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Off-Topic - Ellis Island Trip

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  • Bill Tarkulich
    Here is a re-run of a report I wrote five years ago about my trip to Ellis Island, 6 months prior to my first trip to Slovakia and 11 months before 9/11
    Message 1 of 3 , Dec 31, 2005
    • 0 Attachment
      Here is a re-run of a report I wrote five years ago about my trip to Ellis
      Island, 6 months prior to my first trip to Slovakia and 11 months before
      9/11 changed many things.
      Bill

      My Visit To Ellis Island
      Part I – Wall of Honor, The Journey, First Impressions
      Bill Tarkulich

      I visited Ellis Island (EI) over the Christmas, 2000 Holiday. Here is my
      first installment on my views and observations. Enjoy.

      Wall of Honor
      Regarding the wall. It's a steel, silver-colored wall, shaped like two
      letter "C"s facing each other, placed outside adjacent to the main building.
      It is engraved on both sides and is about 5' tall. A third wall, which is
      straight, has names engraved on one side only (more to come). The only names
      listed are those that donors have paid for. Remember, this is a fund raising
      tool. It's NOT the same as the immigrant transcription project. They raised
      $150 million in PRIVATE funds through various means to restore the main
      building. A very impressive sum of money.

      Each name costs $100 each to have engraved. A husband and wife’s names costs
      $200. In my opinion it's worth it. www.wallofhonor.com explains it all,
      including how many names are engraved. The wall is silver in color. Each
      name is about 1/2" in height. It's right outside the main building, on the
      right hand side when facing the main entrance. It's one thing to say 20
      million people passed thru, but to see several hundred thousand names is
      quite impressive. An ordinary camera wouldn't be able to capture one name,
      unless it has a close-up/macro feature. You might be better off doing a
      rubbing yourself.

      To find the wall names and what panel they are located on, you go to a kiosk
      of about a dozen computer terminals at EI. They're very popular and there is
      usually a wait. For all you Internet savvy users, look at the web site
      before you go. The same database is there. Just write down the panel number,
      stuff it in your pocket and avoid the terminals. There isn't anything there
      that you can't get on the web site. I located two Michael Dzuba, both from
      “Czechoslovakia”, my grandmother’s brother.

      Transcription Project
      Regarding the transcription project. This effort intends to transcribe to
      computer from ship lists (manifests) all names of immigrants processed
      through EI. From there, the lists will then be automatically searchable, for
      the first time ever. It looks to me that what they will do is charge you for
      a printout (or web report) on a per name basis. This project is very
      expensive both for the transcription labor and computer system to contain it
      all. I'll bet they charge between $20 and $30 per name and all you'll get is
      the transcribed data, not an actual copy of the page
      (Though they may offer that for an additional fee). Hey, welcome to America
      - home of free enterprise and a government unwilling to fund such an effort!

      Main Building
      The main building is restored and is about 80% accessible, with restricted
      areas for offices and a research library. The library is accessible to
      credentialed researchers by invitation only. It is very clear that it does
      not contain any family names, ship's lists or anything for genealogical
      research. It looks more like it's for historical research. The main building
      is absolutely gorgeous. Stunning architecture and restoration. I'll talk
      more about the
      exhibits later.

      There is no admission fee to the island, the building or the exhibits. The
      National Park Service operates it. My grandfather arrived with $5 in his
      pocket, according to the ship manifest, so I made a symbolic $5 donation to
      the little donation box in the Registry Room.

      Also on the island are all the hospital buildings. They are all in a
      decrepit state and are barred from access. Some have bushes growing from the
      balconies; all have broken or boarded windows. There is quite a bit of
      infrastructure left from Ellis Island’s last use as an Alien Detention
      center (read: prison), complete with bars on the windows of un-restored
      structures, barbed wires. Someday, if enough money is raised, they intend to
      restore them also. Amazing to think that when the place was abandoned in the
      1960's, ferry boats were left moored to EI and sunk in place, their roofs
      poking thru the water while they deteriorated. All that is gone now.

      The Ferry Ride from Central Railway of New Jersey (Liberty State Park)
      To get there, you jump onto a ferry from either Battery Park in Manhattan or
      the restored NJ Central Railway Terminal in New Jersey, located in the
      state-owned Liberty National Park (parking fee $5). It is very worthwhile
      visit to the restored railroad station, if only for the spiritual
      experience. It was here that many of our relatives set foot on American
      mainland and traveled west to Pennsylvania and beyond. There's a small
      exhibit (how much can be said about a train station?) and it's free. Some
      families met their immigrants here. One unfortunate thing, when I was there
      five years ago to the train station, the old destination signs were still
      posted - Pittsburgh, Scranton, Baltimore, Princeton, Wilkes-Barre, etc. Many
      the places our ancestors might have traveled to or passed through. Today,
      they've restored train descriptors from the 1940's when the station was used
      for commuters – names like "5:30 Special", "Wall Street Express", "PA
      Commuter". Doesn’t quite cut it for genealogists like me. $7 gets you a
      round trip to Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty, stopping at each for
      as long as you want. I left at 9:30 am, arrived at EI 10 minutes later, made
      a beeline to the 2nd floor (hey, that's the business end of EI !) and had
      the Registry Room (a.k.a. Great Hall) to myself for the first 5 minutes. I
      stood there thinking about my Grand Parents (GPs) the whole time. Thought
      about the hours my GPs must have stood there. During my GPs time (1904,
      1909), there were lines for everything. It was a very moving experience. I
      really began to understand just how exciting and scary this whole experience
      really was. It was an enormous bureaucracy and you're just a small pea in
      the pod with no power or influence. More on this later.

