Welcome to my genealogy blog. Ancestors I Wish I Knew is a combination of genealogical information and stories about individuals in my family tree. The focus is on those from my Cochrane, Eitelbach, Merrett, Minarcik and Richards lines and their descendants.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

#86--Genealogy on the Road--Part 2

Last week I blogged about the research part of my genealogy tour with the New England Historic and Genealogy Society.  However, it was not all research; we also went to several places that fit nicely into genealogy.  So this week, I will blog about those.

Late Wednesday afternoon, we went to the Tenement Museum at 97 Orchard Street on the Lower East Side of Manhattan.  The Museum has several different tour, focusing on various aspects of the immigrant experience in New York.  We did the Shop Life tour, and learned about the saloon run in
Lower East Side
the 1870’s by John and Caroline Schneider.  I was surprised to learn that at that time there were about 129 saloons in the neighborhood.  It was not that the German immigrants drank too much, the saloons served as gathering places for the residents.  The apartments were so small and cramped that one could not invited people over, rather they met in the local saloon.  I was particularly interested in seeing the tenement Museum because my immigrant ancestors the Wendels and the Minarciks settled on the lower East Side when they came over from Germany.  I also realized that the Wendels lived on the block, Allen Street, behind Orchard Street

The next day we got up early and took our bus to Brooklyn to visit Green-Wood Cemetery.  That is a place I am very familiar with.
Main Gate of Green-Wood Cemetery
Minerva Saluting the
Statue of Liberty
 My parents, grandparents, great grandparents and assorted cousins are all buried there.  It is also where I am planning on spending eternity.  Green-Wood goes back to the mid-1800’s and the rural cemetery movement.  It is 478 acres of rolling hills, winding roads, grass and trees.  We stopped at several places:  the memorial to the Civil War Soldiers, the Statue of Minerva, who is saluting the Statue of Liberty, and several interesting tombs and mausoleums.  I was particularly surprised that one mausoleum has both light and heat!

Saturday was devoted to going to the Statue of Liberty and to Ellis Island.  I am embarrassed to admit that as a native New Yorker I had never visited Lady Liberty.   The views of
Statue of Liberty
the Statue from the boat were wonderful.  She just got bigger and bigger.   After going though security for the second time after arriving that the statue, we took the elevator to the top viewing platform.  We could see lower Manhattan with the new World Trade Center, Brooklyn and its bridge, Staten Island, and New
Lady Liberty from below
Jersey.  We walked down to the other viewing platforms and eventually reached the bottom.  I was fascinated by the different views of the Statue when seen from below rather than straight on.

Then, it was on to Ellis Island.  Now I had been to Ellis Island, right after it opened; since then it has expanded a great deal.  There are several options:  We did the audio tour of the immigrant experience.
Ellis Island
 In other words, we followed the path an arriving immigrant would take as she or he tried to enter the United States.  My great grandmother and father, Maria and Louis Eitelbach, came through Ellis Island in 1896 along with their 3 oldest sons.  One of those sons was my grandfather.  I thought a lot about how that experience must have been for them.

If I could talk to my ancestors, I would have several questions.  I would like to ask the Wendels and Minarciks what their life was like on the Lower East Side.  How many people lived in their tenement?  Did they often go to a saloon?  For my great grandmother, Maria Eitelbach, I would ask how long their voyage lasted?   How did she manage her three small children on the ship?  How long did it take for them to get through Ellis Island?  Were there any delays?  If so, what?

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