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.




On this day in 1842…


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.

Portion of the first page of their marriage record from Nola, Napoli, Campania

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.

Nola’s Festa di Gigli


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 Napolitano is at the top.


Immigrant #9 ~ Carmine A. Ferraro, Priest and Maestro

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.


Market today at Pignasecca, Montecalvario, Napoli


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.

Papa 1900 Caserta Italy
Photo labeled 1900, Caserta


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.

1907 Columbus Directory, Editor L’Eco di Columbus Publishing Company

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.

The Mahoning Dispatch, August 30, 1912, p. 3

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.

In 1916, the family was living in Warren, Ohio and my great grandfather was doing what he built his later career on, according to the Warren City directory.  He was a vocal teacher.  In 1917 they were back in Chicago at the time of the World War I draft: Documental Unearthings Weekend: Carmen Ferraro’s Traveling Opera Business.

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.


Here he is posing in Naples at the Museo San Martino

My great grandparents and family were living in Youngstown, Ohio when Carmen’s father Angelo died there in 1926 according to the Youngstown Directory, and his occupation was listed as music teacher.  However, he was back in Chicago in 1927 owning and running the International Opera Association and Music School in Chicago when my great grandmother Helen died.  Great Grandmother Helen: Witness in the 1906 Murder Case of Mrs. Louise Gentry. Helen Kirsch Ferraro (1887 – 1927) – Find A Grave Memorial. He wrote a song dedicated to her memory in the 1950s.

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.

His business card

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.


Campanian Archives

Ellis Island

Columbus, Chicago, Warren, and Youngstown City Directories

Federal Censuses

Chicago Tribune

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

Teatro Colon

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






My 2017 Genealogy Resolutions

Happy New Year!  Feliz Anno Nuovo!  Frohes Neues Jahr!

new years.PNG

Will it be this year?  Will the USCIS fulfill my request for Angelo’s Board of Special Inquiry hearing file in 2017?  Will it happen this year?

It is the start of a new year and time to make our firm oaths of intent to better ourselves in the coming year.  So I ate the lentils to ensure wealth this year.  In the genealogy world that means I resolve to spend less money on genealogical research.  I resolve spend more time sorting and organizing records (yeah right!), maybe have the cash to join a genealogy society or two, including one that concentrates on Italian-American research, and going forward this year in my family history research I prudently resolve to do the following:

In my Swiss German line ~ ~

Finish reading the books I already have on Bernese Anabaptists from Masthof Press before I try to get my hands on more.  Gerichtsshoffe Balthasar Rubli’s parents were banished from the Emmenthal Valley in Canton Bern by the Swiss government sometime between 1675 and 1689.  They left with no possessions and walked for two weeks with the clothes on their backs with hundreds of other refugees towards the promise of religious freedom in the German Palatinate where they raised Balthasar, my 6th great grandfather.  He left the Anabaptist faith and married into a Catholic family.

The story of the persecution of the Rubeli or Rubli appear in these two books:

The Rubeli are also in the Palatinate Mennonite Census of the late 1600s and early 1700s. My ultimate goal is to find the first Swiss Anabaptist in this line.

In my German lines ~~

For Johann Schuttler, my first American ancestor, I am proud he made wagons for the Union Army.  I resolve to never again ask a descendant of his son if they took an Ancestry DNA test, knowing Johann’s second wife, and the son’s mother, was 7 months pregnant when Johann married her, and knowing they had to swear out an affidavit to have him buried in the Schuttler cemetery plot when he died.  Now I know why I never heard from that researcher again!  I just wish I could find the names of Johann’s parents and will not pay a researcher in Germany to do that.

