Immigrant #27 ~ Great Grand Aunt Giovania Ferraro ~ What Happened to You?

My great grandfather Carmine Ferraro had 5 siblings and they all immigrated to the United States.  Unfortunately, there is very little known about his last sibling Giovania, his youngest.  At present, Giovania is only found in two records in America.  The first is in the 1905 New York State Census by name and age, and the second is in the 1932 Leavenworth prison file as a reference.  There is no oral history on this sibling either.

Giovania was not on the 1904 passenger manifest of her mother and sisters.  Since her mother and sisters were detained, the tally of detained and released passengers at the end of the roll of records from the National Archives specifically divulges 3 children over the age of 1 were released with mother Filomena Napolitano.  Giovania would have been about 14 at that time.  I plainly do not know when Giovania got here.  I cannot figure out how or with whom Giovania came to America period.

In 1905, Giovania was living in Brooklyn with her three sisters and parents, according to the New York State Census.  That record showed she was born in Italy, 15 years old, and did housework.  This is the only record I ever found that gave an idea of her name and an approximate year of birth. Ancestry indexers incorrectly transcribed her name as Guarania!  


Giovania is at the bottom.


Carmine’s Leavenworth prison file references the fact, in his social interview, that he was 1 of 6 children and only 4 were alive.  The current residence of each of his siblings was listed.  By my research, Angela Maria Ferraro Valerioti was deceased.  Giovania Ferraro had to have been the other deceased sibling.

I could not find Giovania in the New York City Municipal death index, nor anywhere in Columbus, Ohio where parents Angelo Ferraro and Filomena Napolitano had moved by 1907.   She would only have been about 17 at that point.  To give you my honest opinion, I think her first or last name was corrupted on an American record, possibly in the above census, and any further proof of her in the United States may be impossible right now until more records become available.  I hope I am wrong about the corruption of her name.  Technically her name should be Giovanna, right?

I have no idea why Giovania would not be on any passenger manifest.  She definitely didn’t come to America with her father Angelo in 1903.  Also, it just is not possible for me to find her birth record in Naples at this time since 1) I don’t know her birthday and can’t write to Naples for it without it; and 2) Births of the Commune of Naples post 1865 are not online anywhere for researchers.

Could she have gone by a different first name?  Yes, and obviously the common last name poses some search issues as well.  Giovania, what happened to you?

Giovania is the last of Carmine’s siblings whose stories were told here.  The rest can be found in these previous posts:

Immigrant #2: Angela Maria Ferraro Valerioti – Mother of a Renowned NYC Investigator and a NYC Refuse Company President

Immigrant #5 ~ The Disappearing Antonio Ferraro and More on Antonio Ferraro here

Immigrant #23 ~ Great Grand Aunt Elena Ferraro Scarnecchia

Immigrant #26 Gelsomina Ferraro Ciocco ~ Pasta Company Treasurer and Mother of Biostatistician Dr. Antonio Ciocco


Update on Available Italian Genealogical Records

As of 11:00 am on August 26th, 2017, any available genealogical records from Italy (save for the Heinzen’s ancestors, the Gentinetta of Bognanco, and Naples births post 1865 for Carmine’s siblings) that I need to access to research either Italian side of my tree will no longer have to be ordered on microfilm!  Any records that aren’t on Antenati San Beniculturali from Italy were made available for viewing on the Family Search website.  Some of those can only be viewed at a Latter Day Saints Center until Antenati in Italy publishes them for viewing online worldwide.  This includes Castiglione Messer Raimondo and Castelli in Teramo, Fara San Martino in Chieti, Nola and Sirico in Napoli, and San Felice a Cancello/Sei Casali d’Arienzo and San Prisco in Caserta.  Farindola and all of Pescara have been on Antenati for years and is accessible in every home.  Since Nola is now available to help identify more ancestors there, I have a feeling that part of the tree will grow to aid in finding relatives of Filomena Napolitano in America.  