      Hours
      I arrived by 9:45 and found the place pretty empty. When I finally emerged
      from the exhibits at 1pm, the place was packed. You have to queue up to get
      free tickets for the half hour movie, but there’s no line for tickets first
      thing in the AM. By 1 pm the queue was about 40 people long. This is
      off-season, so I can’t say for summertime. The last ferry departs around
      5pm, though you’ll have to deal with rush hour. Small price to pay, dealing
      with rush hour. Our immigrants had to forgo a two to four week journey!
      Who to Go With
      If you're into this ancestry stuff like I am, don't go with young kids
      (honestly, they only have about 10 minutes of patience, while you spend 10
      minutes just reading the narratives on each exhibit). I have 3 kids under
      11, no one came with me, due to lack of interest. Just as well, they would
      have been ready to leave in 1 hour, while I stayed 4 hours. NPS suggests 3
      hours at EI. The exhibits are all passive - none of this interactive stuff
      that keeps kid's attention.

      Next Time
      In my next letter, I'll tell you about the main building and the exhibits.
      Then, I'll tell you about the outside experience - approaching EI by ferry,
      as our ancestors did. Finally, I'll tell you about the Statue of Liberty, as
      I saw it, with the perspective of my ancestors. I’ve also reviewed quite a
      few books on EI and the experience there. I’ll include my recommendations.

      Halfway There
      After the trip, I feel like I've made it "halfway back", 93 years later.
      When I finally set foot in my ancestral village, then I'll feel like the
      family has finally come full circle.

      I hope you've enjoyed this little narrative. Send me your questions, I'll
      collect them together and respond collectively.

      Bill Tarkulich
      Lexington, Massachusetts


      Part II –The Journey


      I arrived at Liberty State Park in Jersey City, New Jersey, the New Jersey
      train station about half past 9 in the morning on a cold December morning a
      couple days after Christmas, 2000. It was kind of the reverse journey of my
      grandparent’s trip. I was alone, which was probably for the best, since it
      gave me an opportunity to reflect on how alone they must have felt.
      It was sunny but cold and windy. Wear warm clothes, hat and gloves until
      the warmest of days. I drove to the end of the part, to the railroad
      terminal, parked, and paid my $5. Walked what seemed like forever (on a
      cold and windy day) to the terminal building. Ah, heat inside. Paid $7.00
      for a ticket. These boats have ample inside space that is heated. Only
      about 10 other folks joined me for the 9:30 am ride. It took about 10
      minutes to get there and a couple minutes to unload.
      The skyline of Manhattan across the harbor probably looks as intimidating
      today as it did in 1904 when an 18 year old farmer from Zemplin county who
      never traveled more than a few miles from the village by foot or wagon. So
      close, but yet so far. First the bureaucracy he’s heard so much about.
      The boat pulls up to the front of the main building. A beautifully
      magnificent building, very powerful looking. Nothing going on outside, so I
      hurried in. I’m sure my grandparents had been told what to expect, but with
      thousands of people standing in lines everywhere, speaking not a word of
      English, it must have been very intimidating.
      When you walk into the first floor of the main building, you encounter a
      very large space with a “wall” of luggage in front of you. This is where
      the immigrants had to leave all their worldly possessions while they were
      processed. They left their trunks filled clothes and sentimental items
      mostly at the foot of the stairs. This was period luggage circa 1900. The
      curators did a fine job of collecting originals of all sorts. To your left
      was an information booth, where you obtain free tickets for two or three
      separate films. I skipped the films and went right up the stairs to the
      Registry Room (also known as the “Great Hall” and “Hall of Tears”). I was
      on a mission to see the “business end” of Ellis Island. In my Grandparent’s
      time, they would have queued into a line that snaked its way upstairs to
      meet their first medical inspection at the top of the stairs. Little did
      these folks know they were already being examined. Inspectors noted whether
      or not people had trouble going up the one flight of stairs. I buzzed right
      up the stairs. Wanted to “beat the crowds”.
      The Registry Room
      At the top of the stairs was the chamber we’ve all seen countless pictures
      of. The difference was that for me it was entirely empty. It seemed much
      smaller than the pictures portrayed. It was hard to imagine it could
      process 5,000 people per day. I stood there alone for almost five minutes.
      There was but one small narrative at each end of the hall. Not much to
      read. Not much to look at, yet everything to look at. I could imagine
      this place filled with lines and lines of people. It was tiled everywhere.
      Struck me as a very noisy place. But was it?
      I saw a couple of rows of benches, looked pretty old. I chose to stand as
      I’ll bet my grandparents stood for hours too. I went to the far end of the
      hall and there was one of those contribution boxes, indicating admission was
      free, but your contribution would help. When I saw my grandfather’s ship’s
      manifest, it indicated he arrived with five U.S. Dollars. I made a $5.00
      contribution.
      From here, I began viewing the static exhibits. The exhibits were very
      educational, though I had already learned quite a bit before I arrived.
      Like any good genealogist, I did my homework before I traveled. Exhibits
      were housed in the various processing rooms used for medical exams, legal
      hearings, psychological testing. These were second-level processing, for
      those who might have raised the initial inspector’s suspicions. In glass
      cases were many of the items the inspectors used including the button hook
      tool used to pullback the eyelid for the dreaded trachoma examination.

