Friday, January 30, 2015

What Would They Think?

I try to put myself in my ancestors' shoes (wooden shoes for some of them) and imagine what they were thinking as they first saw the United States.  I'm sure the kids were filled with excitement, but if I were a mom who had left everything I knew and put all my eggs in this immigration basket, I think I would have wanted to throw up over the side of the ship.

My ancestors came to the States through a number of ports, but Castle Garden in NYC was the main one.  My Kerkhoffs arrived on 28 October 1864 after leaving Haselünne, Germany on 15 September 1864.  In a matter of 6 weeks, they bade farewell to a very small town that had been the only home any of them had ever known and then had to face navigating an overwhelming New York City.  

Hasestraße 4
The Home of My Kerkhoff Family

The Adler
The Kerkhoff Family's Ship

Lately, I've been reminded of their arrival and that it has, in part, made me who I am (this goes for all of my ancestors).  It has played a significant role in the opportunities I enjoy and the path my life has taken.  And since May 2014, that path has taken me to NYC.  I'm based there now and commute 2 or 3 times per month.  More often than not, I have to fly into LGA and cab it over to JFK.  And if I sit on the left side of the aircraft, the view reminds me of my Kerkhoff family's journey here.  I see the area that they saw (now Castle Clinton).  And I have to wonder......what would they think of their granddaughter who now flies into NYC at least a couple of times per month?  FLY???!!!!  Travel from Cincinnati to NYC in a couple of hours????!!!!

I love this view even though I know the Statue of Liberty wasn't there when my ancestors arrived.

See the "bottom" of Manhattan? That's where The Adler sailed into.  Now, it's Castle Clinton.

What would they have thought of their great great great granddaughter standing in the same place they stood?

Great Great Great Granddaughter of Casper and Lisette Kerkhoff

Every single time I fly into NYC, I think about my ancestors.  I know that if they hadn't made the decisions they did, I wouldn't be doing what I'm doing.  I owe everything to them.