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America’s First Immigrant

The story of Annie Moore.

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The Statue of Liberty is a sign that stands for freedom and the chance to build a new life for people around the world. In 1892, this symbol of hope shone bright and strong for the first recorded immigrants who were allowed into America. Ellis Island in New York became the country’s first official immigration center, which was used to manage the people looking for a life in the New World.

First Immigrant: Annie Moore

On January 1, 1892, the first immigrant through Ellis Island was processed. She was Annie Moore, a 17-year-old girl from Ireland who had been on a ship for several days along with her two younger brothers. Annie’s mother and father had already moved to the new land and had been living here since 1888.

Imagine how Annie must have felt on that day when her ship, the Nevada, sailed into the harbor at New York. The travelers were led to the Registry Room where doctors would check to see if they had any physical problems, and officers would look over their legal paperwork to make sure everything was in order.

Annie was soon registered and the Superintendent of Immigration, Colonel Weber, presented her with a shiny $10 gold coin in honor of her being the first official immigrant to arrive in America. Annie said it was the first United States coin she had ever seen and was the largest sum of money she had ever had, The New York Times reported. Annie promised she would never part with it and planned to keep it as a memento.

The young immigrant later married Joseph Augustus Schayer, a son of German Catholic immigrants who worked as a salesman at Manhattan’s Fulton Fish Market. The pair had at least ten children together. Today, there are two statues in Annie’s honor. One depicts Annie and her two brothers, and is located where she left her home country from the town of Cobh (formerly Queenstown) in Ireland. The other statue is at Ellis Island, Annie’s port of arrival in the USA.

Ellis Island continued to process immigrants. From 1892 to 1954, more than 12 million people entered the United States through this center.

Kelli Ballard

National Correspondent at and Kelli Ballard is an author, editor, and publisher. Her writing interests span many genres including a former crime/government reporter, fiction novelist, and playwright. Originally a Central California girl, Kelli now resides in the Seattle area.

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