My great grandmother Helen Kirsch Ferraro was a protected witness in a Chicago murder case that involved an international manhunt on 3 continents before she met and married my great grandfather. She had become acquainted with a man that later was wanted for murder while she worked in an Italian “boot-blacking” shop on Clark Street in Chicago. Because she had seen him get in a car near the scene of the crime and the amount of national press coverage the investigation garnered, the Chicago Police Department sent her to Poughkeepsie, NY to identify him with a different name. Below is an oldie and touched-up version of a 2 year old blog post I offer this week for Women’s History Month. The only sources available about the investigation and crime were newspaper articles. The case file has been destroyed.
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.
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.
Talanico, San Felice a Cancello, Caserta, Campania – When Vito Barbarino and Angela Nicolino are appearing in your pedigree twice as your forebears, you know two people in your Ferraro ancestry must’ve been related. It turns out that great great grandfather Immigrant #3 ~ Retired Army Captain and Merchant Angelo Ferraro‘s parents were related because Vito Barbarino and Angela Nicolino from Roccarainola are in his ancestry on both sides of his family. They were his great great grandparents twice through their daughter Giulia Barbarino – the ancestress of Angelo’s mother Angela Maria Delle Cave and Giovanna Barbarino – the ancestress of Angelo’s father Francesco Antonio Ferraro.
Giulia and Giovanna Barbarino were sisters, both daughters of Vito Barbarino and Angela Nicolino.
This all makes the parents of Angelo Ferraro third cousins.
Vito Barbarino and Angela Nicolino began to appear in the Talanico, San Felice a Cancello’s San Pietro Apostolo’s church records around 1690, with the notation that they were from a parish of Roccarainola, which is about 5 miles from the ancestral town of Angelo’s parents, San Felice a Cancello.
What can be gleaned from the online church records from the Diocese of Acerra concerning the Barbarinos is that their son Giacomo Antonio was at one point contributing the largest amount of tomolo of grain in tithes to the parish of San Leonardo in San Felice a Cancello. Tomolo is an old Southern Italian measurement.
You can see the from pedigree of both parents of Angelo that, yep Barbarino and Nicolino are indeed in each one.
Giulia Barbarino married Lorenzo Delle Cave in 1721. Giovanna Barbarino married Leonardo De Lardo in 1716. Descendants of both sisters married approximately 100 years later and had Angelo Ferraro.
So. They were related. At least they weren’t 1st cousins HA!
The gift of a “genealogy goldmine.” When the clipped newspaper articles are practically crumbling in your hands, you are viewing photos of people born in the 19th century, and the scent of paper older than 100 years lingers in the air, you know you were gifted the “genealogy goldmine.” That is what my mother’s cousin – a Ferraro cousin – gifted me the other day. You probably saw the photo of Angelo Ferraro on Facebook wearing the top hat and his Italian military medals with the explanation from the Italian article describing his military campaigns. That piece of gold and the stories she shared were the best part!
Someone in the family kept clippings, pictures, and programs related to these early Italian immigrants in my ancestry. I am guessing this collection of memorabilia may have been started by my great grandmother Helen and continued by one of my great aunts after she passed. There are many names in the “goldmine” I have heard, but can now put into context in the music industry. Not to mention, there is another little mystery surrounding Immigrant #3 ~ Retired Army Captain and Merchant Angelo Ferraro and who he may have been working for in New York City before he passed away in Ohio in 1926. More on that later after I sort it out.
In 1910, my great grandfather and 6 other Italians apparently formed the Italo-American Forwarding Company in Chicago. The description of the company in the torn pages from a publication we will never be able to name describes it as an import/export business that specifically specializes in Italian, French, and Spanish goods. They claimed to have a New York office. In the 1910 Chicago Census, Carmine was listed as a fruit broker. Perhaps the Italo-American Forwarding Company imported produce. You can see Gerry Valerioti and Angelo Scarnecchia were members of the incorporation and Antonio Ferraro is the Vice President! Could Antonio have been in charge of the New York part of this enterprise? Maybe he really spent time in Chicago?
Another clue I found on Antonio was a translated copy of a letter Carmine wrote to Antonio on February 1, 1948 that was sent to the “Augustinian College” at Santa Rita del Carmine, in Aversa, Caserta. Was Antonio really the religious brother then? What does this mean then about abandoning wife Elisa? Below is a current photo of the Complesso del Carmine in Aversa.
