Whether they traveled first-class or crossed the Atlantic in steerage, all new immigrants to the Port of New York were required to go through Customs at Ellis Island.
At Fontainebleau in 1876 Stevenson had met Mrs Osbourne, the lady who afterwards became his wife; she returned to her home in California in 1878, and in August of the following year, alarmed at news of her health, Stevenson hurriedly crossed the Atlantic. He travelled, from lack of means, as a steerage passenger and then as an emigrant, and in December, after hardships which seriously affected his health, he arrived in San Francisco.
It was only the third class or "steerage" passengers who were ferried to Ellis Island for health and legal interviews.
The receiving center was used to screen mostly third class, or steerage, passengers.