17 April 2014

Today is Ellis Island Family History Day

Historically, 17 April marks the day in 1907 when more immigrants were processed through Ellis Island than on any other day -- 11,747 people. Today, more than 40% of US citizens -- 100 million Americans – can trace their roots back to the 17 million brave and hopeful immigrants who took their first steps towards freedom and opportunity by going through the “Golden Door” of Ellis Island.
Ellis Island Family History Day was first celebrated on April 17, 2001 to commemorate the opening of the American Family Immigration History Center® at Ellis Island and its companion website: www.ellisisland.org.

Like many Americans, I can trace some of my immigrants as coming through Ellis Island. 

My great grandfather Panko Hruszczak came into Ellis Island on 20 April 1911 by himself at the age of 18. He came over on the S.S. Volturno (seen here) from Rotterdam, Holland. He had listed his ethnicity as Austria, Ruthenian. On his shop manifest he lists that he is coming to Coatesville PA where his uncle Onifer Romanko will receive him. The manifest also reveals that he left behind his father - Ted Hruszczak - in Austria.

My great grandmother (and Panko's wife come 1915) Bessie Matys came through Ellis Island on 28 October 1912, also by herself and at the age of 18. She listed her ethnicity as Ruthenian-Austrian. She lists that her brother, Frank Matys, would receive her in Coatesville, and that she left behind her father, Joseph Matys, in Austria. Frank and his wife and eldest daughter all did come through Ellis Island as well.

They were my paternal grandfather's parents (that is Gigi's parents). I have not found Baba's mother yet. Her name is Frances Skrabalek. Baba's father, John Kurenda, came in through Baltimore.

I doubt any of my mom's line came through Ellis Island. I have one immigrant great grandmother on her side - Mary Kilpatrick. I have not found her immigration information yet but am thinking - through process of elimination - that she may have come in Philadelphia with her sisters and brothers. The next generation back on her mom's side, that is my great-great-grandparents immigrated before Ellis Island even opened. While I have not found the four of them yet, I think I will find them either at Castle Garden or Philadelphia. They are: Walsh, Keating, O'Flaherty, and Durkin.

I am still confirming many of Mom's father's side. For example, I have traced my Still line to 1760 but am still (no pun intended) in Chester County, PA! Other lines I am working on are: Rhoades, Bing, McWilliams, VanHorn, Dudbridge, Rice, and Williams.



Locations listed are located in Pennsylvania (USA), unless otherwise noted in post.