Some people are your relatives but others are your ancestors, and you choose the ones you want to have as ancestors. You create yourself out of those values.
First Name: Alice
Last Name: Keating
Ethnicity: Ireland, Irish
Last Place of Residence: Dublin
Date of Arrival: Feb 13, 1893
Age at Arrival: 20y Gender: F
Ship of Travel: Germanic
Port of Departure: Liverpool & Queenstown
Manifest Line Number: 0276
She was only 20 years old when she ventured forth, alone, from Ireland to start a new life here in the United States. My great grandmother, Alice. She sailed on the Germanic which had the distinction of being the fastest ship in the world at the time. What were her dreams? What were her hopes? Why did she come? Was she afraid? Was she disappointed in what life had to offer her? Marrying so young, so many children. Had she wanted more but settled for something less? Or this her dream to begin with...to marry and have many children? I have to wonder if she had imagined that she would make her home on the 'poor side of town', a young immigrant women with so many mouths to feed...five children in ten years time...or perhaps, compared to what she left behind in Ireland, she felt she had struck it rich.
I never got to meet her, nor have I found any living relatives who can tell me about her. Her life is a mystery. I know the month and year she was born, but I don't know what day. I don't know of her parents, nor of any siblings she may have had. I don't even have a picture of her so I don't even know what she may have looked like, but I know from hearing my mother talk that she was beautiful. Will I ever know her story? Will I ever know who she really was? These are answers I may never find, but I will not give up. When I first began searching, I didn't even know her name. This tombstone was all I had. One never knows when the answers will come. Or, she may forever remain a mystery, my brick wall as we genealogists like to say.
As you can see from the above, immigration and passenger arrival lists can reveal the names of relatives and places of birth. Fortunately, there are several free places that one may search for ancestors. One of the most important arrival ports has long been the Port of New York and of the 50 million people who traveled to America, more than 2/3 of the passengers arrived in New York Harbor. Two great sites are Ellis Island and Castle Garden.
Ellis Island opened its doors in 1892, and until 1954, over twelve million immigrants entered the United States through Ellis Island. Amazing, isn't it? To think that this is the first place our ancestors landed. To see if your ancestor came through Ellis Island check here....Ellis Island
Not all immigrants to arrive in New York came through Ellis Island, though. In fact, the first immigration center in New York was Castle Gardens which welcomed over 10 million immigrants from 1830 until Ellis Island opened. To search for your ancestor, go here Castle Garden
Of course there are many other ports, both on the East Coast and on the West Coast. They are easy to find online in this day and age, and many are free. Many of our ancestors arrived in Canada and either settled there or migrated to America. They were all so brave, our ancestors, to leave everything they knew to venture forth into this new world. And even if one is not working on a family tree, you will find it so exciting to find your ancestors when they first arrived in this country.
She calls to me from long ago;
through sunlit skies, through drifts of snow;
in dancing clouds above the sea,
I call to her, and she to me.
So real was she. She laughed, she cried,
She loved, she lost, she lived, she died.
In hopes and dreams, so real was she,
She lived her life that I may be.
The blood through which my veins does flow,
The same as hers, so long ago.
So it will be. Then when I'm gone,
in a future child it will flow on.
I'll live my life, and when it's done,
I'll live again in those to come.
For I'm a bridge from her to me,
From all that were, to those that be.