1891 – Annie Moore departs Queenstown (now Cobh, Co Cork), becoming the first immigrant to pass through Ellis Island.

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.

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. 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.

The ‘New York Times article headline read:

‘LANDED ON ELLIS ISLAND: NEW IMMIGRATION BUILDINGS OPENED YESTERDAY’

Colours, creeds, rich and (for the most part) poor, the sick, the hopeful and the fearful flooded through the gate of Ellis Island that day. As the New York Times told the city, ‘A rosy-cheeked Irish girl was the first registered’. That girl was Annie Moore.’

On 1st January 1892, the ship reached New York. The Statue of Liberty welcomed them as they sailed into the harbour. Annie was the first one-off the ship. She was very surprised when an official gave her a $10 gold piece. 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. It also happened to be Annie’s 17th 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).

For years people believed a saga that had Annie moving to Texas and eventually New Mexico before meeting a tragic end. However, it was later discovered that the real Annie never left New York, which was published on the front page of The New York Times on 14 September 2006.

Late in 1895, she went to St. James Church and there married Joseph Augustus Schayer, a young German-American who worked at the Fulton Fish Market. She gave birth to at least 10 children before dying of heart failure at age 50 in 1924. Her grave in Calvary Cemetery in Queens is marked with a Celtic cross made of limestone imported from Ireland. She spent her entire life on New York’s Lower East Side (one address was 99 Cherry Street).

Today Annie Moore is honoured by two statues sculpted by Jeanne Rhynhart — one at Cobh Heritage Centre (formerly Queenstown), her port of departure, and the other at Ellis Island, her port of arrival. Her image will forever represent the millions who passed through Ellis Island in pursuit of the American dream.

Photo: Statue in Cobh, Co Cork, where they began their voyage. Since then, over 17 million people entered the United States through Ellis Island

anniemoorecobh

Posted by

Stair na hÉireann is steeped in Ireland's turbulent history, culture, ancient secrets and thousands of places that link us to our past and the present. With insight to folklore, literature, art, and music, you’ll experience an irresistible tour through the remarkable Emerald Isle.

8 thoughts on “1891 – Annie Moore departs Queenstown (now Cobh, Co Cork), becoming the first immigrant to pass through Ellis Island.

  1. Though newspaper accounts of the day claimed it was her 15th birthday, it wasn’t. She was 17 and her birthday was in May. Also, the statue at Ellis Island only has Annie. It’s the one in Cobh that has Annie along with her brothers.

    Like

    1. Actually, there are many conflicting reports as to her age.

      Also, this post does not indicate that the statue on Ellis Island included her brothers, we’ve done many posts on Annie Moore and I attach another for your perusal, as well.

      http://wp.me/p3XCMr-2zw

      Thank you for your interest.

      Kind regards,
      Caroline

      Like

      1. I’ve been researching Annie for roughly 15 years now (if you check the 2006 NYT article you mentioned in this post, you’ll see I’m the genealogist behind her rediscovery), so am confident in my claims. Both Annie’s birth and baptism records verify that she was 17, contrary to news articles of the time (not to mention, the ship manifests) that stated otherwise.

        Like

    1. Not at all, Megan, genealogists are a great help and I sincerely appreciate it, so nitpick away 🙂 I truly understand and have made the necessary correction on that one particular post, however, need to go back to another post, as well. Please feel free to correct me on anything else you see fit, I’d prefer factual information for my readers. Many thanks. Happy Holidays to you and have a brilliant weekend.

      All the best,
      Caroline

      Like

Comments are closed.