      Online Resources:
      http://www.libertystatepark.com/history.htm History of Liberty State Park,
      NJ

      http://www.njcu.edu/programs/jchistory/Pages/C_Pages/Central_Railroad_of_New
      _Jersey.html Central Railway of New Jersey (lots of great pictures)
      http://www.ellisisland.org Ellis Island Nonprofit Organization
      http://www.wallofhonor.com/ Wall of Honor, Ellis Island
      http://www.nps.gov/stli/mainmenu.htm National Park Service, Statue of
      Liberty and Ellis Island


      Near line Resources:
      “Voices from Ellis Island : an oral history of American immigration : a
      project of the Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation”, Microfilm of
      original typescripts of oral interviews conducted between 1985 and 1986 in
      various New England states of the United States. Mormon Family History
      Center, FHL US/CAN Films 1689050 to 1689057 .
      http://www.familysearch.org/Eng/Library/fhlc/supermainframeset.asp?first=90&
      display=titlefilmnotes&titleno=655771&disp=Voices_from_Ellis_Island_%2C_an_o
      ral_histo&last=109&columns=*%2C180%2C0



       
      Bill
       
    • maruszin
      Hi Bill This was a nice description of your visit to Ellis Island. Are you aware of a of a site that shows the original signs with destinations for the trains
      Message 2 of 3 , Jan 1, 2006
      • 0 Attachment
        Hi Bill
        This was a nice description of your visit to Ellis Island. Are you
        aware of a of a site that shows the original signs with destinations
        for the trains leaving the train station at Liberty Park.
        Thanks
        Mike Maristch
        --- In SLOVAK-ROOTS@yahoogroups.com, "Bill Tarkulich"
        <bill.tarkulich@i...> wrote:
        >
        > Here is a re-run of a report I wrote five years ago about my trip
        to Ellis
        > Island, 6 months prior to my first trip to Slovakia and 11 months
        before
        > 9/11 changed many things.
        > Bill
        >
        > My Visit To Ellis Island
        > Part I – Wall of Honor, The Journey, First Impressions
        > Bill Tarkulich
        >
        > I visited Ellis Island (EI) over the Christmas, 2000 Holiday. Here
        is my
        > first installment on my views and observations. Enjoy.
        >
        > Wall of Honor
        > Regarding the wall. It's a steel, silver-colored wall, shaped like
        two
        > letter "C"s facing each other, placed outside adjacent to the main
        building.
        > It is engraved on both sides and is about 5' tall. A third wall,
        which is
        > straight, has names engraved on one side only (more to come). The
        only names
        > listed are those that donors have paid for. Remember, this is a
        fund raising
        > tool. It's NOT the same as the immigrant transcription project.
        They raised
        > $150 million in PRIVATE funds through various means to restore the
        main
        > building. A very impressive sum of money.
        >
        > Each name costs $100 each to have engraved. A husband and wife's
        names costs
        > $200. In my opinion it's worth it. www.wallofhonor.com explains it
        all,
        > including how many names are engraved. The wall is silver in
        color. Each
        > name is about 1/2" in height. It's right outside the main
        building, on the
        > right hand side when facing the main entrance. It's one thing to
        say 20
        > million people passed thru, but to see several hundred thousand
        names is
        > quite impressive. An ordinary camera wouldn't be able to capture
        one name,
        > unless it has a close-up/macro feature. You might be better off
        doing a
        > rubbing yourself.
        >
        > To find the wall names and what panel they are located on, you go
        to a kiosk
        > of about a dozen computer terminals at EI. They're very popular
        and there is
        > usually a wait. For all you Internet savvy users, look at the web
        site
        > before you go. The same database is there. Just write down the
        panel number,
        > stuff it in your pocket and avoid the terminals. There isn't
        anything there
        > that you can't get on the web site. I located two Michael Dzuba,
        both from
        > "Czechoslovakia", my grandmother's brother.
        >
        > Transcription Project
        > Regarding the transcription project. This effort intends to
        transcribe to
        > computer from ship lists (manifests) all names of immigrants
        processed
        > through EI. From there, the lists will then be automatically
        searchable, for
        > the first time ever. It looks to me that what they will do is
        charge you for
        > a printout (or web report) on a per name basis. This project is
        very
        > expensive both for the transcription labor and computer system to
        contain it
        > all. I'll bet they charge between $20 and $30 per name and all
        you'll get is
        > the transcribed data, not an actual copy of the page
        > (Though they may offer that for an additional fee). Hey, welcome
        to America
        > - home of free enterprise and a government unwilling to fund such
        an effort!
        >
        > Main Building
        > The main building is restored and is about 80% accessible, with
        restricted
        > areas for offices and a research library. The library is
        accessible to
        > credentialed researchers by invitation only. It is very clear that
        it does
        > not contain any family names, ship's lists or anything for
        genealogical
        > research. It looks more like it's for historical research. The
        main building
        > is absolutely gorgeous. Stunning architecture and restoration.
        I'll talk
        > more about the
        > exhibits later.
        >
        > There is no admission fee to the island, the building or the
        exhibits. The
        > National Park Service operates it. My grandfather arrived with $5
        in his
        > pocket, according to the ship manifest, so I made a symbolic $5
        donation to
