Thomas Vaughan, born 1850 in Llanfoist, Wales, son of John and Maranah Vaughan, arrived in New York City, 1 June 1886 on the SS Nevada. He arrived in Salt Lake City by the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad on June 8 and settled in Ogden. His wife, Isabella, and seven children, the youngest, my Great Grandfather, George Robert Vaughn, arrived the next Spring, also thought New York on the same S.S. Nevada.
|The SS Nevada of the Guion line|
I was curious to know when the Statue of Liberty was finished and whether they would have seen it upon their arrival in New York Harbor. It surprised me to learn that Miss Liberty was finished and dedicated in October 1886, right between the two voyages of the family.
|Unveiling of the Statue of Liberty Enlightening the World (1886) by Edward Moran|
And I found a photo of Castle Garden, where the Vaughans passed through U.S. Immigration, that would be shortly after the completion of the Statue of Liberty.
So were the Vaughns part of the "huddled masses yearning to breathe free?"
They were among the working poor. As Mormon converts in England they would have lost what little status in society they might have had and possibly had conflict with extended family and neighbors. They would have likely been less favored for job opportunities and may have been subject to harassment or even persecution based on the negative press coverage and sensationalized fiction of most things Mormon or LDS in those days.
They came in Church-organized companies even that late in the 19th Century. The official Church reports of Thomas's voyage listing the Mormon passengers include reference to "about 200 Russian Jews." They were clearly fleeing the persecution of Czarist pogroms (think Fiddler on the Roof).