The Augustinians left in 1959 and the complex closed in 1980 after it was damaged by an earthquake. If you are wondering where Aversa is, it is a town about 5 miles outside of Napoli.
So now we know where Antonio was in the 1940s. Did he have a family in Italy? What was going on with this guy? We now know he lived until at least 1948. Could unraveling the next little mystery about my second great grandfather Angelo Ferraro lead us to another clue on Antonio in New York City? Maybe.
Immigrant Elena Ferraro Scarnecchia was born in 1886 in Montecalvario, Naples and came to America in 1904 with her mother and sisters. She was my great grand aunt, for she was the younger sister of my great grandfather Carmen Ferraro. Carmen had five siblings: Antonio, Angela Maria Ferraro Valerioti, Gelsomina Ferraro Ciocco, Elena, and Giovania. Elena was the second youngest.
I found Elena on the 1905 Census in Brooklyn still living with her parents Angelo Ferraro and Filomena Napolitano. Neither she, nor her 3 sisters were working outside the home. Same for their parents.
By 1907, Elena’s parents Angelo and Filomena were living in Columbus, Ohio. Elena was also likely in Ohio, because by 1908, she had married an Italian immigrant Angelo Scarnecchia and had given birth to their oldest, Armando Scarnecchia.
Elena’s husband Angelo Scarnecchia, according to the 1900 census, came to the United States at age 7 around 1890 and worked as a clerk in his father’s confectionary store. His father was a confectioner in Warren, Ohio.
A Little Bit on Scarnecchia
Angelo Scarnecchia was born in 1883 in Barrea, L’Aquila, Abruzzo to Orazio Antonio Scarnecchia and Cleonice Santa D’Aquila. Because I love the Italian records site Antenati, I traced the Scarnecchia’s back to the late 1700s in Barrea, L’Aquila to the great grandparents of Angelo Scarnecchia named Clemente Scarnecchia and Maria Loreta Vecchione. They were farmers. I stopped there even though it could have been possible find two more generations.
Back to my great grand aunt…In 1909, Elena and Angelo had their second son, Orazio (John Horace Sargent) in Wheeling, West Virginia. Angelo’s parents were also living in Wheeling at the time. By 1917, Elena and Angelo had moved back to Warren, Ohio, and had their only daughter, Cleonice Elena (Henriksen). Angelo was working in his own company at this time, according to his World War I draft registration card – Foreign Exchange/Real Estate which also appeared on the 1920 census. They had two more sons, Angelo and Robert.
My great great grandfather Angelo Ferraro was living with the Scarnecchia’s in Ohio at the time of his death in 1926. In fact, Angelo Scarnecchia bought the plot to bury Angelo Ferraro in St. Mary’s Cemetery in Youngstown. He is the only person in the unmarked plot. Margerita Valerioti also lived with Elena (her aunt) and her family after her mother Maria Angelia Ferraro Valerioti died in 1918.
In the early 1930s, Angelo Scarnecchia was working as a clerk at Warren State Bank. I found a couple of newspaper references to Angelo Scarnecchia in Ohio. In this Akron Beacon clip from May 1930, there was a reference two incorporations bearing his money and name in Warren, Ohio:
I found another reference to these incorporations as Scarnecchia and Orlando. Angelo Scarnecchia died in Los Angeles in 1956.
When I was researching Elena’s children, I lost track of Armand after he appeared to marry in New York City to Ethel DeNaro. With the number of Angelo Scarnecchias living in the Warren area of Ohio, I also had difficulty tracing that son. Daughter Cleonice moved to New York City and was a singer like my great grandfather. I confirmed that sons Orazio and Robert used and/or changed their surname to Sargent. Robert and his wife Elizabeth were actors in Italian theater that toured the country and played to largely ethnic audiences.
BUT! Robert was also listed as Scarnecchia in the Social Security Death Index. Before he was in acting, he enlisted in the United States Navy as a junior grade Lieutenant during World War II. He died in Nevada in 1996. His son Bobby Sargent was a comedian who says he shortened his Scarnecchia name to Sargent when his surname got “too big for marquees” according to this clipped article I found from May 31, 1974 in the Reno, Gazette – Journal, in which he says Harpo and Chico Marx were his teachers:
Elena Ferraro Scarnecchia outlived all of the Ferraros in my ancestry that came to America from Naples in 1903 and 1904 and stayed. She died in Los Angeles in 1964, a few short months after my great grandfather.
