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  • Wasyl Pelak

  • Wasyl Pelak (1887-1928) was the son of Stefan and Helena (or Julianna) Pelak. Handwritten family notes indicate that he was born in ""Peregrimka" although his immigration papers record his emigration from the smaller nearby village of Wola Cieklinska.

    Sixteen year old Wasyl entered the United States through Ellis Island on November 10, 1903 after first journeying to Bremen, Germany. (It is estimated that two-thirds of Carpatho-Rusyn immigrants emigrated from Bremen and Hamburg.) He crossed the Atlantic on the Kaiser Wilhelm II in its maiden year. The four-funneled star of the Norddeutscher (North German) Lloyd line offered its first class passengers richly marbled and paneled public areas of exceptional grandeur. It was a different story for its steerage passengers. A 1906 work, On the Trail of the Immigrant, by Edward Steiner, described steerage in the Kaiser Wilhelm II: "Packed like cattle…[t]here is neither breathing space below or deck room above…The stenches become unbearable [with] pestilential air…Unsavory rations are not served, but doled out, with less courtesy than one would find in a charity soup kitchen." The description concludes, "steerage of the modern ship ought to be condemned as unfit for the transportation of human beings."

    Continued...



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