        > the little donation box in the Registry Room.
        >
        > Also on the island are all the hospital buildings. They are all in
        a
        > decrepit state and are barred from access. Some have bushes
        growing from the
        > balconies; all have broken or boarded windows. There is quite a
        bit of
        > infrastructure left from Ellis Island's last use as an Alien
        Detention
        > center (read: prison), complete with bars on the windows of un-
        restored
        > structures, barbed wires. Someday, if enough money is raised, they
        intend to
        > restore them also. Amazing to think that when the place was
        abandoned in the
        > 1960's, ferry boats were left moored to EI and sunk in place,
        their roofs
        > poking thru the water while they deteriorated. All that is gone
        now.
        >
        > The Ferry Ride from Central Railway of New Jersey (Liberty State
        Park)
        > To get there, you jump onto a ferry from either Battery Park in
        Manhattan or
        > the restored NJ Central Railway Terminal in New Jersey, located in
        the
        > state-owned Liberty National Park (parking fee $5). It is very
        worthwhile
        > visit to the restored railroad station, if only for the spiritual
        > experience. It was here that many of our relatives set foot on
        American
        > mainland and traveled west to Pennsylvania and beyond. There's a
        small
        > exhibit (how much can be said about a train station?) and it's
        free. Some
        > families met their immigrants here. One unfortunate thing, when I
        was there
        > five years ago to the train station, the old destination signs
        were still
        > posted - Pittsburgh, Scranton, Baltimore, Princeton, Wilkes-Barre,
        etc. Many
        > the places our ancestors might have traveled to or passed through.
        Today,
        > they've restored train descriptors from the 1940's when the
        station was used
        > for commuters – names like "5:30 Special", "Wall Street
        Express", "PA
        > Commuter". Doesn't quite cut it for genealogists like me. $7 gets
        you a
        > round trip to Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty, stopping at
        each for
        > as long as you want. I left at 9:30 am, arrived at EI 10 minutes
        later, made
        > a beeline to the 2nd floor (hey, that's the business end of EI !)
        and had
        > the Registry Room (a.k.a. Great Hall) to myself for the first 5
        minutes. I
        > stood there thinking about my Grand Parents (GPs) the whole time.
        Thought
        > about the hours my GPs must have stood there. During my GPs time
        (1904,
        > 1909), there were lines for everything. It was a very moving
        experience. I
        > really began to understand just how exciting and scary this whole
        experience
        > really was. It was an enormous bureaucracy and you're just a small
        pea in
        > the pod with no power or influence. More on this later.
        >
        > Hours
        > I arrived by 9:45 and found the place pretty empty. When I finally
        emerged
        > from the exhibits at 1pm, the place was packed. You have to queue
        up to get
        > free tickets for the half hour movie, but there's no line for
        tickets first
        > thing in the AM. By 1 pm the queue was about 40 people long. This
        is
        > off-season, so I can't say for summertime. The last ferry departs
        around
        > 5pm, though you'll have to deal with rush hour. Small price to
        pay, dealing
        > with rush hour. Our immigrants had to forgo a two to four week
        journey!
        > Who to Go With
        > If you're into this ancestry stuff like I am, don't go with young
        kids
        > (honestly, they only have about 10 minutes of patience, while you
        spend 10
        > minutes just reading the narratives on each exhibit). I have 3
        kids under
        > 11, no one came with me, due to lack of interest. Just as well,
        they would
        > have been ready to leave in 1 hour, while I stayed 4 hours. NPS
        suggests 3
        > hours at EI. The exhibits are all passive - none of this
        interactive stuff
        > that keeps kid's attention.
        >
        > Next Time
        > In my next letter, I'll tell you about the main building and the
        exhibits.
        > Then, I'll tell you about the outside experience - approaching EI
        by ferry,
        > as our ancestors did. Finally, I'll tell you about the Statue of
        Liberty, as
        > I saw it, with the perspective of my ancestors. I've also reviewed
        quite a
        > few books on EI and the experience there. I'll include my
        recommendations.
        >
        > Halfway There
        > After the trip, I feel like I've made it "halfway back", 93 years
        later.
        > When I finally set foot in my ancestral village, then I'll feel
        like the
        > family has finally come full circle.
        >
        > I hope you've enjoyed this little narrative. Send me your
        questions, I'll
        > collect them together and respond collectively.
        >
        > Bill Tarkulich
        > Lexington, Massachusetts
        >
        >
        > Part II –The Journey
        >
        >
        > I arrived at Liberty State Park in Jersey City, New Jersey, the
        New Jersey
        > train station about half past 9 in the morning on a cold December
        morning a
        > couple days after Christmas, 2000. It was kind of the reverse
        journey of my
        > grandparent's trip. I was alone, which was probably for the best,
        since it
        > gave me an opportunity to reflect on how alone they must have
        felt.
        > It was sunny but cold and windy. Wear warm clothes, hat and
        gloves until
        > the warmest of days. I drove to the end of the part, to the
        railroad
        > terminal, parked, and paid my $5. Walked what seemed like forever
        (on a
        > cold and windy day) to the terminal building. Ah, heat inside.
