Detained Passengers and the Board of Special Inquiry

The Passenger Arrival Manifests that listed Antoni Siborowski and his family showed that several of the passengers were detained or held for review by a Board of Special Inquiry.  Why were these actions taken?  The passengers listed on lines 1-3 were Justine Rode and her two children who were held for a Board of Special Inquiry, as indicated by the notation “S.I.” near the beginning of the lines.  The passengers listed on lines 18-23 were Antoni Siborowski and his step-family (the Skowronskis) who were simply detained, as indicated by the “X” near the beginning of the lines.

Siborowski Manifest

Record of Aliens Held for Special Inquiry

Rode Special Inquiry 1

Aliens were held for Special Inquiry for a number of reasons, but the most common were “LPC” (Likely Public Charge) or “MED” (Medical), both of which might give officials reason to believe that the immigrant would not be able to support himself or his dependents.  There were many other reasons for Special Inquiry, however.

Sometimes, on the far left of the form was listed the age and sex of the individual, such as “40f” for a 40-year-old female.  This notation was not made on the form shown, however.  Then a sequential index number was listed, followed by the passenger’s name and a cross-reference to the main passenger list Group (Page) and Number (Line Number).  The number of persons, cause of detention, time of detention, name of inspector is listed next, followed by the Action of the Board (Excluded, Rehearings, Admitted), Deportation Information, and Meals Served.  Someone who was excluded could appeal the ruling and obtain supporting information from friends and family, such as was the case of Hocher Bodner.

Justine Rode and her children (number 1 on this list) were finally admitted to the United States, although they had been detained as being Likely Public Charges for about nine days before being admitted.  Passengers numbered 3 & 4 were not so lucky.  They were deported.

Record of Detained Aliens

Siborowski Detained 1

On the left side of this form, the Group (Page) and Number (Line Number) of each detained alien is recorded and cross-references the Page and Line Number on which the alien is recorded in the main list.  In the middle of the page, the Cause of Detention is listed.  These entries indicate if the passenger was waiting for someone, such as a husband or brother, to meet them.  In general, women and minors were not permitted to travel alone unless someone was expecting them.  The Cause of Detention in these cases was listed as “to husb” (to husband) or “to bro” (to brother).  If the individual did not have the money to purchase a fare to his or her final destination, the Cause of Detention might read “to tel $”, meaning a telegram had been sent to a friend or relative asking for funds for transportation.  Furthermore, a time listed in the Cause column indicates the time of day when the passenger was detained.  The list of meals at the far right allowed immigration officials to charge steamship companies for the cost of meals for detained aliens, since the steamship companies were responsible for their passengers until the passengers were admitted into the United States.

Antoni Siborowski and his family were detained because there was no boat, but were admitted the next day.  The reason “no boat” is significant is that immigrant ships did not dock at Ellis Island itself, but anchored nearby and the passengers were transported to Ellis Island in smaller boats.  Perhaps Antoni and his family arrived on a particularly busy day.  I can’t imagine how they felt to be told that they had to stay on board the Graf Waldersee for another day after a long, arduous trip, first to Hamburg, and then to New York!

Take a second look at your ancestors’ passenger manifests and perhaps you can learn more about their journey than you knew before!

This entry was posted in Daily Journal and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Detained Passengers and the Board of Special Inquiry

  1. Pingback: Steve’s Genealogy Blog » John Jwanauski Detained at Ellis Island

  2. Lori says:

    I attempted to obtain records from the Board of Special Inquiry, similar to Bodner’s, above. I believe that they exist in my case because there was an appeal. I just got a response from Homeland Security after doing a FOIA request, and it was simply a one page index card with scant information. Would some other government agency have information from an appeal from the Board of Special inquiry (Ellis Island), if it exists?

Comments are closed.