Ellis Island Passenger Manifests

NY State Census of 1905

Federal records obtained from the National Archives in Kansas

Upcoming Immigrants:

More in the Leies – Bold branch, including the Leies family that went to New York City and the Leies family that beat all of the others here by arriving in 1848.  The immigrants are about halfway complete.

This blog just turned 2!  Thank you readers!



Immigrant #4 ~ Anne Marie Aloisia Heinzen, Dressmaker and Grandmother to WWII Veterans


Current day Brig.PNG
Brig, Valais


Immigrant Anne Marie Aloisia Heinzen, my great great grandmother, sailed from Le Havre, France to Castle Garden, New York in 1885.  She was born in the hamlet of Lingwurm near Ried-Brig, Canton Valais, Switzerland in 1862.  Valais is a Catholic canton that is split between French and German speaking regions.  It is in the south of the country that borders Italy.  Brig is in the German speaking region.  Anna (as she was known in America) was the oldest of at least 6 children born to Anton Joseph Heinzen and Regina Anna Maria Catharina Josepha Philomena Gentinetta.

Anna’s baptism from the cantonal Archives of Valais dated September 3, 1862.  She was baptized Anna Maria Aloysia, daughter of Antonii (Latin) Heinzen and Reginae (Latin) Gentinetta, both inhabitants of Ried. Godfather was Joannes Josephus (Latin) Heinzen and godmother was Marianna (illegible to me) m. Heinzen.  I believe that means the godmother was the spouse of a Heinzen.The margin says “548 Heinzen Lingwurm”

Does anyone want to help decipher the surname of her godmother?  I can email a copy of the record to you.  Anna’s grandfather, Francois Joseph Gentinetta was born in Bognanco, Piemonte, Italy.  Perhaps he went by Francesco right, except Bognanco speaks a Germanic dialect…


I have detailed Anna’s trip and landing in America in this older post:  On this day in 1885 at Castle Garden Emigrant Landing Depot, 22 Year Old Great Great Grandmother Anna Heinzen arrived in America.

In the interest of not repeating things, previous posts on the Heinzen and Gentinetta are here and here.  A post about information received from a wonderful researcher in Switzerland pertaining to Anna’s siblings was previously posted around last Christmas and can be read here: Heinzen – Gentinetta Update (Helen Kirsch Ferraro’s Swiss Ancestry).

Now I would like to detail what we know about Anna in America.  Anna had met Louis (Ludwig Fritz Kirsch) in Brig where he had studied to learn how to become a chef.  Louis was already in Chicago when she landed at Castle Garden.  They married before the Justice of the Peace on September 9, 1886.  Anna was Catholic and Louis was Lutheran.  On September 22, 1887, their first child, my great grandmother, Helen was born.  Their son Albert Victor was born in 1891.  Both children were raised as Lutherans. When my great great grandfather naturalized in 1896, Anna automatically became a citizen of the United States as his lawful wife.  Women couldn’t naturalize as independent individuals until after they gained the right to vote.

According to the 1900 Federal Census, Anna said she was a mother of 3 and that only 2 were living.  Anna and Louis had apparently suffered the loss of a child.  Anna’s brother Leo lived with them for a little while when he first arrived in Chicago and worked as a cook like Louis.  Leo’s immigrant story will be featured in a different week.  Leo and his wife were mentioned on several time.

On July 27, 1906, Anna was in the Chicago Tribune when she was interviewed about her daughter, Helen, who was a major witness in a homicide case.  Great Grandmother Helen: Witness in the 1906 Murder Case of Mrs. Louise Gentry.  Publishing the address of a witness in a murder trial is really something else huh?  That was the only reference I could find on Anna Heinzen Kirsch on  We do not have a photo of her either.

