Beside the Golden Door

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In 1913, a new world record was set for traversing the globe. It took John Henry Mears, a representative of the (New York) Evening Sun, just 36 days to log 21,066 miles, averaging 587 miles a day and 24.5 miles an hour, according to the Railway Age Gazette (July 1-Dec. 31, 1913). Five years later, Mariasia Naginsky and her young daughters would cover much of the same territory for about 15,000 of those miles — but would travel for what might have qualified as a record long journey. As they waited in Chicago to begin the final leg, less than 1,000 miles separated them from their destination of New York City.

If they followed the same route as Mears, they would have taken the New York Central Railroad. The NYC’s most famous train, the 20th Century Limited, offered a fast, nonstop connection between Chicago and New York. The train departed from LaSalle Street Station and traveled what was referred to as the “Water Level Route,” hugging the shores of the Great Lakes of Michigan, Erie and Ontario — the “natural highway between the West and East,” as described in NYC advertising. The 20th Century Limited took its passengers across Indiana and Ohio, then through the northwestern corner of Pennsylvania before crossing into New York state with stops in Buffalo, Syracuse and Albany before swinging south along the Hudson River past Poughkeepsie as it headed toward New York City’s Grand Central Terminal, which had just opened five years before. Because the 20th Century Limited was an extra-fare, first-class train, it’s more likely the family traveled on a lesser-known route that would take them on the same path until it reached Ashtabula, Ohio, where the train would turn to traverse northern Pennsylvania past Williamsport and cross northern New Jersey to the Central Railroad of New Jersey Terminal in Jersey City, where they could have boarded a ferry to lower Manhattan.

Also operating between the cities was NYC rival the Pennsylvania Railroad. The “Pennsy,” as it was known, traveled from Chicago’s old Union Depot to Pennsylvania Station in New York, which had just opened in 1910. The Pennsy’s most famous train, the Broadway Limited, departed Chicago daily at 12 p.m. and went through Baltimore, Washington and Philadelphia before arriving in New York the following day at 9:40 a.m. Like the 20th Century Limited, the Broadway Limited was as an extra-fare, eight-car all-sleeper train with no coach service, so this, too, may not have been a feasible option. (It’s also possible neither of these upscale trains operated when the railroads were nationalized during the war.) The more likely scenario would have taken the family on the Pennsy’s Pittsburgh, Fort Wayne and Chicago line, which connected to the Pennsylvania Railroad main line, traversing that state through Harrisburg and Philadelphia, where it entered New Jersey and headed north through Newark and then into the newly built tunnels under the Hudson River into Manhattan.

What awaited the Naginskys in New York was undoubtedly something special. We don’t know for certain when, or how often, Aaron heard news of the fate of his wife and children. With the support of the Hebrew Sheltering and Immigrant Aid Society, we can guess that he at least received word from Yokohama, Seattle and Chicago and knew of their impending arrival. What we do know for sure is the family was apart for four long, difficult years, his youngest still likely an infant when he left in May 1914. And so, beneath the starry ceiling of Grand Central, in the shadow of the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, or under the steel-lined skylight windows of Penn Station, Aaron and Mariasia — “papa” and “ma” — and Jenya, 10; Chaya and Mira, 9; Zepora, 6; and Chana, 4, would finally reunite, beginning a new chapter in their lives — and putting the past firmly in the past.

In Chicago, a Final Stop

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1918 was a year of extremes in Chicago. It began with a blizzard that dropped a still-record snowfall of 42.5 inches over 22 days, as recorded by The Old Farmers’ Almanac. In September, the Chicago Cubs played in the World Series at 2-year-old Wrigley Field — but lost to the Boston Red Sox. Soon afterward, an influenza epidemic paralyzed the city for nearly two months, with more than 38,000 cases of influenza and 13,000 cases of pneumonia reported from mid-September to mid-November, according to the Influenza Encyclopedia.

There probably was still snow on the ground when Mariasia Naginsky and her daughters arrived in early 1918, en route from Seattle to New York. A city of 2.7 million people, Chicago had established itself as the nation’s transportation hub, providing a connection from the East to newly settled areas in the West. There were six major rail depots at the time the family passed through on the final leg of their journey to America.

