John Laas Christian

Semi-candid photo of John
Semi-candid photo of John

John Laas Christian is my Great Great Grandfather. My mother remembers him having snowy white hair and a thick accent which turned “Julie” into “Yoody”. He was born in a German village 50 miles south of the German border with Denmark. He came through Ellis Island in 1903, and married in 1906. His 4 children shared a room in New York City that was about the size of the Principal’s office in my Elementary School. He worked as a baker, and he joined the Merchant Marines after he became a widower.
In the Summer of 1914, John decided to take his wife and kids with him to visit his family in Germany. While he was on a ship from America to Germany, Germany declared war, and the Great War had started to take shape. When the boat was moored in a German Port, John somehow booked it alone, and got back to America. Apparently, he went underground and made his way home. He tried sending money to his family in Hamburg, but it never reached his wife and children. He went back after the war ended in 1918, and lived in Germany until 1923, when he headed back to New York with his family. This story is something that tells me that he was brave enough to quickly make good decisions for his livelihood, and that that skill has hopefully been passed down to other family members.

Place(s): New York City, Hamburg
Year: 1903

– JH

Relationship:  Great-grandchild of im/migrant or more Great-grandchild of im/migrant or more