September 9, 2015

1923-Paul comes to America through Ellis Island

From the moment they married Paul made it clear that his dream was America. In the page "Paul's ancestral home Stuskin" I told how Pauls father, Anders Sevaldsen, had thrown away Paul's future. Paul had an aunt who had gone to Chicago earlier, Dagmar's uncle had also settled in Chicago. Chicago was a busy, growing city, ripe with opportunities for hard-working young men and women. There was also a good size Norwegian population in Chicago at that time.The industrial revolution was in full gear and Paul, a machinist, saw a future there for himself and his young family.    The Encyclopedia of Chicago History tells the story of Norwegians in Chicago.

Like many others, Paul left first for the U.S. with the intention of settling into a job and place to live and sending back the money he made for the emigration of his family. He traveled 3 hours by train to Oslo.


In Oslo Paul boarded the "Bergensfjord" for the trip to America. He traveled third class, what used to be termed steerage but now in the1920's even third class was a much nicer trip that the trip that earlier emigrants endured. As you can see by the photos, the ship was nicely equipped, clean and safe. In fact the Bergensfjord and its sister ships the Stavangerfjord and the Oslofjord advertised in both Norway and America catering to not only Norwegian emigrants but those who wished to return to Norway either permanently or for a family visit or to Americans who wished to vacation in Scandinavia. The Bergensfjord would eventually become a luxury cruise ship. Not only was the trip over the Atlantic much shorter and more pleasant than it had been for the early emigrants, it also was much cheaper.






This would be the type of cabin that Paul would have traveled in, sharing with three other men. Above passengers stroll the deck of the Bergensfjord on a pleasant, not too cool day.


Paul arrived at Ellis Island 1 August 1923. First and second class passengers and those passengers who were not immigrants deported directly in New York. Immigrants stayed on the boat for an additional few hours or many hours (depending how busy the Ellis Island officials were) and were then taken by smaller ferry boats to Ellis Island proper where they were questioned and inspected for health issues.


Line #7 Sevaldsen, Paul, 28 yrs. old, male, married, occupation mechanic, can read and write Norwegian, country of origin Norway, race Scandinavian, last permanent residence Gjerpen, Norway, family member in home country is wife Dagmar Sevaldsen Strømdal pr. Skien, has a ticket to his final destination paid by self, has $20, never been to U.S. before, going to join friend; Mathilde Wenneberg 5028 Sawyer Chicago, is not returning home, plans to stay in the U.S. permanently with intention of becoming a citizen, good health, 5'3" fair complexion, blond hair & blue eyes, no distinguishing marks, born in Kragerø, Norway


At Ellis Island, after being admitted to the United States Paul and his two traveling companions, Tomas and Einar were directed to the train station that would bring them to Chicago. 


Paul sent home picture postcards from Chicago for his wife and baby Gerd to show how well he was doing and how rich everyone was in America. The outfits were rented at the photography studio. He actually lived in a basement apartment. The Salvation Army gave him a bed, rug and chair. He worked nights in a Chicago brewery. He never did become rich but Paul never did regret his decision. He loved America and became a citizen as soon as he could and changed his name from Sevaldsen to Sevald to "sound more American".