Traveling on the Great Northern, Northern Pacific or Milwaukee Road railroads, they would have arrived at the Union Depot station. Built in 1881, the station was a long, narrow brick building stretching north-south. It did not have some of the elaborate architectural details or features that had become commonplace in the more modern rail stations of the 20th century. In fact, construction already was under way on a replacement facility, the present-day Union Station, to accommodate the growing rail traffic. Exiting the station, a long awning stretched across the front facing Canal Street, between W. Adams and W. Madison streets, just outside the city’s Loop business district.

If the Naginskys were aboard a Union Pacific train, the North Western Station would have been their terminus. Although just a few blocks from Union Depot, the station represented a new era in train travel. Opened in 1911, it was the city’s largest train station when they would have passed through. Mother and daughters would have been greeted by a three-story, 202- by 117-foot main waiting room with marble walls trimmed in bronze. They may have caught a glimpse of the dining room or the women’s rooms with writing desks and hairdressing services. Some of the other features of the station included smoking rooms for men, a barber shop and even hospital rooms, according to a history of the Chicago and North Western line. Exiting the granite building on a site bounded by Madison, Lake, Clinton and Canal streets, six distinct columns marked the grand entrance, as described by the Encyclopedia of Chicago History.

Whether they arrived at Union Depot or North Western Station, it’s likely there was community support awaiting them. Chicago was one of the centers of the settlement house movement, which had begun in Great Britain in 1884 in response to growing industrialization. The most well-known settlement house in the U.S., Hull House, was established in Chicago in 1888 by Jane Addams Hull and Ellen Gates Starr to help assimilate immigrants and ease the effects of poverty by providing much-needed social services in an industrial area on the near West Side of Chicago.

About four blocks away from Hull House, a Hebrew sheltering home was established in 1916 in anticipation of the expected wave of refugees fleeing Russia. As described in the Feb. 10, 1916, issue of the Jewish Courier newspaper:

Chicago is opening up a first class Hebrew immigrant shelter home. This institution was recently organized and is being financed by the Federated Orthodox Jewish Charities, which expects to donate about $4,000 annually to its upkeep. The Federation realized that something must be done in the way of providing a home or homes for the many immigrants who come here from Russia stranded.

Several hundred refugees who escaped the Russian fire, at present in Japan, will arrive in Seattle in a few days, and a great number of them who will come from there to Chicago will be out on the street if shelter is not provided for them. These immigrants are some of the best children of our Jewish nation. We must by all means provide homes and food for them when they arrive. This home for immigrants is to be located in the large building of the Jewish Aid Society, 1336 S. Morgan Street. This society has with great pride provided the space for the new home and the Federation donated $2,500 to this worthy cause.

Just a couple days later, the Reform Advocate newspaper also reported on the opening of the new home:

The Federated Orthodox Jewish Charities of Chicago has taken the initiative to create and support the Hebrew Immigrant and Sheltering Home. It will be the aim of the H. I. and S. H. to provide recent immigrants with temporary shelter, food, clothing, and other aid deemed necessary to prevent them from becoming public charges.

The present time is an opportune one for launching this organization as the wave of immigration is at low tide and will afford the time to gradually develop the scope of the Sheltering Home.

The F. O. J. C. has given its approval to the Sheltering Home and accepted it into the fold of its affiliated institutions. It has been voted a budget of $4,000 a year. The Jewish Aid Society has offered the Sheltering Home the use of its large building at 1336 S. Morgan Street, rent free, which has been gratefully accepted. An appropriation of $1,500 to remodel the building and $1,000 to furnish it has been made by the Federated Charities.

In the ensuing years, the home — whose management shifted in about 1918 to a newly established Chicago branch of the Hebrew Sheltering and Immigrant Aid Society — would serve scores of new arrivals, likely Mariasia and her daughters among them. In a letter sent to the Society’s national headquarters in 1919 requesting additional funding, branch President Adolph Copeland would document not only the work of the sheltering home but also the branch’s many other activities on behalf of immigrants. According to the Federated Orthodox Jewish Charities:

… they were appealed to for help on all sides, and no cry for help went unheeded. He mentioned the Shelter maintained by the Society, describing it as modern and well-equipped where transient and immigrant poor are fed and lodged under thoroughly sanitary conditions. He described the manifold services rendered by the Society, meeting immigrants at the depots and directing them to their destinations, transmitting money abroad without charge to needy relatives. …

Mr. Copeland concluded his letter with an appeal asking the F. O. J. C. to take up with the A. J. C. the matter of setting aside for the work of the Society the sum of $35,000. He asked the board to remember that although the actual immigration is less than it used to be and at present (1919) smaller than it ever has been in the history of the country, still the immigration problem is more serious than it ever has been and the Society is the only body that is coping with the tremendous problem.

