Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Ellis Island Discovery

Gary's grandfather, William Kankaala, immigrated to America from Finland via Ellis Island and worked as a carpenter all his life. We've kept this string line he made as a family memento. Although this is a plain piece of wood roughly made it has lasted at least two lifetimes serving it's purpose well. I like to feel the cotton string. It is twisted very tight and must be made of a high quality cotton to have lasted this long.

While I was looking at the Ellis Island site I discovered there is a search anyone can do for relatives who may have traveled to America via Ellis Island. If you locate your relative, you can bring up the actual ship manifest, a photo of the ship, and the passenger record. I became totally engrossed with searching for Gary's grandparents through the site. I quickly found a record of his paternal grandparents arrival and then found a record of his maternal grandparents.

Now I want to check with my mom to see if I can find out some information about my own maternal grandparents. Even if you don't have a relative who traveled to America via Ellis Island, this site is worth perusing just to see the ship's manifest and photos of the ships. There is even a search you can do for famous people who immigrated to America. You can also order a copy of the passenger record, the ship's manifest and a photo of the ship. I am having so much fun researching this site.

There's a lot of history to be discovered with a bit of research. Be sure to look at the Ellis Island site and read about the restoration of the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. Little did I know a simple carpenter's string line would lead me to discover so much about family history.


  1. Hi Linda, I am back at my computer again.

    This is such an interesting story about the string. How about downloading some of the images from the Ellis Island site and printing them out and creating a small boxed framed collection all around the string? I am sure there is poem about string.

    My Greatgrandfather collected used wire after WW1 and he spent all his spare time in his straightening shed with his purpose built (patent pending)figure of eight straightening contraption designed to take all gauges of wire. He thought the war office would buy all this wire back off him when they ran out of the stuff they had. They never did and he straightened an awful lot of wire. His trade was weaver of coffin cloths and latterly maker of coffins when the second WW came along.

  2. Hi Kitty, welcome back. I must purchase the photos I cannot download them from that site. I think I will wait till we are relocated to do this, but this is a very wonderful discovery being about to search the records from the Ellis Island site. I am sure there are many more folks who would like to know this info. The photos of the ships are amazing. Gary was telling me they would have had to shovel coal all day and all night to run these old steamships and the trip would have taken a very long time across the ocean. Thanks.

    Amazing your grandfather made an invention to straightened wire. I could see this being useful as when we were remodeling there was some wire I wanted to reuse and I had a terrible time feeding it through the conduit underground. I had to do it like a seamstress would do with an elastic - Gary was too impatient and said it couldn't be done, it took me forever, but I got it done and it saved us a few dollars. Your grandfather sounds like an amazing person.

  3. I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.



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