Annie Moore and her brothers on Ellis Island.Public Domain

From The New York Times, Jan 2nd 1892:

”The new buildings on Ellis Island constructed for the use of the Immigration Bureau were yesterday formally occupied by the officials of that department.

“The employees reported at an early hour and each was shown to his place by the Superintendent or his chief clerk. Col Weber was on the island at 8 o’clock and went on a tour of inspection to see that everything was in readiness for the reception of the first boatload of immigrants.

“There were three big steamships in the harbour waiting to land their passengers and there was much anxiety among the newcomers to be the first landed at the new station.

"The honor was reserved for a little rosy-cheeked Irish girl, She was Annie Moore, fifteen years of age later a resident of County Cork and yesterday one of the 148 steerage passengers lo landed from the steamship Nevada. Her name is now distinguished by being the first registered in the book of the new landing bureau.

Annie Moore as a young mother.

Annie Moore as a young mother.

“The steamship that brought Annie Moore arrived late Thursday night. Early yesterday morning the passengers of that vessel were placed on the immigrant transfer boat John E. Moore. The craft was gaily decorated with bunting and ranged alongside the wharf on Ellis Island amid the clanging of bells and din of shrieking whistles.

“As soon as the gangplank was run ashore Annie tripped across it and was hurried into the big building that almost covers the entire island.

“By a prearranged plan she was escorted to a registry deck which was temporarily occupied by Mr. Charles M. Hendley the former private secretary of Secretary Windom, he asked as a special favor the privilege of registering the first immigrant and Col Weber agreed.

"When the little voyager had been registered Col Weber presented her with a ten dollar gold piece and made a short address of congratulation. It was the first United States coins she had ever seen and the largest sum of money she had ever possessed. She says she will never part with it but will always keep it as a pleasant memento of the occasion, She was accompanied by her two younger brothers. The trio came to join their parents who live at 32 Monroe Street this city.”

The first ticket sold at the railroad station for the new building was purchased by Ellen King on her way from Waterford, Ireland to a small town in Minnesota.

Irish Central Editors: For more on Annie’s sad life go to http://nymag.com/news/features/65902/ .

Alas, Annie would not have a charmed life, never living far from Ellis Island in slum neighborhoods packed with Irish and other immigrants. Thanks to genealogist Megan Smolenyak, we know there were two older kids as well as her parents waiting for her, that she was 17 not 15 in order to get a cheaper fare, and that she lived in abject poverty, losing many of her children to illness in the unhealthy slums. Nonetheless, she will always own that bright shining moment when she was Annie Moore, the first person through Ellis Island.