Immigrant #37 ~ Leo Heinzen, Chef and Practicing Healer in the Spiritualist Church

Immigrant Leo Heinzen was born in 1878 to Joseph Anton Heinzen and Italian-Swiss Regina Gentinetta in Brig, Valais, Switzerland.  He came to the United States in 1907.  He was a younger brother of my great great grandmother Anna Heinzen Kirsch.

Brig, Valais, Switzerland


Leo first appeared on the radar in the United States on the 1910 Federal Census in Chicago living with his sister Anna, her husband Louis Kirsch, and son Albert Kirsch.  He verbalized that he had been living in the United States since 1907, possessed papers (when asked if he was a citizen), stated he was a laborer in any kind of industry, could speak English, read, but could not write.

Next, on September 13, 1918, Leo completed a World War I Draft Registration card in Battle Creek, Michigan.  The box was checked on the card for having declared for citizenship as an alien of the United States.  According to the information on the card, he was employed at that time as a cook at the Treo Café in Battle Creek.  His physical appearance was: brown eyes, black hair, stout build, and medium height.  He possessed no physical deformalities to preclude him from service either.  His sister Anne Kirsch was listed on the line for nearest relative.  Had his age qualified him for service, immigrant Leo Heinzen would have served in the United States military during WWI regardless of his citizenship status.

Leo is then found on the 1920 census in Battle Creek living as a roomer, and still declaring his occupation as a cook.

Researching Anna’s brother Leo was the reason I found the actual place of origin of Anna and Leo in Switzerland.  In fact, the next record I found chronologically for Leo even gave me their parents’ names.  On December 26, 1920, in Battle Creek, Michigan, Leo Heinzen married German immigrant Olga Kindt Timmens.  Both of their sets of parents were listed on the record as was well as their birthplaces.

Until I found the record stating he was born in Brig, I thought Anna and Leo were born in Berg, because an American death record wasn’t clearly written.

The occupation on Leo’s marriage record was cook and Olga’s was listed as magnetic healer.  They were married by the Reverend Anna L. Gillepsie.  I thought it was interesting that they were married by a female minister so I looked her up on  She was a well-known spiritualist minister who was often away from Battle Creek in Lily Dale, NY at Spiritualist assembly meetings.

Reverend Gillespie also married Olga to her first husband, Frank Timmens, in 1915.  He too was a magnetic healer.  I couldn’t resist finding out what happened to Olga’s first husband.  I don’t know the circumstances, or when Olga and Frank split, but Frank remarried in 1922 in the Roman Catholic Church, according to Michigan marriage records, and as evidenced by advertisements found on, he continued the magnetic healing occupation.

In 1925, great grand uncle Leo was sworn in as a citizen of the United States.

In 1926, in her own right, and not by the default of the citizenship of her spouse, Olga Kindt Timmens Heinzen was sworn in as a citizen of the United States.  She is the only woman I can find on my mother’s side of the family that voluntarily took the oath to become a citizen after they changed the naturalization laws allowing women to take their own oath.  I suppose that Elena Ferraro and Gelsomina Ferraro could have become citizens this way too, however, I haven’t found proof of that to date.

I next located Leo and Olga on the 1930 Federal Census.  It appears as though he and Olga never had children.  Leo and Olga were both listed as magnetic healers on that census.  I assume this was part of their practice in the First Spiritualist Church of Battle Creek or a form of alternative healing therapy.  Today they use the term energy healer interchangeably with magnetic healing.  Have fun looking these alternative forms of healing online!

I found several advertisements for Leo Heinzen as a Spiritual Healer in the classifieds in Battle Creek, Michigan.

There was a tidbit in a 1945 article called “History as News” that did a throwback to 10 years ago in which it stated that Leo Heinzen was the assistant chef at the well-known Battle Creek hotel The Post Tavern for at least three years.


June 9, 1945, Battle Creek Inquirer


Like his brother-in-law, immigrant Louis Kirsch, Leo, who was born in Brig Switzerland, where Louis studied, was also a chef at a famous Midwest Hotel.

