Gigi's Journal - January 25, 2012

Today was one of those days that ranks pretty high on the scale of amazing places visited.  Ray, Michael, Oliver and I went to Ellis Island.  A little background first.

When I was 13, I started researching my family's genealogy.  I started with my Mother's family and then went on to my Father's family.  In the last 15 years I started researching my husband's family history.  I have researched about 20 families that I am not related to.  I have found a distant cousin's long lost grandfather, I have found skeletons in closets, war heroes and poor farmers who centuries ago could not even fathom that someone (me) would have access to records that they saw, signed or put their 'x' on.

One of my challenges has been finding my husband's father's family.  He was fortunate to know his grandfather, Raymond "Smitty" Carl Schmidt.  We have photos of Smitty's father and mother, knew their names but had little information on where they came from and how they got here.

Over years and even recently I have discovered that Smitty's father, Sigmund Schmidt, arrived at Ellis Island on June 5, 1901.

Sigmund and Bertha traveled 785 miles from their hometown Kalvarija, Lithuania to Bremen where they would board the ship - Friederich de Gosse on May 25, 1901.  Eleven days later they would set their eyes on Lady Liberty and see a cityscape like they've not seen before.  Imagine 20 and 16 years old, leaving your mother and two sisters to travel half way across the world to America.  Their oldest sister, Amelia, arrived in America just 4 years earlier.  She and her husband, Johan Schitz (Schutz, Schultz) already have two boys, John and Charles.  They are living in Seymour, Connecticut.

Just about one year later, their mother Elizabeth and two sisters, Ida and Emma arrive at Ellis Island.  They, like Sigmund and Bertha, left their home in Kalvarija, Lithuania and traveled to Bremen, Germany.  They boarded the S.S. Grosser Kurfurst on July 26, 1902 and arrived at Ellis Island on August 5, 1902.  

Upon arriving at Ellis Island, they went to the Registry Room where they would get a six second medical exam, one that ensured that immigrants didn't bring disease into the country.  If there were women and children traveling without a male, as was the case with Elizabeth, Ida and Emma, they would wait until a male family member showed up to "claim" them.  I'm not certain if Sigmund or Johan came to get Elizabeth and the girls.   I'd like to think they both made the 80 mile journey to pick them up.

The pictures below were taken today on our Ellis Island visit.  Enjoy!
The skyline has changed a bit since 1901 when Bertha
and Sigmund first caught a glimpse.  I'll bet it was still

Lady Liberty!

"Does this torch make my butt look big?"

A sampling of what luggage they may have been carrying.

The Registry Room.

Ray, Mike and Oliver Schmidt standing in the
room that Oliver's gggg-grandmother was in :)

Looking out the window of the Registry Room.

How many children walked on these floors?

A view of Ellis Island from the ship.

An amazing journey.

The sun setting.

on a crowded ship


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