A Genealogue Exclusive [What's That?]Annie Moore has been the object of a frantic search since genealogist Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak announced a $1,000 reward for information on her fate. Now comes news that Annie—the first immigrant to pass through Ellis Island—is alive and well, a resident of the Cedar Rapids Home for the Aged.
Mrs. Annie (Moore) Donnelly is in remarkably good health for a 129-year-old woman, and is the reigning arm-wrestling champion at the home. She spoke to The Genealogue on Wednesday morning.
"Yes, I was the first at Ellis Island," she confirms. "I heard they were giving away a $10 gold coin to the first person off the ship, so I ran to grab it. Might've pushed down a couple of old folks. My brothers were fast runners, so I kicked 'em in the shins."
Mrs. Donnelly was surprised to learn that genealogists were looking for her, but not surprised that they could find no trace of her.
"Never trusted the government," she says. "Me and my husband never got a marriage license, never had any births certified. Census takers would come once in a while, but we'd beat 'em off the porch with a stick of wood."
Now that she has been found, Mrs. Donnelly is anxious to regain her anonymity.
"I don't care to have visitors. You tell that Smolenyak woman to send me my thousand dollars, and then leave me the hell alone!"