Sunday, August 27, 2006

REAL ELLIS ISLAND ANNIE MOORE HAS BEEN FOUND!!!

Sorry for the caps, but I'm just a little bit excited! The real Annie Moore has been found!

Back on July 17th, I announced a contest to find out what happened to Annie Moore, the first immigrant to enter America via Ellis Island. In a persistent myth, the story has often been told that she moved to Illinois, Texas and eventually New Mexico, married and had a handful of kids, and was killed in a tragic accident. It makes for a great go-West-young-woman tale, but it's just not true -- as I discovered by accident while researching for a documentary several years ago. The IL-TX-NM Annie Moore (whom I've affectionately dubbed "wrong Annie") was born in Illinois, so had no need to immigrate!

I dabbled a few times at trying to learn the truth, but because it was a bit of a needle-in-a-haystack situation, I was unable to crack it. Growing increasingly frustrated, I finally decided to launch a contest and offer a $1,000 prize. I figured there had to be some talented and curious genealogists out there, and that working together, we could probably learn the truth.

Well, now we know the truth -- and contrary to colorful rumor, Annie isn't 129 years old and living in an Iowa nursing home!

So the contest is officially over. The $1,000 will be split between two people -- Brian Andersson, who was the first to identify the correct Moore family, and a great-niece of Annie's who provided the critical last few clues. Credit is also due to ProGenealogists, which contributed vital research at the Family History Library and kept pace with my entirely unreasonable research requests (without complaint, no less!). And an honorable mention goes to Sharon Elliott, who did a terrific job of sleuthing and sharing her findings.

As to what actually happened to Annie, stay tuned for a more formal announcement and additional details!

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