History Hans Högman
Copyright © Hans Högman 2017-04-17

The Arrival to the USA

Introduction

The major port of immigration in the United States was New York City. Also, Boston in the USA as well as Quebec and Halifax in Canada received many immigrants. When the immigrants from Europe arrived to the US they were received by different immigrant officials at the immigrant stations. Prior to 1850 there were no special immigrant stations. However, in 1855 Castle Garden in Manhattan, New York, was established as an immigrant station. When Ellis Island, an island in Upper New York Bay, opened in 1892 it took over the immigrant processing from Castle Garden. Not all immigrants were allowed entry into the US. Most immigrants were accepted but immigrants with contagious diseases, mentally disordered, criminal past or with no means to support themselves were denied entry. In other word, people the authorities suspected of becoming a burden to society were denied entry. Immigrants that had fallen ill were detained and kept in quarantine at Ellis Island until their health improved. It was foremost the steerage passengers that were carefully screened. Once the immigrants passed the immigration controls they had to complete their journey to their final destinations. Once the railroads opened the journey to their destinations became much easier. Most Swedes settled in Minnesota. The image above shows the Statue of Liberty, Liberty Island, in the Upper New York Bay. It was inaugurated in 1886.

Port of Immigration -  New York City

New York City

The major port of immigration in the United States was New York City. During the first half of the 19th century immigrants arrived in the harbor area on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, the South Street Seaport. Then immigrants coming to New York did not pass through a screening or examination process – they simply declared any required items to customs and headed into America. On August 1, 1855, an immigrant station opened at the southernmost tip of Manhattan, Castle Garden. This immigrant station was managed by New York State. However, the need of a larger immigrant station arose after a few decades and on January 1, 1892, a new station was opened, Ellis Island, an island in the Upper New York Bay. Ellis Island was run by the Federal Government. Different types of officials met the immigrants at the immigrant station. They were customs officers, immigrant officials and health inspectors. Everybody spoke, to the Swedes, the incomprehensible language English, but interpreters were used at Ellis Island. With gestures the immigrants were directed to desired places at the station.

The Emigration from Sweden to the USA (4c)

Passed and waiting to be taken off Ellis Island (1902-1913). New York Public Library.
On the map above we can see the location of both Ellis Island in the Upper New York Bay as well as Castle Garden at the southernmost tip of Manhattan. Manhattan is located in New York City and to left we have Jersey City. Ellis Island is actually located on the Jersey side of the borderline between New Jersey and New York. South of Ellis Island we have Libery Island with the Statue of Liberty. The image is a free image without copyright.

Images of Castle Garden

Immigrants waiting in line for processing by Immigration Bureau officials. (1902-1913). New York Public Library.

Source References

Source references Top of page

Castle Garden

The Castle Garden immigrant station was originally a fort named Castle Clinton or Fort Clinton at the southernmost tip of Manhattan in today’s Battery Park. The building is a circular sandstone fort and construction began in 1808 and was completed in 1811. The fort was first named West Battery but from 1815 Castle Clinton. The fort served as defences until 1821 when it became a place for pleasure and public entertainment. It opened as Castle Garden on July 3, 1824, a name by which it was popularly known for most of its existence. On September 11, 1850, the Swedish soprano opera-singer Jenny Lind (1820 – 1887), the “Swedish Nightingale” made her American debut at Castle Garden. From August 1, 1855, Castle Garden became the Emigrant Landing Depot functioning as the New York State immigrant processing facility (the nation's first such entity). Between 1855 and 1892 Castle Garden received more than 8 million immigrants. The immigrant station was operated by New York State until April 18, 1890, when the Federal Government took over control of immigration processing.

