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Jens Nielsen Skousen
This is my great-great-grandfather, Jens Nielsen Skousen. On May 20, 1862, with the Civil War raging to the south, he, his wife and several hundred other Danish immigrants sailed into New York harbor and disembarked at Castle Garden in Manhattan, following their sea journey of about six weeks. They had joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and were obeying their prophet’s direction to “gather to Zion.”

Castle Garden was operated by New York State, and was eventually the point of entry for more than eight million immigrants. However, with growing numbers of immigrants and widespread incompetence and corruption at Castle Garden, in 1892 the United States government built a new federal immigration station on Ellis Island. Located in New York harbor, less than a mile away from and in full view of the Statue of Liberty, over 12 million immigrants would start their search for the American dream here.

The entire collection of Ellis Island and Castle Garden Passenger Arrival Lists from 1820 to 1957 is now available online at and the Statue of Liberty–Ellis Island Foundation. A free, searchable online database, it contains family connections for more than 100 million Americans living today.

This amazing trove of family history information was originally preserved on microfilm, but over time a massive army of FamilySearch volunteers—in excess of 150,000 strong—digitized and indexed these microfilm records to make them much more user friendly and available without cost to everyone.

“This completes the circle of our decades-long collaboration with the team from FamilySearch, which began with providing the public with unprecedented access to their genealogy and sparking a worldwide phenomenon linking past and present,” said Stephen A. Briganti, president and CEO of the Statue of Liberty–Ellis Island Foundation.

The expanded collections can be searched at the Statue of Liberty–Ellis Island Foundation’s website or at FamilySearch in three collections, representing three distinct periods of migration history:

Locally, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints maintains a Family History Center in the southwest corner of their building located at 312 Stadium Drive in Tallahassee. Use of the Family History Center is available without cost to all who are interested in family history research. With a well trained staff, led by co-directors Charlie and Shari Watson, interested patrons can get help and suggestions for exploring the multitude of resources available there.

Says Mr. Watson, “We have a number of premium websites that are available for free at the Center. The Church has recently expanded its free online archives in August with over 13 million newly indexed family history records and over 13 million digital images from around the world.”

The Family History Center is open on Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 10:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m., and on Thursdays from 10:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m.

Photo of Jens Nielsen Skousen:
Contributed By Kristin Lee Cartwright
14 August 2018
File Name B752CB47-D7C0-4BE9-A6A5-C4692758C2A4.jpg
Retrieved from FamilySearch website – 22 September 2018