After Anna’s children moved out and started their own families, she became a dressmaker.  She lost her husband in 1925 and, since she was alone in the house, she took in immigrant Greek and Italian boarders at her home 46 Linden Place for income. Her daughter Helen passed away in 1927 and in 1931 some of Helen and Carmen’s children came to live with her. By 1940 Anna had moved in with her son Albert, his wife, son and daughter in Downers Grove, Illinois.

Anna passed away in 1948 in Downers Grove, Illinois.  She was 86.  We have no photos of Anna.  Her daughter Helen had green eyes.  According to the World War I draft registration of Albert, he was brown haired, brown eyed and slight with a medium height.  According to her brother Leo’s draft registration, he was black haired and black eyed.


great grandmother Helen
Her daughter Helen, my great grandmother.  She appears to have a dark shade of hair.


Anna’s Son Albert

We already know daughter Helen married Carmen Ferraro and they had 9 children.  Albert Victor married Elva Witzigerrenter, who was born in Wisconsin. Albert was a pressman at a printing company, and by 1940 had been made foreman there.  They had two children that served in World War II.  Lois Kirsch served in the Cadet Nursing Corps. Delbert Kirsch served in the United States Army.  Albert died two years after Anna in 1950.

Notes About Researching the Heinzens

About two years ago I was at a wall with Anna and began to research her brother Leo Heinzen.  It was an American record pertaining to his marriage that led me to Brig, Valais, Switzerland.  About the same time I emailed the archives for the baptismal record of Anna, I had mailed letters to every Heinzen in the Brig area and received help from the sweetest citizens of Switzerland.  Cornelia Heinzen and Hans Heinzen both received my letter.  Neither of them are related to Anna but sent information about the Heinzens.  Another Heinzen forwarded to me a picture of Brig in the valley.  Coincidentally, a knitting friend of mine, JL, also has ancestry from Valais and Northern Italy.  She looked up information on the Heinzen and Gentinetta and sent me information on both families.  Finally, a local historian and author named Renato Arnold received the letter from his father-in-law, a Heinzen.  He went to the archives and researched the immediate family and he forwarded the information on Anna’s brothers and sisters.  I am glad I took the advice of another researcher and sent those letters to the Brig area.

The wonderful staff in the Valais Archives went above and beyond sending me records, censuses, and information on the Gentinetta, and always replying to me in English.  In the future,  I would like to find out what Anna’s father did for a living.  Also, wouldn’t it be something to trace all the way back to that first Heinzen in Brig to 1389?  Eventually the records for Verbano-Cusio-Ossola Province in Italy will be online.


Archives of Canton Valais, Sion

Renato Arnold, Cornelia Heinzen, Hans Heinzen, and others in Ried-Brig

Cook County Marriages, Births and Deaths

United States Federal Censuses York Passenger Lists

United States Veterans Death Indexes

World War I Draft Registration Cards

United States City Directories

World War II Cadet Nursing Card Files

United States Social Security Applications

Louis Kirsch’s naturalization


~Next immigrant: #5 The Disappearing Antonio Ferraro…




Heinzen – Gentinetta Update (Helen Kirsch Ferraro’s Swiss Ancestry)

The genealogy angels continue to shine on the Heinzen – Gentinetta branch with Christmas gifts of information from Valais, Switzerland. Earlier and more detailed posts on the Heinzen and Gentinetta ancestry of Helen Kirsch Ferraro are here and here. It turns out that two x great grandmother Anna/Annie Heinzen Kirsch was actually the OLDEST child of Josef Anton Heinzen and Regina Gentinetta. We knew she had at least one younger brother, Leo, mentioned in my previous posts. We now know that she had at least one other brother named for his father Josef, b. 1874, and three younger sisters. Respectively, they were Cresenzia b. 1864, Anna Maria b. 1866, and Regina b. 1870. Yes, Anna had a younger sister named Anna Maria. Anna was also Anna Maria but she had the middle name Aloisia.