If possible this year, I resolve to fill out more family in the line of the Schultheiss (Mayor) Johann Valentin Helfrich. He was my 8th great grandfather.  His family appears in their own section in this free history book downloadable from the town of Leimen:


Valentin’s ancestors appear in another German language publication called Die Helfriche im Grafensteiner Amt that a distant cousin was nice enough to email to me in spurts because neither his nor my email could support it in all in one email.  Valentin descends from a German Junker.  That is a minor nobleman –  something like a squire.  Junker Helfrich was born around 1430 and is my 15th great grandfather.  The book says he was from Leinengen, Germany.  I offered to translate some of the book for my distant cousin.  I don’t know what I was thinking.  It takes me at least two hours to translate one page and there are about 75 pages in the book!

In another German line I resolve to begin research on Marie Louise Koppel, my 3rd great grandmother, mother of the Fritz Eckebrecht from Thuringen.  I would like to work on her ancestry, not the Eckebrechts which dear cousin Frank already researched.  She owned a mill according to Frank.

She is the woman seated in the center in this photo:


In my French lines ~ ~

There is a 9th great grandfather of mine named Gall Budel.  He was a miller with a first name I have never encountered before.  There is an odd rumor floating around the French-speaking internet that he was also Maire or Mayor of Haspelschiedt, Moselle, France.  I cannot confirm that and resolve to research that.

In my Italian lines ~ ~

I resolve to request the pension record of Angelo Ferraro and to figure out a way to push for Francesco Antonio Ferraro’s military record for his service in the Bourbon Army.

I resolve to continue to search for descendants of Angelo and Filomena in America while waiting for Caserta and Napoli records to go on Antenati.

I resolve to continue to add more ancestors in my Farindolesi and Pennesi tree because it is so simple to do with the records Antenati has online for Pescara.

Speaking of the Farindolesi tree, because my combined trees approach 3000 individuals, and I don’t believe it has been done before with the any of these Italian lines, I resolve to work towards preparing at least one of my trees put into the next new thing in genealogy sites on the world wide web, my own database.  I think it will make researching easier for those that ask me which Antonio Cirone in my tree is theirs because I have at least 5 Antonio Cirone in my tree.  I have used these databases when I work on trees for my relatives, but, none of my ancestors are in one of those.

Finally, when I get the genealogy attention deficit disorder problem I usually get every two weeks or so, while working on any resolutions above, I resolve to finish my cousin’s tree and finish the other tree of a relative who descends from the Soderini of Florence are the subject of this book that I was able to find used for a cheap price:


Yes, his ancestors were right there with the Medici.  Happy ancestor hunting!









On this day 112 years ago…

SS Lombardia
National Archives photo of the S.S. Lombardia


On this day, 112 years ago, Carmine Costantino Girolamo Angelo Ferraro arrived at the Port of New York on the S.S. Lombardia and first put his feet on United States soil. He traveled as a second class passenger. He traveled here as a Priest.

Name, Age, Sex, Marital Status, Occupation, Literacy


It was recorded on the ship manifest that he was 25, literate, Southern Italian*, and that his last residence as Naples. He brought $100.00, paid his own passage, and was recorded as never having been in the United States before.

Paid by, amount of cash in pocket, whether in the US before, name and address of individual the passenger is meeting


The ship manifest also noted that the friend or relative he was going to meet was his father Angelo Ferraro at 156 Navy Street, Brooklyn. Angelo had already been in America for 6 months. For some reason “Father” next to Angelo’s name was crossed out upon arrival at Ellis Island and corrected to read “Friend.” Three of Carmine’s sisters and mother arrived on the same ship and were steerage passengers. Great Grandfather was not detained like them.

Inside Passport


The treasured heirloom of Carmine’s passport stated he was a Franciscan. Not pictured is the second page which states his eyes were chestnut, hair black, and height which is the Italian word for tall.

A 1906 photograph


Filomena Napolitano, Angela Maria Ferraro, Gelsomina Ferraro, Elena Ferraro

Filomena Napolitano had $40 with her. The “X” next to her name and her daughters’ names meant the immigration officer decided to detain them. The manifest reflected that she was not literate. However, her daughters Angela Maria, 23, Gelsomina, 19, and Elena, 17, were literate. They too had never been in the United States.

