Sunday, September 17, 2006

Where's Arne?

Okay, so now we know what became of the first person processed at Ellis Island. I think it's time to find out what happened to the last person launched through the "golden door."

According to newspaper accounts, a 48-year-old merchant seaman from Narvik, Norway, named Arne Peterssen was the last detainee released before Ellis Island officially closed. This happened on the morning of Nov. 12, 1954. The next day's United Press report says that Peterssen "walked across a platform at Ellis Island and boarded a Manhattan-bound ferry," having previously been paroled. A Providence Journal story dated Sept. 9, 1990, states that he had "jumped ship in New York Harbor in November 1952," suggesting that this was the reason for his detention.

I'm not sure how this jibes with a 2005 New York Times article, which says that Peterssen "was sent home 50 years ago for overstaying his work permit."

My pockets aren't so deep that I can offer a $1,000 reward for information on Arne Peterssen's whereabouts, but I can offer something just as good: Whoever provides me with compelling evidence of Arne's fate will be awarded a free lifetime subscription to The Genealogue.*

*Internet charges may apply. The Genealogue may cease publication before your lifetime ends. In fact, publication could cease at any moment. Offer void in Guam and Vermont.

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