Ellis Island Passenger Lists
New York State Census
New York City Marriage Index
Social Security Death Index
U.S. Navy Enlistment Records
Nevada Death Index
California Death Index
National Archives – CF files
Next immigrant: Great great grandmother Emilia Bold – the one with a German Junker ancestor, French ancestors, and Swiss ancestors.
On this day in 1842…Carmine Napolitano and Maria Michela Sabatino were married in the Cattedrale di Nola, Campania. Who are they? They are the parents of my 2nd great grandmother Filomena Napolitano, who came to America in 1904 at age 59. Filomena Napolitano is the mother of Carmen Ferraro.
In 1842, Carmine Napolitano was a blacksmith, age 37, and the widower of Giuseppa Manna, the mother of his first born – Carmela. Giuseppa Manna died in 1841 and Carmine was left without a mother for his young daughter so a marriage was arranged. Carmine’s parents were Antonio Napolitano, a master tailer, and Rosa Marotta, both from Nola. Carmine’s mother was already deceased at the time of his marriage to Maria Michela Sabbatino. He lived on Strada Sant’Anna in Nola.
Maria Michela Sabatino was 33 in 1842. She was born in nearby Sirico, which is now part of the town of Saviano. She lived on Strada Sant’Antonio in Nola at the time of the marriage. Maria Michela’s family was affluent in Sirico. Her father, Gioacchino Sabatino, was literate, and a man of wealth. On the record above, his profession is listed as bettoliere = tavern owner. In the Sirico records he went from being a tailor, like his father, to vendor on the piazza, tavern keeper, tavern owner, wealthy landowner = possidente, and at the time of his death in a hospital in Naples, back to tailor again. Gioacchino’s brother Lorenzo was the Mayor of Sirico from 1860-1861. Maria Michela Sabatino’s mother was named Santa di Conza and she was not from Sirico. She was born in San Valentino di Sarno, Salerno.
More on the easy to research Sabatinos at a later date…
The marriage of Maria Michela Sabatino and Carmine Napolitano produced at least 3 children. Son Antonio Napolitano was born in February 1843, next Filomena was born in 1845, and Giuseppa in 1847. A copy of the only photo we have of Filomena Napolitanois at the top.
Immigrant Carmine Costantino Girolamo Angelo Ferraro was born in 1878 in the Montecalvario neighborhood of Naples Italy and came to America as a Franciscan priest in 1904. He was my great grandfather. Montecalvario is a northern neighborhood in the Quartieri Spagnoli, an infamous section of neighborhoods created in the 16th century by the Spanish rulers. In short, they housed the troops that controlled the populace and crushed rebellions. It is a neighborhood known for high crime and unemployment.
When my great grandfather was born, his father was a merchant and his parents named him after his mother Filomena Napolitano’s father Carmine, in the Italian naming tradition. Carmine was the second son, and would therefore be named after his maternal grandfather. The family lived on Via Pignasecca, #16. See: On This Day in 1878. Carmine was one of 6 children. The others were in order of birth: Antonio (oldest child), Angela Maria, Gelsomina, Elena, and Giovania.
Late in life, my great grandfather wrote an essay on the state of opera in America published in Who’s Who in Music in 1954. At the back of the book was his biography, written by him. He put in there that he attended high school at the Naples Royal Military College/Reale Accademia Militare. It is also known as Nunziatella. This is a link to the English Wikipedia entry on Nunziatella. He also put in there that he attended the Naples Conservatory of Music Naples at San Pietro a Majella. You can read about that conservatory at this Wikipedia link. One more note about his Naples education in the biography was that he had a Ph.D in Literature and Romance Languages. Since his father was a retired military officer, Capitano Angelo Ferraro, I can see he might have attended the Nunziatella, but of course, we don’t know if he attended for a few years or just one year.
By 1899 he was in the Italian Army for two years as a Lieutenant. He stated later in a federal file I obtained here that his Italian military service was completed in 1901. That would have made him 23. He is the only great grandfather I have that I cannot obtain his military record from Italy. The Archives of Naples claims the draft year he belonged to was destroyed by allied bombing in WWII. I wonder if that is really accurate.