It’s unclear how long the Naginskys stayed in Chicago in what was likely late winter of 1918. It’s probable they had to at least wait for the departure of their train bound for New York, not only because there were fewer travel options during the war (at the same time that passenger traffic was growing) but also because they may have needed to have money wired to them to pay for the final leg of their trip. We know they already were being assisted by the Hebrew Sheltering and Immigrant Aid Society in Seattle so it’s likely there was communication with the Chicago branch to meet them at the station and transport them to the shelter home at 1336 S. Morgan Street for however long they needed to stay.

While family members recounted very little about their travels, they did talk about one thing: a newspaper article written about their journey to America while they were in Chicago. That fabled article remains the holy grail of our research, holding the promise of uncovering details that have been lost to time.

The Dream of America

The Seattle Jewish community treated immigrants such as the Naginskys with kindness and respect, preparing and serving them meals at HIAS's Seattle shelter house. Photo courtesy University of Washington Special Collections, UW7530

The local Jewish community treated immigrants such as the Naginskys with kindness and respect, preparing and serving them meals at HIAS’s Seattle shelter house. Photo courtesy University of Washington Special Collections, UW7530

After their long, arduous journey through wartime Russia and Asia, Mariasia Naginsky and her five daughters undoubtedly felt they were on the doorstep of their ultimate destination when they arrived in America in early 1918. Yet 3,000 miles — from Seattle to New York — still separated them from her husband and the children’s father, Aaron Naginsky.

As described in my last post, the Naginskys likely resided temporarily in the home operated by the Seattle branch of the Hebrew Sheltering and Immigrant Aid Society. The duration of their stay — which averaged about 10 days for most immigrants, as noted in the January 1990 issue of the Washington State Jewish Historical Society newsletter — would be determined by the amount of time it took to process government paperwork and receive funds from relatives for train tickets that would allow the family to reunite. More than $60,000 was sent by telegraph to HIAS to pay for immigrant transportation during 1916 alone, according to an Oct. 7, 1917, article in the Seattle Sunday Times.

A number of activities could have occupied the Naginskys while they waited to proceed to their next destination. Mariasia may have written letters to relatives both in America and Russia, advising them of the family’s safe arrival. As noted in the HIAS instructions, “a supply of stationery and writing utensils should always be at the disposal of the inmates of the Shelter, free of charge, and a competent person able to write in the language of the immigrant should be there every evening to offer his services to those immigrants who are unable to write their own letter for various reasons, and particularly to address their envelopes, or to send off telegrams for them.” A writing room on the first floor of the headquarters building could have been used for this purpose.

HIAS took its responsibility for integrating new immigrants into American society seriously. Mariasia and her daughters likely received instruction in the classrooms located on the third floor of the headquarters building — “where those who stay for any length of time are taught the rudiments of English,” the 1917 Seattle Sunday Times article reported. In the dormitory building’s assembly room, the family also could have attended one of the seasonal lectures offered “to acquaint the newcomer with American life, American institutions, and American ideals,” as noted in the HIAS staff manual.

It’s possible the family was able to enjoy some down time at the HIAS home as well. A library in the headquarters probably offered adult and children’s books in Russian and English, allowing Mariasia and her older children to read or simply peruse them. Meals at the communal dining table, which could accommodate up to 60 people, may have allowed the family to become acquainted with other new arrivals and members of Seattle’s Jewish community; meals were likely prepared by a chef and served by a waiter, both paid staff of the society, as described in the January 1990 Washington State Jewish Historical Society newsletter. If the Naginskys stayed as late as Feb. 12, they may have been treated to “attractive entertainment,” which was suggested within the HIAS manual in observance of national holidays such as Lincoln’s Birthday.

For immigrants such as Mariasia and her daughters, who had lived with so little for so long, their experience at HIAS’ Seattle shelter house probably was part of the dream of what they might find in America.

