My grandfather, Michael Danko, immigrated to the US from his native town of Nienadowa, Galicia, Austria-Poland when he was 27 years old. He sailed from Antwerp on the S.S. Zeeland and arrived in New York City on March 7, 1905. The passenger manifest (click on the thumbnail below to see the entire manifest) asked in Column 16 “Whether going to join a relative or friend; and if so, what relative or friend, and his name and complete address”. My grandfather is listed on Line 17, and his response to the question in Column 16 is practically unreadable. Patricia, a friend and classmate of mine, helped me figure out with whom my grandfather was staying.
Patricia examined the manifest and thought that she could read the name “Flichtenfeld” and so she started to search the 1900 census records for someone in New York City with that surname. She found an Isaac Flichtenfeld living in New York City with his wife Esther. I took a look at the census records for Isaac and found him in the 1900, 1910, and 1920 census records. The 1910 census record is provided in the thumbnail below.
Isaac Flichtenfeld was enumerated on line 43 of the census record. He is listed with his wife Esther, five children, and a servant. Based on the information in this census, other census records, and the World War I draft registration card for Isaac’s son Carl, I learned that:
- Isaac was a Jewish immigrant from Galicia, Austria-Poland, who immigrated in 1892.
- Isaac lived at 35 First Avenue in New York City.
- Isaac was an umbrella maker.
In examining Column 16 closely, I was able to interpret the handwriting to say that my grandfather was going to stay with:
friend, Isaac Flichtenfeld Hester 1st Ave New York
So exactly who was this New York umbrella maker Issac Flichtenfeld and his wife Esther (Hester)? How did my Roman Catholic grandfather become good enough friends with a Jewish family in New York that he could stay with them? Did they live near each other in Galicia? Did they know each other in Galicia or was my grandfather simply referred to Isaac by someone else? How long did my grandfather stay with Isaac and why did he later leave New York to settle in Worcester, Massachusetts?
I looked for anyone named Flichtenfeld who immigrated through Ellis Island. I didn’t find Isaac or his wife, but most of the Flichtenfelds I could find were from Przemysł, a relatively large town not far from Nienadowa where my grandfather lived. I also found one Flichtenfeld who was from Babice – a village within walking distance of Nienadowa, and a village that, along with Nienadowa, belonged to the Dubiecko parish.
I still don’t know how my grandfather came to stay with a Jewish umbrella maker in New York City when he immigrated in 1905, but this little bit of information adds some detail to my grandfather’s immigration story.
Copyright © 2006 by Stephen J. Danko