proficient in dealing with illness ranging from slight injuries to rare tropical diseases, staffed its hospital. During its half-century of operation over 3,500 immigrants died at Ellis Island (including 1,400 children) and over 350 babies were born. There were also three suicides. While the 700 doctors, nurses, inspectors, interpreters, matrons, stenographers, and other staff employed during the station's peak years generally followed Commissioner William Williams' directive to treat immigrants with "kindness and consideration," the process of inspection and detention-and the frightening prospect of exclusion-remained overwhelming.

QUESTIONS AND NAME CHANGES
Once past the crucial examination point, the immigrants proceeded to the registration clerks. "Your name?" a clerk would ask. Names were always a problem. Not all immigrants could spell their names, and baffled officials jotted down names as they sounded. Some name changes were quite deliberate. When Jan Menkalski emigrated from Poland in 1900, he knew well that better job opportunities were available for German-speaking people with German-sounding names. Tracing him through Cleveland city directories and the 1910 census, we find that he called himself John Wagner. Without memories and family traditions, his records would almost certainly have been impossible to trace. There were up to twenty-nine additional questions. "What is your nationality?" "Your destination?" "Who paid your fare?" How much money do you have?" "Show it to me." "Have you ever been in prison or in the poorhouse?" This screening was designed to keep out the paupers, the insane, sufferers of loathsome diseases, criminals, and contract laborers who might be entering as strike breakers. Over the course of the island's immigration history, laws were passed which also prohibited polygamists, anarchists, and prostitutes from entering the country.

NEW YORK IMMIGRATION TIMELINE
1886 - Statue of liberty dedicated
1890 - Federal government establishes Bureau of Immigration and selects Ellis Island as first federal immigration facility; using ballast from incoming ships as landfill, work begins to double the island's size.
1892 - First immigrants pass through Ellis Island, led by Annie Moore age 15 from Ireland.
1897 - Fire destroys original wood buildings.
1900 - New Beaux Arts-style immigration center opens at a cost of more than $1 million.
1901 - In the first full year with the new facility, Ellis Island handles 389,000 immigrants.
1907 - More than 1 million immigrants pass through Ellis Island, including a record 11,747 in one day.
1917 - Congress requires that all immigrants over 16 be literate.
1921 - First federal immigration quotas enacted.
1924 - National Origins Law tightens quotas and moves immigration processing abroad, under the direction of U.S. consolates
1943 - Ellis Island is used as a detention center for enemy aliens.
1954 - Ellis Island is closed and put up for sale as surplus federal property. 1965 - The National Park Service take over Ellis Island
1974 - Federal government allocates $1 million for Bicentennial cleanup of Ellis Island
1983 - Restoration of the main building begins.
1990 - Ellis Island Immigration Museum opens after nearly $170 million restoration

The Stay on the Island: Many immigrants were detained for various reasons and varying amounts of time. Some waited for relatives to come and claim them, and others had to wait for travel funds before they could be released. Over the years, about two percent of the immigrants were turned back at the place often called "Heartbreak Island." It was customary for relatives and friends who came to meet immigrants to bring American-style clothes, and at this point many native costumes were left behind. Would old country traditions and life-styles be shed as easily? Answers to that question are as varied as the experiences of those who became a part of the melting pot of America. They can be found in the homes, hearts, and life-styles of those born of this tremendous struggle.

Immigrants who passed all the rigorous examinations at Ellis went to the baggage room to claim their belongings. From there they proceeded to the money exchange where marks, drachmas, lira, zloty, and kroner were traded for American currency. The railroad agent was the last stop, and here they could purchase a ticket to the destination of their dreams. Those bound for locations other than New York City traveled by barge to New Jersey rail stations. From there they entered the mainstream of America.

The Great Port of New York: Since it was the landing place of a great portion of the European population, New York City has always been the port of entry for the largest number of immigrants by far. Of the 5.4 million people who arrived between 1820 and 1860, more than two-thirds entered at New York. By the 1850s, New York was receiving more than three-quarters of the national total of immigrants, and by the 1890s more than four-fifths. Although New York was the largest and most important portal, more than seventy other federal immigrant stations were located along the shores of the United States.

CURTAILING IMMIGRATION
At the close of World War I, many Americans were eager to see immigration restricted. The war had rekindled a fear of foreigners. The Immigration Act of 1917, with its demand of a literacy test, reduced significantly the number of arrivals for a short time. However, the number of arrivals in New York soon climbed again and 500,000 immigrants entered through the Port in 1921. Since the literacy test failed to stem the flow of immigrants sufficiently, the federal government enacted newer and more powerful methods of exclusion in 1921 and again in 1924. Soon after the 1924 Immigration Act was adopted, traffic through Ellis Island subsided to a trickle. A final revision of the "national origins" quota system went into effect in 1929. The maximum number of all admissions to the United States was reduced to only 150,000 people annually, and was a deliberate attempt to set permanently the ethnic and racial mix of America.