Delivering Justice for Today’s Immigrants

Immigrants are pictured outside the HIAS home at 512 18th Street. Photo courtesy University of Washington Special Collections, UW1152

Immigrants are pictured outside the HIAS home at 512 18th Street. Photo courtesy University of Washington Special Collections, UW1152

“Here in Seattle, in America’s dooryard, stands the immigrant of yesterday,” stated an Oct. 7, 1917, Seattle Sunday Times article. “With hands outstretched in welcome, he greets the immigrant of today. In sympathy and understanding, he leads him through the gateway and with friendly counsel guides his first footsteps into a haven in the New World. …” That support from the staff and volunteers of the Hebrew Sheltering and Immigrant Aid Society began for the Naginskys as soon as they set foot on American soil and would continue as they reached the HIAS home.

Situated away from the city’s business district, the facility at 512 18th Avenue was composed of two buildings, one a recently renovated headquarters and the other a newly constructed shelter. According to the Seattle Sunday Times article, the 12-room headquarters — originally built as a residence for Watson C. Squire, a former Washington territorial governor and U.S. senator — had an office and large kitchen and dining room on the first floor. The second floor included sleeping quarters and a private office for the home manager, while the third floor had two classrooms. The basement was used mainly for storage. The shelter building included an assembly room and additional sleeping quarters, with men housed on the lower floor and women and children on the upper floor.

A firsthand account from a woman who as a child had accompanied her mother when she volunteered in the home provided even more vivid details. As reported in the January 1990 issue of the Washington State Jewish Historical Society newsletter, Sara Efron described sleeping quarters with blankets strung across ropes to form individual areas with cots because there was not sufficient space for each of the immigrants to have a private room. Her mother would speak to the immigrants in both Yiddish and Russian, supply bedding from her own home for use in the shelter, and help with sewing needs, just a few of the volunteer activities of Jewish women in the community. Efron also recalled that the grounds included a garden and small farm, supplying residents of the home with vegetables during the winter and fresh eggs daily.

When Mariasia and her daughters arrived at the home, probably late in the day on Friday, Jan. 25, 1918, the staff would have specific plans for them. Representative and home manager Abe Spring described the procedure to the Seattle Sunday Times: “We meet them at the boat on their arrival, bring them here and after they have had a bath and their dinner they come into the office and tell their story,” Spring said. “Nearly all of them have come hoping to find relatives and friends. We send telegrams for them and attend to the notification of these relatives or friends, if they are to be found.”

General instructions prepared for the HIAS representative were even more specific about what the Naginskys likely experienced in their first hours at the home:

Before retiring the first night at the shelter a dose of Epsom salts should be given every one of the inmates according to their ages and state of health. A supply of new underwear and hosiery should always be on hand to replace filthy ones on those inmates who have no clean ones for a change.

Such as in the judgment of the House Committee are entitled to a free suit of clothing, shoes or hat, by reason of their inability to supply themselves with it, should be presented with a modest outfit. …

For all its kindness and generosity, the Hebrew Sheltering and Immigrant Aid Society did not see its work as a handout, according to the Seattle Sunday Times. “Its members are endeavoring to give justice rather than charity for the immigrants,” the article stated. “Prominent Jewish business men and residents of Seattle have given freely of their time and money to assist those who have escaped tyranny and oppression seeking asylum in this land of freedom.”

In Seattle, a Handoff to HIAS

HIAS Arrival Card_Mariasia

As part of its effort to help newly arrived immigrants reach their destination and get settled in their new country, HIAS prepared registration cards, such as this one for Mariasia Naginsky, to track the progress of their charges.

Where the work of U.S. immigration officials ended, the work of the Hebrew Sheltering and Immigrant Aid Society began. A representative of the organization, perhaps Seattle home manager Abe Spring, would be at the steamer dock to meet arriving ships. His task there would be to identify those passengers “likely to belong to the class that the organization caters to,” as described in written instructions, and to gain their confidence so HIAS could provide assistance to those in need.

HIAS provided a wide range of services to immigrants upon their arrival. Once admitted, the representative would help them with their immediate needs — checking and transfer of baggage, exchange of foreign money, and transportation assistance for those continuing on to another destination. The Society helped guard against unscrupulous agents offering these and other services to those unfamiliar with the language, currency and customs of a foreign country. For those individuals who had to be hospitalized or quarantined, the representative also would offer assistance, with regular visits providing information about their situation, help in writing to their relatives, and reassurance that “no injustice would be done to them by our government.”