        Paid $7.00
        > for a ticket. These boats have ample inside space that is
        heated. Only
        > about 10 other folks joined me for the 9:30 am ride. It took
        about 10
        > minutes to get there and a couple minutes to unload.
        > The skyline of Manhattan across the harbor probably looks as
        intimidating
        > today as it did in 1904 when an 18 year old farmer from Zemplin
        county who
        > never traveled more than a few miles from the village by foot or
        wagon. So
        > close, but yet so far. First the bureaucracy he's heard so much
        about.
        > The boat pulls up to the front of the main building. A beautifully
        > magnificent building, very powerful looking. Nothing going on
        outside, so I
        > hurried in. I'm sure my grandparents had been told what to
        expect, but with
        > thousands of people standing in lines everywhere, speaking not a
        word of
        > English, it must have been very intimidating.
        > When you walk into the first floor of the main building, you
        encounter a
        > very large space with a "wall" of luggage in front of you. This
        is where
        > the immigrants had to leave all their worldly possessions while
        they were
        > processed. They left their trunks filled clothes and sentimental
        items
        > mostly at the foot of the stairs. This was period luggage circa
        1900. The
        > curators did a fine job of collecting originals of all sorts. To
        your left
        > was an information booth, where you obtain free tickets for two or
        three
        > separate films. I skipped the films and went right up the stairs
        to the
        > Registry Room (also known as the "Great Hall" and "Hall of
        Tears"). I was
        > on a mission to see the "business end" of Ellis Island. In my
        Grandparent's
        > time, they would have queued into a line that snaked its way
        upstairs to
        > meet their first medical inspection at the top of the stairs.
        Little did
        > these folks know they were already being examined. Inspectors
        noted whether
        > or not people had trouble going up the one flight of stairs. I
        buzzed right
        > up the stairs. Wanted to "beat the crowds".
        > The Registry Room
        > At the top of the stairs was the chamber we've all seen countless
        pictures
        > of. The difference was that for me it was entirely empty. It
        seemed much
        > smaller than the pictures portrayed. It was hard to imagine it
        could
        > process 5,000 people per day. I stood there alone for almost five
        minutes.
        > There was but one small narrative at each end of the hall. Not
        much to
        > read. Not much to look at, yet everything to look at. I could
        imagine
        > this place filled with lines and lines of people. It was tiled
        everywhere.
        > Struck me as a very noisy place. But was it?
        > I saw a couple of rows of benches, looked pretty old. I chose to
        stand as
        > I'll bet my grandparents stood for hours too. I went to the far
        end of the
        > hall and there was one of those contribution boxes, indicating
        admission was
        > free, but your contribution would help. When I saw my
        grandfather's ship's
        > manifest, it indicated he arrived with five U.S. Dollars. I made
        a $5.00
        > contribution.
        > From here, I began viewing the static exhibits. The exhibits were
        very
        > educational, though I had already learned quite a bit before I
        arrived.
        > Like any good genealogist, I did my homework before I traveled.
        Exhibits
        > were housed in the various processing rooms used for medical
        exams, legal
        > hearings, psychological testing. These were second-level
        processing, for
        > those who might have raised the initial inspector's suspicions.
        In glass
        > cases were many of the items the inspectors used including the
        button hook
        > tool used to pullback the eyelid for the dreaded trachoma
        examination.
        >
        > Online Resources:
        > http://www.libertystatepark.com/history.htm History of Liberty
        State Park,
        > NJ
        >
        >
        http://www.njcu.edu/programs/jchistory/Pages/C_Pages/Central_Railroad
        _of_New
        > _Jersey.html Central Railway of New Jersey (lots of great
        pictures)
        > http://www.ellisisland.org Ellis Island Nonprofit Organization
        > http://www.wallofhonor.com/ Wall of Honor, Ellis Island
        > http://www.nps.gov/stli/mainmenu.htm National Park Service,
        Statue of
        > Liberty and Ellis Island
        >
        >
        > Near line Resources:
        > "Voices from Ellis Island : an oral history of American
        immigration : a
        > project of the Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation",
        Microfilm of
        > original typescripts of oral interviews conducted between 1985 and
        1986 in
        > various New England states of the United States. Mormon Family
        History
        > Center, FHL US/CAN Films 1689050 to 1689057 .
        > http://www.familysearch.org/Eng/Library/fhlc/supermainframeset.asp?
        first=90&
        >
        display=titlefilmnotes&titleno=655771&disp=Voices_from_Ellis_Island_%
        2C_an_o
        > ral_histo&last=109&columns=*%2C180%2C0
        >
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        > Bill
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      • Bill Tarkulich
        No, I am not aware. I know that a lot has happened since they renovated it. I remember going back a year or two ago and many of the signs have changed. Do
        Message 3 of 3 , Jan 1, 2006
        • 0 Attachment
          No, I am not aware. I know that a lot has happened since they "renovated"
          it. I remember going back a year or two ago and many of the signs have
          changed.
          Do a google search on "Central Railway of New Jersey" you'll probably find
          some things.


