While reading Vincent J. Cannato’s American Passage – The History of Ellis Island I found something interesting in the section about Annie Moore being the first official emigrant at Ellis Island.
“How Annie became the first official immigrant at Ellis Island is unclear. One story claims that officials had rushed her ahead of a male Austrian immigrant. Another claimed that a fellow passenger named Mike Tierney, in a “spark of Celtic galantry,” pulled the Austrian away from the gangplank by his collar, shouting “Ladies first,” and let young Annie pass.” (Page 58)
While 1892 is too late for the Mike Tierney mentioned here as Annie Moore’s helper to be my great-grandfather (who arrived about 1880), I had a look into old Mike and see if there might not be some connection. (It would be a long shot if there were, but seems an interesting story to follow up on in any case.)
Unfortunately, my first look searching the manifest at Ellis Island doesn’t show any Tierneys on the same ship as Annie Moore. Guess I’ll need to page through the whole thing in case there was a transcription error and/or check other ships that may have landed that same day. Or, it the story does have some truth to it, could it have possibly been a worker from Ellis Island? Hmm.
Update (14 Feb 2013): I saw a mention of the Annie Moore story again today and looked around the see if I could find the source of that “spark of Celtic gallantry” quote – I see the quote has been used a few times online without having a Mike Tierney mentioned, but I haven’t found a source for it more detailed than “According to a local cub reporter….” (Before anyone suggests it, American Passage does not list a source for this story either.)
I’ve searched the Chronicling America newspapers around 1892 to see if it might appear, but no luck yet. Has anyone actually seen the source of this quote, or better yet, one with the mention of the gallant Mr. Tierney?