Ellis Island

Ellis Island replaced the too undersized Castle Garden as an immigrant processing facility on January 1, 1892. Ellis Island was larger and more isolated than Castle Garden and located on an island in Upper New York Bay. Ellis Island was the gateway for millions of immigrants to the United States as the nation's busiest immigrant inspection station from 1892 until November 12, 1954. Ellis Island has hosted a museum of immigration since 1990. The island was greatly expanded with land reclamation between 1892 and 1934. On June 15, 1897, a fire turned the wooden structures on Ellis Island into ashes. Most of the Castle Garden immigrant passenger records dating back to 1855 were thereby destroyed. Plans were immediately made to build a new, fireproof immigration station on Ellis Island. During the construction period, passenger arrivals were again processed at the Barge Office. The present main structure was designed in French Renaissance Revival style and built of red brick with limestone trim and opened on December 17, 1900. When the facilities closed in 1954 over 12 million immigrants had been processed by the U.S. Bureau of Immigration. The peak year for immigration at Ellis Island was 1907, with 1,004,756 immigrants processed. The all-time daily high occurred on April 17, 1907, when 11,747 immigrants arrived. The new Immigration Act of 1924 greatly restricted immigration. The Act required immigrants to obtain a Visa in their country of origin and allowed processing at overseas Embassies and Consulate offices where questions and medical inspections were done. This reduced the need for Ellis Island and other processing stations. After 1924, Ellis Island became primarily a detention and deportation processing station. The only immigrants to pass through the station after 1924 were displaced persons or war refugees. Ellis Island finally closed in 1954. 

The Immigrant Processing

The immigrant processing at Ellis Island took from 2 up to 5 hours. The Ellis Island officials used a large number of interpreters of different kinds of languages who assisted with the immigrant interviews. The immigrants had to answer a large number of questions and among them name, profession and the amount of money carried. It was important to the American Government that the new arrivals could support themselves and have money to get started. The average the government wanted the immigrants to have was between 18 and 25 dollars. Those with obvious health problems or diseases were sent home or held in the island's hospital facilities for long periods of time. More than 3,000 immigrants died on Ellis Island while being held in the hospital facilities. Some unskilled workers were rejected because they were considered "likely to become a public charge". About 2 percent were denied admission to the US and sent back to their countries of origin for reasons such as having a chronic contagious disease, criminal background, or insanity. No ocean liners docked at Ellis Island, they anchored wherever there was room for them in the harbor and the immigrants were off-loaded on tenders or small ferries and taken to the Island.  It might be worth noting that first and second class passengers were usually inspected on the ship, cleared and taken direct to Manhattan.  It was only 3rd class or Steerage passengers who had to be admitted by going to the Island.  It was primarily they who were submitted to a health checkup and had to prove they had the desired amount of money. First and second class passengers were generally inspected on board the ship and allowed to proceed. Only 1/3 of the immigrants who passed through Ellis Island stayed in New York City, the other 2/3 scattered to various parts of the country mostly by railroad from New Jersey where the ferry from Ellis Island would let them off.

Head Tax

According to the Immigration Act of 1882 a “Head Tax” of 50 cents was imposed on each immigrant entering the United States. The money was used to pay for the examining of immigrants. After the creation of the Federal Bureau of Immigration the money went to that agency exclusively. The Immigration Act of 1909 abolished the Head Tax as an “Immigrant Fund” for the Immigration Bureau. Thereafter the money went directly to the Federal Treasury and Congress appropriated money in the Federal Budget for immigrant affairs. In 1907 the Head Tax was increased to 4 dollars and in 1917 to 8 dollars. The Head Tax continued to be periodically increased and was still being collected when Ellis Island closed in 1954. For most immigrants, the tax was included in the price of their emigrant ticket and paid by the steamship company. Not everyone had to pay the Head Tax. Children under the age of 16 were exempt, as were returning residents. Also exempt were "non-immigrants," that is, people who were not coming to live in the US permanently. In this category were visitors, tourists, and people traveling through US territory in transit to another country. Many returning residents disputed their need to pay the Head Tax, claiming they already paid it upon their first arrival. The above emigrant contract from 1904 contains the following sentence: “………, the Emigrant named below for the sum of Kronor 60.00, which amount has been duly paid and includes all ordinary charges upon landing in America.” which means the tax was included in the price of the ticket.
Castle Garden with Battery Park at the southernmost tip of Manhattan. The image is from National Park Service.
Newly arrived immigrants at Castle Garden. The image is dated January 20, 1866. The image is from National Park Service.
Castle Garden at the southernmost tip of Manhattan. The image is from National Park Service.
Castle Garden. The image is from National Park Service.

