The Gift of a Genealogy Goldmine

treasurechest

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.

Do you remember Immigrant #5 ~ The Disappearing Antonio Ferraro, brother of Carmine?  Well, I found a clue about Antonio, Gerry Valerioti (the husband of Angela Maria Ferraro), and Angelo Scarnecchia (husband of Elena Ferraro).

italoamerican.jpg

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?

A.ferraro.PNG
Antonio is the Vice President of the company

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.

ComplessoThe 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.

The discoveries in my cousin’s gift continue!

cinziarosagenealogy@comcast.net

 

 

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:

bobbysargent

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.

Sources:

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

Antenati.san.beniculturali.it

Newspapers.com

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.

cinziarosagenealogy@comcast.net