Even those who were detained or excluded by the Board of Special Inquiry would receive special attention from HIAS. In many cases, the organization was able to solve problems by finding the address of a relative, providing funding for transportation inland or referring a case to the chairman of the Society’s law committee. When all avenues were exhausted, the branch would provide support to individuals who faced deportation, including those considered “unworthy” because they were found to be immoral, criminal or alien enemies — among the many classes barred entry to the U.S. — offering comfort and sufficient funds to allow them to return to their desired location in their home country.

The Naginskys were among those who benefited directly from the intervention of the Hebrew Sheltering and Immigrant Aid Society. Once admitted, each member of the family would be registered by the Seattle branch of HIAS, as shown in the individual cards of Mariasia, 33; Jhina, 9; Chaya and Mira, 8; Zepora, 6; and Chana, 4. The information on the cards was the same as that on the ship manifest, including the steamer name, date of arrival, final destination, last permanent residence, birthplace and amount of money brought with them. More importantly, the cards provide concrete evidence of the involvement of HIAS in the family’s care.

After being discharged from the custody of immigration authorities, the Naginskys likely were taken by automobile to the shelter house of the Seattle branch of the Hebrew Sheltering and Immigrant Aid Society, about 2 miles from Pier 6. As described in the HIAS representative’s instructions, the immigrants were to be “conducted to that place in a manner and by means that will expose them to the least embarrassment because of their personal appearance after going through the ordeal of the journey and particularly the nervous tension incidental to the landing.”

A number of tasks and opportunities awaited the Naginskys when they arrived at the home in late January 1918. HIAS staff would take advantage of every day the immigrants were under their care to prepare them for life in America while they awaited processing of paperwork and completion of the travel arrangements that would allow them to proceed to their next destination — and, for Mariasia and her daughters, bring them another step closer to reuniting with their husband and father.

Seattle Adapts to ‘a Bolt from the Blue’

Local businessman Leo Schwabacher served as the first president of the Seattle branch of HIAS. Photo courtesy University of Washington Libraries, Special Collections, UW33538

HIAS Home Manager Abe Spring

Abe Spring (right) was the longtime manager of the HIAS home in Seattle. Photo courtesy University of Washington Libraries, Special Collections, UW33539

Eastern European immigration to Seattle, fairly insignificant before World War I, suddenly spiked in late 1915, “like a bolt from the blue,” as described in the Jewish Immigration Bulletin of 1916-17. Instead of less than a dozen immigrants every month, the Jewish community of only 6,000 suddenly found itself trying to provide for the needs of almost 200 every month.

Realizing the magnitude of the challenge before them, local Jewish leaders appealed to the national organization of the Hebrew Sheltering and Immigrant Aid Society to establish a Seattle branch in early 1916. The branch would be called upon to intervene with the U.S. government to facilitate admittance to the country, provide temporary care and shelter, offer “Americanization” classes in the English language and other subjects, find employment, and arrange transportation to other destinations for the growing number of arriving immigrants.

As the Seattle branch became established within the community, it would make continuous improvements to its facilities to manage the influx. From an initial temporary home at 811 Yesler Way, an “old house poorly situated and badly equipped to handle a large number of immigrants,” the group moved within several months to a new quarters about a mile away at 512 18th Avenue that could accommodate up to 120 people, according to the Jewish Immigration Bulletin of 1916-17, as cited in a January 1990 newsletter of the Washington State Jewish Historical Society. The president of the branch, Leo Schwabacher, a prominent Seattle businessman, led this effort, which included addressing concerns voiced by some community residents who worried about the presence of an “immigrant station” in their neighborhood, as described in an April 20, 1916, article in The Seattle Daily Times.

The Society also would formalize the procedures of the home, “bringing order out of chaos,” according to an Oct. 7, 1917, article in the Seattle Sunday Times. After years suffering under czarist rule and, more recently, being exploited by factory owners, many of the early immigrants to Seattle had become involved in the revolutionary movement in Russia. Suspicious of any authority figures, the refugees — almost all men — initially refused to work. In time, however, the manager of the home, Abe Spring, would gain their trust. “It was when Spring took charge [in February 1916] that they soon were made to realize that in America everyone must work,” the Seattle Sunday Times article stated.