Photos from Ellis Island

The immigrant inspection station Ellis Island from seaward. Photographer Peter Johnson, New York City. The photo is shown with consent of Peter Johnson.
The immigrant inspection station Ellis Island from seaward. Photographer Peter Johnson, New York City. The photo is shown with consent of Peter Johnson.
The immigrant inspection station Ellis Island. Photographer Peter Johnson, New York City. The photo is shown with consent of Peter Johnson.
The immigrant inspection station Ellis Island around 1920. The image is from Library of Congress. Free image

Castle Garden and Ellis Island on the map

The pens at Ellis Island, Main Hall. These people have passed the first mental inspection. (1902-1913). New York Public Library.
Immigrants undergoing medical examination. (1902-1913). New York Public Library.

After Arrival to the USA

Difficulties in Speaking and Understanding the English Language

The English language in the new country was naturally an obstacle for Swedish and other immigrants. However, great efforts were being made in this area. Phrase books were published in Sweden for all kinds of thinkable phrases and situations. These phrase books often contained three columns: one with the phrase in Swedish, the English translation and one with the phonetic pronunciation.

What Did They Bring to the USA

The people who emigrated during the 19th century to become settlers in the United States needed to bring quite a lot of household goods and tools. However, the baggage had to be kept within a reasonable size, both for space reasons and with consideration to the prospect of handling the baggage during the transportations prior and after the voyages. You needed all sorts of joiner's tools – they were to build a new homestead in the United States. Hunting was important to obtain food, so a shotgun with adjuncts like a powder horn and buckshot pouch was needed. Further they needed to bring fishing gear, carding combs, sheep shears and equipment for flax processing, knitting needles, etc. Naturally, they also had to bring clothes for different seasons, summer and winter. Further, camphor and lavender to keep noxious insects, mold and bad odor away. Bedclothes like quilts, sheets, mattresses and cushions were needed. Items needed for the journey had to be packed within reach: drinking-vessels, wooden plates, spoons, knives and forks. You needed also to bring provisions for the journey. However, aboard the emigrant ships they were provided with food but there was also travel from the home to the port of departure and you never knew if there was enough food aboard. They then brought provisions that lasted for a long time, like dried smoked and salted eatables. For the hygiene during the journey they needed soap to keep the dirt away and sulfur ointments for the loess. The household goods that couldn’t be brought on the journey had to be sold at an auction. Naturally, the old farmstead with belongings had to be sold to get enough money to afford the journey.

Transportation to the Final Destination in the United States

Far from all immigrants had New York as their final destination in the United States. Most Swedish immigrants headed west to the Upper Midwest. The early immigrants usually went by boat from New York City on the Hudson River to Albany, NY. From Albany they then went on smaller vessels pulled by mules through the Erie Canal to Buffalo, NY. Here at Lake Erie they again boarded ships for further transportation west on the Great Lakes. After the breakthrough of railroads most immigrants traveled by train from New York. Now it only took 24 hours to reach Chicago, IL. Once in Chicago the travelers could take a breather and recover. Many immigrants stayed in Chicago for a while working to obtain necessary capital for farming implements and cattle for the waiting homestead land. The journey from Chicago to the homestead land went by different means of transportation such as trains, river steamships or oxcarts; the travel went across the prairie towards Iowa and Kansas or through the woodlands of Wisconsin to the final destinations in Minnesota.
The chapter “The Journey” is divided into several subpages:
Contents this page:
xxxxx Swegen xxxxxxxxxxx

