Jamestown Woman Sees Fathers Photo on Trip to Ellis Island

Lind, Bob. "Jamestown Woman Sees Father's Photo on Trip to Ellis Island." Forum, 18 September 2005, sec. 10B.

Augustus Sherman was a clerk at New Yorks Ellis Island, the United States primary immigration station from 1892 to 1954.

Sherman also was an amateur photographer who was fascinated by the people coming to this Land of Opportunity, so he began photographing them in the early 1900s: Cossacks, Romanian shepherds, rabbis, Hungarian children and a German-Russian family moving from the steppes of Russia to the plains of North Dakota.

Jakob Mittelstadt, right, his wife and their eight children post for a photo at New York's Ellis Island on May 9, 1905, just after the family arrived in New York. The family relocated near Kulm, N.D. Benjamin Mittelstadt, second from left, later became the father of Eldora Klose of Jamestown, N.D. The picture is in a book titled, "Augustus F. Sherman: Ellis Island Portraits 1905-1920."

That picture was of Jakob Mittelstadt, his wife and their eight children. It was taken May 9, 1905, just after the family arrived in New York.

Now jump to 1991, when Eldora Klose and her husband Elmer, Jamestown, N.D., visited their son in New York.

It was a bit of a struggle for Eldora; she had broken her ankle and was forced to get around in a wheelchair.

But that didnt stop her and Elmer from visiting Ellis Island, where she knew her ancestors had come through.

They were looking at various exhibits when Elmer exclaimed, Eldora! Here is your father!

There it was: an exhibit of Augustus Sherman's photographs, including the Mittelstadt family photo.

The second youngest the little guy (second from left) was Benjamin, Eldoras father.

Left: The book, "Augustus F. Sherman: Ellis Island Portraits 1905-1920", published by the Aperture Foundation, New York, contains photos of immigrants to the United States. Right: the family of Benjamin Mittelstadt poses for a photo in 1955. From back left, Eldora, Elmer, Olga. In front, Benjamin, Larry and Marie.

That picture now is in a book titled Augustus F. Sherman: Ellis Island Portraits 1905-1920, published by the Aperture Foundation, New York.

The picture also was part of a summer-long display at the Ellis Island Immigration Museum.

The description accompanying the photo says Jakob and his family were admitted to the United States to go to Kullen, N.D.

Actually, the town was Kulm. Or, to be more precise, Eldora says, the family settled on a farm closer to Forbes.

Young Benjamin grew up there and married Marie Presler in 1929. They moved to Jud in 1936, then to Edgeley, to LaMoure, and finally retired in Jamestown in 1963, where he died that year.

Marie, 93, still lives in Jamestown.

The exhibit of Shermans photographs at Ellis Island ended earlier this month. But its about to go international.

It will be shown starting March 9, 2006, in Bremerhaven, Germany, and, starting March 31, 2007, in Liverpool, England. Then, beginning Oct. 11, 2008, it will be back in the United States when it opens in Lexington, Mass.

That exhibit, of course, includes the photo of the German-Russian family which came to North Dakota.

Its a photograph which, when Eldora first saw it in the Ellis Island exhibit in 1991, reduced her to tears.

It had been taken, she saw, just five days after her fathers 5th birthday.

And it was the first time she had ever seen a picture of her father as a little boy.

Reprinted with permission of the Forum.

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