America is Funny But Jennie Wants to Stay Here

by Laurel | February 6th, 2012

05 February 1922

The Springel Family of Holyoke, Who Were Detained on Ellis Island, Making the Most of the Two Months They Can Stay Here

Our children are funny and so are our houses. Take that from little 11 year old Jennie Springel. Jennie arrives in Holyoke from Poland but 10 days ago, but that is quite long enough to enable Jennie to size things up. But don’t make the mistake of thinking that Jennie would go back to Poland. Jut ask her to get her hat and coat on to take the steamer back and watch Jennie run away, so you can’t catch her. Jennie is the youngest of the much-advertised Springel family who had such difficulty in arriving in America and finally landed in Holyoke via a month’s detention at Ellis Island. But finally safe in the Paper City, Jennie and her 15 year old sister, Josephine, with their mother, Mrs. Marie Springel, who went back to the old country just to bring her children back with her, are now quite three of the family of Mr. and Mrs. Jan Markowsky of 61 Walnut Street of Holyoke.

Last Monday Josephine and Jennie started in the William Whiting School and although they have to start in at grade 1 because they don’t know English, their teacher prophesies it won’t be long before they will have caught up with the rest of the children of their age. As soon as they learn our language they will skip along a grade to a month, for they have been to school at home.

Josephone is as bashful and quiet as Jennie is lively. Perhaps Josephine doesn’t say so much about it, but she is just as pleased to be in America as her sister. She doesn’t have to work so hard. There is farm work to do in the old country, and much work about the house. Josephine at 15 is a smart little laundress. Could she use American slang she’d probably say its pretty soft to just go to school here and not have a lot of work to do.

Has Her Old Job Back

Monday, also, Mrs. Springel started in to work at her old hob as a spinner in one of the mills of the American Thread company, where she has been employed since December, 1914, until her leave of absence last August to go after her children.

The Springels were victims of the new immigration law, which limits the number of people fro each nation to be admitted each year. Perhaps they still are victims, for although they have been admitted, it is only for a period of two months, unless matters can be arranged to circumvent the operation of the law, which in cases like this seems decidedly to miscue.

Interest in their case is widespread. Mrs. Springel, who has lived in Holyoke for eight years, has many friends, and although she has had offers of marriage since her return, present indications are that she will remain single, her happiness complete in having her children with her. Anyway, she only laughs when the subject is mentioned.

Pulling Wires

Meantime, Attorney P. J. Garvey, who has looked out for her interests since her contemplated return to Poland last summer and who is about as pleased as anybody over her final success in being admitted, is pulling all the possible strings to prevent the future deportation. Following up on matters at the Washington end is Congressman Treadway, who during the family’s detention at Ellis Island was in touch with the situation every day in the interests of the Springels.

Mrs. Springel has taken out her first naturalization papers. Should she marry an American citizen she would become naturalized at once. Attorney Garvey has written to Congressman Treadway asking what will then become of the order for the deportation of the children. In reviewing the history of the case, it is not plain to people why, if the Polish quota was exceeded the American consuls at Warsaw and Southampton, both of whom vised the passports to America, did not know of the fact and prevent their starting on their journey.

Had Mrs. Springel followed her first impulse last summer when she first filled out her first naturalization papers and had filed them, the end of the journey might have been different. As it was, some of her Polish friends laughed at her for taking out citizenship papers, with the result that they were not filed at that time.

Mrs. Springel’s husband preceded his wife to this country and worked in a mine in West Virginia, planning to later send for his family. He was killed there in a mining accident in 1912. The workman’s compensation due him could not be paid to a widow who was not in this country. Therefore Mrs. Springel came across to get the money for the support of her family. It was paid to her weekly and she settled down to work in Holyoke, gradually accumulating a bank account. Josephine and Jennie were left in the care of her sister.

Last summer she planned to send for her children, but fearing lest there should be some slip in their safe arrival alone, she decided to go after them. The necessary passports and papers were secured. All went well until their arrival at Ellis Island more than a month ago, when they were told the Polish quota has already been exceeded and they must go back. There followed a series of frenzied communications between Holyoke and Ellis Island, with the dispatches to and from Washington on the side. She produced papers showing her husband had been killed, that she had lived here eight years, that she had a bank account to enable her to provide well for her children. The final result was admission for two months with bonds of $500 each for the children. And now friends are working to keep them here. The supervisor of the factory where she works has written a letter for her stating that she has been in his employ since December 1914. Attorney Garvey, Adlerman Kurnik of Holyoke and Congressman Treadway have their fingers on the wire.

Everybody’s Happy Now

There are six now in the Markowsky family and Mr. Markowsky seems as pleased as anybody to have the half circle of his table in his spotless kitchen filled up at meal time and extra frankfurters in the liberal sized dish. Whatever impression of dinginess one may receive in making his entrance into the Makowsky home, which is on one of the typical tenements of the Polish district of Holyoke, is quickly dispelled by entrance into the Makowsky kitchen. Mrs. Makowsky apparently believes in a competition between soap and stove polish, with the result that the intensive use of both converts the kitchen into an agreeable sitting room. Nor are color effects lacking. Flanking the mantel clock are two large bouquets of paper flowers, resembling bunches of small red geraniums.

For the present the Springels and the Makowskys are happy and as far as any outward signs of worrying about the future the Springels are not crossing their bridges until they get there. Ask Jennie. She’s not going back.

Adapted from The Springfield Republican.

Note: this is the third of three articles about this family. See also:

Holyoke Woman to be Deported (first article), and

Mrs. Mary Spryngel and Children Home (second article)

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.


Suggested Holyoke Books

Mountain Park -- The Holyoke destination we all loved.

Mount Holyoke College

Mount Holyoke College, Postcard History by Donna Albino. Many Holyoke women have attended Mount Holyoke. Author also maintains an amazing MHC website based upon her personal collection.

Holyoke - Chicopee, A Perspective

Holyoke-Chicopee: A Perspective, by Ella Merkel DiCarlo. DiCarlo, a former Transcript columnist offers a fascinating compilation of her essays. Published in 1982, this out-of-print book is worth looking for in the aftermarket.


Holyoke, by Craig Della Penna. The first Holyoke book in the Arcadia series, published in 1997.

Belle Skinner Collection

Belle Skinner Collection, by Ruth Isabel Skinner. Published in 1933, this book is long out of print but copies are still available in the aftermarket.

Mitch Epstein: Family Business

Mitch Epstein: Family Business Published in 2003, available in the aftermarket. Epstein's furniture.