Thursday, July 3, 2014

The 100th Anniversary of Pauline Rychly’s Arrival in the United States.

The Train Station in Ternopil', the beginning of my Grandmother's journey to the United States.

Tomorrow, the 4th of July, 2014 is the 100th anniversary of my grandmother, Pauline Rychly Koshuba Haykak’s arrival in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  She left her home in the village of Bila, just outside of the city of Ternopil’ (aka Tarnopol), in June 1914.  I am not sure of the exact date, but I do know that she left on the ship, The Kronprinz Wilhem, from Bremen Germany, on June 23, 1914, bound for New York City.   
The Kronprinz Wilhem, built in 1901, shortly after my Grandmother arrived in the US in 1914 it became a German warship.

According to the ship’s manifest, she was 14 years old.  She traveled with her Uncle and Aunt, Constantine and Maria Bilan Rychly and their young daughter, Anna.  All of her belongings were in a trunk, which for some reason, she kept for her entire life.  One of her grandsons has the trunk now.
The voyage was difficult for Pauline, since she was seasick for most of the time.  She was traveling on 3rd class tickets, commonly known as steerage, and was processed at Castle Garden, the old immigrant processing center, reopened because Ellis Island could not handle of the large number of ships arriving in New York.  Castle Garden is located near Battery Park and the terminal for the Staten Island Ferry in lower Manhattan. 
Photo by Alfred Stieglitz, Steerage class on a ship bound for Bremen, Germany is 1907

Castle Garden, where my Grandmother first stepped on American soil.

Passengers who had first or second class tickets were processed on board, and left from a dock near where the Verrazano Narrows Bridge is today.  Third class passengers were taken by ferry to Ellis Island, or Castle Garden for immigration processing.  If there were no problems, the immigrants took another ferry to the railroad station in New Jersey, where they continued the journey to their final destination.  Third class tickets for the trip from Europe to the United States big money makers for the shipping lines and railroads, and were often offered as package deals, costing about $25.  I have to mention that although the price of a trans-Atlantic ticket appears to be low, it took an average immigrant working in the United States at that time, about a year to save the money to buy a ticket for a relative in Europe. The shipping lines made no money on first or second class tickets, the profit was made on the third class tickets. 
Four bunks in a steerage class cabin.

Third Class Dining Room on a Trans-Atlantic passenger ship

Accommodations on the voyage in third class were Spartan. The steerage section was in the front of the ship, which felt all the pitching and rolling.  Meals were included in the fare, but the food served was unfamiliar to many of the immigrants, so they didn’t eat it.  My great-aunt, Katherine remembers that she was served liverwurst sandwiches and ripe bananas, which she had never seen before.   The accommodations were basic, on the lower decks, travelers slept in bunk beds, which were sometimes in large rooms, sometimes in cabins. There were portholes in some of the cabins, but they didn’t open. Passengers spent the day walking on the deck.   There were no lounges or entertainment offered to immigrants. 

Ellis Island Train Station--after being processed, many immigrants boarded a train here for the trip to the West.
Inside a car on an immigrant train
Pauline’s sea voyage from Germany to New York took about nine days. My grandmother must have been on a slow train, because it took four days to go from New Jersey to Minneapolis. Often all the passengers on a train were immigrants, so the facilities on the trains were meager, especially if the train and ship were a package deal.

Milwaukee Station, Minneapolis MN.

On July 4th, Pauline, Constantine, Maria and Anna arrived in Minneapolis, and were met their family members.  Pauline’s father, Sylvester had been in the United States since 1908, and her sister Anna, since 1913.  Fourth of July fireworks made a big impression on Pauline, since she had never seen such a display.  Within a few days, she was working in the laundry at the Nicollet Hotel in downtown Minneapolis.

Gateway Park and the Nicollet Hotel where my Grandmother worked when she first came to Minneapolis

Pauline and Anna Rychly in 1915.  This is the oldest picture I have of my Grandmother.