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Diary of Polish Girl

In: Historical Events

Submitted By tnraven30
Words 1418
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Journal of Charlotte

August 5, 1890

Today I boarded the ship to take me to America. Leaving behind mother and father was one of the hardest things I ever had to do. My faith was shaken at the death that surrounds my beloved Poland. After brothers death there was little choice for mother and father but to ensure my safety. Russia’s forces take Poland and tare her soil from her back and spread the blood of her people across the land. The place I sleep I do not really sleep. The hold is full of others like me who sold all they own to start over in a new world.

August 6, 1890

Today I finally got to go up on deck they let a few of the younger females up when we are passing other ships. I get looks from the other passengers who could afford to ride first or second class. They think we are filthy you can tell by the disgust that cover their faces as they look at us. To say that the conditions are bad is an understatement. The trip thankfully will not be as long as it once was because of steam. I am not certain of how all that works but I do know it makes the conditions in the hold much hotter when they should be much cooler. Below deck there are many who cough and cry, some longing for home others sick from the voyage and others still I am afraid it may be worse. More are sick than not, perhaps that is just my imagination taking hold. Fear that something may yet stop me from my journey.
August 9, 1890

I was not wrong about the sickness; it seems that many more fall sick every hour. They no longer let us out of the ships belly. Instead locking the sickness in with those who are still well. The fresh air could help with those who are sick, instead our situation grows worse. Even as I huddle next to what is left of the light coming through the ceiling above the smell of the filth not only on our persons but also clinging to ever pore of the ships hold. Our misery is only tempered by the fact that the trip is by steam and in a few days I will set foot on American soil.

August 11, 1890 The heat below deck is almost suffocating. Breathing is almost impossible without choking on the filthy air. The crying of the sick children is almost unbearable. I miss mother and father. I miss my brother. The war that threatens to overtake Poland, took my brother as well. Without his contributions to the family mother and father lost my great grandfathers business. I have a chance in America to be free from the poverty and starvation that would surly happen if I stayed, perhaps worse. I knew I would miss Poland and mother and father I did not realize this would be so hard.

August 16, 1890

Today they brought as many as they could above deck. The air is nice. I believe they are making an attempt to look as if we were not treated so horrible. I am certain not every voyage is this harsh? These people like me sold all they owned just to get passage upon this vessel in this hold, and in these conditions. Soon my new life will begin; soon my mother and father will know I am fine.

August 17, 1890

Ellis Island is what they called it, we set upon the first land in America, waiting until the first class and second class passengers off loaded. We were then sent for processing. Welcome to America, I was examined by a gruffly doctor who had little manners and treated my person as if I was a possible parasite. The people who asked so many questions about so many things in my life were not any kinder. America has not been very welcoming thus far. Perhaps this is due to the over whelming amount of people who arrive here? Perhaps it is this head ache and cough that I just cannot seem to shake. New York City is where my home will be but a bright new world awaits my hopeful heart.

August 21, 1890 I have finally found a post. Scullery maid to a household full of children and I hope to find happiness with this family. For nine dollars a month plus board I do the things that the ladies of the house do not. The job is not exciting or extraordinary but it is only temporary. At least the work keeps me busy.

September 6, 1890

Things have been stressful to say the least. I am asked to do more and more daily yet I still make the same pay. I have barely had time to eat or sleep. If I do not work the long hours I not only will not have the nine dollars a month but also nowhere to live. I tried to take laundry in on the hours I had free. That worked for a few days but then Margaret said if I could do others laundry I had time to help her. Before long I was doing my job and most of hers. I am exhausted. A few hours of sleep would be nice, but I have to go back to work now. Perhaps sleep will come later.

October 1, 1890

Things have changed; I met a very nice lady who is visiting the city for the first time. She is not that much older than myself. She asked after speaking with me but a few times if I would be her paid companion. I said yes of course. We leave at the end of the week. This perhaps will be the change I have prayed for. Perhaps my doubt, my shaken faith in God has been restored.

June 5, 1894

It has been a few years. I am writing now to share the joy I feel at marrying James today. I received word of my father’s death; mother has been gone for two years. Poland is not longer my home. I never dreamed to be this happy. Today life truly starts.

February 4, 1900

It is the twentieth century. James and I have built a life in Tennessee. The town is very small, but the church is full of God and these are good people. We are expecting our fourth child the oldest James is five and a big help with the horses. Life has been kind to my family.

March 21, 1938

My children are grown. This will be my last entry. I have consumption. I am almost too weak to write. My beloved husband these years have been good. We have built a legacy that many only dream of. Our children and grand children live in a land of promise. James is married and a banker back in the very city we fought so hard to escape from. Charlotte, beautiful Charlie a teacher out west. A train that can take you to either in less time that it took me to arrive here. Thomas and Rebecca living so close that I have no worries that you will not be alone. Gregory my youngest child has managed to set the bar so high for himself. He builds the very tracks that help so many find the same home we have loved for so long. I never imagined my journey would end so well when it started so poorly all those years ago. The trip through Ellis Island marked the cleansing of my old life and the birth of this one. The medical inspection and questions that I endured to live in America seem like they were so long ago, and now not such a big deal. I love you all. May your life journey be as joyful as my own has been with each of you.

May 16, 1995

This is my family. I found this book among a clutter of the attic I played in so often as a child. I reading this I understand my family more. My grandmother was Charlie as I am Charlotte, as my mother was charlotte, and as my daughter will be Charlotte. We are Americans.


Ellis Island. (2010). Ellis Island-History. Retrieved from
Eye Witness to history. (2005). Immigrating to America, 1905. Retrieved from…...

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