Sight of the Statue of Liberty was Exciting

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By Capper's Staff | Mar 12, 2013

I was told this story many times by my Uncle Albert Harazim. He lived in Lankin, North Dakota. He was born in the small village of Smrzov, Bohemia Czechoslovakia, on April 21, 1893, the youngest of six children. His parents owned a tract of land equivalent to about 10 acres. They were very hard workers. His father was also a tailor. As soon as his father had an extra $150 and one of the children turned 17, he sent them to the United States. After all the children were sent to the United States, his father decided they should all emigrate. They sold their land and sent their prized possessions in a trunk to the children who were already here. Uncle Albert always liked to tell about coming over on the biggest German passenger steamer at the time, The Wilhelm Kaiser II. It was about 1,000 feet long, 100 feet wide and three stories high. They were on the second story. They were oh so excited when they saw the Statue of Liberty. Everyone who could got up on the deck and yelled and hollered.

A 21-gun salute welcomed them to New York Harbor on July 3. The salute frightened his mother, who said, “Why did we come here? It is a war.” They were checked by the doctor on Ellis Island. His mother had broken out from washing in the saltwater on the ship. The doctor thought she might have some disease so they quarantined her. Uncle Albert and his father couldn’t understand the language, and they didn’t know what had happened to Albert’s mother. They sat and cried. After several hours the doctor released her. From there they took the train to Conway, North Dakota, where they were met by Uncle Albert’s brother, whom he had never seen because he left home before Albert was born. Uncle Albert was 12 years old when they came here. I used to love to hear him tell us about their trip over the ocean.

Rose Potulny
Fordville, North Dakota

Back in 1955 a call went out from the editors of the then Capper’s Weekly asking for readers to send in articles on true pioneers. Hundreds of letters came pouring in from early settlers and their children, many now in their 80s and 90s, and from grandchildren of settlers, all with tales to tell. So many articles were received that a decision was made to create a book, and in 1956, the first My Folks title – My Folks Came in a Covered Wagon – hit the shelves. Nine other books have since been published in the My Folks series, all filled to the brim with true tales from Capper’s readers, and we are proud to make those stories available to our growing online community.

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