Last week we featured ten people who "died before the good stuff." They were all famous. Christina Jansen is less well-known unless you've been on one of my tours of Ellis Island. I've been torturing my tourists with this tale of grief for YEARS.
I first read about Christina in Tales of Gaslight New York, a compilation of news features from a century ago. This excerpt comes from Romances of New Americans written by Eleanor Hoyt. It first appeared in Everybody's Magazine in May, 1903. I love the story, sad though it is, and the old-fashioned journalism and phrasing (e.g., "proved it by oracular demonstration").
When the lover does not meet the penniless sweetheart who has come across the seas to him, when he cannot be found, or, being found, desclaims all resonsibility, what can the S.I. (Special Inquiry) Board do?
If the gril has other friends who will provide for her, or if she be strong, able to work, willing to stay in a strange land alone and earn her living, she may be admitted. If not, she must go back, shamed, heartsick, wretched.
There was one lovers' tangle which some of the employees on the Island still remember with a twinge in the region of the heart.
A Swedish girl came over to be married to a sweetheart who had come on before to prepare a home for her. She had waited, but now the home was ready. Olaf had sent for her, would meet her in New York, and they would go home together--to the farm. Yes, he had a farm--in three years--all his own. It was wonderful--but then, Olaf was so remarkable--and in America one has the chance.
All the steerage heard the story, and listened patiently. She was so pretty, so happy. Even the immigrant women whose views on domesticity had lost their rose color hadn't the heart to air those views before Christina. They compared matrimonial notes and shook their heads behind her back, but they accepted Olaf's halo without question.
And when the Island was reached, every one kept an eye out for Olaf. He would be the handsomest man one had ever seen. There couldn't be the slightest difficulty about recognizing him. Christina had assured them of that.