Discovering our Ancestors' Travels and Travails

Even today, the decision to leave one’s homeland and venture to another country is not easy. There are risks in travel and no guarantee that things will go smoothly. In 1913, some of my relatives were detained at the border before gaining admittance to the United States.

Of his family, my grandfather Jan Skrok came to the United States first. He sailed from Antwerp, Belgium, on the S.S. Finland on 15 March 1913 and arrived at the Port of New York 31 March 1913.

1913 manifest, S.S. Finland sailed from Antwerp 15 March 1913

Jan‘s last residence was Stodoly, Russia, and he was leaving behind his uncle, W. [illegible] in the Radom province.

1913 manifest, S.S. Finland arrived Port of New York 31 March 1913

Jan was going to meet an acquaintance, Piotr Pacholczak in Buffalo, New York, at 580 Fillmore Avenue. Peter Pacholczak was listed in the 1914 Buffalo city directory at that address. Jan was five feet, eight inches tall, with a fair complexion, blond hair, and blue eyes.

acquaintance Piotr Pacholczak, Buffalo, N.Y., 580 Fillmore Ave.

Jan‘s stepfather Andrzej Kwiatek had departed Rotterdam, Netherlands, 31 Oct 1912 on the ship Volturno of the Uranium Steamship Company and arrived in Halifax, Nova Scotia 11 November 1912. He was a Roman Catholic general labourer going to his married sister in Toronto, Ontario.

1912 manifest, ship Volturno, Rotterdam, Netherlands, to Halifax, Nova Scotia

On 4 May 1913, Andrzej Kwiatek arrived in Niagara Falls, New York. He was joining his step-son Janos Skrok at 580 Fillmore in Buffalo, New York.

1913 immigration card, Andrezij Kwiatek, Niagara Falls, New York

Andrzej reported leaving behind his wife Marianna in Belinen, Russia, and this was his first time in the United States.

Jan‘s mother and Andrzej‘s wife Maryanna Kwiatek and her three daughters Julianna and Aniela Kwiatek and Stanisława Skrok all left Bremen 12 June 1913 on the S.S. Lutzow and arrived at the Port of New York on 26 June 1913.

1913 manifest, S.S. Lutzow sailed from Bremen 12 June 1913

Maryanna and her young daughters Julianna and Aniela were listed together on the passenger manifest. They were leaving behind Maryanna‘s brother-in-law Ignacy Wojciech [Wójcik] in Stodoly, Radom.

1913 manifest, S.S. Lutzow sailed to New York 26 June 1913

They were going to join Maryanna‘s son and the girls’ brother, Jan Skrok, at 580 Fillmore in Buffalo, New York. Maryanna was described as 5 foot 2 inches. All three had blond hair and blue eyes. They had been born in Stodoly.

1913 manifest, S.S. Lutzow sailed from Bremen 12 June 1913

Maryanna‘s daughter Stanisława Skrok also was traveling from Stodoly, Russia. She left behind her aunt, Wiktorya Wójcik, in Stodoly, Radom. With this information and the information in Maryanna‘s entry, I was able to find the record for Maryanna‘s half-sister Wiktorya Wozignój‘s marriage to Ignacy Wójcik in Wojciechowice in 1898. [1]

1913 manifest, S.S. Lutzow sailed to New York 26 June 1913

Stanisława had purchased her ticket herself, and was going to her brother Jan Skrok at 580 Fillmore in Buffalo, New York. She was five feet, two inches tall, with blond hair and blue eyes, and said her birthplace was Stodoly.

S.S. Lutzow, Norddeutscher Lloyd “Bremen” Line

I was able to find a picture of the ship at the Norway Heritage site.

Unfortunately, Maryanna Kwiatek and her three daughters Julianna and Aniela Kwiatek and Stanisława Skrok were detained for five days as aliens at Ellis Island for the Board of Special Inquiry.

1913 S.S. Lutzow Record of Aliens Held for Special Inquiry, Ellis Island, New York

United States immigration law started in 1891 to bar admittance for people who were considered to become an “L. P. C.”, Likely Public Charge. It was the most common cause of detention and grounds for exclusion/ deportation. Criteria such as enough money, relatives, friends, and prospects for providing for oneself were considered. Women were especially vulnerable.

Maryanna, Julianna, Aniela, and Stanisława were released on 1 July 1913 and admitted to the United States. This is in line with the meals they consumed, 20 breakfasts, 16 dinners, and 20 suppers, which were charged to the steamship line. Although the record does not say whom, someone in the United States must have accepted responsibility for them before they were allowed admission to the United States. It was likely to have been Andrzej Kwiatek or Jan Skrok, another male family member, or perhaps an immigrant aid society that was able to post a bond for them.

The possibility of being separated and/or turned away at the border was why Ellis Island was known as the Isle of Tears.

[1] Maryanna‘s other half-sister, Aniela Wozignój, had married Michał Podgórski in Wojciechowice in 1895. While Maryanna‘s parents were Jan Kasprzyk and Małgorzata Bartkiewicz, both Aniela and Wiktorya were the daughters of Jan Wozignój and Małgorzata Bartkiewicz.


  • The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation (SOLEIF)
  • “Passenger Lists,” database, The Statue of Liberty – Ellis Island Foundation, Ellis Island ( accessed 2010), Jan Skrok; citing ship manifests.
  • U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2011.
  • Database, Library and Archives Canada, Canadian Genealogy Centre ( : accessed March 2719), ship Volturno, Uranium Steamship Company.
  • “United States Border Crossings from Canada to United States, 1895-1956,” digital images, ( : accessed April 2018), Andrzy Kwiatek.
  • “Ancestry Passenger Lists,” database, Ancestry ( accessed 25 March 2019), Maryanna Kwiatek; citing Passenger Lists. Year: 1913; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 2115; Line: 18; Page Number: 79
  • “Ancestry Passenger Lists,” database, Ancestry ( accessed March 2019), Stanislawa Skrock; citing Passenger Lists. Year: 1913; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 2115; Line: 23; Page Number: 132
  • Norway Heritage

Comments on: "Ellis Island Board of Special Inquiry" (5)

  1. […] a researcher finds a surprise, as I did with our great aunt Julianna Kwiatek. I knew she had arrived in Buffalo in 1913 with her half-sister Stanislawa Skrok, her mother Maryanna Kwiatek and her sister Aniela Kwiatek. […]


  2. […] Stanisława and Jan–had been born in the Radom province of Russian occupied Poland. They immigrated to Buffalo, Erie, New York, where Adam and Stanisława married 31 Aug 1914, and Jan and Agnieszka […]


  3. […] My grandparents were Jan Skrok and Agnieszka Kapuścińska. Jan‘s sister was Stanisława Skrok before her marriage to Adam Kiec. Jan and Stanisława Skrok were born in Kaliszany to Wincenty Skrok and Marianna Kaszpryk in the Radom Province of Russian occupied Poland in 1892 and 1894 and baptized in Wojciechowice near Opatów and Sandomierz in what is now the Świętokrzyskie Voivodeship of Poland. They immigrated to Buffalo, New York, in 1913. […]


  4. […] 1906 and 1913, many of the children of Ignacy Rzepka and Małgorzata Skrok, their cousins Jan and Stanisława Skrok, as well as other relatives, had left their little village of Kaliszany near Opatów in the Radom […]


  5. […] grandparents Jan and Agnieszka immigrated to the United States in 1913. They married in 1915 in Buffalo, Erie, New […]


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