The Year Was 1892

Ellis IslandThe Ellis Island Immigration Center was officially dedicated on New Year’s Day in 1892. On that day, a fifteen-year-old Irish girl, Annie Moore, from County Cork, was the first person processed at Ellis Island. She arrived on the SS Nevada and was presented with a ten-dollar gold piece. This first station would last only five years. A fire destroyed the pine frame buildings in 1897 and the receiving station reopened in 1900.

By the time Ellis Island closed in 1954, more than 16 million immigrants passed through this gateway. Nearly half the current population of the United States is directly related to immigrants who passed through this gateway to liberty.

In February, a typhus outbreak in New York is traced to immigrants, mostly Jews from Eastern Europe, who arrived on the Massilia. Health officials race to quarantine immigrants from the ship, both sick and healthy. This and a later outbreak of cholera in New York spur the National Quarantine Act of 1893. The book “Quarantine! East European Jewish Immigrants and the New York City Epidemics of 1892,” by Howard Markel examines this period. The Middletown Daily Times (Middletown, New York) for 16 February 1892 also contains reports on the efforts to quarantine immigrants who arrived on the Massilia.

There was also a cholera epidemic in parts of Russia and Germany. In Hamburg, 142,000 people (13 percent of the population) died of the disease.

On the technological front, AT&T opened the first commercial long-distance phone line from New York to Chicago. It could only handle one call at a time, and the price was steep, even by today’s standards–$9.00 for the first five minutes.

Americans were humming Daisy Bell (a.k.a., Bicycle Built for Two) and the world was introduced to Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson when Arthur Conan Doyle published The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, naming the main character for Oliver Wendell Holmes.

In sports, the first official basketball game was played. The first nets were actually peach baskets. No word on who won the game.

7 thoughts on “The Year Was 1892

  1. I love the articles that show what happened during a year that was significant to research on an ancestor. A previous article about the conditions in New York City in 1853 was greatly appreciated. Keep up the good work!

  2. I was fascinated to see the photo of children in Lucky Strike, Alberta. My great-grandparents homesteaded there from about 1900 to 1917, when they returned to Kentucky. Their names were John William Dearinger and Sarah Ann (Atha) Dearinger. Their daughter Izora was the only one to stay in Alberta. She married Bert Roe in Alberta and their descendants still live there.

  3. That was the year my maternal grandmother, Hattie Jones, graduated from college! It was the old New Albany (IN) Business College. I have her graduation photo, but it’s much too large to scan, however she did list all her fellow graduates on the back! She was the great grandaughter of Dr. Peter Trisler, one of Kentucky’s pioneer physicians!

  4. I enjoy very much these articles on the different centuries. My Dad was born January 25, 1892. He started to school in 1898 and went through the Sixth Reader, which was the equivalent of an eighth grade education at that time. The Milnes Arithmetic books and the Franklin readers were being used at that time and I have copies of all the originals of both of these as well as copies of many other school books back to 1845, which is a Milnes algebra book and is leather-bound.
    I especially appreciate the historic events of each of the years. I’m a genealogical researcher and a history buff.

  5. Why are the recent “The Year Was . . .” all reprints of past articles? Will you be doing any new ones soon?

  6. It should be noted that physical restoration has begun on the Ellis Island. It is being carried out by a company called Paragon Restoration from Kenilworth, NJ. Without this important work we would have records but we would loose a huge part of our Hisory.

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