197 Navy Street address is at the edge


The manifest shows that Filomena was going to meet her husband Angelo and son Antonio at 197 Navy Street, Brooklyn. There is no explanation in the difference in house numbers from the second class passenger list and the steerage passenger list. Carmine’s youngest sister, Giovannina, is not on this passenger list.  Filomena and her daughters were released when Angelo came to retrieve them. Unfortunately, we will never know why they were detained. Don’t forget Angelo was detained when he arrived too.

Great grandfather and his mother and sisters were 4 of the 193,296 immigrants from Italy to enter the United States in 1904.

*The United States Immigration Service used the “Southern Italian” label – not even plain “Italian” – for what they considered to be a different race of people.


Two Headstones in the Same Cemetery? What?

The other day I was contacted by the Find-A-Grave volunteer who photographed Great Great grandmother Filomena Napolitano’s headstone a couple of months ago.  She related that she had found another headstone for a lady with the same name, same dates, in the same cemetery 7 rows away in the single plot area.  This newer headstone is nicer than the flat stone.  She put it on Find-A-Grave and it can be seen here with the rest of her memorial and the other headstone.

Headstone #2, 7 rows away from the flat headstone


Mt. Calvary Cemetery will need to be contacted.  It is the oldest Catholic cemetery in Columbus, known for its section for priests, and they should have kept great records.



Uncle John and the Places His Ancestors Were Buried


Uncle John kept graphs and maps of where his ancestors and cousins were buried.  On the world-wide website Find-A-Grave his Leies, Schuttler, Gerbing, and Eckebrecht ancestors’ graves are now accessible online.  I have been requesting to manage as many Find-A-Grave burials to update, correct, and continue what Uncle John had started.  I await transfer of management for Cesidio Marcella.  Meanwhile, I have updated Katharina Schuttler Eckebrecht’s memorial, which is in the previous post.  I have corrected the misspelling in Helen Kirsch Ferraro’s memorial but have not updated the page.  I have updated Filomena Napolitano’s memorial that can be accessed by your click here. It will take time to update and correct the lot of them.


Finally, I hope to receive transfer of management for the memorial of Fr. John G. Leies’s (Uncle John) memorial that you can view by clicking here.  I wonder if he knew his gravesite would be on the internet after he passed away.



Stumbling and Bumbling Towards the Origin of our Ferraro Ancestry… perhaps Marcianise, Caserta?

For as long as any living Ferraro can remember there have been tales attached to the lineage of Great Grandfather Ferraro’s ancestors. Unfortunately proof is not available to accurately prove the tales. Nobody even knows where our Ferraro line comes from in Campania. No living Ferraro knew Angelo Ferraro. They knew his son, Great Grandfather Ferraro. What we do know that is that records repeatedly show Angelo Ferraro’s parents were contadini or farmers in Santo Prisco, Caserta. Specifically, when Angelo was born his father was actually a bracciale or hired farm hand.


Angelo left his birth place behind when he was 20 and became a soldier, his brothers were farmhands, and his sister was a spinner. After he left the military as a captain he became a merchant in Naples. For reasons unknown to us, his oldest son Antonio went to Brooklyn some time before 1903. He must have needed work. Angelo came to America in November 1903 when he was 61 to meet Antonio. We do not YET have Angelo’s passport to tell us the circumstances of his passage to America. The reason and record of detainment at Ellis Island cannot be located. In April 1904 Angelo’s wife and children followed. They too were detained. Great Grandfather Ferraro came as a Franciscan priest on the same ship as his mother and sisters.


Presumably, but not positively, Angelo brought his life savings with him. Not once while he was here in America did Angelo or wife Filomena Napolitano have to do a day of work. In 1912 they returned to Naples for almost a year and stayed in Montecalvario, Naples, the birthplace of our great grandfather. Angelo and Filomena passed away in Ohio, while living amongst large Italian immigrant populations.