Again, it was confirmed that Anna Heinzen’s grandfather Francois Joseph Gentinetta, mentioned in previous posts, was born in Bognanco, Italy. Two very different looking Heinzen family crests were also included in the correspondence received this week to add to the previous crest we received. It is not known which family crest belongs to which branch of the Heinzen in Brig, Valais. More research continues…


Happy New Year!

Heinzen Familie von Ried-Brig, Valais, Switzerland Part II

Heinzen Familie Continued (The Gentinetta). ~~

Great great grandmother Anne Marie Aloyse Heinzen was born on September 2, 1862 in Lingwurm, Brig, Canton Valais, Switzerland to Anton Joseph Heinzen and Regina Anna Gentinetta. Valais is a heavily Catholic Canton in southern Switzerland bordering Italy and France. The Canton is half French speaking and half German speaking. She was born in the German speaking region of the canton and at the foot of the Simplon Pass that connected the region to neighboring Piemonte, Italy. Anne Marie Aloyse Heinzen was baptized Catholic.

The economy of Brig has since the mid-1200s depended on the proximity to the Simplon Pass for lodging, trade, transport, and customs duties. Napoleon constructed a carriage road through the pass in 1801-1805 making travel easier and tourism started to grow. Following the construction of the railroad in the mid-1870s, tourism boomed and hotels near the Pass flourished. Cesar Ritz, also born in the Canton, studied to be a sommelier at a local Brig hotel and was fired. It was around this time Louis Kirsch, from Hannover, Germany, went to Brig to study how to become a chef. Louis met Anne Heinzen and they fell in love and she decided to go to America because Louis got a job in Chicago. On March 25, 1885, Anne arrived at Castle Garden on the ship St. Laurent which had sailed from Le Havre, France. She had paid her own passage and said she was headed to Chicago. On September 9, 1886 Louis and Anna married before the Justice of the Peace….maybe because of their different faiths. He was a Lutheran. They had two children: Helen Anne Marie Kirsch (m. Carmine Ferraro) and Albert Victor Kirsch (m. Elva Witzigerrenter and they had two children). Louis and Anne raised their children Lutheran. Albert worked as a pressman and later a foreman at a printing company. He was not a fan of his sister’s husband.

By the time of the 1900 Census, Louis had become naturalized.  Of and on, Anne’s brother Leo Heinzen lived with them. On Leo’s World War I Draft Card from 1917 he said he was a cook by profession. His height was listed as medium, build was stout, and he had brown eyes and black hair. Since we do not know what Anne looked like we can imagine she MAY have looked like her brother Leo. Leo married Olga Tunieno in Battle Creek, Michigan in 1920. She was older than he and they had no children. Together they ran a magnetic healing business. Yes dear cousins, he was a magnetic healer.

After the children of Louis and Anne moved out they ran a boarding house in their Chicago home and Anne became a dress-maker. Louis Kirsch passed away from a heart attack in 1925 and her daughter Helen died in 1927, leaving 9 grandchildren for Anne to help raise. A few of them lived with her in the early 1930s. In her old age Anne moved in with her son Albert and his wife and died at age 86, in 1948, in Downers Grove, Illinois.

Anne Heinzen’s Gentinetta Ancestry

Anne’s father’s ancestry is still a little hazy and we have not yet received Heinzen census records. It is a mystery what her father did by profession while her mother’s family, the Gentinetta, seemed to have gone back and forth from Brig and Glis, Valais and Bognanco, Verbano-Cusio-Ossola, Piemonte, Italy and were referenced in books from Valais more than the Heinzen. It probably was not odd to travel back and forth since the villages were roughly twenty miles apart and they both spoke a Germanic dialect. Anne’s mother was Regina Anna Maria Catharina Josepha Philomena Gentinetta, daughter of Francois Joseph Gentinetta (born in Bognanco) who was the son of Francois Joseph Gentinetta. That is not a typo.

