Maggie Glyllenhaal and Robert Downey, Jr.
The mention of ancestors who first saw America from Ellis Island reminded me of a trip to Ellis Island on a theatre trip to New York City a few years back (the wife and I try to catch some Broadway and off-Broadway shows in NYC every few years).
Using the resources available there for tourists curious about their ancestors, I couldn’t find any trace of my father’s German family. It turns out there’s a very good reason why; a reason that people are not aware of with respect to Ellis Island. Arrival in America at Ellis Island was for indigents, the people who came to America with not much more than the clothes on their backs. Or in other words, steerage passengers.
My father’s family were solidly middle class, they had property to sell in Germany, savings, etc. before their departure for America. People in the middle and upper classes went through regular Customs with very little fuss and were allowed off their boats directly into New York. As a result, there isn’t much trace of my father’s family in official records as there is for families who came through Ellis Island where there are volumes of official paperwork still in existence.