Passage on a steam ship was booked to Ellis Island for about thirty
A pre-boarding medical exam and de-lousing session were performed by
employees of the shipping line. The ship line could be fined up to
one thousand dollars for any unhealthy, unacceptable immigrant brought
to Ellis Island, and then forced to provide free passage back to the port
of origin for those not permitted into America. Also, the threat
of disease spreading rampant on board ship caused many travelers to be
refused access onto the ships. (Severn).
Their journeys must end in the Gdansk port, after the medical examiners
denied them passage and sent them home. For those like Jacob who
were approved for travel, a trip which would last from 8 to 14 days began
as they were loaded into the steerage area like baggage. And despite
the pre-screening in port, disease ran rampant among this human cargo.
(Journey to America). Many died, and others were so ill before the
voyage's end that they were detained on Ellis Island. Sanitation was primitive
on board ship, and the overcrowding of passengers was inhuman. The
smell of vomit and human body odor could only be escaped by crowding onto
the deck of the ship for fresh air. (America: The Huddled Masses).
One of the many things that Jacob Dyrek had in common with the other immigrants
was a dream for a better life in America. This hope alone made the