Another obstacle the organization would overcome in its first years of operation were new government restrictions on entry to the United States. In late January 1916, U.S. immigration authorities began refusing admission to anyone without adequate funds or who was not joining a relative already in the country — which could affect up to half of all arrivals, as recorded in the May 1916 Presidents Report Address and Minutes of the HIAS Seattle branch. The branch had to prepare appeals, pay for additional medical treatment caused by stress from prolonged detention, and ultimately furnish individual bonds — using tens of thousands of dollars in personal property from the branch directors as security — to allow the immigrants to enter the country. By April 1916, the government determined that instead of detaining the immigrants it would start releasing them to the HIAS Seattle branch with the expectation that the organization would care for them and ensure they would not become public charges — a promise that had to be guaranteed through an official letter from the branch president.

This challenge may have become even more difficult the following year, when the U.S. Congress passed sweeping legislation preventing broad categories of people from entering the country. The 1917 Immigration Act barred immigrants from Asia and many adjacent regions as well as those with mental and physical limitations, including illiterates and the poor. It also increased the head tax on adult immigrants to $8 and added new enforcement provisions. With widespread public hostility toward certain classes of immigrants, Congress was able to override a presidential veto. The new law, which took effect May 1, 1917, certainly broadened the scope of the authority of U.S. immigration officials, medical examiners and boards of special inquiry, but it’s not clear whether it derailed the agreement that already had been struck between government officials and HIAS.

After two turbulent years adapting to changing U.S. policies and adjusting to the needs of the many newcomers, the Seattle branch of the Hebrew Sheltering and Immigrant Aid Society likely had most of its systems in place to provide for the Naginskys when they were officially admitted to the United States in early 1918.

Sailing to Seattle, 1854-1918

This postcard appears to be an early image of the Diamond Point Quarantine Station in Washington, which grew from three to 27 buildings during its years of operation (1893-1936).

For many passengers sailing to Seattle before the Naginskys, their ships were required to stop once or even twice near the entrance to the Puget Sound before they could proceed on to their destination.

Starting in 1854, all arriving passengers would have to disembark at Port Townsend for processing. Located at the entrance to Puget Sound, this site would serve as the official customs house and port of entry for 57 years before those functions were transferred to Seattle in 1911.

After the U.S. Congress passed the National Quarantine Act in 1878 to prevent vessels from carrying infectious diseases into the United States, it subsequently authorized funds for the development of a quarantine station in Washington state — which would become another regular stop for all vessels arriving from foreign ports when it opened in November 1893. Situated opposite Port Townsend on Discovery Bay, Diamond Point would serve as the site for the inspection of all incoming passengers for symptoms of diseases such as influenza, cholera, malaria, smallpox, yellow fever, diphtheria and leprosy. If necessary, ships would be fumigated with burning pots of sulphur to kill fleas, rats, lice, and other vermin that could be potential carriers of disease, as described by HistoryLink.org. The 1878 law also shifted control of the quarantine and disinfection process from states to the federal government; the Marine Hospital Service — the precursor of the U.S. Public Health Service — became responsible for these measures at ports nationwide and in 1902 took over medical examination of all immigrants.

While Diamond Point operated as a quarantine station for 43 years, it’s unclear whether it was always a mandatory stop for vessels arriving in Seattle and other nearby ports during that entire time. In September 1916, for example, the U.S. government issued instructions requiring all steerage passengers coming from Asia to disembark at Diamond Point for “bacteriological examination” — suggesting this was a change in policy. The new instructions were issued in response to an outbreak of cholera in Japan and China during the fall and winter of 1916. Ironically, the initial cases of cholera, some of them fatal, were discovered in late July 1916 aboard the Hawaii Maru as it sat in the Yokohama harbor waiting to depart on the same voyage to Seattle as Mariasia and her daughters would make on board that ship 16 months later.

Once satisfied that Japan had quelled the outbreak, the U.S. government withdrew its quarantine requirement for steerage passengers about six months later and shifted to a different strategy: inspecting ships both at the departure point and at the destination — which is likely what occurred on board the Hawaii Maru in January 1918. Dr. R.H. Earle, head of the Diamond Point station, described the new process in an article published March 29, 1917, in The Seattle Daily Times: “All ships sailing from a foreign port must have the written bill of health of a medical examiner whose salary is paid by the United States government before they sail. Failure to obtain this paper incurs a heavy fine. Then the ships are thoroughly examined before any passengers are permitted to land over here. Thus there is a double check.”