Paul Nikonenko

Because the group was so large (the only one to come with American assistance), Angel Island immigration officials held and processed the refugees at Fort McDowell, an army installation on the west side of the island. Although great care had been taken to make sure that all were eligible to enter the country under the immigration laws, nineteen (possibly twenty-one) were excluded. Those who appealed the order had to wait at the immigration station until final decisions were made in Washington, D.C. Ultimately four were deported back to the Philippines.

Among the passengers were fifty families (forty-three of the children were under fifteen years of age), naval and army officers, engineers, two doctors, and a chaplain. The parents of one of the writers of this article, Paul and Mary Nikonenko, were among the refugees. Most, however, were young men, sailors and farmers, including a nineteen-year-old seaman, Prince A. Chagedaev. After the dangers and uncertainties of the preceding months, the emigrants had found safety. Several became movers and shakers of the newly emerging Russian community in San Francisco.

To read the story of Merritt passengers Paul and Mary Nikonenko, visit this page.