In 1904 he acquired a passport to come to America as a Franciscan Priest at the Questura in Naples. When did he have time to study the priesthood? That is a very good question. My grandmother had a letter from him stating he did missionary work in Peru as well. This had to have happened before he first came through Ellis Island. In my previous post about the first time he put his foot on U.S. soil: On this day 112 years ago… he traveled to America with his mother and sisters (excluding Giovania) to meet their father Angelo and brother Antonio in Brooklyn. Carmine was NOT detained at Ellis Island.
By 1906, according to the word of mouth of my forebears, Carmine had left the priesthood. There are conflicting stories on where he was a priest. I have heard NYC and all of the towns in Ohio that begin with a “C.” I did check with the archival center for the Diocese of Columbus to see if he was a priest there. Why Columbus? Because that is where I found him in the 1907 Columbus Directory living with his parents at 394 Goodale. Whatever happened to made him leave is no bother to me, and since I have no document or record to say why he left, you are just going to have to use your imagination. They couldn’t find anything on a priest with his name.
It is my understanding that at that time, if you can believe the librarian at Columbus, Columbus had the largest little Italy second to NYC, so it is natural that they had the Italian language newspaper L’Eco there.
In 1908, Carmen married Helen Kirsch before a Justice of the Peace in Chicago. I would like to take this opportunity to remind my cousins that Carmen and his brother-in-law Jerry Valerioti seemed to move to the same places during this time period. Jerry and Carmen’s sister Angela Maria were detailed a few weeks ago here: Immigrant #2: Angela Maria Ferraro Valerioti – Mother of a Renowned NYC Investigator and a NYC Refuse Company President. Approximately one month before the birth of my grandfather, also named Carmen, in May 1909, my great grandfather filed his Declaration of Intention to become a citizen of the United States with an occupation recorded as “teacher of foreign languages.” In the 1910 census I found what I thought was the incorrect people or was another case of an indexer on Ancestry making the census 1910 census entry whatever they wanted like when they called Fritz Eckebrecht “Grity” Eckebrecht. But the name of the spouse, Helen, and child incorrectly spelled Carmein, and birthplaces of the parents, even though it should say Switzerland for Helen’s mother, was too coincidental. See for yourself-
And I was also thrown off by my great grandfather’s occupation/industry:
The “W” next to fruit stands for “working on his own account, not an employee or employee.” Hmmm…Helen must have been pregnant at the time of that census because their son Angelo was born that year. When he was naturalized in 1911 his occupation was listed as “broker.” Then I knew for sure that was my great grandfather. Also in 1911, Helen and Carmen welcome their oldest daughter Philomena Mesta. Not only was she named after her paternal grandmother Filomena Napolitano, but her maternal great grandmother in Switzerland was named Regina Anna Maria Catharina Josepha Philomena Gentinetta.
Back to that biography he wrote for Who’s Who in Music with a mention of his Chicago education. He stated he had a D.O. from Chicago Medical University. Hmmm….
The family moved 4 times in the following years until 1920, moving between Ohio, New York, Chicago, and back to Ohio and had four more children: Louis, Anna, Helene, and Victor. Before a 1914 move to New York I found an odd newspaper article that referenced C. Ferraro from Youngstown, Ohio in 1912. At that time my great grandfather’s sister Elena was living in there with her husband Angelo Scarnecchia. I am not positive it is my ancestor but below is the article regardless.
That article is another one that goes into the “Hmmm category” isn’t it? There was no opera singer named Armanno Vittorio though. I tried to find him. Nor was this tenor in anymore newspaper articles from this time period. But there was and still is a Colon Theatre. It is called Teatro Colon. You can just draw your own conclusions this article because I just don’t know if it means anything or not.
We also have a photo of my great grandfather that I tried to date to the 1910s. He was posing with what looked like a gavel, white gloves, a mantle, and an apron. For a while I thought that was the photo at his naturalization until a friend of mine showed it to her husband, a Mason, and he explained that was a Masonic mantle and with the white gloves it meant he was the Grand Master. I don’t know what town or state it was from.
By 1920 he was living in Warren, Ohio again and told the census taker he was a grand opera singer. In 1921, Carmen was the Director of the Youngstown International Glee Club in addition to his traveling opera singer business. According to that biography I have mentioned, he wrote that he was an opera conductor since 1922. They had their daughter Gloria in Ohio before moving back to Queens, NY where their last was born in 1924, Romauldo. That should be 9 total children. Also in 1924, my great grandfather toured Europe and took my grandfather along.
