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.