|"Titanic" Movie Poster - 2012|
When I left the theater it occurred to me that six of our grandparents (and a few great-grandparents) immigrated to the United States via a transatlantic crossing. I thought about how the White Star Line promoted the Titanic as the "Ship of Dreams" and how perhaps each ship that carried hopeful immigrants was most likely considered a Ship of Dreams...
When I first started college I was a history major. I love history. But the one most important thing I learned from Father Smyth was that being an historian is HARD work. It entails hours and hours of research, checking details and subtle hints, comparing sources and then hoping that whomever was keeping the records or making the records was hearing and seeing the real facts.
I belong to Ancestry.com. It is a great site, but it can literally suck you in for hours and then you realize that most of what you find is by luck. This happens because many of the records document split seconds of time and how you spell a person's name today may not resemble anything close to what was recorded on the ship's manifest or list of alien passengers for the United States! Just like Rose in the movie when the record keeper approached her as she sat aboard the RMS Carpathia. He asked her name and she responded Rose Dawson (aka Rose DeWitt Bukater).
Someday I hope to share with you much more about Joseph. But first I have to research his story. I want to understand more about why and how he came to America. Did his parents come before him? Or did they come after him?
Next I would like you to meet Jankel Meisler. You might remember meeting him when I wrote my post Jacob Meisler September 22, 1891 - March 23, 1989. Jacob set sail from Rotterdam, Holland, on July 31, 1909. He sailed on the SS Ryndam. He was listed on the manifest as Jankel Meisler, Austrian, Hebrew, from Belatyn, Austria, 18 years old, single. His next of kin was listed as Aron Meisler. His occupation was listed as tailor. He was held for "special inspection" because he "squints". He had 25 dollars and he told the inspectors he was going to live with Isaac Strum at 150 12th Street, New York, NY.(Isaac was married to Lena Meisler - Jacob's sister). He arrived at Ellis Island on August 10, 1909. He was really from Delatyn (located in the Carpathian Mountains) and we all knew him as Jacob or Jake or Jack. And for the record, he married Rose. That's right the same names of ill-fated lover's from Titanic - Jack and Rose.
Tonight I will watch the National Geographic Special about the Titanic. I want to learn more about how and why this event happened and why we are so interested, even after 100 years. For myself, I think about the fact that my mother-in-law, Bertha Meisler Helfand was born in 1912, six months after the sinking of the Titanic. I also think about the fact that it was the RMS Carpathia that came to rescue the survivors of the Titanic (could it be the Carpathia was named for the Carpathian Mountains, where Bertha's parents were born and raised?). I think about after all these years, now that I am 62, I am finally getting to know about my grandfather's nieces and nephews that live both here in the United States and in Ireland.
I hope you enjoyed meeting Joseph, Jacob and Humphrey - three men that set sail in steerage class and made it to America. They didn't let go...
If you are having trouble viewing the video, you can see it here.
How about you? Do you have ancestors who sailed across the Atlantic? What have you learned of their story?