Searching the Ellis Island Archives for "Couperus"

  In April 2001, the names became available on the web of those immigrants who entered the United Sates through the famous Ellis Island portal. This is where all immigrants arriving by ship on the east coast were held pending immigration processing. Some were sent back where they came from, for health or other reasons, while others made it through and started a fresh life in the new world.

Between 1892 and 1924, over 22 million people entered here,
and their records can now be retrieved at this web site

I have of course visited this web site and done a search for anybody with a last name of "Couperus". The results are a little disappointing in that only 10 records were returned. I could relate only one of these to a specific individual in the family tree with some degree of confidence, although another two are tantalising possiblities for matching in the tree. I was hoping for more than 10 records, because we know there were more Couperuses who arrived during the period covered, but for some reason they do not appear in the Ellis Island archives - perhaps because they came in at a different "port of entry".) In summary, these archives tell us the following:

Name Status Age Origin Date Ship

1 Anne Male, Single 19 Holland 22 May 1907   Nieuw Amsterdam
2 Anne Male, Single 21 U.S.A. 7 April 1909 Noordam
3 Heblins Male, Single 23 Hingham, MA 25 Oct 1909 Nieuw Amsterdam
4 Hinke Female, Single 6 mos Rodeschuur 24 May 1916 Amsterdam
5 Janke Female, Married 24 Rodeschuur 24 May 1916 Amsterdam
6 Johannes Male, Single 2 Rodeschuur 24 May 1916 Amsterdam
7 Mellius Male, Single 20 Heig (Heeg) 1 May 1906 Rijndam
8 Runk Male, Married 26 Augustinusga 25 Aug 1915 Rijndam
9 Subren Male, Single 30 Werden (Wirdum) 6 Mar 1907 Potsdam
10 Sybren Male, Single 25 Holland 22 May 1907 Nieuw Amsterdam
See note below 11   Gaele Male, Married 25 Opende/Groningen 17 Feb 1910 Potsdam

In fact, this summary poses more questions than it provides answers.

  • The "Anne" in lines 1 and 2 is probably the same person who made a trip back to Holland and re-entered. At first I had doubts about the name, as I assumed that "Anne" must be a girl's name, but this entry is listed as male. However, I have since found out from people more familiar with Frisian that this is perfectly acceptable as a boy's name. Notice that he arrived initially on the same ship as the Sijbren in line 10, so likely this was a relative - more about this Sybren below.

  • The "Heblins" in line 3 is a bit of a mystery. The this name does not appear anywhere in the original family tree - or even a close spelling. He apparently was already living in the United Sates giving an address of Hingham, Massachusetts. But we know that the Mellius in line 7 (see below) founded the family branch located in Hingham some three years earlier. (In correspondence with a descendant of Mellius, I have confirmed that this is indeed where the family farm was located, and where she herself grew up.) But also note that this "Heblins" (23 years old in 1909) is pretty much the same age as Mellius (20 years old in 1906). So a good guess might be that "Heblins" is the same person as "Mellius" - maybe after establishing himself in Hingham, he took a trip back to the old country and got his name mangled at Ellis Island when he re-entered the United States.

    I have subsequently examined the original record of the ship's manifest for this entry, and it seems clear to me that whoever transcribed this name into the database at Ellis Island mis-read the original handwriting as "Heblins" when in fact it should be "Mellius" - and this would confirm my supposition.

The fact that this person's father is listed in the manifest as "E.G.Couperus", that his occupation is "Farmer", and the references there to Hingham, Mass. provide further confirmation that this is in fact the Mellius at position 8/36 in the family tree.

  • Clearly the three records 4,5,6 are related, with Janke being the mother of two children, and very likely (though we can't be sure) she was maried to Runk in record 8 - he was married, but apparently unaccompanied by a wife when he entered the country some 9 months earlier. And at the time he left Holland, she was already expecting their second child whom he therefore first saw when she arrived at Ellis Island. Quite a story there of courage and hope. But who was Runk? I cannot find this exact name anywhere in the tree, but if you check for likely miss-spellings, there would appear to be three possibilities - a "Rienk", a "Rinke" and a "Rink". The first two of these possibilities are unlikely for a number of reasons, but something startling jumps out with the thrid..