          Bill


          -----Original Message-----
          From: SLOVAK-ROOTS@yahoogroups.com [mailto:SLOVAK-ROOTS@yahoogroups.com] On
          Behalf Of maruszin
          Sent: Sunday, January 01, 2006 5:59 PM
          To: SLOVAK-ROOTS@yahoogroups.com
          Subject: [S-R] Re: Off-Topic - Ellis Island Trip

          Hi Bill
          This was a nice description of your visit to Ellis Island. Are you
          aware of a of a site that shows the original signs with destinations
          for the trains leaving the train station at Liberty Park.
          Thanks
          Mike Maristch
          --- In SLOVAK-ROOTS@yahoogroups.com, "Bill Tarkulich"
          <bill.tarkulich@i...> wrote:
          >
          > Here is a re-run of a report I wrote five years ago about my trip
          to Ellis
          > Island, 6 months prior to my first trip to Slovakia and 11 months
          before
          > 9/11 changed many things.
          > Bill
          >
          > My Visit To Ellis Island
          > Part I – Wall of Honor, The Journey, First Impressions
          > Bill Tarkulich
          >
          > I visited Ellis Island (EI) over the Christmas, 2000 Holiday. Here
          is my
          > first installment on my views and observations. Enjoy.
          >
          > Wall of Honor
          > Regarding the wall. It's a steel, silver-colored wall, shaped like
          two
          > letter "C"s facing each other, placed outside adjacent to the main
          building.
          > It is engraved on both sides and is about 5' tall. A third wall,
          which is
          > straight, has names engraved on one side only (more to come). The
          only names
          > listed are those that donors have paid for. Remember, this is a
          fund raising
          > tool. It's NOT the same as the immigrant transcription project.
          They raised
          > $150 million in PRIVATE funds through various means to restore the
          main
          > building. A very impressive sum of money.
          >
          > Each name costs $100 each to have engraved. A husband and wife's
          names costs
          > $200. In my opinion it's worth it. www.wallofhonor.com explains it
          all,
          > including how many names are engraved. The wall is silver in
          color. Each
          > name is about 1/2" in height. It's right outside the main
          building, on the
          > right hand side when facing the main entrance. It's one thing to
          say 20
          > million people passed thru, but to see several hundred thousand
          names is
          > quite impressive. An ordinary camera wouldn't be able to capture
          one name,
          > unless it has a close-up/macro feature. You might be better off
          doing a
          > rubbing yourself.
          >
          > To find the wall names and what panel they are located on, you go
          to a kiosk
          > of about a dozen computer terminals at EI. They're very popular
          and there is
          > usually a wait. For all you Internet savvy users, look at the web
          site
          > before you go. The same database is there. Just write down the
          panel number,
          > stuff it in your pocket and avoid the terminals. There isn't
          anything there
          > that you can't get on the web site. I located two Michael Dzuba,
          both from
          > "Czechoslovakia", my grandmother's brother.
          >
          > Transcription Project
          > Regarding the transcription project. This effort intends to
          transcribe to
          > computer from ship lists (manifests) all names of immigrants
          processed
          > through EI. From there, the lists will then be automatically
          searchable, for
          > the first time ever. It looks to me that what they will do is
          charge you for
          > a printout (or web report) on a per name basis. This project is
          very
          > expensive both for the transcription labor and computer system to
          contain it
          > all. I'll bet they charge between $20 and $30 per name and all
          you'll get is
          > the transcribed data, not an actual copy of the page
          > (Though they may offer that for an additional fee). Hey, welcome
          to America
          > - home of free enterprise and a government unwilling to fund such
          an effort!
          >
          > Main Building
          > The main building is restored and is about 80% accessible, with
          restricted
          > areas for offices and a research library. The library is
          accessible to
          > credentialed researchers by invitation only. It is very clear that
          it does
          > not contain any family names, ship's lists or anything for
          genealogical
          > research. It looks more like it's for historical research. The
          main building
          > is absolutely gorgeous. Stunning architecture and restoration.
          I'll talk
          > more about the
          > exhibits later.
          >
          > There is no admission fee to the island, the building or the
          exhibits. The
          > National Park Service operates it. My grandfather arrived with $5
          in his
          > pocket, according to the ship manifest, so I made a symbolic $5
          donation to
          > the little donation box in the Registry Room.
          >
          > Also on the island are all the hospital buildings. They are all in
          a
          > decrepit state and are barred from access. Some have bushes
          growing from the
          > balconies; all have broken or boarded windows. There is quite a
          bit of
          > infrastructure left from Ellis Island's last use as an Alien
          Detention
          > center (read: prison), complete with bars on the windows of un-
          restored
