Annie Moore (Age 17) with her two younger brothers, Phillip (7) and Anthony (11). They are departing from Cobh, an Irish port, in late 1891. They were on their way to America.
Annie Moore (Age 17) with her two younger brothers, Phillip (7) and Anthony (11). They are departing from Cobh, an Irish port, in late 1891. They were on their way to America.

One of the most divisive issues facing Americans today is the issue of immigration into the U.S. – most especially the truly troubling ILLEGAL variety of immigration!  For decades, and probably much longer, we have been faced with the specter of hordes of “undocumented” invaders crossing over our borders, or overstaying their visas, for sundry purposes --  ostensibly to seek a better life for themselves and their children-- and become “WARDS OF THE STATE” far too often, and in some cases to infiltrate their poisonous hatred of our relatively free American culture into our body politic, as they seek to extend  their insane and Satanically-induced Islamic or Chinese Communist Party beliefs and violence from their own despotic nests of snakes into our freedom-oriented land. 

This “UNDECLARED WAR” against our nation grew especially severe under the Marxist-loving government of Comrade Barak Obama, was greatly reduced under the government of the American patriot, President Donald Trump (despite the treasonous and anti-American rhetoric directed against him and his administration over four years by the disgusting denizens of that Klan of New Bolsheviks once called the Democrat Party), and is now worse than ever under the mal-administration and DELIBERATE DESTRUCTION of our constitutional republic by that enemy of America--Comrade Pseudo-President Joe Biden and his collectivist clown circus manned (sorry—“peopled”) by sordid members of that same Klan of New Bolsheviks (i.e. Dumbocrats) and by treacherous and cowardly RINOS who would stab their own parents in their backs if they could retain a degree of political power.  (Are you listening, Mitch McConnell and Kevin McCarthy, you sorry RINOS?)

It has been claimed, with a high degree of truth, that America is a “land of immigrants”, and that most of us are descended from those who immigrated into the U.S. from elsewhere in the world from the 1620’s through the end of that tidal wave of millions of immigrants, which ebbed starting around the 1920’s.  I am one of those who had grandparents who did come legally from somewhere else in the world in the early 1900’s, and I’m truly grateful that they did so.  Without the legal immigration of my maternal grandparents, I wouldn’t be here today, so I say “thank you” to them.  All of us who had ancestors who came to our shores LEGALLY should say a prayer of thankfulness, because many of them paid a high price to come here and be “Americans”. While some immigrants came to America and became successful, some of them lived lives of “quiet desperation”, a hand-to-mouth existence in the unfamiliar hustle and bustle of competitive American life in which they found themselves overwhelmed.

I’d like to tell you the story of one of those immigrants from Ireland, a young teen girl named ANNIE MOORE, who was one of the latter category of new Americans who lived a “hardscrabble” life in New York City from the time she stepped off the boat at Ellis Island on Jan. 1, 1892, until her death from heart failure on Dec. 6, 1924, aged 50 years.  She was almost forgotten, and her pauper’s grave in Calvary Cemetery in Queens, N.Y. went unmarked for decades, until Irish author Brendan  Graham wrote a song about her.  That beautiful song, titled, “Isle of Hope, Isle of Tears”, (written in 1995), has been recorded many times.  My favorite version is by my favorite singing group, Celtic Woman, and I’ve seen them perform this song “live” several times.  Here are Brendan Graham’s words to this poignant  tribute to people’s bravery and determination:

“On the first day on January, eighteen ninety-two, They opened Ellis Island and they let The people through.  And the first to cross the threshold Of that isle of hope and tears, Was Annie Moore from Ireland, Who was all of fifteen years.

CHORUS:  “Isle of hope, Isle of tears, Isle of freedom, isle of fears,

                    But it’s not the isle you left behind.  That isle of hunger,

                    Isle of pain, Isle you’ll never see again, But the isle of

                    home is always on your mind.

“In a little bag she carried All her past and history, And her dreams for the future In the land of liberty.  And courage is the passport When your old world disappears.  But there’s no future in the past When you’re fifteen years.