GHOST OF ELLIS ISLAND
Immigration restrictions dealt a deathblow to the importance of Ellis Island. In its last years of operation, a portion of the island was used as a Coast Guard station and later as a detention center for enemy aliens. In November 1954, the last immigrant and the last detainee left, and the General Services Administration (GSA) declared the immigration center surplus property. An era was over, and the once wide-open door had been unceremoniously closed

Ellis Island had borne the burdens, witnessed the sorrows, and heard the laughter of millions since it's opening in 1892. Babies had been born, marriages performed, and people had died there. The island soon became an abandoned, crumbling relic. Its deserted buildings and halls, once filled with activity, were now silent--alive only in the memories of those millions to whom it had personal significance. Perhaps the most moving impression of Ellis Island comes not from what is there, but from who is not there. What befell the immigrants after they struggled down the gangplanks? Was your grandmother or grandfather one of them?

Restoration of the Statue of Liberty, herself an immigrant from France, began in 1982 and was complete in time for her 100th birthday celebration in 1986. The "Mother of Exiles," designed by the French sculptor Auguste Bartholdi, was completed in 1884 and portrays Liberty in the figure of a woman who has just won her freedom. In her right hand is a book of law inscribed July 4, 1776. Broken shackles lie at her feet as she steps forward to enlighten the world. Immigrants who passed through Ellis Island during the six decades of its operation could see the Statue as they underwent processing. She embodied their quest for liberty. More than any other symbol, the Statue of Liberty is the personification of America.

WHY THEY CAME
Assessing all the factors, which caused one of the greatest migrations in human history, is difficult. Emigrants were individuals who had specific personal reasons for leaving their native lands and attempting to build new lives. Many Europeans were uprooted from their homes largely because of the economic and political changes of nineteenth-century Europe. The period witnessed the formation and decay of rival alliances, the rampant nationalism of the Austro-Hungarian and German Empires, and culminated in the trenches of World War I and the Treaty of Versailles. The face of Europe was radically changed--as were the lives of its people. This turn of the century era contributed greatly to the influx of immigrants to American shores. Displaced craftsmen looked hopefully to the thriving economy on the other side of the ocean. Frequently, one who had immigrated would write or return home to tell of the wonders of "Amerika."

The United States promised fulfillment of grand dreams, which could no longer be kept alive in their native lands. The lure of America is well known, but nearly impossible to define. For some it meant religious or political freedom, for others, freedom from conscription. But for the vast majority, it meant opportunity and the chance to improve their economic condition. All shared the belief that life in America would be better

THE PROCEDURE AT ELLIS ISLAND
The Ellis experience was traumatic for most newcomers, as they were closely observed from the time they set foot on the island. Inspectors looked for signs of sickness or infirmity, a limp, the empty stare of the feebleminded, or shortness of breath as they climbed the stairs to the registry hall. Arriving in the hall, the flow of traffic was channeled through metal pipe partitions so that the room assumed the look of a stockyard. Perhaps as a result of that negative image, the partitions were later exchanged for benches.

Sick, bewildered, and exhausted from the voyage, the immigrants huddled in the Great Hall of Ellis. On a daily basis, the vast registry area--frequently called the "Hall of Tears"--was filled to the walls with would-be Americans. With numbered identification tags pinned to their clothes, the immigrants awaited the battery of legal and medical examinations. Standing there today one can almost hear the voices, in a jumble of languages, echoing from the high-vaulted ceiling.

Family members were often separated as some were accepted and others rejected. The painful decision of whether to stay or return with a loved one had to be made on the spot. For most immigrants, these hours would be the most emotional and traumatic of their lives. Some could not face the disgrace or ruin of deportation, and it is estimated that there were three thousand suicides. A day spent on Ellis Island seemed like an eternity. What took place there was their first experience in America and overwhelmingly important. Would they be allowed into this land of opportunity or turned away at the door?

From the beginning, the immigrant understood that to enter the United States two things were important above all others: one must prove to be disease-free, and convince authorities that they could make a living in the newly adopted country. In its time, Ellis Island was a state-of-the-art processing station, but the machine was not without faults. The examinations were conducted in an efficient but callous manner.

The first doctors made quick examinations and noted any suspicions with a telltale chalk mark on the right shoulder of the immigrant's usually dark clothing. People thus marked were held back for further examination. A second group of doctors looked for contagious diseases. They were the most feared on the island. Trachoma, a potentially blinding and highly contagious eye disease, was the most common reason for detaining an immigrant in this phase of the examination. The medical inspectors at Ellis Island bore overwhelming responsibility in judging the health of as many as five thousand immigrants a day. Sometimes apprehensions were well founded, but most immigrants got a clean bill of health.


New Jersey ( New York ) today, this is where the Norddeutscher Lloyd (North German Lloyd) dock once was.


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