Gillming Pareidolia?

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Non-Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
Unique genealogical experience - super natural or simply coincidence?

Submitted: February 18, 2017

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Submitted: February 18, 2017



While you may find me fascinated by supernatural stories I'm not prone to believe they are anything that can’t be explained away scientifically today or sometime in the future. I do have an interesting experience however which tests this conviction.

While working late one night in Jersey City many years ago I happened to notice an image super imposed on our parking lot cam monitor. I can best describe as looking very similar to a double exposed piece of film. On it was a man dressed in turn of the century clothing sitting on what appeared to be a rail station bench looking somewhat distraught. Standing a short distance in front of him was a little girl in light colored clothing looking away. The image, visible only after dark, remained clear to me for few weeks then slowly faded away and never returned.

I later found out that a public transportation hub once stood where our plant was now located and Ellis Island was a short distance to the East. The likelihood of immigrants using a Jersey City station to embark on their final destination was very high. Was the image of an earlier immigrant contemplating his struggles for a new life?  Interesting, yes, but that’s not where it ends.

Recently while chasing the Gillming genealogy my on line search yielded an Ellis Island manifest dated, July 3 1907. Listed were my Grandfather Gillming age 17 and his parents. Strangely though all three names were lined out on the manifest. I also have another manifest with Gillmings dated July 5 1907, two days later. This manifest copy was a gift to me from my daughters, Cheryl and Christie. they obtained it while visiting Ellis Island about 15 years ago.  On it are the names of my Grandfather and his mother but interestingly not his father. Apparently my Great Grandfather for some reason was not admitted with his family. Obviously though they decided to enter America at this time without him. Must have been a difficult decision.

So what happened to my Great Grandfather? Looks like he went back to Europe for a while. I did find him on another immigration manifest. It was dated, June 23 1908 almost a year later. There are many reasons why immigrants were turned away but most dealt with health. My guess is he went back to deal with a temporary illness.

So, did I see my Great-grandfather in that image? Was he telling me about the hardships they endured while crossing the pond for us? Or perhaps, was he just saying hello and don’t forget me.  In any case this whole experience is definitely strange.

Perhaps you believe it’s a minor hallucination (aka pareidolia) combined with coincidence. Maybe it is.  

Oh yeah, I have no explanation for the little girl’s appearance in the image.


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