CHORUS

“When they closed down Ellis Island In nineteen forty-three, Seventeen million people Had come there for sanctu’ry.  And in Springtime when I came here And I stepped onto its piers, I thought of how it must have been When you’re fifteen years.”

CHORUS

Search for “Isle of Hope, Isle of Tears” by Celtic Woman on UTube, watch and listen to it, and be comforted.  You’ll be GLAD you did.  A couple of corrections are necessary before proceeding:  First, Annie Moore was NOT 15 years old when she left COBH, in County Cork, Ireland on the S.S. Nevada on Dec. 20, 1891 – she was 17 according to her birth records in Ireland.  Also, Ellis Island was NOT closed in 1943, but was officially closed in 1954.  However, the processing of immigrants through the facility ceased in 1924.  It would seem that Graham’s U.S. history was a bit murky.

Probably photo of Annie Moore and her two brothers abord the S.S. Nevada, December 1891, before they embarked on Ellis Island on January 1, 1892.
Probably photo of Annie Moore and her two brothers abord the S.S. Nevada, December 1891, before they embarked on Ellis Island on January 1, 1892.

Annie’s parents, Matthew & Julia Moore,  had come to the U.S. before she and her two brothers came over.  Why they left their children in Ireland for a period of one to fours years (the record is confusing) and emigrated without them is lost to history.  But on Dec. 20, 1891, Annie and her two brothers, 11 year-old Anthony and 7 year-old Philip, boarded the S.S. Nevada in the harbor of Cobh, County Cork, Ireland.  Twelve days later they docked at Ellis Island, in New York Harbor.  They actually arrived on Dec. 31, 1891, but had to wait on the ship until Jan. 1, 1892 to enter the brand new Immigration Center on Ellis Island. 

According to a newspaper report from that time, Annie Moore was the first  immigrant to be processed through the brand new Immigration Center at Ellis Island, Port of New York.  Now I’ve read the official copy of the “Passenger’s List”, prepared by “District of the City of N.Y., Port of N.Y.”, signed and dated Jan. 2, 1892.  It plainly records the FIRST name of the passengers off of S.S. Nevada as 21-year-old Ellie (King?)—(the handwriting is illegible).  Annie Moore is listed as #2, and her brothers are listed as numbers 3 & 4.  According to some researchers, Annie and her brothers were probably not even near the first people to disembark on Ellis Island, but for their own reasons, government representatives awarded her the status of “first immigrant on Ellis Island”.

Whatever the truth, Annie Moore was honored as the FIRST immigrant to be processed through Ellis Island, on Jan. 1, 1892.  An official presented her with a U.S. $10 gold coin, the equivalent of close to $300 in current dollars.  The children were reunited with their parents, who were living in a tenement in Manhattan.  In 1895 Annie Moore (1874-1924) married Joseph Schayer (1876-1960), a son of German immigrants, who was a fish salesman at Manhattan’s famous Fulton Fish Market.  They had 11 children together, at least half of which died before reaching adulthood.   In the 29 years she and Joseph were married, it was obvious that she spent many of them pregnant.

Annie was described in one record as “an immense woman” (grossly overweight), and she died of heart failure on Dec. 6, 1924, aged 50.  She was buried in an unmarked  pauper’s grave along with several of her deceased children in Queens, N.Y., and was forgotten by history until Irish author Brendan Graham came across her story and wrote the famous song about her in 1995.  Long confused with another Annie Moore who had moved to Texas and had been killed in an accident, a professional genealogist, Megan Smolenyak, after much research, finally discovered the true story of the Irish immigrant, Annie Moore.  Her unmarked grave in Calvary Cemetery in Queens, N.Y. was eventually identified in August, 2006.                                                 

On Oct. 11, 2008, a wonderful dedication ceremony held in the cemetery unveiled Annie’s first marker for her gravesite, a lovely Celtic Cross cut from Irish blue limestone.  The dedication ceremony is on UTube, and you can watch it yourself.  Lots of bagpipe music, and words by Annie’s descendants and Brendan Graham.  A fitting tribute to a LEGAL immigrant, one of the countless number who helped to make, and shape, our young constitutional republic.