Farindola~~June 17, 1888. On this day in 1888 my great great grandparents Biagio Di Francesco and Marianna Di Pendima were married in Farindola, Pescara. They were both contadini and the parents of my great grandfather Paolo Di Francesco.
Biagio was born on January 15, 1866 in Trosciano, Farindola to Luigi Di Francesco and Anna Emidia Lucerini. His birth record starts at the bottom of this page. Both of his parents were born in Farindola. Marianna was born on March 17, 1868 in Cupoli, Farindola to Carlo Di Pentima from Via Piana, Pianella and Nicola Antonia (di) Giansante from Rione del San Giovanni, Penne. Marianna’s birth.
The witnesses to their marriage were Clemente de Bernardinis, 43, Secretary (Municipal), and Domenico Ammazalorzco, 48, Country Guard (Municipal).
Biagio and Marianna welcomed their first child, Filomena, a little less than 9 months later. She died in infancy. Using other Farindola records on Antenati, I found that they went on to have at least 5 more children, and a stillborn. One son, named Zopito, emigrated to Canada. A daughter named Vincenza was born in 1890 and died in Farindola in 1954.
A son named Alfonso was born in 1892 and was a soldier in the 156 Regiment during World War 1 and died on August 12, 1915 from wounds received at Monte Cappuccio at the Second Battle of the Isonzo. His death record was on Antenati here because his parents requested information on their son from the Italian Army. In 1917, his military death record was sent from Rome to his parents and filed in the town records which I was able to access on Antenati.
My great grandfather Paolo Di Francesco was born in 1897. On July 15, 1915, he was called to military service in World War I and served in the 30th Artillery Regiment of the Infrantry. He was released from service in 1919. He and his future wife Luigia Maria Massei named a son Alfonso.
Biagio and Marianna had a son named Luigi who was born in 1899. He died in 1923 shortly after marrying Maria Vinci. Biagio died in 1923 as well at 29 Via Rossetti, Farindola. His death record is here. Marianna Di Pendima lived at least until 1928 because I have not located her death record in Farindola.
A Bit About the Parents of Marianna Di Pendima
Marianna’s mother Nicola Antonia (di) Giansante’s grandparents were Saverio Di Giansante and Domenica Andreoli. Saverio could write, and I have his signature from his son’s wedding record in Penne. They were contadini as well.
Saverio died in Penne but was born in Carpineto della Nora, Pescara, which is a few miles south of Farindola. Saverio’s death. Saverio and Domenica have a lot of descendants researching them and I run into more and more people wondering if that is why our DNA matches, etc. They are only in my tree once but in my Canadian cousins’ tree twice! As I am typing this I am asking myself why I have not yet researched Carpineto della Nora on Antenati!
Marianna’s father Carlo Di Pentima was born in Pianella and was a contadino. Carlo’s birth is on the left. Pianella is a few miles southeast of Farindola. In Pianella, the surname is spelled with a ‘t’ and not the ‘d’ they gave it in Farindola. I had to keep that in mind when I was looking at indexes. I have been researching Pianella the past week and the town seems larger than Farindola. In the late 1700s Pianella had a colony of Albanians according to the Farindola history I found on this Farindolesi’s website. I love that website.
The research continues…Wouldn’t it be something if I found an Albanian surname in my tree?
Sources: Antenati, Cadutigrandeguerra.it, Archivio di Stato di Teramo, Zia C.
My siblings love to hear what my DNA results are but they don’t want to get to get tested even though Ancestry keeps having sales. I choose not to broadcast my results anymore because if they don’t want to know why my test doesn’t show that I am not 100% European and shows 12% something else, then, never mind. Nor will I tell them how much Scandinavian or Iberian came up. I do know that I don’t have South Asian DNA but someone we are related to does and that is likely a sign of Roma ancestry in that person.
I was contacted recently by a user with a shared match that had an adoptee in their ancestry. So I have been looking more closely at my DNA on Ancestry. I am still learning how to use AncestryDNA, and after a year and a half, by looking at my matches and grouping them together with my shared matches by surnames and birthplaces, I know for sure that I am related to my mother, because I match her first cousin and second cousins on both sides of her family, and I am also related to my father because of the Cirone and Cacciatore matches.
Ancestry started something new this past spring called “Genetic Communities” in an effort, no doubt, to sell more DNA tests. Genetic Communities are “groups of AncestryDNA customers who are connected… most likely because they descend from a population of common ancestors…For example some trace their roots back to groups of people who were isolated geographically…” Source: ANCESTRY.COM.
So, are you ready for my two genetic communities? Here is my first:
Here is the closeup:
My second genetic community is…
Southern Italians in which I have 35 DNA matches.
Surprised by either one? No? Then AncestryDNA got something right because the most recent immigrants in my tree were: a parent from Abruzzo and a great grandparent from Campania. Or maybe the Abruzzese and Campanian genetic makeup are similar? I don’t know. 12.5% DNA from my Campanian great grandparent is a small amount to put me in the Southern Italian community that easily. In case you are interested, the other people in the family that had DNA tests at Ancestry (and my family reading this knows who those people are) are not showing up in either of these Italian Genetic Communities.
