Saturday, June 2, 2007

Crossing on the S.S. Carmania: Ilona's passage to America

A young 24-year-old mother and her baby son... Cute little fellow, don't you think?

When this photo was taken, in Hungary, young Ilona had a weight hanging over her shoulders that you cannot see in the picture. She knew that when it was the right time, she and her young son must leave her family and the only world that she had ever known and sail across the Atlantic to meet her waiting husband. What a trip it would be!

A few years ago I sat at the computer as I searched the Ellis Island website records for the names of these two travelers on a ship manifest. I was in awe when I found them. There was her name, his name, and other information. It was definitely my great-grandmother and her young son. Take a look yourself at the scanned copy of their original ship manifest as I saw it that day. If you take a look at this document online, make sure you view both pages. (You must register in order to view them, but it is simple and free.)

The ship was the S.S. Carmania. The trip was seventeen days at sea from departure at Fiume, Hungary (now Rijeka, Croatia) to New York's Ellis Island. When you take a look at the ship's manifest you will notice that Ilona is listed as Ferenczne Ujlaki, age 24, and below her is listed her young son, Ferencz, age 2. Ferenczne means "wife of Ferencz" in Hungarian.

Also notice:

  • $10 was all she had to her name

  • Her ethnicity is listed as Hungarian/German

  • Her father's name is listed as the nearest friend or relative from whence she came

  • It is difficult to read the final destination - if you can do so, please let me know

I'm so glad to know that they made it safely across the Altantic on the difficult trip. It must have been quite memorable, because in all of her ninety-seven years she never made the return trip.

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