In 1946, Olga passed away due to a months long illness according to her obituary.

Leo passed away in 1962 in Michigan, at age 83, but 81, according to his obituary, which mentions Leo’s healing practice and the fact that he had several nieces and nephews in Switzerland.  It didn’t mention his 9 great nieces and great nephews in America.

Leo obit

Leo leaves several intriguing questions.  First, I have not found any record of entry for him into the United States.  Is this another case of a bad transcription error or a misspelling like all of the censuses I found Leo on?  (The transcriptions on Ancestry for Leo’s census records were terrible.  He was never an engineer or electrician!)   Then there are those questions about his life.  Like his sister Anna, as an adult, they didn’t practice the Catholic faith, after being raised in it.  Did Leo have a healing gift?  Or on the other hand, were he and Olga just taking money?  Or was it just part of practicing his faith?  Was he drawn to the Spiritualist Church through Olga or was he a member before he met her?  Finally, did any of the Ferraros meet him?


United States Federal Censuses

World War I Draft Records

Michigan Marriage Records

Michigan Naturalization Records

Michigan Death/Burial Records

City Directories for Battle Creek, Michigan







Immigrant #26 Gelsomina Ferraro Ciocco ~ Pasta Company Treasurer and Mother of Biostatistician Dr. Antonio Ciocco

Gelsomina is the 3rd from the top on the Lombardia’s Manifest Snippet

Immigrant Gelsomina Ferraro Ciocco was born in 1884 in Naples and came through Ellis Island in 1904 with her mother, Filomena Napolitano, and siblings Angela Maria Ferraro Valerioti, Elena Ferraro Scarnecchia, and Carmine Ferraro, my great grandfather, when she was 19. She was the mother of well – known biostatistician Dr. Antonio Ciocco.  Like her mother and sisters, she didn’t speak English, and was detained for a simple reason.  Her father, Angelo Ferraro, was not on time to collect the women to take them to Brooklyn.  The passenger manifest was marked that she could read and write in her native tongue.  She was my great grand aunt and the only sibling of my great grandfather that we have a photo of.

Gelsomina and son Antonio Ciocco in her 1921 U.S. Passport Application; yes, she looks like half of the females in the family

One year later Gelsomina was residing with her parents when they lived in Brooklyn.  By 1907, Angelo and Filomena had moved to Columbus, Ohio.  That is where Gelsomina likely met her future husband Angelo Michele (Michael) Ciocco.   They were married in early 1908 by Father Sovilla in St. John the Baptist Church.

Franklin County Marriage Certificate via Ancestry.

Michael (Angelo Michele) Ciocco was born at #289 Via Borga, Guardialfiera, Campobasso, Molise, Italy on May 30, 1883 to Antonio Ciocco, a pasta maker, and Rosaria D’Onofrio.  His birth record (#41) via Antenati.

Gelsomina’s son Antonio Ciocco was born May 1, 1908.  Michael was naturalized in 1916 in Franklin County, Ohio.

Angelo Michele Ciocco’s 1921 Passport Application Photo

When Michel’s parents brought the family to America, they ran an Italian bakery in Columbus.  Michael worked there and was also able to graduate high school.

Gelsomina went by Jessie in “American.”  I was glad United States Passport Applications up to I think, 1925, are on Ancestry and we have those photos of Gelsomina, Antonio, and Michael from 1921.  It gave me a hint about where Gelsomina had lived in America up until that point.  She stated she lived in Brooklyn, Chicago, and Columbus.  Oh, and she was also apparently 5’5″!

Remember in 1908 she married Michael?  In 1910 Michael was living with his parents and working at their bakery with Gelsomina and son Antonio nowhere in sight.  So I wondered if she was living in Chicago because Michael’s passport application stated that he had only lived in Columbus since he came to America.  Could she have been living near my great grandfather, her brother, in Chicago?  Or near Angela Maria Ferraro Valerioti  her sister in Chicago?