One more note about the biography – he wrote he was awarded the Order of the Crown of Italy in 1920. He wrote that title given to him was “chevalier” and that is FRENCH! It should be “Cavaliere!” I have never found anything to prove this or disprove and quite frankly I have no idea where to find out if this Order of the Crown award was given to him.
At this point, my great grandfather didn’t go anywhere for a few years and ran his music school. In October 1931 he married Natalie Schinitz. The following week he was arrested on suspicion of alien smuggling and ended up serving a prison sentence in Leavenworth for 1 count of mail fraud. This is the Chicago Tribune link to the article about his arrest. Basically he took money from people to bring their relatives into the country. He was a model prisoner, worked in the prison infirmary, and was released after serving only 1 year of his 2 year sentence. The only objection to his being paroled came from his brother-in-law, Helen’s brother, Albert Kirsch. Yep.
His 9 children were split between three homes while he was in prison. Two daughters when to live with a niece in New York (probably Margherita Valerioti, I have no proof), the oldest boys, including my great grandfather, went to live with my great great grandmother Anna Heinzen Kirsch, and the youngest stayed with Natalie. While he was in prison, there is a bit of evidence that Natalie divorced him, so I believe then the youngest children would have gone to live with their grandmother Anna Heinzen Kirsch. I have no proof of that though.
By 1940 he had moved back to Brooklyn and was living with two of his daughters. He began using the name Mario Carmen and was listed as vocal instructor with the industry “opera” in the 1940 Federal Census under the name Mario Ferraro. He taught singing until he suffered a heart attack in 1962. He passed away on September 5, 1963 and the name Mario was used on his death record with Carmen.
Final Thoughts on this Posting
There are a ton of oral stories associated with my great grandfather. I only stuck to what was found in the paper trail he left in Italy and across the country. It was very easy to find records about him and to locate articles about him. I have no doubt that I haven’t found everything yet-this includes all of the articles about my great grandfather’s federal case in the Chicago newspapers and also one from the New York Times. You may be reading this and think I should have included more of them. Maybe you are right.
I have a story about trying to get his birth record from Italy the same time I was trying to get a copy of his case file from the Department of Justice by filing a Freedom of Information Act Request. The Department of Justice told me I couldn’t have the United States Attorney’s file on a man born in 1878 because: 1. I hadn’t proven he was dead, even though he was born in 1878; and 2. They weren’t positive I was a United States citizen.
So I appealed their decision on my Freedom of Information Act Request. That same day that I mailed my appeal to Washington D.C., which is about two hours away, I mailed my request off to the Commune of Naples, in Campania, Italy. It was October 31st. Naples is a place that is over the ocean on another continent and stuff… Two weeks later to the day I had my great grandfather’s birth record in my United States mailbox. Then on December 27th, I received a letter from the United States Department of Justice that they were reviewing my appeal. It is easier to get records from Italy you see. I never got the case file from the Department of Justice.
Columbus, Chicago, Warren, and Youngstown City Directories
The New York Times
Wikipedia and Various Travel Websites
Cook County Birth, Marriages, and Death Records
Warren County Death Records
New York City Death Records
Who’s Who in Music, 1954
Family photos, memorabilia, documents, and letters
The nice people at the Cook County Clerk of the Circuit Court
Diocese of Columbus
next immigrant: My other immigrant great grandfather
Immigrant Antonio Ferraro was the oldest child of Angelo Ferraro and Filomena Napolitano. We don’t know when he got to America or when he left. He abandoned his immigrant wife. He was the first Ferraro in my great grandfather’s immediate family in America. We don’t even know what he did for a living when he was here. His common name makes the search for him all the harder.
I found his name appearing on five records in America:
Angelo Ferraro’s 1903 ship manifest – because he is going to live with him in Brooklyn.
Filomena’s 1904 ship manifest – because she is going to live with husband Angelo and son Antonio at 197 Navy Street, Brooklyn.
The 1906 NYC Marriage Index, when Antonio marries Elisa Peluso, an immigrant from Palma Campania, Napoli. She was only 19 when she married Antonio. According to the 1905 Census, she and her sister worked to support the family, as there was no male head of the household. Elisa worked at a silk mill.
