It was December in 1891.
Annie Moore stood in line with her two younger brothers,
Philip and Anthony. They were waiting to board the SS Nevada, a ship that would
take them from Ireland to New York. Annie's red hair blew in the breeze and
tears fell from her green eyes. She could not believe they were leaving their
Annie wondered if she would ever return to the "Emerald Isle." She cried
thinking that she might never see the beautiful green valleys again. Would she be
able to eat Irish stew in America? Would they continue to celebrate St.
Patrick's Day? There were many questions going through her head.
Yet, she knew she had to get on the ship. Even though she was sad, she was
also excited about seeing her parents again. They had gone to America two
years earlier with her older brother. It would be wonderful to have the whole
family together. Her parents had jobs in New York. They did not like the big
city, but they had an apartment and enough money for food and clothing. Life was
better than it had been in Ireland, and they could go to the Catholic Church.
Annie and her brothers were on the ship for 12 days. They
were in steerage class, which meant they were in a large room with many other
people. The ship was crowded, and the food was poor. Annie watched her brothers
very closely to make sure they were safe. The people in steerage class did not
get to go on the deck very much. It was very cold on the ship. Many people got
On January 1st, 1892, the ship reached New York. The Statue of Liberty welcomed them as they sailed into the harbor.
It was a beautiful sight and everyone cheered and cried. Annie was very happy that the
trip was almost over. Then the captain announced that the ship would dock at
Ellis Island. Everyone who was in good health would fill out forms to stay in America.
Annie was the first one off the ship. She was very surprised when an official
gave her a $10 gold piece. At first she didn't understand. She had never
seen so much money, and did not know why he gave it to her. He explained that
Ellis Island was new, and the $10 was a gift to the first person off the ship.
As an extra bonus, Annie realized it was her 15th birthday!
And so it happened that Annie became the first immigrant to land on the
newly-opened Ellis Island. Now, over 100 years later, a statue of Annie and her
brothers stands on Ellis Island (which is now a museum). A similar statue can be
found in Cobh, Ireland, where they began their voyage. Since then, over 17
million people have entered the United States through Ellis Island.
Map of Ireland. Dublin is the capital.