Maybe Gelsomina was living with her parents in Columbus. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find them on the 1910 Census.  In 1912 she traveled to Naples with her parents and visited 22 Montesanto Naples.  There is a monastery on Montesanto today, although not at the same address.  When her mother Filomena passed away in Columbus in 1914, Gelsomina was the informant on her death record.

In 1920, Gelsomina was living with her husband according to the Federal Census.  She was the bookkeeper for his pasta business – Columbus Macaroni Company.

Gelsomina returned to Naples two more times in the 1920s.  The 1925 return passenger manifest showed Gelsomina and Michael lived at 101 Thompson Street in New York City.

In 1927 and 1928 I found Gelsomina and Michael in the Newark, NJ City Directory.  Gelsomina was the Treasurer of their company Ciocco Macaroni Company, Inc.


Like Gelsomina’s sister Angela Maria’s husband Jerry Valerioti, Michael Ciocco appears on the letterhead of my great grandfather’s opera school, the International Grand Opera Association in Chicago.  Michael Ciocco was listed as “press agent.”

Michael Ciocco’s parents continued to have their Italian bakery business in Columbus while continuing to speak their native tongue, according to the census records I found on them, and nobody suffered for it.  Michael’s father passed in 1932 and his mother passed in 1936.

Dr. Antonio Ciocco – Gelsomina Ferraro’s Son

Gelsomina only had one child – Dr. Antonio Ciocco and he was extremely important to health research in Pennsylvania, if not to the nation.  To discover where Gelsomina and Michael went after retirement from pasta manufacturing, I had to search for information on my 1st cousin two times removed Dr. Antonio Ciocco.  By 1935, Gelsomina and Michael had moved to Baltimore Maryland, where they lived with their son Antonio who was employed by the Federal Government at the United States Department of Health as a statistician.

I found a newspaper article on stating that Antonio was the chief of the Hagerstown, Maryland Field Station of the U.S. Public Health Service.  They likely moved to Pittsburgh with Antonio, because, in 1957, Michael Ciocco passed away in Pittsburgh, and in 1958, Gelsomina Ferraro passed away outside of Pittsburgh in New Brighton, Beaver County.  Antonio was the informant on both death records and signed his name as Dr.

Gelsomina was laid to rest at St. Joseph’s cemetery in Columbus, Ohio, with her husband.

Dr. Antonio Ciocco held science degrees from the University of Naples and Johns Hopkins.  The latter was likely the reason for his previous Baltimore address.

Articles referencing Antonio’s work in Pittsburgh starting around 1950 fill  He conducted many studies, including some on cancer statistics, and is most well-known for his study on the effects of pollution in Donora, Pennsylvania that was published in coordination with another researcher in 1948.  The deadly and historic wall of polluted fog is also called the Donora Smog. In four days in October 1948, it killed 20 people and is believed to be the cause of death for at least 5 others.

You can see some of Dr. Ciocco’s published works here on World Cat.

Other information is best summed up about him in his Pittsburgh Post-Gazette obituary dated January 6, 1972.  I am posting it below in chunks.



His mass of Christian burial was held at St. Paul’s Cathedral, Pittsburgh.  I found his Find-a-Grave memorial created by another user.  He is buried in Silver Spring, Maryland.

I tried finding information about Michael and Gelsomina’s pasta companies but I didn’t turn up anything.  The Campobasso ancestry of Angelo Michele Ciocco and his parents can very easily be traced on Antenati.

Who do you think Great Grand Aunt Gelsomina resembles the most?

My immigrant great grandfather has one more sister – Giovannina Ferraro.


Ellis Island Passenger Ship Manifests


U.S. Passport Applications via Ancestry

United States Federal Censuses

New York State Census, 1905

Columbus and Newark City Directories

Franklin County, Ohio Marriage Records

Franklin County, Ohio Birth Index

Pennsylvania Death Certificates via Ancestry

Cousin Cleonice, C. Ferraro’s Federal file

Wikipedia Subscription

United States Social Security Death Index

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