Today’s birthday is Angela Maria di Massimo, born in 1871 at 10 a.m. in Macchie, Farindola, Pescara. She was the mother of my great grandmother Maria Luigia Massei.
-Angela Maria di Massimo-
The year 1871, day 7 of the month of June at hour 12, at the town hall, announced to me Massimo Ferri, Secretary of this Comune di Farindola, Penne Circuit, Province of Teramo, delegated, the Civil State Official, with the act of the Mayor dated the 20th of July last year, from the Procuratore of the King, appeared Donato di Massimo, of the living Serafino and the deceased Angela Maria Colangeli (Angela Maria Cecilia Colangeli), of 26 years, occupation contadino, living as a resident in Farindola, who presents a baby of the feminine gender, that he says was born on the 7th of the current month at the 10th hour to his wife Anna Domenica Cacciatore, daughter of the living Sabatino and the deceased Antonia Uriani (Oriani/Auriano), of 25 years, with whom he resides in their house in this Comune di Farindola at contrada Macchie, to this daughter he says he has given the name Angela Maria.
The above was declared and was also presented to me by Vincenzo Colangeli of the living Mattia of 37 years of the profession contadino and living as a resident in Farindola and of Costantino Massei (my third great grandfather and future father-in-law of Angela Maria di Massimo), of the living Sabatino of 39 years of the profession of contadino also living as a resident in Farindola.
The rest of the document says something to the effect of “the above act is presented and read to all of those present because they are illiterate.”
Signed: Civil State Officer Delegate
Source: Antenati/Archivio di Stato di Pescara: Stato Civile Italiano, Farindola, Nati 1871 Numero 58
We know from other documents retrievable at Antenati that Angela Maria’s mother Anna Domenica Cacciatore was born in Penne. Her father Donato di Massimo was born at a place in Farindola area called the Colle della Castagna. I would love to figure out where that spot is on a map of Farindola. Donato’s mother Angela Maria Cecilia Colangeli, for whom my second great grandmother was named, was born in Montebello di Bertona, a neighboring village.
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.
My great grandparents Cesidio Marcella and Serafina Merlenghi were married in Farindola. Their marriage was recorded at 3:40 in the afternoon at the Farindola town hall.
Because Cesidio’s father Filippo was deceased, his mother Elisabetta Rossi gave consent to the marriage. Serafina’s parents Cesidio Merlenghi and Maria Michela Cirone were both still living. Witnesses to the marriage were Antonio Carusi and Cesidio Colella. You can see down at the very bottom that my great grandfather signed his name.
And the paragraph I mentioned in yesterday’s post referencing Maria is enlarged below:
My translation is “the parents present with testimony also declare that from their natural union a daughter was born to unknown parents, …….the Uffizio de Stato Civile, the day 29 October 1916 with the name Maria and the surname of Battistisimi, presently recognize the same as a daughter effected to legitimacy. Please step in here native Italian speakers…
So now I ask again, how did my great grandmother get pregnant if my great grandfather was at war? He was on leave.
Immigrant Cesidio Marcella, my great grandfather, was born in 1895 in Case Bruciate, Farindola, Pescara, Italy. He came through Ellis Island in 1923 when he was 28 to earn money to send home to his family.
He was 1 of 15 children. His aunt, Maria Marcella, was the midwife that was present at his birth. He was the oldest child of his mother, Elisabetta Rossi. She was the second wife of his father, Filippo. Filippo had 9 children with his first wife, Maria Antonia Lacchetta, of which, the following, that I know of, survived to adulthood: Raffaele (father of Gabriele Marcella), Pasqua, Filomena, and Serafina. All of Filippo’s children to Elisabetta survived to adulthood. In order of birth, they were: Cesidio, Maria Domenica, Antonia Vincenza, and Andrea Antonio. Andrea greatly resembled his brother Cesidio.
At age 20, my great grandfather was made to perform military service during World War I in the 3rd Regiment Artillery.
The above photo is the physical description written down by the commander when he reported for his mandatory military service. His hair was straight and chestnut colored, his eyes were chestnut (we knew them as hazel) and his nose is described as greco for Greek. His hair would redden in the sun. At leggere/scrivere it says “si”, so he knew how to read and write. His profession is contadino.
I would like someone again to tell me the name of the place in the North of Italy where he had boot camp. After having served on the front line in the trenches in Austria, he was admitted to the military hospital in June 1916. In October 1916, he was released to go home on permanent leave. While he was away in the Army, his father had passed away in April of 1916.. I have the rest of his military record but some of the dates are so light I can’t make other things out. Is anyone willing to try?