According to the scans of the Gentinetta church records from the Catholic parish in Glis from the State Archives of Valais, Anne’s grandfather and great grandfather had married citizens of Valais. The priests in the early 1800s misspelled it as Jeantinetta but spelled it correctly when Anne was born. The Brig and Glis 1829 census records from Valais show a Franz Tschentinetta (they can’t spell Gentinetta yet) born in 1795. The next census record from 1837 Glis states Franz Gentinetta (spelled correctly) was a citizen of Bognanco, Kingdom of Piemonte, his children were born in Bognanco and Intra, Kingdom of Piemonte to a woman born in Valais. His profession was soldat = soldier. This MAY be one of our Francois Joseph Gentinettas (grandfather or great grandfather of Anne) since we know both men married citizens of Valais according to the parish records. The State Archives of the Canton of Valais sent this scan for Gentinetta coat of arms from Milan:



The description says the Gentinetta family was lured to Valais for trade in the 18th and 19th century. There is a brief description of Gentinetta men that were prosecutors, councilmen, and magistrates. There is no way to tell at the moment how the mother of Anne Heinzen was related to these men. It also says a branch went to Luzerne. The coat of arms depicts what they call progressive lions on a red and blue background. Again, there is also no way to tell right now if this coat of arms belonged to either Francois Gentinetta.

Here at this link, is another mention of the Gentinetta family, pretty much reflecting the facts stated in the coat of arms scan. Gentinetta also appears in Cognomi Italiani, which also references Bognanco, the same coat of arms, and Brig-Glis, Switzerland.

Most importantly, was this google book from the courts of the Canton mentioning that the first Gentinetta to ever go to live in Valais was Lorenzo Gentinetta in the first half of the 19th Century. The book also stated that brothers Francois and Maurice Gentinetta were in 1872 determined by the courts in Canton Valais to not be citizens of Glis, Brig or any other Valaisian commune, despite the fact they had resided there for over 5 years, that they were citizens of Bognanco-Dentro, were recognized by the Ministry of the Interior of the Kingdom of Italy as Italian nationals, and therefore, could not invoke any part of the constitution of Valais in any litigation or any rights. So after 100+ years or more of the Gentinetta going back and forth between the countries, they were still not considered Swiss citizens.

The following is an internet translated excerpt from the French language publication:

Lorenzo Gentinetta, ascending direct of the petitioner and native of Bognanco, is fixed in Valais in the municipality di Glis, during the first half of 18 century. His son Jean-Laurent, of Glis in 1754, was married in 1780 with a national of this municipality; of other descendants of the same family are also married, later in the same commune. Members of the family Gentinetta are inhabitants perpetuals in led registers of the municipality of Glis, residing in 1846; the communal authorities has several of them in acts of origin; several, in addition, have served or serve terms in the militias of the canton of Valais, or pay the military tax.

So if they were members of the militia of the Canton, Franz/Francois the soldat = soldier, may have been a member of the militia. There are three things the soldier Franz may have been as a soldier. 1. Valais militia – which could only draft 300 or less men; 2. In the army of the Kingdom of Sardegna-Savoy-Piemonte; or 3. A Swiss mercenary contracted out to Italy and that is why his children were born there.

Hopefully the archives can shed light on the soldat.  Research from Switzerland is different. The Latter Days Saints were not permitted to retain most vital records or genealogies in Switzerland. They were not permitted in any part of the Canton of Valais. Everything must be obtained by writing Switzerland. On the other hand, the genealogical records from Verbano-Cusio-Ossola, Italy are being digitized for online access by the Italian government and would include information on Anne’s Gentinetta grandparents and great-grandparents. The Heinzen – Gentinetta Familie von Ried-Brig is a work in progress.


~~~I urge you to view beautiful pictures of the Simplon Pass and Brig online~~~ Mr. Heinzen from Switzerland emailed a photo of the valley surrounding Brig from above. It is in a format that cannot be uploaded.