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THE FORGOTTEN OF ELLIS ISLAND
Deaths in Quarantine, 1909-1911

 

My Search for Apollonia Spiegel


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My Search for Apollonia Spiegel

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In researching my family, I began my search for the passenger arrival records for my Great Aunt Catherine (née Horn) Spiegel and her three daughters, Margaret, Elisabetha, and Catherine. My first step was to search the Soundex for the correct microfilm numbers for the 1920 Federal Census. A search of the 1920 Federal Census gave me their respective ages in 1920 so that I could estimate their year of birth. It also gave me their approximate year of immigration in the USA. And so I learned that they arrived in 1910 en route to Lebanon, PA. I should probably point out here that neither the Ellis Island database nor Ancestry.com had indexed ships' passenger manifests on-line at the time that I began my immigration research.

During a research trip to the National Archives Regional Branch in New York City, I looked for "Spiegel" in the Soundex index to the ships' passenger arrival records and located their ship with their names listed on its manifest. I then turned to the end of the manifest to review the List of Detainees which I had trained myself to review, although I had prior to this never found any of my family shown. Surprisingly, I found Catharina's three daughters listed there.

However, it was only after returning home that evening while I was looking over the photocopies which I had made that day of the manifest that I noticed that Catharina had a fourth daughter, Apollonia! Upon calling Catharina's granddaughter, I confirmed that there had been a baby who had died upon arrival. Catharina and the baby had been separated from the other three children and taken to a hospital where the baby later died. No one in the family ever knew where the baby was buried. And so my search for Apollonia began.

Click on the image to enlarge

If you look carefully at the larger image of the Ship's Passenger Arrival Record, you may see the words "Died in Quarantine. Dec. 3, 1910" which were written on the line to the right of Apollonia's name.

Click on the image to enlarge

At the end of the Ship's Passenger Arrival Record for the Carpathia was the "Record of Detained Aliens" which showed the three children waiting on Ellis Island while their mother and baby sister, Apollonia, were in Quarantine. Although alone, they were probably under the care of István Gerber who was also detained while awaiting the disposition of his daughter, Roza, who was also quarantined and later died in the Quarantine hospital. Both the Gerbers and the Spiegels had traveled from the same town in Hungary and probably knew each other. Roza Gerber also died while in quarantine.

A search of death certificates at D.O.R.I.S. for all five boroughs of New York City turned up a death certificate for Apollonia Spiegel in Richmond County, more commonly known as Staten Island.

Apollonia's Death Certificate
Death Certificate Reverse side of Death Certificate

According to the death certificate, Apollonia died on Hoffman Island and never made it to Ellis Island. An article appeared in The New York Times newspaper the month before Apollonia died which detailed conditions on Hoffman Island.

Although the second page of the death certificate clearly shows the place of burial as "Mount Oliver" Cemetery, no cemetery with that name was found in the New York City metropolitan area. However, there is a Mount Olivet Cemetery located in Queens County, New York. A letter to that cemetery returned a positive response that Apollonia was indeed buried there in Grave 1571, in the Oakwood section. Apollonia was finally found after being lost to our family for over 83 years! Ironically, Apollonia's older sister Catherine later lived for several years in Queens county, NY, just a few miles from Mount Olivet Cemetery and never knew how close she was to Apollonia's burial place.

A red arrow shows the approximate location of the grave site on the following cemetery map. The other red arrow located at the bottom of the map shows the entrance to the cemetery.

Map of Mount Olivet

Also buried in the unmarked Grave 1571 with Apollonia were Bianco Dangan, Margit Gorta, Janha Lapp, Alfred Machata, Mihaly Maygarczik, Lagos Toth, and Harry Munford. All but Harry Munford were immigrant children who died in Quarantine upon arriving by ship in New York Harbor.. The deaths of Apollonia and these other children all occurred at the Hospital for Contagious Diseases on Hoffman Island which is found in the outer harbor of the Port of New York, below the Verazano-Narrows Bridge Their families probably never learned where they were buried.

Although Apollonia never landed on Ellis Island, her name has since been inscribed on panel 640 of the The American Immigrant Wall of Honor® on Ellis Island and she has been returned to our family. She will never be lost or forgotten again!


Apollonia on the Wall of Immigrants

If my story about Apollonia sounds familiar, perhaps you saw the PBS television series entitled ANCESTORS which aired during the summer of 2000 and can now be seen on Roots Television. The immigration segment was where I first told Apollonia's story. Apollonia's story has also since appeared in the companion book to the television series, "In Search of Our Ancestors".

See some additional photos taken when filming Apollonia's story for TV, or look at the photo gallery.


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Copyright © 2001-2012, Cathy Horn, All Rights Reserved.

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