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Släktforskning Hans Högman
Copyright © Hans Högman 2017-04-17

The Arrival to the

USA

Introduction

The major port of immigration in the United States was New York City. Also, Boston in the USA as well as Quebec and Halifax in Canada received many immigrants. When the immigrants from Europe arrived to the US they were received by different immigrant officials at the immigrant stations. Prior to 1850 there were no special immigrant stations. However, in 1855 Castle Garden  in Manhattan, New York, was established as an immigrant station. When Ellis Island, an island in Upper New York Bay, opened in 1892 it took over the immigrant processing from Castle Garden. Not all immigrants were allowed entry into the US. Most immigrants were accepted but immigrants with contagious diseases, mentally disordered, criminal past or with no means to support themselves were denied entry. In other word, people the authorities suspected of becoming a burden to society were denied entry. Immigrants that had fallen ill were detained and kept in quarantine at Ellis Island until their health improved. It was foremost the steerage passengers that were carefully screened. Once the immigrants passed the immigration controls they had to complete their journey to their final destinations. Once the railroads opened the journey to their destinations became much easier. Most Swedes settled in Minnesota. The image above shows the Statue of Liberty, Liberty Island, in the Upper New York Bay. It was inaugurated in 1886.

Port of Immigration -  New York

City

New York City

The major port of immigration in the United States was New York City. During the first half of the 19th century immigrants arrived in the harbor area on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, the South Street Seaport. Then immigrants coming to New York did not pass through a screening or examination process – they simply declared any required items to customs and headed into America. On August 1, 1855, an immigrant station opened at the southernmost tip of Manhattan, Castle Garden. This immigrant station was managed by New York State. However, the need of a larger immigrant station arose after a few decades and on January 1, 1892, a new station was opened, Ellis Island, an island in the Upper New York Bay. Ellis Island was run by the Federal Government. Different types of officials met the immigrants at the immigrant station. They were customs officers, immigrant officials and health inspectors. Everybody spoke, to the Swedes, the incomprehensible language English, but interpreters were used at Ellis Island. With gestures the immigrants were directed to desired places at the station.

The Emigration from

Sweden to the USA (4c)

Passed and waiting to be taken off Ellis Island (1902- 1913). New York Public Library.
On the map above we can see the location of both Ellis Island in the Upper New York Bay as well as Castle Garden at the southernmost tip of Manhattan. Manhattan is located in New York City and to left we have Jersey City. Ellis Island is actually located on the Jersey side of the borderline between New Jersey and New York. South of Ellis Island we have Libery Island with the Statue of Liberty. The image is a free image without copyright.

Images of Castle Garden

Immigrants waiting in line for processing by Immigration Bureau officials. (1902-1913). New York Public Library.

Source References

Source references Top of page

Castle Garden

The Castle Garden immigrant station was originally a fort named Castle Clinton or Fort Clinton at the southernmost tip of Manhattan in today’s Battery Park. The building is a circular sandstone fort and construction began in 1808 and was completed in 1811. The fort was first named West Battery but from 1815 Castle Clinton. The fort served as defences until 1821 when it became a place for pleasure and public entertainment. It opened as Castle Garden on July 3, 1824, a name by which it was popularly known for most of its existence. On September 11, 1850, the Swedish soprano opera-singer Jenny Lind (1820 – 1887), the Swedish Nightingale” made her American debut at Castle Garden. From August 1, 1855, Castle Garden became the Emigrant Landing Depot functioning as the New York State immigrant processing facility (the nation's first such entity). Between 1855 and 1892 Castle Garden received more than 8 million immigrants. The immigrant station was operated by New York State until April 18, 1890, when the Federal Government took over control of immigration processing.

