Geneablogy: An occasional Journal about our experiences exploring our heritage

Monday, January 29, 2001

More items that have been languishing on my hard drive. Whenever you enter the United States, you have to fill out a little card about who you are, where you come from, that sort of thing. I've had to fill these out on airplanes coming back from overseas. Well, you also have to fill them out when entering the US from Canada, or at least you did at one point. There's microfilm of all the border crossing cards for non-US citizens for Detroit from 1906 to 1954. I did a search for Grandma and found the card for when she came to the US (it's pretty simple; all the cards are on the microfilm in alphabetical order). She came to the US on June 7, 1932 with her "husband" Michael Smolka. Good thing Grandma told me his name or I never would have found the card, since it's filed under the name Josepha Zurbyk Smolka. She lists her nationality, race, and language as Polish, despite the fact that she was Ukrainian. That's one of the odd things about Ukrainians, that they'll often list themselves as Polish. She lists her closest relative in the country she's coming from (Canada) as "Uncle Lawrence Zurbyk, Elphinstone, Man, Canada" She said she was going to be living with her husband, Michael Smolka, at 1955 Carpenter St. If I'm not mistaken, that was Sobol's address. The back of the card says that her visa was initialed H.D.L., and that her husband was issued Certificate of Naturalization number 2343124 at Detroit on November 22, 1925 or 6 (hard to tell from this scan or on the microfilm).

Equally interesting is a series of four cards for Vincent Sobol, Grandma's uncle who brought her to America. The crossing of May 26, 1923, seems pretty routine. He gives his race as Ukrainian. He had last been in the US on May 26, which means that this was a day trip to Canada. He had previously been in the US from 1915 to 1923. He gives his last permanent residence before moving to Detroit as Windsor. Given that he came to North America in 1912 and only moved the the US in 1915, it appears that he lived in Windsor for a few years before crossing the river to the US. There's nothing significant on the back.

The next crossing, on February 28, 1925, is another story. The front of the card is the normal information, giving his birthplace as Samoluskowcy, Poland (a village just up the river from Lychkivtsi, where Grandma was born), the relative he's going to join as his wife Nellie, address 5710 Joseph Campau, his closest relative in the country he came from as his brother Antony in Samoluskowcy, and his arrival in North America as taking place on March 13, 1912, on a ship whose name he doesn't know. The back of the card is where all the really interesting stuff is. It says that his entry into the US was rejected because he had "no PP visa and no Perm visa". I don't know what "PP" means, but I'll find out eventually. It gives the date his entry was rejected, Feb 28 1925. The decision was appealed immediately, because the same date is given for the appeal date. And in the field for Decision and Date, his appeal was dismissed on 3/14-25. So now Sobol was stuck in Canada and couldn't get back home.

He tried to cross into the US again on September 3, 1925, but was again rejected. The front has much the same information as the other two forms, except that Sobol gives his race as Polish, not Ukrainian, and his wife Nellie has moved from Joseph Campau to 1996 Calvert St., maybe because she wasn't able to pay the rent on Joseph Campau without Sobol working. He gives his last residence as Ford City, Ontario, a suburb of Windsor, and his closest relative or friend as Father Panasyczyk of Ford City. On the back, there's a stamp that says "Immigrant identified and deported to Canada" Under the field for reason rejected, he does not have an Immigrant Visa (quota). The card is kind of confusing, because it says both that his appeal was dismissed on 9/29/25 and that his appeal was sustained on 11/17/25. It also says that an Immigrant Visa, number 789, had been issued at Windsor, Ontario, on September 3rd. It appears to me that perhaps he got the wrong kind of visa, and that's why he was rejected this time.

The last chapter in this story is shown by the card for November 17, 1925. The front is largely a duplicate of the card from February, except that Sobol's nationality is now given as Russian, and Samoluskowce is now placed in Russia (it wasn't). On the back there's a note that Sobol had a non-quota visa issued in Windsor on 9/3/25 (which supports the conclusion that he got the wrong kind of visa), and then a note that the alien was being admitted, that the US had "Rescinded former excluding decision and in [garbled] thereof has sustained appeal and authorizes admission of alien." Sobol's day trip to Canada had lasted eight and a half months.

When I talked to her in 1996, Grandma had mentioned something about Sobol having trouble getting back into the US because he had lost his papers, but I had the impression that she was talking about a visit to Poland that he had trouble returning from. It may have actually been this fiasco that she was referring to.

Border Crossings

Posted at 12:15:37 PM