Coming to America!
March 24, 2020
Join us on April 17th for Ellis Island Family History Day! In celebration of this day we are having an afternoon full of stories, family trees, and reminiscing.
This event will also be kicking off our Family Tree Project which will be a weekly activity for interested residents to explore their family roots with the help of Ancestry.com. The Family Tree Project will run for four weeks and will end with another celebration during National Nursing Home Week (May 10th – 16th) where residents can share what they learned about their ancestry!
I asked resident Ines S. and her husband, Wolfram, to tell me the story of how they came to America, they laughed and asked how much time did I have?!?
Here is their condensed story:
Ines was born in Latvia, when World War II started, Germany and Russia made a deal to take back the German minority living in Latvia. Ines and many others were shipped to Germany against their will and then to Poland where they stayed throughout the war. At the end of the war, they were told the Russians were coming and to flee, they got out but not soon enough and were forced to stay in Poland and work. Later, Poland ordered them to leave and Ines ended up back in Germany where she met Wolfram who was working at a large estate as an Agriculture Administrator. They were married not long after, but at that time the conditions in Germany were not very good, you could not just go somewhere and live, you had to get permission. They were unable to get a resident permit anywhere and were only allowed to work on a farm so they decided to leave Germany. They applied to Canada and the United States and heard back from the United States first. Wolfram says that since they were considered homeless refugees they were offered jobs and a free passage to the U.S. They came to America in 1952 on a tube ship, ships that were being used to bring back soldiers. All their paperwork was completed in Germany prior to leaving, so they did not have to enter America through Ellis Island. They landed in New York, with nothing with them but a bag and a baby! They boarded a train and ended up in Wisconsin where Wolfram worked on a farm in Spring Valley for a little while. Wolfram then got a job in St. Paul, however, on his way home from St. Paul, he stopped in Prescott and talked to a banker there. That banker owned a lot of houses and offered Wolfram a job and an apartment so they moved to Prescott. They decided Ines would go to college first and when she graduated, Wolfram would go to college. They moved to River Falls and they both worked as teachers, Ines taught in Prescott and Wolfram taught in Hudson. They raised two children and had wonderful life. As Ines tells me, “I don’t need to read love stories, I had my own”.