In 1913, a
ticket on a steamship that was headed for the United States could be bought for thirty-four dollars. Between
1905 and 1914, over 700,000 Eastern Europeans left from German ports
on their way to their destination.
Jankiel Gniazdowicz, aka Harry Ness, boarded a ship docked in Bremen, Germany and came to the United States through Ellis
Island in December of 1913. He had been born and lived his early life
in the shtetl of Gniazdowo, very near to the larger town of Sniadowo. He
married a woman from Ostrow Mazowiecka named Sarah (Sura Ryfka nee
Wegrowicz) and had their first child Gitel. Sura Ryfka and Gitel
stayed in Ostrow Mazowiecka with Sura Ryfka's family after Chona
Jankiel emigrated, eventually following him to the States nearly seven
years later, in July of 1920. Harry and Sarah had two more children
while living in the United States, and named them
Pearl and Miriam.
I remember that my grandparents
spoke of Chona Jankiel with a great fondness, and I do remember his occasional
visits to their apartment in Brooklyn during the years of my youth.
Since Chona Jankiel did not own a car, he
would take whatever opportunity he had to leave his house in
Bensonhurst with someone who could give him a ride to the nearby East
New York section of Brooklyn, where he would visit my grandfather and
a number of his other relatives, many of whom lived in the same area.
Both he and my grandfather
were born with the surname Gniazdowicz, in the same area in NE Poland,
and both changed their names to Harry Ness while living in the United