    The "Rink" at position 8/49b in the expanded tree was one of nine siblings born to Hendrik 1838 - 1910 (position 7/20) and two of these brothers we already know to have emigrated. These are Sijbren in slot 8/46 in the expanded tree (also line 10 above) and Pieter in slot 8/49. Given the size of the family, the dates involved, and the fact that two of his brothers preceded him, this is a very likely scenario. But it raises the mystery of what later became of this family, Rink, his wife Janke, and the two children, Johannes and Hinke. Did they also go to Colorado (likely) and if so - where - and are there any descendants? (See Further Update below)

  • But there is one match - the "Mellius" in line 7 is almost certainly the one at slot 8/36 in the tree and who founded the Massachusetts Branch - the entry date of 1906 and age at that time of 20, fit nicely with that of his father Epeus (1850 - 1932) and his son Pierce Gerard (born 1915)

  • The "Subren" in line 9 is almost certainly a typographical or transcription error for "Sijbren" or "Siebren". And thus we have two people called Sijbren/Siebren but of clearly different ages, and arriving within a few months of each other in 1907. There are a number of possibilities where either might fit into the tree:

    • The Sijbren in slot 10/39 of the tree is unlikely - the date and age just don't fit if you figure that this was a grandson of Bouke who lived 1889 - 1942.

    • The Sijbren in slot 6/9 died already in 1851 - so that's not him.

    • The Sijbren in slot 8/32 is a possibility - he died in 1934 and his father Evert lived 1830 - 1881. But this is unlikely, as none of his offspring were identified as living in America in the original "Beknopte Stamboom" created by Meester Couperus.

    • The two Sybrens in slots 10/51 and 10/52 would be too young as their grandfather died in 1934 - making them likely born some 30 or 40 years too late.

    • The Sijbren in slot 8/35 is a distinctly possible candidate - he was after all a brother of the Mellius in line 7, who arrived about a year earlier and went on to found the Massachusetts Branch.

    • The Sijbren in slot 8/46 is also a good possiblity - this is the founder of the Colorado Branch who I have annotated in the expanded tree as arriving in 1905. That date is anecdotal information passed on to me as family lore through three generations - so a confusion of 2 years or so is quite possible.

    Further update - August 2002. In correspondence with a Dutch descendant of the Wiepke at 8/47 in the main tree, some further facts were provided which shed some light on two of the people in this list. It is known that the Sijbren at 8/46 (emigrated to Colorado) was married to an "Anna" (who later returned to Holland for a visit and is remembered as "Tante Anna") and note that in the top line of the above list the "Anne" is on the same ship as the "Sybren" in the last entry on the list. So despite being listed as a single male, it is almost certain that the first "Anne" at least was the wife of this "Sybren" and that the latter is indeed the one at 8/47 who founded the first Colorado Branch.

    This same correspondence also confirmed that the "Rink" (at 8/49b in the tree and probably the same as the "Runk" in line 8 of the above list) had a daughter named Hinke and that they made a visit to Denver in America, but were living in Zeist in Holland around 1920 or 1921. So it looks like this was a case of a family visit or tentative exploration, rather than an emigrant who stayed in America.

    Further update - April 2006. I found another Couperus in these archives - but with the name mis-spelled as "Couperes". There are two entries together in the archives that show a Geale (should be Gaele) Couperes (should be Couperus) and his wife Hendrihje Siebenga (should be Hindrikje) arrived on the Potsdam Feb 17 1910. It says he was born in Achtkarspelen. The couple had on-going tickets to go to his brother-in-law Mr. W. Siebenga in Marengo, Illinois. He was a farmer by profession, had $100 in his posession, and his father was Siemen Couperus living in Opende, Groningen. This undoubtedly is the entry for Gaele I have at slot 8/7 in the full indented list.

    And so the Ellis Island archives, while perhaps confusing matters rather than clarifying, nevertheless provide some fascinating insights into the Couperus family history. If any of you out there who read this can provide any further clues or enlightenment, please be sure to contact me.