ELLIS ISLAND – On this day in 1923, my Great Grandfather Cesidio Marcella arrived at Ellis Island. It was his first trip to America. He made the passage on the ship “Giulio Cesare” which left Naples on September 8. He stated that he was a laborer, that he was able to write, that his wife Serafina was in Farindola, Italy, and that he was going to meet relatives in Marcus Hook, Pennsylvania. Grandpop was going to stay with his Serafina’s brother Vincenzo Merlenghi to earn money to send to his family.
A couple of years later he moved to the largely Italian-American community of Ozone Park, Queens County, NY and worked in construction in New York City. It was with his blood and sweat, and that of thousands of other immigrants working for menial wages, the beautiful skyscrapers of New York City were built. Sometimes he would skimp eating his meals to be able to send more money home to Italy.
It was advantageous that he first came to America in 1923. The next year the Immigrant Act of 1924 was passed and it limited the number of Italians allowed into the country. Grandpop became a citizen in 1929 and returned home an American citizen for the Christmas season like many other Italians. The following spring he returned to Pennsylvania to again live with the Merlenghis and to send money home to his family working in construction. He eventually started his own plaster business.