Immigrant Gelsomina Ferraro Ciocco was born in 1884 in Naples and came through Ellis Island in 1904 with her mother, Filomena Napolitano, and siblings Angela Maria Ferraro Valerioti, Elena Ferraro Scarnecchia, and Carmine Ferraro, my great grandfather, when she was 19. She was the mother of well – known biostatistician Dr. Antonio Ciocco. Like her mother and sisters, she didn’t speak English, and was detained for a simple reason. Her father, Angelo Ferraro, was not on time to collect the women to take them to Brooklyn. The passenger manifest was marked that she could read and write in her native tongue. She was my great grand aunt and the only sibling of my great grandfather that we have a photo of.
One year later Gelsomina was residing with her parents when they lived in Brooklyn. By 1907, Angelo and Filomena had moved to Columbus, Ohio. That is where Gelsomina likely met her future husband Angelo Michele (Michael) Ciocco. They were married in early 1908 by Father Sovilla in St. John the Baptist Church.
Michael (Angelo Michele) Ciocco was born at #289 Via Borga, Guardialfiera, Campobasso, Molise, Italy on May 30, 1883 to Antonio Ciocco, a pasta maker, and Rosaria D’Onofrio. His birth record (#41) via Antenati.
Gelsomina’s son Antonio Ciocco was born May 1, 1908. Michael was naturalized in 1916 in Franklin County, Ohio.
When Michel’s parents brought the family to America, they ran an Italian bakery in Columbus. Michael worked there and was also able to graduate high school.
Gelsomina went by Jessie in “American.” I was glad United States Passport Applications up to I think, 1925, are on Ancestry and we have those photos of Gelsomina, Antonio, and Michael from 1921. It gave me a hint about where Gelsomina had lived in America up until that point. She stated she lived in Brooklyn, Chicago, and Columbus. Oh, and she was also apparently 5’5″!
Remember in 1908 she married Michael? In 1910 Michael was living with his parents and working at their bakery with Gelsomina and son Antonio nowhere in sight. So I wondered if she was living in Chicago because Michael’s passport application stated that he had only lived in Columbus since he came to America. Could she have been living near my great grandfather, her brother, in Chicago? Or near Angela Maria Ferraro Valerioti her sister in Chicago?
Maybe Gelsomina was living with her parents in Columbus. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find them on the 1910 Census. In 1912 she traveled to Naples with her parents and visited 22 Montesanto Naples. There is a monastery on Montesanto today, although not at the same address. When her mother Filomena passed away in Columbus in 1914, Gelsomina was the informant on her death record.
In 1920, Gelsomina was living with her husband according to the Federal Census. She was the bookkeeper for his pasta business – Columbus Macaroni Company.
Gelsomina returned to Naples two more times in the 1920s. The 1925 return passenger manifest showed Gelsomina and Michael lived at 101 Thompson Street in New York City.
In 1927 and 1928 I found Gelsomina and Michael in the Newark, NJ City Directory. Gelsomina was the Treasurer of their company Ciocco Macaroni Company, Inc.
Like Gelsomina’s sister Angela Maria’s husband Jerry Valerioti, Michael Ciocco appears on the letterhead of my great grandfather’s opera school, the International Grand Opera Association in Chicago. Michael Ciocco was listed as “press agent.”
Michael Ciocco’s parents continued to have their Italian bakery business in Columbus while continuing to speak their native tongue, according to the census records I found on them, and nobody suffered for it. Michael’s father passed in 1932 and his mother passed in 1936.
Dr. Antonio Ciocco – Gelsomina Ferraro’s Son
Gelsomina only had one child – Dr. Antonio Ciocco and he was extremely important to health research in Pennsylvania, if not to the nation. To discover where Gelsomina and Michael went after retirement from pasta manufacturing, I had to search for information on my 1st cousin two times removed Dr. Antonio Ciocco. By 1935, Gelsomina and Michael had moved to Baltimore Maryland, where they lived with their son Antonio who was employed by the Federal Government at the United States Department of Health as a statistician.
I found a newspaper article on newspapers.com stating that Antonio was the chief of the Hagerstown, Maryland Field Station of the U.S. Public Health Service. They likely moved to Pittsburgh with Antonio, because, in 1957, Michael Ciocco passed away in Pittsburgh, and in 1958, Gelsomina Ferraro passed away outside of Pittsburgh in New Brighton, Beaver County. Antonio was the informant on both death records and signed his name as Dr.
Gelsomina was laid to rest at St. Joseph’s cemetery in Columbus, Ohio, with her husband.
Dr. Antonio Ciocco held science degrees from the University of Naples and Johns Hopkins. The latter was likely the reason for his previous Baltimore address.
Articles referencing Antonio’s work in Pittsburgh starting around 1950 fill newspapers.com. He conducted many studies, including some on cancer statistics, and is most well-known for his study on the effects of pollution in Donora, Pennsylvania that was published in coordination with another researcher in 1948. The deadly and historic wall of polluted fog is also called the Donora Smog. In four days in October 1948, it killed 20 people and is believed to be the cause of death for at least 5 others.
Other information is best summed up about him in his Pittsburgh Post-Gazette obituary dated January 6, 1972. I am posting it below in chunks.
His mass of Christian burial was held at St. Paul’s Cathedral, Pittsburgh. I found his Find-a-Grave memorial created by another user. He is buried in Silver Spring, Maryland.
I tried finding information about Michael and Gelsomina’s pasta companies but I didn’t turn up anything. The Campobasso ancestry of Angelo Michele Ciocco and his parents can very easily be traced on Antenati.
Who do you think Great Grand Aunt Gelsomina resembles the most?
My immigrant great grandfather has one more sister – Giovannina Ferraro.
Ellis Island Passenger Ship Manifests
U.S. Passport Applications via Ancestry
United States Federal Censuses
New York State Census, 1905
Columbus and Newark City Directories
Franklin County, Ohio Marriage Records
Franklin County, Ohio Birth Index
Pennsylvania Death Certificates via Ancestry
Cousin Cleonice, C. Ferraro’s Federal file
United States Social Security Death Index
My email: firstname.lastname@example.org