          > structures, barbed wires. Someday, if enough money is raised, they
          intend to
          > restore them also. Amazing to think that when the place was
          abandoned in the
          > 1960's, ferry boats were left moored to EI and sunk in place,
          their roofs
          > poking thru the water while they deteriorated. All that is gone
          now.
          >
          > The Ferry Ride from Central Railway of New Jersey (Liberty State
          Park)
          > To get there, you jump onto a ferry from either Battery Park in
          Manhattan or
          > the restored NJ Central Railway Terminal in New Jersey, located in
          the
          > state-owned Liberty National Park (parking fee $5). It is very
          worthwhile
          > visit to the restored railroad station, if only for the spiritual
          > experience. It was here that many of our relatives set foot on
          American
          > mainland and traveled west to Pennsylvania and beyond. There's a
          small
          > exhibit (how much can be said about a train station?) and it's
          free. Some
          > families met their immigrants here. One unfortunate thing, when I
          was there
          > five years ago to the train station, the old destination signs
          were still
          > posted - Pittsburgh, Scranton, Baltimore, Princeton, Wilkes-Barre,
          etc. Many
          > the places our ancestors might have traveled to or passed through.
          Today,
          > they've restored train descriptors from the 1940's when the
          station was used
          > for commuters – names like "5:30 Special", "Wall Street
          Express", "PA
          > Commuter". Doesn't quite cut it for genealogists like me. $7 gets
          you a
          > round trip to Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty, stopping at
          each for
          > as long as you want. I left at 9:30 am, arrived at EI 10 minutes
          later, made
          > a beeline to the 2nd floor (hey, that's the business end of EI !)
          and had
          > the Registry Room (a.k.a. Great Hall) to myself for the first 5
          minutes. I
          > stood there thinking about my Grand Parents (GPs) the whole time.
          Thought
          > about the hours my GPs must have stood there. During my GPs time
          (1904,
          > 1909), there were lines for everything. It was a very moving
          experience. I
          > really began to understand just how exciting and scary this whole
          experience
          > really was. It was an enormous bureaucracy and you're just a small
          pea in
          > the pod with no power or influence. More on this later.
          >
          > Hours
          > I arrived by 9:45 and found the place pretty empty. When I finally
          emerged
          > from the exhibits at 1pm, the place was packed. You have to queue
          up to get
          > free tickets for the half hour movie, but there's no line for
          tickets first
          > thing in the AM. By 1 pm the queue was about 40 people long. This
          is
          > off-season, so I can't say for summertime. The last ferry departs
          around
          > 5pm, though you'll have to deal with rush hour. Small price to
          pay, dealing
          > with rush hour. Our immigrants had to forgo a two to four week
          journey!
          > Who to Go With
          > If you're into this ancestry stuff like I am, don't go with young
          kids
          > (honestly, they only have about 10 minutes of patience, while you
          spend 10
          > minutes just reading the narratives on each exhibit). I have 3
          kids under
          > 11, no one came with me, due to lack of interest. Just as well,
          they would
          > have been ready to leave in 1 hour, while I stayed 4 hours. NPS
          suggests 3
          > hours at EI. The exhibits are all passive - none of this
          interactive stuff
          > that keeps kid's attention.
          >
          > Next Time
          > In my next letter, I'll tell you about the main building and the
          exhibits.
          > Then, I'll tell you about the outside experience - approaching EI
          by ferry,
          > as our ancestors did. Finally, I'll tell you about the Statue of
          Liberty, as
          > I saw it, with the perspective of my ancestors. I've also reviewed
          quite a
          > few books on EI and the experience there. I'll include my
          recommendations.
          >
          > Halfway There
          > After the trip, I feel like I've made it "halfway back", 93 years
          later.
          > When I finally set foot in my ancestral village, then I'll feel
          like the
          > family has finally come full circle.
          >
          > I hope you've enjoyed this little narrative. Send me your
          questions, I'll
          > collect them together and respond collectively.
          >
          > Bill Tarkulich
          > Lexington, Massachusetts
          >
          >
          > Part II –The Journey
          >
          >
          > I arrived at Liberty State Park in Jersey City, New Jersey, the
          New Jersey
          > train station about half past 9 in the morning on a cold December
          morning a
          > couple days after Christmas, 2000. It was kind of the reverse
          journey of my
          > grandparent's trip. I was alone, which was probably for the best,
          since it
          > gave me an opportunity to reflect on how alone they must have
          felt.
          > It was sunny but cold and windy. Wear warm clothes, hat and
          gloves until
          > the warmest of days. I drove to the end of the part, to the
          railroad
          > terminal, parked, and paid my $5. Walked what seemed like forever
          (on a
          > cold and windy day) to the terminal building. Ah, heat inside.
          Paid $7.00
