Immigrant #23 ~ Great Grand Aunt Elena Ferraro Scarnecchia

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.

1905 NY Census
Brooklyn, 1905

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.


Antonio Scarnecchia 1815 birth
Antonio Scarnecchia’s birth record from 1815 via Antenati.


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:

ohio incorporations

I found another reference to these incorporations as Scarnecchia and Orlando.  Angelo Scarnecchia died in Los Angeles in 1956.

Elena’s Children:

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

Federal Censuses

City Directories

New York City Marriage Index

Social Security Death Index

U.S. Navy Enlistment Records

Nevada Death Index

California Death Index

Cleonice Scarnecchia

National Archives – CF files


Next immigrant:  Great great grandmother Emilia Bold – the one with a German Junker ancestor, French ancestors, and Swiss ancestors.





Documental Unearthings Weekend: Carmen Ferraro’s Traveling Opera Business


1924 United States Passport Application Photos


Chicago, Youngstown, and New York – The paper trail left behind in America by Carmine Ferraro has been incredible.  If I could only find an obituary!  Anyhow, the documents and records I find have to be shared with family.  So today I share a few.

From what I can approximate in these documents and based on the birthplaces of his seven youngest children, Carmen Ferraro was an opera singer in a traveling troupe in what may have been a period of approximately ten years around 1915-1925.  We all knew he was a traveling opera singer already but we didn’t have the actual specifics.  After his naturalization in Chicago, Carmen moved his family to New York, then to Ohio, back to New York, then to Chicago around 1918, back to Ohio, then on again to New York, and finally back to Chicago again in 1927 where wife Helen passed away.

Below is his 1918 World War I draft registration card from Chicago.  Note his present occupation written as GRAND OPERA SINGER and business address written as TRAVELS.


The back of this draft registration card gives a short physical description of our great grandfather:

World War I.2.PNG

Below are the two pages of his 1924 passport application, the original passport in question being in possession of his living family today.  He needed this passport to visit Europe with his traveling opera troupe on a tour and my grandfather got to travel with him.


Page 1

See that he stated, as we know, that his father Angelo Ferraro was born in San Prisco, Italy.  Take a look too to see that he stated he was going to Europe for the  following purpose:  Professional Business for Metropolitan Grand Opera House, Metropolitan Opera House, New York City.  He was going to visit Italy, France, and England for business.

I would like to draw your attention to the name of the  individual on the second page of this application.  Michael Ciocco.  He was a naturalized citizen like Carmen and was stating that Carmen was who he said he was and he had known him for 15 years.  Michael was the husband of Gelsomina, Carmen’s sister.  He was born Michele Ciocco in Guardialfiera, Campobasso, Italy and according to other paper records we have obtained, Michael Ciocco was involved in Carmen’s related opera businesses for a long time.  On this paper he states he is his business representative. 


You can read great grandfather’s physical description in 1924 at the top of this second page


Carmen in Naples on the tour


There are many many more documents and certificates pertaining to my great grandfather that must be shared in the future here!

Finally, I am looking for any descendants of Michael Ciocco and Gelsomina Ferraro.  Feel free to leave a comment or email at

Or just drop an email if you are my relation and want a better copy of these documents! Have a great weekend.


Next – Brick Wall Wednesday!