Slowly but surely, the legend of Annie Moore — an Irish girl who was the first immigrant to arrive at Ellis Island in 1892 — is becoming less legend and more biography.
Statues in Ireland and New York harbors memorialize the starting ad end-points of her flight from poverty. For years, it was believed that Moore left New York for Texas and died there, but three years ago, experts determined that she stayed New York with other impoverished immigrants, and died in 1924 on the Lower East Side.
Now, The New York Times reports that relatives have found two photos of the woman they believe is the real Annie Moore.
Michael Shulman, Moore's great-nephew, told The Times: “It is of Annie, probably in a photography studio with a baby girl, maybe a year old, in her lap.”
According to the newspaper, Shulman joined four generations of descendants of Annie Moore Schayer (her married name) three years ago to celebrate her rediscovery by genealogist Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak.
“Megan called a few months ago, and we were just chatting,” Shulman told The Times. “Then I mentioned it to my sister, Pat Somerstein, and we said, ‘Let’s start a real hunt for a picture.’ “She found one in a collection given to her by a cousin. The back of the picture is inscribed ‘Ma Schayer.’ The clothing and the quality of the picture indicate that it’s of the right time period.”
The photograph is of a woman a baby. Another photo, thought to be of Annie Moore Schayer years later, was found by Maureen Peterson, one of Schayer’s great-granddaughters.
“Like the photo of Annie with a baby, this one also says ‘Mama Schayer’ on the back,” Smolenyak Smolenyak told The Times. “Maureen believes that the handwriting is that of her Aunt Geri, who passed away in 2001. Geri was the so-called ‘crazy aunt’ who constantly insisted that her grandmother was ‘the Annie.’ She’s the reason why some of the current generation knew this part of their family history.”