          > for a ticket. These boats have ample inside space that is
          heated. Only
          > about 10 other folks joined me for the 9:30 am ride. It took
          about 10
          > minutes to get there and a couple minutes to unload.
          > The skyline of Manhattan across the harbor probably looks as
          intimidating
          > today as it did in 1904 when an 18 year old farmer from Zemplin
          county who
          > never traveled more than a few miles from the village by foot or
          wagon. So
          > close, but yet so far. First the bureaucracy he's heard so much
          about.
          > The boat pulls up to the front of the main building. A beautifully
          > magnificent building, very powerful looking. Nothing going on
          outside, so I
          > hurried in. I'm sure my grandparents had been told what to
          expect, but with
          > thousands of people standing in lines everywhere, speaking not a
          word of
          > English, it must have been very intimidating.
          > When you walk into the first floor of the main building, you
          encounter a
          > very large space with a "wall" of luggage in front of you. This
          is where
          > the immigrants had to leave all their worldly possessions while
          they were
          > processed. They left their trunks filled clothes and sentimental
          items
          > mostly at the foot of the stairs. This was period luggage circa
          1900. The
          > curators did a fine job of collecting originals of all sorts. To
          your left
          > was an information booth, where you obtain free tickets for two or
          three
          > separate films. I skipped the films and went right up the stairs
          to the
          > Registry Room (also known as the "Great Hall" and "Hall of
          Tears"). I was
          > on a mission to see the "business end" of Ellis Island. In my
          Grandparent's
          > time, they would have queued into a line that snaked its way
          upstairs to
          > meet their first medical inspection at the top of the stairs.
          Little did
          > these folks know they were already being examined. Inspectors
          noted whether
          > or not people had trouble going up the one flight of stairs. I
          buzzed right
          > up the stairs. Wanted to "beat the crowds".
          > The Registry Room
          > At the top of the stairs was the chamber we've all seen countless
          pictures
          > of. The difference was that for me it was entirely empty. It
          seemed much
          > smaller than the pictures portrayed. It was hard to imagine it
          could
          > process 5,000 people per day. I stood there alone for almost five
          minutes.
          > There was but one small narrative at each end of the hall. Not
          much to
          > read. Not much to look at, yet everything to look at. I could
          imagine
          > this place filled with lines and lines of people. It was tiled
          everywhere.
          > Struck me as a very noisy place. But was it?
          > I saw a couple of rows of benches, looked pretty old. I chose to
          stand as
          > I'll bet my grandparents stood for hours too. I went to the far
          end of the
          > hall and there was one of those contribution boxes, indicating
          admission was
          > free, but your contribution would help. When I saw my
          grandfather's ship's
          > manifest, it indicated he arrived with five U.S. Dollars. I made
          a $5.00
          > contribution.
          > From here, I began viewing the static exhibits. The exhibits were
          very
          > educational, though I had already learned quite a bit before I
          arrived.
          > Like any good genealogist, I did my homework before I traveled.
          Exhibits
          > were housed in the various processing rooms used for medical
          exams, legal
          > hearings, psychological testing. These were second-level
          processing, for
          > those who might have raised the initial inspector's suspicions.
          In glass
          > cases were many of the items the inspectors used including the
          button hook
          > tool used to pullback the eyelid for the dreaded trachoma
          examination.
          >
          > Online Resources:
          > http://www.libertystatepark.com/history.htm History of Liberty
          State Park,
          > NJ
          >
          >
          http://www.njcu.edu/programs/jchistory/Pages/C_Pages/Central_Railroad
          _of_New
          > _Jersey.html Central Railway of New Jersey (lots of great
          pictures)
          > http://www.ellisisland.org Ellis Island Nonprofit Organization
          > http://www.wallofhonor.com/ Wall of Honor, Ellis Island
          > http://www.nps.gov/stli/mainmenu.htm National Park Service,
          Statue of
          > Liberty and Ellis Island
          >
          >
          > Near line Resources:
          > "Voices from Ellis Island : an oral history of American
          immigration : a
          > project of the Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation",
          Microfilm of
          > original typescripts of oral interviews conducted between 1985 and
          1986 in
          > various New England states of the United States. Mormon Family
          History
          > Center, FHL US/CAN Films 1689050 to 1689057 .
          > http://www.familysearch.org/Eng/Library/fhlc/supermainframeset.asp?
          first=90&
          >
          display=titlefilmnotes&titleno=655771&disp=Voices_from_Ellis_Island_%
          2C_an_o
          > ral_histo&last=109&columns=*%2C180%2C0
          >
          >
          >
          >  
          > Bill
          >  
          >







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