What Happened to Annie Moore?

The March issue of the free online magazine, Irish Lives Remembered, features several articles about researching in County Limerick. However, I had to stop my browsing and immediately read the entire article about Annie Moore.

American genealogist Megan Smolenyak uncovered the story of what happened to Annie Moore, which is reported in Irish Lives Remembered:

Annie Moore was the first immigrant to be processed at Ellis Island when it officially opened on January 1, 1892. She made headlines in all the newspapers of the day and officials presented her with a $10 gold coin in commemoration of the special event.

Anne or Annie Moore was born around May 25th, 1874 at 154 Old Youghal Road, Cork City to parents Matthew and Julie Moore. The family later moved to Rowland’s Lane near Shandon. Annie’s parents emigrated to America around 1890 (date was not confirmed) in search of a better life and settled in the Manhattan area leaving Annie and her two brothers in the safe care of their aunt in Cork. When they were established in America they sent for their three children to join them in America. Annie and her two brothers Phillip (aged 11) and Anthony (aged 15) were 3 of only 8 Irish on a ship of 145 steerage passengers who were mostly Russians and Germans passing through Queenstown (now known as Cobh) to America on December 20, 1891. After 12 days of sailing on the SS NEVADA, they arrived in the harbour in New York on December 31, 1891. The boat docked in the New York harbour and the passengers were ferried from the Nevada and landed on the newly opened Ellis Island terminal.

In 1895 Annie married the son of a German baker called Joseph Augustus Schayer known as Pops Schayer at St James Church. Joseph was a salesman at the Fulton Fish Market in New York and they set up home on Rutgers Street and finally settled at 99 Cherry Street. Annie spent nearly every year of her marriage pregnant with, giving birth to or burying a child, only 5 of her 11 children survived to adulthood. Life was very hard for Annie and there was not a lot of money about in the household to provide for everyone. Annie died of heart failure on December 6th, 1924 aged 50 at her home on Cherry Street. She was buried with six of her children at Calvary Cemetery in Queens, New York. Her previously unmarked grave was identified by Megan Smolnyak and her husband in July 2006; as a result Megan organized a reunion for Annie’s family members in September 2006.

On October 11, 2006 a dedication ceremony was held at Calvary in Annie Moore’s honour where a new headstone was erected over her grave. The headstone features a Celtic cross in Irish blue limestone, Celtic knots, an Irish harp, two garlands of shamrocks, an etching of the $10 gold coin, and a sprig of cherry blossoms to represent Annie’s years on Cherry Street. Onbe day earlier on the 10th October Cork’s Lord Mayor Cllr. Brian Bermingham unveiled a Plaque to Annie on the house at 2 Rowland’s Lane where Annie once lived.

Assisting Smolenyak in solving the mystery were Pat Somerstein (Annie’s greatniece), Brian Anderson from the New York Records Office, and genealogists across the country. Tim McCoy and the students of Scoil Oilibheir in Cork assisted with research in Ireland and later produced a short video on Annie’s story.

A statue of Annie Moore and her two brothers can be seen at Cobh.

The complete March issue of Irish Lives Remembered, including guidance about Limerick genealogy and details about the University College of Cork’s summer school can be accessed at: https://flipflashpages.uniflip.com/2/71043/325969/pub/

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