The June 3, 1937 Petition of Naturalization of Elisa Peluso. Elisa stated she gained an Enoch Arden Divorce from Antonio in Brooklyn in 1920. The law was enacted to allow a spouse to legally divorce a missing spouse after a specific amount of time so they could then re-marry. In New York today, that is a period of 5 years. His birthdate was listed as April 5, 1876.
During an interview with a federal official in 1932, the brother of Antonio, my great grandfather, stated he had a living brother in Naples named Anthony.
We can assume that Antonio likely disappeared from Elisa’s life by 1915. They no children.
I thought perhaps that Antonio followed Jerry Valerioti and my great grandfather to Ohio and Chicago, but I couldn’t find him there. Still, I looked for the Americanized Anthony. Nope. His entry into the country remains a mystery. If you look at the father of Angelo, he was named Francesco Antonio but went by Antonio and Antonio was likely named after him. I searched for a Francesco Ferraro who came to America and none of them worked out to fit the age or time frame for Antonio. Could he have gone by the name Frank? It is a bit of a stretch…Tony? Nope, that didn’t work either…
Lastly, if you would like to believe a family story that can’t be proved or disproved, he died in a monastery in Naples!
Next two immigrants: Anna Liesbeth (No last name known) and Augusta Eckebrecht
Immigrant Angelo Ferraro, my great great grandfather, sailed from Napoli to Ellis Island in 1903. As I have repeatedly written here, a seemingly harmless 61 year old retired Italian Army Captain was detained and held for special inquiry when he arrived. As I have also revealed here, the reason for his detainment is not listed at the end of the batch of ship manifests for that day that are held at the National Archives. The above photograph on the left is likely a photograph from Italy before his immigration. The photograph on the right is likely a photograph taken in Ohio after his immigration.
Because I have written before on Angelo here and on his life here, I will instead note what still can be found on Angelo. I have also written about the place our Ferraros came from in this older blog post: Ferraro di Talanico, San Felice a Cancello, Caserta, Campania, Italia. The surname is present in that Casertan town back to the 1400s. So far I have only been able to trace our direct line back to 1590. I have no doubt the tangle of church records could take it back to the 1400s.
The following puzzle pieces can be focused on for further exploration of this immigrant’s life:
*Finding the marriage record of Angelo and Filomena Napolitano. That record could be found after the civil records of the Archives of Napoli are added to Antenati in the future. The marriage record should have data about his profession and the professions of his parents. It could contain military service information. The record should seemingly be in the town of Filomena’s birth – Nola. Maybe writing to Nola is in order.
*If the aforementioned civil records are added to Antenati, clues could be gleaned about Angelo from the records of his children’s births. While we do have the birth record of my great grandfather, Angelo and Filomena had 5 other children.
*Newspapers.com keeps adding more newspaper collections. I have to keep checking to see if there is information about him in the Ohio newspapers. I love newspapers.com.
*The possibility of the digitization of historic Italian-American newspapers. After all, Angelo’s son, my great grandfather, was the Publisher and Editor for one in Columbus, Ohio. What a gold mine those could contain on all of my Italian immigrant ancestors.
*Angelo’s father was a soldier in the Terzo Cacciatori, which was a regiment in the Army of the Bourbon King of Naples in the 1820s. If a military record is ever retrieved from Italy (I am still trying), it could aid in the Angelo research.
*Speaking of military service, I have requested Angelo’s pension from Caserta. I think they may be sending what I already have. We will see.
*Last, but not least, the Board of Special Inquiry case file. We are entering the 9th month of waiting for this file to be found by the USCIS. At this point, is there any hope left the genealogical request to that government agency will be fulfilled before a professional Philadelphia team wins another championship? Villanova does not count. Do I have to be a famous person on Who Do You Think You Are for them to pull and copy it for me? As of ten minutes ago, the search request that required a $25.00 fee before they would even start looking, is STILL listed as active. Once, I asked my congressperson for help getting a federal file on one of my ancestors and it didn’t even help. I refuse to go this route again. Sigh….I am not a fan of my congressperson either…
Next Immigrant: Anne Marie Aloisia Heinzen Kirsch from Switzerland
Immigrant Angela Maria Ferraro Valerioti was a younger sister of my great grandfather Carmen (Carmine) Ferraro. Because she was the oldest daughter, Angela Maria was named after her paternal grandmother Angela Maria Delle Cave. She was born about 1881 in Naples and came to America with her mother and sisters to meet Angelo Ferraro, on April 28, 1904. Like her father Angelo, she was detained at Ellis Island, as indicated by the “X” next to her name. Unlike Angelo, we know the reason for her detainment. By scrolling to the detained passenger listing at the end of the manifests in the archive’s batch, it was written that she was detained because Angelo was late picking all of them up. As soon as he arrived they, they were released to go with him and live in Brooklyn.