A few weeks ago, I found the marriage record of my great grandparents at the LDS. Because of Italian privacy and contractual laws, this record is not available online for all to view, because it happened in 1919. At that time, my great grandfather was still a farmer. I will explore their marriage record later, on their anniversary. But for the purposes of this post, a written paragraph at the bottom stated the marriage legitimized the birth of a child born to a natural union, she was named Maria Battistisimi, and was born in 1916. Yes, it said 1916. Maria, according to the marriage record, was born October 29, 1916. When I first saw her birth date on my great grandfather’s petition for naturalization in the United States, I thought he misremembered the actual date. I will post the paragraph later and you can decide if I did indeed read her birthdate correctly. So how could she have been conceived while my great grandfather was in the trenches in Austria? He must’ve been on leave, right???? I COULD EASILY get her birth record from Farindola…you tell me what you think after you read about the marriage on their anniversary.
My great grandparents had four children: Zia Maria, Zia L. (who is still alive), my grandfather Biagio Filippo (who perished in World War II in the Alpini), and Zio Alberino (who died in the United States). Zia Maria married Iezzi. Zia L. married Fiore Generosi, son of Giuseppe Generosi (a foundling from Teramo) and Maria Di Gregorio. Alberino married another Farindolese who he brought to America, Gabriella Perilli, daughter of Angelo Perilli and Regina Colangelo.
After the birth of my grandfather, my great grandfather came to America. The previous post about his travel to America, Naturalization and time here can be found at this previous post: On this day in 1923….
I believe my great grandfather looked like this when he became a citizen of the United States:
I don’t care what anybody says but when I do a quick double-take, my brother resembles this photo, sans mustache. When his passport from 1929 becomes public record in a few years, we should have another young photo of him.
When I started genealogy, someone in my family said to me, “The Marcellas have been in Farindola for centuries.” It is simply true. I have traced back directly to Donato Marcella (my 6th great grandfather), born around 1700 in my paternal line who was likely born in Farindola because I still have not found Marcellas born in any neighboring Pescara towns.
Donato may be the son of Domenico based on the number of Domenico Marcellas that were alive at the same time as my 5th great grandfather Domenico. I think the wife of Donato Marcella may have been Domenica Cervo. Unfortunately, I have only found one record that says the mother of Donato Marcella’s daughter was named Domenica Cervo, and that is on the death record of one Giustina Marcella, #110 Morti 1816, the widow of Mattia Macrini. This is the link to her death at Antenati.
Through what is available on Antenati in Pescara, the earliest baptismal record I could find of any related Marcella in our tree was from Anna Saveria Marcella, sister of my 4th great grandfather Giuseppe Antonio Marcella, and is from her 1818 marriage to Vito Antonio Di Vico. Her baptismal extract is from 1773 and can be viewed at this link on Antenati. You can see her grandparents are listed as Donato (Marcella) and Giacinto (Ferri).
The earliest record I could find of a Marcella being born in frazione Case Bruciate was the brother of my 3rd great grandfather, Massimo Nicola Marcella, named Vincenzo, who was born there on April 2, 1812. Vincenzo’s birth record can be viewed here from Antenati on the right and continues to the next page. Massimo Nicola married Maria Carolina Colangeli and they moved to frazione Trosciano and then back to frazione Case Bruciate. It surprised me they lived in Trosciano, so perhaps any Marcellas there are relations of the Marcellas in Case Bruciate.
The Marcellas were farmers while their wives were filatrici (spinners) and levatrici (midwives). There was a branch of Marcellas in Farindola in the late 1700s and first half of the 1800s that were falegnami (carpenters). I have not been able to establish a connection between the contadini (farmers) and falegnami, even though they appeared in the same civil records as witnesses to each other’s life events.
Cesidio’s mother’s ancestry
While Elisabetta Rossi was born in Baccuco (Arsita, Teramo), her father Giuseppe Antonio Rossi was born in Penne, and her mother, Anna Antonia Ricci, was born in Castiglione Messer Raimondo, Teramo. However, all of Elisabetta Rossi’s grandparents were born in Penne and as you can see in Cesidio’s pedigree chart posted above, the tree is filled out to at least 6th great grandparents in most lines, and goes back further than can be pictured in one little snipping tool insert. Elisabetta also descended from filatrici from Penne and most of the males I found in her lines were literate. Penne, if I may compliment them, kept impeccable records and I am glad all of these records are available on Antenati.
A note about the Sciarras
Can you see Baldassare Sciarra in the pedigree posted above? He is the 2nd great grandfather of Cesidio, He was born in Fara San Martino, Chieti. He was a lanaro, which meant he worked with wool, and/or was a merchant of wool. Because Baldassare brought the surname Sciarra to Farindola, I am almost positive all of the Sciarra from Farindola today descend from him. He married a Farindolese, Angela Gabriele Dell’Orso. She was the daughter of Cinziarosa.
United States Naturalizations
United States Social Security Deaths
Arhives of Teramo (for military documents)
Archives of Pescara (Antenati.San.Beneculturali.com)
Comune di Farindola Anagrafe (our Colangeli cousin)
Zia C. in Canada
P. D’Angelo in Penne that assists with the Penne ancestry
Coming: The anniversary of the marriage of Cesidio Marcell and Serafina Merlenghi
Send me a message if you need an invitation to the tree on Ancestry.
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 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