Ellis Island

Ellis Island replaced the too undersized Castle Garden as an immigrant processing facility on January 1, 1892. Ellis Island was larger and more isolated than Castle Garden and located on an island in Upper New York Bay. Ellis Island was the gateway for millions of immigrants to the United States as the nation's busiest immigrant inspection station from 1892 until November 12, 1954. Ellis Island has hosted a museum of immigration since 1990. The island was greatly expanded with land reclamation between 1892 and 1934. On June 15, 1897, a fire turned the wooden structures on Ellis Island into ashes. Most of the Castle Garden immigrant passenger records dating back to 1855 were thereby destroyed. Plans were immediately made to build a new, fireproof immigration station on Ellis Island. During the construction period, passenger arrivals were again processed at the Barge Office. The present main structure was designed in French Renaissance Revival style and built of red brick with limestone trim and opened on December 17, 1900. When the facilities closed in 1954 over 12 million immigrants had been processed by the U.S. Bureau of Immigration. The peak year for immigration at Ellis Island was 1907, with 1,004,756 immigrants processed. The all-time daily high occurred on April 17, 1907, when 11,747 immigrants arrived. The new Immigration Act of 1924 greatly restricted immigration. The Act required immigrants to obtain a Visa in their country of origin and allowed processing at overseas Embassies and Consulate offices where questions and medical inspections were done. This reduced the need for Ellis Island and other processing stations. After 1924, Ellis Island became primarily a detention and deportation processing station. The only immigrants to pass through the station after 1924 were displaced persons or war refugees. Ellis Island finally closed in 1954. 

The Immigrant Processing

The immigrant processing at Ellis Island took from 2 up to 5 hours. The Ellis Island officials used a large number of interpreters of different kinds of languages who assisted with the immigrant interviews. The immigrants had to answer a large number of questions and among them name, profession and the amount of money carried. It was important to the American Government that the new arrivals could support themselves and have money to get started. The average the government wanted the immigrants to have was between 18 and 25 dollars. Those with obvious health problems or diseases were sent home or held in the island's hospital facilities for long periods of time. More than 3,000 immigrants died on Ellis Island while being held in the hospital facilities. Some unskilled workers were rejected because they were considered "likely to become a public charge". About 2 percent were denied admission to the US and sent back to their countries of origin for reasons such as having a chronic contagious disease, criminal background, or insanity. No ocean liners docked at Ellis Island, they anchored wherever there was room for them in the harbor and the immigrants were off-loaded on tenders or small ferries and taken to the Island.  It might be worth noting that first and second class passengers were usually inspected on the ship, cleared and taken direct to Manhattan.  It was only 3rd class or Steerage passengers who had to be admitted by going to the Island.  It was primarily they who were submitted to a health checkup and had to prove they had the desired amount of money. First and second class passengers were generally inspected on board the ship and allowed to proceed. Only 1/3 of the immigrants who passed through Ellis Island stayed in New York City, the other 2/3 scattered to various parts of the country mostly by railroad from New Jersey where the ferry from Ellis Island would let them off.

Head Tax

According to the Immigration Act of 1882 a “Head Tax” of 50 cents was imposed on each immigrant entering the United States. The money was used to pay for the examining of immigrants. After the creation of the Federal Bureau of Immigration the money went to that agency exclusively. The Immigration Act of 1909 abolished the Head Tax as an “Immigrant Fund” for the Immigration Bureau. Thereafter the money went directly to the Federal Treasury and Congress appropriated money in the Federal Budget for immigrant affairs. In 1907 the Head Tax was increased to 4 dollars and in 1917 to 8 dollars. The Head Tax continued to be periodically increased and was still being collected when Ellis Island closed in 1954. For most immigrants, the tax was included in the price of their emigrant ticket and paid by the steamship company. Not everyone had to pay the Head Tax. Children under the age of 16 were exempt, as were returning residents. Also exempt were "non- immigrants," that is, people who were not coming to live in the US permanently. In this category were visitors, tourists, and people traveling through US territory in transit to another country. Many returning residents disputed their need to pay the Head Tax, claiming they already paid it upon their first arrival. The above emigrant contract from 1904 contains the following sentence: “………, the Emigrant named below for the sum of Kronor 60.00, which amount has been duly paid and includes all ordinary charges upon landing in America.” which means the tax was included in the price of the ticket.
Castle Garden with Battery Park at the southernmost tip of Manhattan. The image is from National Park Service.
Newly arrived immigrants at Castle Garden. The image is dated January 20, 1866. The image is from National Park Service.
Castle Garden at the southernmost tip of Manhattan. The image is from National Park Service.
Castle Garden. The image is from National Park Service.