The Antonio Ferraros and the Answers They Could Provide


Potentially, the Antonio Ferraros could solve the mystery of the tales of origins and lineage. Not only Angelo’s father Antonio Ferraro but also Angelo’s oldest son Antonio Ferraro. Both Antonios appear in civil records in both countries and then – poof – into thin air they go.


Angelo’s son Antonio Ferraro, brother to Great Grandfather Ferraro, abandoned his Brooklyn wife and never returned from a visit to Naples in the 1910s. Potentially we have could have 2nd cousins left in Naples today if he started a family there. There is a tale he died single in a monastery in Naples. I highly doubt that is true. There is also a tale there were no Ferraros left behind in Italy which, is also untrue.


Regardless, the most important lead in the stumbling and bumbling along for the origins of Great Grandfather Ferraro’s ancestry is our 3 x great grandfather Antonio Ferraro, his grandfather. We don’t know where he was born. Unfortunately we do not know where he was married. We most certainly don’t even know where or when he died. If we had his death record we would at least know where he was born which could lead to his marriage record.


In Italian civil records, set up when Napoleon rolled the country in the early 1880s, one’s marriage record contains a copy of the birth or baptismal record of the marring couple and parental consent. If parents of the bride or groom are deceased, those death records are also included in the civil marriage attachments. If the parents are deceased, and there are no living grandparents on the father’s side of the bride or groom, those death records are also attached. Potentially, if parents and grandparents are dead you are looking at 3 extra generations to attach your ancestry when you find the marriage documents. Also, those death records include the places of birth for everyone involved.


Filomena Napolitano’s ancestry is a prime example.   Because her parents married in their thirties, both of her grandmothers were already deceased, thereby providing her great grandparents’ names. The commonality of the Napolitano name in the search in Nola was meaningless in her case. To a researcher’s advantage, the record keeper in Nola wrote down the father of both of her grandfathers on the marital documents. Thanks to those fantastic records, Filomena’s Napolitano and Sabatino branches go back to the early to mid 1700s in Nola, Sirico, and a branch in the neighboring province of Salerno. She was easy. This also pertains to many of the Marcella branches in ease of searching and the glorious Italian run archival site Antenati.


Not so with the Ferraro – Della/e Cava/e, Angelo Ferraro’s parents. Disappointingly, the only Campanian records available on the Italian archival site Antenati are those from the pre-1865 City of Naples. The problem is that they are not the Province of CASERTA.   Right now 43 Italian provinces have been made available on Antenati and only half the records of 1 province of Campania is included.


What We Do Know

This is what we know about Angelo’s parents Antonio and Angela Maria Della/e Cava/e:


-They did not marry in Santo Prisco.


-1 child born in Marcianise, Caserta: 1824ish – Filippo – married 3 times, moved to Grazzanise in 1872, had at least one male child


-3 children in Santo Prisco, Caserta:


1828ish – Luigi Ferraro married once, had at least one male child and two female children


1833- Maria Giuseppa Ferraro – married twice, had three daughters of which, only one survived to adulthood


1842-Angelo Ferraro (our ancestor), possibly the youngest child


-Ferraro is not a common surname in Santo Prisco until Antonio and Angela Maria have children. There are no Della Cava in Santo Prisco.


Filippo married three times and had at least one son in Santo Prisco. His father Antonio was alive when he moved to Grazzanise in 1872. Angelo’s older brother Filippo did not die in Grazzanise, Caserta according to records available through the Latter Day Saints. Where did he go? Maybe he moved to Montecalvario to live near his younger brother.


Maria Giuseppa’s first husband was a Stefano Ferraro of nearby Casagiove, Caserta. You are reading that correctly.  A Ferraro married another Ferraro. They had at least 3 daughters. Stefano died in 1874. Maria Giuseppa remarried to Vincenzo Vitale in 1878. Both of her parents were still alive and residing in Santo Prisco.


