Sunday, September 13, 2009

Trip to Ellis Island

Well as I told you in last week's posting, I was on a mad dash to get all my ships lists for all my Swedish immigrant ancestors. I have been looking for this group of people for so long, I guess I needed a bit of inspiration to collect all the tidbits into a logical format and to fill the gaps where I needed to. And as a bit of persuasion, I decided that the Drott Lodge trip to Ellis Island was the perfect time complete the search. And I was successful after strong perserverance.

Our lodge visited Ellis Island on Saturday and had an amazing guided tour. Being able to walk the halls where Johan and Maria Tossman walked, and to feel the fear of being rejected as they entered the country. The noise and confusion had to be overwhelming.

Above it the ship the SS St. Paul, and she arrived on 16th Dec 1904. Johannes Tossman was 55 years of age, a laborer, born in Wermland Sweden, going to Escanaba, Michigan. He had $45 and an affidavit of support. He and his wife Maria were going to their son-in-law and daughter in Escanaba at 219 Stephenson Avenue. (the photo is above).

As I walked the halls I thought of them bundles of linens, a few clothes, the family bible in a small trunk and a basket. Its hard to describe exactly what the feeling is, I can best describe it as hope. A sense that there can be no going back so you must move forward. There is loss of the homeland but a dream of a future, that life could be better.

They left a scenic village on the shores of Fryken Lake for a place with a strange name, Escanaba. They went to their daughter Ida Matilda Tossman Mattson who was living there with her husband Enock. Enock's home became the safe haven for several new immigrant relations: his brother Emil Forsberg, Johan and Maria, his brother in law Axel; his wife's neice Karin and nephew Anders Oskar. Enock helped each one come to this country for a new start. A place to farm and to live free.

Give me your tired, your poor

Your huddled masses yearning to breath free

the wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

Send these, the homeless, tempst tossed to me.

I lift my lamp beside the golden door.

Emma Lazarus

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