By 1905, Angela Maria, or Maria as she was called, had married immigrant Gerardino (Jerry) Valerioti and had her first child, Albert in New York City. I found Jerry living in Waterbury, Conn. in 1904. He was employed as a barber. By 1907 Maria and Jerry had moved to Columbus, Ohio where he was employed as a masseur. She stayed close to her parents and siblings who also were living in Columbus. Her daughter Margherita was born in Ohio.
From there, in 1908, Maria and Jerry had moved to Chicago where they had their son Umberto and Jerry once more found employment as a barber. Again, Maria and her brother Carmen appear to be in close contact, because at this time, Carmen had also moved to Chicago, was working as a language instructor in Chicago, and was getting married to Helen. Maria had two more children in Chicago – Angelo and Celestino Vincenzo (Charles) before moving.
By 1913, like Carmen, Maria and Jerry were back in Columbus where Jerry continued his profession as a barber. By 1918, Maria and family had moved to the Bronx and that is where we pick up Jerry having to complete his World War I draft card. According to the card, he was employed in his own business at that time – wine dealer at Monte Vesuvio Cellar Company. I still haven’t been able to find Jerry’s entry into the country but am aware the surname isn’t common. Censuses say he entered the US between 1894 and 1899 and was naturalized about 1908. A few Valerioti are present in Naples today and the rest are present in Calabria. Seeing the name of his own wine dealing company, I suspect he was as Neapolitan as Maria. But am not entirely convinced of that yet.
In 1919, Maria passed away in NYC and was buried in Calvary Cemetery. In 1920 Jerry was employed as a salesman for a steamship company. In 1925 he was involved in selling real estate. According to the 1930 Census, he was a laborer in construction, and also in 1930, he was on Carmen’s letterhead as “Representative” in the International Opera Association Company Carmen had based in Chicago. That fact makes it clear that Jerry seemed to be in contact with his brother-in-law Carmen after his wife’s death. Jerry re-married to a woman named Mary by 1925, and it is apparent that he adopted her son Michael. She died at some point before 1928, because he then married Immaculata Rongo. He also adopted her daughter Gloria.
I traced Maria’s children. Umberto was deceased by 1925. Her daughter Margherita appears to have died in Las Vegas in 1976. I couldn’t determine whether or not she ever married. Charles (Celestino) and Angelo both married Italian-Americans and stayed in New York and raised families there. Charles Valerioti was a president of a refuse company called C.A. Refuse Company based in Mount Vernon, New York. An article posted below from Tarrytown, NY has a mention of his refuse company as well as a grand jury proceeding.
Charles was never charged with anything and didn’t appear to be involved in the Mount Vernon incinerator issue that brought about the inquiry.
The oldest child of Maria, Albert, was in the newspapers too. An article about private investigators featured in articles across the country said he was a former New York City Police Officer. It also stated he was the head of the United Stated Army Security Office on Long Island during WWII, but I have found no proof he was ever in the military. So I am not clear what that exactly means. He ran a business called the United Service Detective Bureau on Broadway. The company was formed in 1954 and closed in 1983.
In 1959, Albert was elected President of the International Council of Investigators at the Waldorf-Astoria. This council is still in existence today. Albert took all kinds of cases, some involved background checks, some involved security for royalty, some involved investigating murders for rich murder defendants, etc. The picture below comes from the newspaper. Unfortunately we have no photos of Maria.
Is that the Ferraro chin? Was his investigatory nature inherited? Was it a Ferraro trait?
I have not found any Find-a-Grave memorials online for any of Maria’s descendants. I also never found Jerry after the 1930 census. Charles and Albert and their families were mentioned in Carmen Ferraro’s Farewell program at Carnegie Hall from 1962. How many of my cousins reading this met the Valeriotis? I am going to keep looking for obituaries for Maria and her children and will try to determine what happened to Margherita.
As for Maria’s children – WOW. You never know what you will find in online newspapers articles.
Waterbury, Columbus, Chicago, and New York City Directories