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I repeatedly heard stories from people who would say their ancestor's last name "got changed when they went through Ellis Island".

I've more than one joke about that.

My favorite is about the Jew named Shaun Ferguson. Having previously been sent back to Europe for some medical malady, he decided to give a false name to the clerk at Ellis Island.

But when he came to the front of the line, he couldn't remember the false name he had decided to use. The immigration clerk asked him his name, and he answered, “Shoyn Fargesn!” (Yiddish for, "I already forgot!")

True story:
According to my mother and her siblings, my grandmother said they came over on a ship called the "Monte Carlo." I found the manifest on the Ellis Island website; it was the "Mount Carroll."
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