Photos from Ellis Island

The immigrant inspection station Ellis Island from seaward. Photographer Peter Johnson, New York City. The photo is shown with consent of Peter Johnson.
The immigrant inspection station Ellis Island from seaward. Photographer Peter Johnson, New York City. The photo is shown with consent of Peter Johnson.
The immigrant inspection station Ellis Island. Photographer Peter Johnson, New York City. The photo is shown with consent of Peter Johnson.
The immigrant inspection station Ellis Island around 1920. The image is from Library of Congress. Free image

Castle Garden and Ellis Island on the map

The pens at Ellis Island, Main Hall. These people have passed the first mental inspection. (1902- 1913). New York Public Library.
Immigrants undergoing medical examination. (1902-1913). New York Public Library.

After Arrival to the USA

Difficulties in Speaking and Understanding

the English Language

The English language in the new country was naturally an obstacle for Swedish and other immigrants. However, great efforts were being made in this area. Phrase books were published in Sweden for all kinds of thinkable phrases and situations. These phrase books often contained three columns: one with the phrase in Swedish, the English translation and one with the phonetic pronunciation.

What Did They Bring to the USA

The people who emigrated during the 19th century to become settlers in the United States needed to bring quite a lot of household goods and tools. However, the baggage had to be kept within a reasonable size, both for space reasons and with consideration to the prospect of handling the baggage during the transportations prior and after the voyages. You needed all sorts of joiner's tools – they were to build a new homestead in the United States. Hunting was important to obtain food, so a shotgun with adjuncts like a powder horn and buckshot pouch was needed. Further they needed to bring fishing gear, carding combs, sheep shears and equipment for flax processing, knitting needles, etc. Naturally, they also had to bring clothes for different seasons, summer and winter. Further, camphor and lavender to keep noxious insects, mold and bad odor away. Bedclothes like quilts, sheets, mattresses and cushions were needed. Items needed for the journey had to be packed within reach: drinking- vessels, wooden plates, spoons, knives and forks. You needed also to bring provisions for the journey. However, aboard the emigrant ships they were provided with food but there was also travel from the home to the port of departure and you never knew if there was enough food aboard. They then brought provisions that lasted for a long time, like dried smoked and salted eatables. For the hygiene during the journey they needed soap to keep the dirt away and sulfur ointments for the loess. The household goods that couldn’t be brought on the journey had to be sold at an auction. Naturally, the old farmstead with belongings had to be sold to get enough money to afford the journey.

Transportation to the Final Destination in

the United States

Far from all immigrants had New York as their final destination in the United States. Most Swedish immigrants headed west to the Upper Midwest. The early immigrants usually went by boat from New York City on the Hudson River to Albany, NY. From Albany they then went on smaller vessels pulled by mules through the Erie Canal to Buffalo, NY. Here at Lake Erie they again boarded ships for further transportation west on the Great Lakes. After the breakthrough of railroads most immigrants traveled by train from New York. Now it only took 24 hours to reach Chicago, IL. Once in Chicago the travelers could take a breather and recover. Many immigrants stayed in Chicago for a while working to obtain necessary capital for farming implements and cattle for the waiting homestead land. The journey from Chicago to the homestead land went by different means of transportation such as trains, river steamships or oxcarts; the travel went across the prairie towards Iowa and Kansas or through the woodlands of Wisconsin to the final destinations in Minnesota.