Immigration to the USA
Alice, I hope that all is going well back in Sweden, and that you are safe and sound. I’m sorry, that we never formally said goodbye, but life goes on as I know we will meet again someday. Just remember to remain optimistic and pray that you will find employment. Once I have settled down in the United States, I will send food and money to get you through this time of economic turmoil.
Though this journey has been long so far, I still have a long ways to go. I have just boarded a train heading to the farmlands of the United States to start a new life as a farmer. The conditions I am faced on the boat were horrendous as I was cramped on a the floor with many other immigrants escaping the turmoil. As I left home, to go to the port, I did not realize how difficult this journey would be until I saw the hundreds of people waiting to enter onto the boat, racing to gain the same freedom I was hoping to see in the distant future. As I entered through the port, many of us were pulled to the side and told that we could only carry a few of our most precious items with us on our journey. Thankfully, I had imagined that this would be the case as I was packing and thus decided it would be necessary to only bring a pen to write this letter, our last picture we took together as we walked in the snow to Christmas eve mass, and documentations of my farming experience.
As I entered the boat, I began to think that the journey would not be as bad as Mr. Skolden had originally told me. However, I quickly learned that I was one of the first passengers to board the ship as hundreds of others boarded hours after I had. Finally, after waiting at port for a whole day, we noticed the ship begging to move through the water and away from our home land. Though we were thankful to be out of our country filled with turmoil, we realized that the hardest part was yet to come as we would spend weeks traveling across the Atlantic without being able to sit or sleep.
We were given very little food, usually only a small loaf of bread a day and water. Though it was not wise, I seldom drank the water as it was not sterile and many people became ill as soon as it entered their mouths. These conditions worsened as our journey continued. Soon every one of us was sick. Many were not strong enough to fight the sickness and many of the elderly as well as young died. We did not complain though, as with each dead body that was thrown overboard left us with more space.
Our journey across the Atlantic seemed like a never ending torture device until the morning of March 23. We saw in the distance what looked to be a cityscape and as we came closer, we realized we had made it. It was a miracle for those of us who had survived the awful journey to see there distant city filled with hopes and dreams of a new life. Sadly, many of us did not realize that the hardest part was yet to come.
When we reached the harbor, we exited the boat in lines of three and entered onto the port of Ellis Island. Here we were interviewed and interrogated to see if we would be allowed to stay in the country or have to make the long, unforgiving journey back home. When it was my turn to be interviewed, I had to show the port authority my farming documentations to prove that I had come here to benefit their country with my skill of farming. Though many had been able to prove themselves useful, some, but very little were forced to return home. For these people I have prayed heavily for day and night.
Many of immigrants stayed in the city were they hoped to find jobs working in a store or restaurant while some, including myself, decided to travel west on a train to the farmlands were we could start our lives a new. Thus, I am currently writing to you as I make my journey westward to start my life anew. The great state of Oklahoma is where I hope to reside as I hear they have rich soil, great for planting and farming. I realize that you, my dear Alice, will not receive this letter for several months, if ever, from this point in time in which I am writing. However, if you ever decide to make the journey over, I promise that it will all be worth it.