Q: The German ancestors I am trying to locate came to this country in 1890 from Germany through Staten Island to Michigan. Since they didn’t come thru Ellis Island, where can I find information about where they came from?
A: Ellis Island did not open until 1892, so it is correct that your ancestor did not go through Ellis Island in 1890.
You need to find a passenger arrival list, which is what you would find on the Ellis Island arrivals for the years 1892 to 1924. There are no passenger arrival list indexes for New York from 1847 to 1897.
Your best option is to look in the Germans to America series, which seeks to fill the gap in the New York indexes. Volumes 58 through 60 cover July 1889 through May 1891. (Incidentally, there are Family Tree Maker CD-ROMs of the Germans to America series, but they cover only the period 1875 to 1888, not including 1890.) Then you can look at the actual passenger list to see what is mentioned about the place of origin. Note that the Germans to America books do not mention everything that is found on the microfilmed lists, sometimes even omitting the actual village of origin that is found on the lists.
Even if the New York arrival lists don’t mention a place of origin, if the passenger originated in Hamburg, the direct or indirect Hamburg departure lists give the passenger’s last place of residence in Europe.
If you don’t find your ancestor this way, you may need to go through all 18 rolls of those unindexed New York arrival lists for 1890, which are National Archive microfilm numbers M237-543 through M237-560, corresponding to Family History Library numbers 1,027,779 through 1,027-786 and 1,027,597 through 1,027,606.
The lists are also available on LDS microfilm.