-Next, Angela Maria Delle/a Cave/a died in 1881 in Santo Prisco. Her name is spelled Della Cava on all Santo Prisco records. Antonio Ferraro was still alive at the time of her death. Her death record stated she was born in Arienzo, Caserta and her father was Luca. She was a filatrice or spinner. Her mother’s name was: Signora la madre. Her age is listed as 81. Meaning she was born about 1800. This age runs true to the age stated on the birth records of Maria Giuseppa and Angelo.


Search of 1780-1840 baptismal records in Arienzo made available on microfilm through the Latter Days Saints show only one Delle Cave family having children are Silvestro Delle Cave and Rosa D’Iglio. The name is written Delle Cave. They are a terrible, destroyed mess eaten by water stains and smearing. Some pages are illegible. A search of 1809-1828 marriages in Arienzo show the children of that Delle Cave family marrying. The records show that both Rosa and Silvestro are deceased. Their names are all spelled Delle Cave in Arienzo. If you fast forward to Angela Maria’s death record, having deceased parents at the time of her and her siblings’ marriages could be an explanation for the lack of knowing her mother’s name. Stretching that further, it could also explain the wrong name for her father.


Is Luca really Silvestro? I would go with 50/50 chance.


What about Italian naming traditions? If, and only if, Filippo is the oldest son in Angelo Ferraro’s family, does that mean Antonio Ferraro’s father was named Filippo? After all, Angelo named his oldest son after his father Antonio.


Finally, where did Antonio Ferraro, the 3x great grandfather die? Records to 1900 in death records of Santo Prisco show he probably didn’t die there. There is a picture of Great Grandfather Ferraro taken in Caserta in 1900 in his military uniform. Was he visiting for the funeral of his aunt Maria Giuseppa? Was he visiting his uncles or cousins?


Don’t forget that Ferraro is an incredibly common Campanian surname, except in Arienzo and Santo Prisco! So, where is the marriage of Angela Maria Delle Cave and Antonio Ferraro? Italian brides usually marry in their birthplace!


Filippo Ferraro 1872 Cittadanza, Santo Prisco, Caserta*


*But there is the tiny clue left behind on the marriage records and residency record of Filippo Ferraro just discovered the other day, who may be the oldest child of Antonio Ferraro and Angela Maria Della Cava. They all state the same on his Cittadanza record: “Filippo Ferraro di Antonio d’ anni quarantasei, contadino, nato in Marcianise e qui domiciliato dall’infanzia”, He was “born in Marcianise, and lived here (in Santo Prisco) since infancy.” Could Marcianise be the origin of Great Grandfather Ferraro’s Ferraro ancestry? Maybe…and those marriage records are not online…*


The research continues to bumble along.

What tale did you hear?



On This Day in 1878

On this day in 1878 at 9:30 am, Carmine Costantino Girolamo Angelo Ferraro was born in the Montecalvario section of Quartieri Spagnoli (Spanish Quarters) of Naples, Italy.

I present to you his birth act from the Civil Archives of the Comune of Naples:




Number 1213

Ferraro, Carmine


In the year 1878, day 21 of the month of November at the ante meridian hour 11 and 2 minutes in the municipal office.

In front of me, Giovanni Terinchera, Vice Mayor’s Delegate since last September 3rd, Civil Officer of the Comune of Montecalvario.

There appears Angelo Ferraro, of 37 years, merchant, living in this city, that admits to me at the ante meridian hour 9 and 30 minutes of the 20th day of the current month, in the house on Pignasecca Street, number 16, by Filomena Napolitano, of 29 years, his wife with whom he resides, was born a baby of the masculine sex, in my presence he gives the name


Carmine Costantino Girolamo Angelo.


To the above in this document were present the witnesses Costantino Vaccaro, of 40 years, cowboy, and Girolamo Mignatti, of 36 years, servant, both residing in this comune.

So said, hereby signed.


Angelo Ferraro

Vaccaro Costantino

Mignatti Girolamo