June Comes To America
UPDATE - OCT.2008: Vital new information on the origins of June's family has appeared on the Henry Miller Walks website, through research by Kreg Wallace. Please be sure to read his "June's Origins: New Documents" after reading the posting below, as it clarifies and corrects some of these assertions.
Two of the more recent Miller biographies, Happeist Man Alive by Mary Dearborn and Henry Miller: A Life by Robert Ferguson, state that June's father, Wilhelm Smerth (later anglicized to Smith) arrived with his family to New York in 1907; Ferguson specifies July 10, 1907.
Thanks to the internet and the amazing resource that is the Ellis Island website [free with registration], I was able to do a little research. What I discovered is this: Wilhelm did indeed arrive in 1907, but he came alone. The rest of his family--wife and children--arrived in 1908, including six-year old June.
I assume that Wilhelm came in advance to establish a homestead for his family before calling for them to join him; a common plan of action for new immigrants even today.
June arrives in America in 1908
On June 26, 1908, six-year old June, her mother, and four siblings boarded the President Lincoln [pictured left] in Hamburg. The ship was built in 1903 and went through various names before being christened President Lincoln in 1907. It was later entered into service during WWI and was sunk at the end of the war [a detailed history of the ship can be found here and here].
The President Lincoln docked at Ellis Island on July 8, 1908, almost exactly one year since Wilhelm arrived. The ship manifest is sometimes difficult to read, so I'll include some image samples.
Above is the entry for the mother, age 30. Her name was apparently Francis Budd, but this name has been interpreted by the Ellis Island website transcribers as "Tanie." The manifest states that her husband is Wilhelm Smerth. Her contact person back home is noted as being her brother in Moldawitza, Bukowina/ Bukovina [ref. 3 below].
From the Naturalization Record refered to by Robert Ferguson, we know that June had brothers and sisters: Maria Augusta, Herman, Sigmund, and Edward. Besides June, four children are listed as being a "child" of "Tanie": Gustava (11), Herman (9), Sigmund (4) and one I just can't read (3) [ref. 1 above].
Finally, there is June. In Ferguson's biography, he suggests that June changed her name to Julia when the family went from being Smith from Smerth. However, this 1908 manifest shows an entry for Julia, age 6; June's real name [ref. 2 above; could be "Julie"]. Julia is listed as being Austrian, Jewish, last residing in Russian Moltawica [ref. 4], also her place of birth [ref. 5]. She and the family would continue on to Norfolk Street, where Wilhelm was living [ref. 6].
Incidentally, the records of Henry Miller's immigrant German family are absent because they predate those avaialble on the Ellis Island website. Henry and June's passages to Europe in the 1920's are also unavailable because they postdate the records available on-line.
For those interested in Anais Nin, however, make sure to look up her arrival from Havana in 1905, at age 2, and her return from Barcelona at age 11 in 1914. And if it's relevant to your genealogy, don't forget to look up your own family.