Immigrant Angelo Ferraro, my great great grandfather, sailed from Napoli to Ellis Island in 1903. As I have repeatedly written here, a seemingly harmless 61 year old retired Italian Army Captain was detained and held for special inquiry when he arrived. As I have also revealed here, the reason for his detainment is not listed at the end of the batch of ship manifests for that day that are held at the National Archives. The above photograph on the left is likely a photograph from Italy before his immigration. The photograph on the right is likely a photograph taken in Ohio after his immigration.
Because I have written before on Angelo here and on his life here, I will instead note what still can be found on Angelo. I have also written about the place our Ferraros came from in this older blog post: Ferraro di Talanico, San Felice a Cancello, Caserta, Campania, Italia. The surname is present in that Casertan town back to the 1400s. So far I have only been able to trace our direct line back to 1590. I have no doubt the tangle of church records could take it back to the 1400s.
The following puzzle pieces can be focused on for further exploration of this immigrant’s life:
*Finding the marriage record of Angelo and Filomena Napolitano. That record could be found after the civil records of the Archives of Napoli are added to Antenati in the future. The marriage record should have data about his profession and the professions of his parents. It could contain military service information. The record should seemingly be in the town of Filomena’s birth – Nola. Maybe writing to Nola is in order.
*If the aforementioned civil records are added to Antenati, clues could be gleaned about Angelo from the records of his children’s births. While we do have the birth record of my great grandfather, Angelo and Filomena had 5 other children.
*Newspapers.com keeps adding more newspaper collections. I have to keep checking to see if there is information about him in the Ohio newspapers. I love newspapers.com.
*The possibility of the digitization of historic Italian-American newspapers. After all, Angelo’s son, my great grandfather, was the Publisher and Editor for one in Columbus, Ohio. What a gold mine those could contain on all of my Italian immigrant ancestors.
*Angelo’s father was a soldier in the Terzo Cacciatori, which was a regiment in the Army of the Bourbon King of Naples in the 1820s. If a military record is ever retrieved from Italy (I am still trying), it could aid in the Angelo research.
*Speaking of military service, I have requested Angelo’s pension from Caserta. I think they may be sending what I already have. We will see.
*Last, but not least, the Board of Special Inquiry case file. We are entering the 9th month of waiting for this file to be found by the USCIS. At this point, is there any hope left the genealogical request to that government agency will be fulfilled before a professional Philadelphia team wins another championship? Villanova does not count. Do I have to be a famous person on Who Do You Think You Are for them to pull and copy it for me? As of ten minutes ago, the search request that required a $25.00 fee before they would even start looking, is STILL listed as active. Once, I asked my congressperson for help getting a federal file on one of my ancestors and it didn’t even help. I refuse to go this route again. Sigh….I am not a fan of my congressperson either…
Next Immigrant: Anne Marie Aloisia Heinzen Kirsch from Switzerland
After a long search I finally found where our Ferraro ancestors were from. Our Ferraros were from frazioni Piedarienzo, Talanico, and San Felice in San Felice a Cancello, Caserta, Campania. Carmine Ferraro’s ancestors lived there for hundreds of years (at least back to 1590) before Francesco Antonio Ferraro left in 1824 with wife Angela Maria Delle Cave. I was also right – Francesco Antonio Ferraro’s father WAS Filippo and Francesco Antonio did name his oldest son after his father. I had to search for the marriage of Francesco Antonio Ferraro and Angela Maria delle Cave for over a year to discover this information. It led me to the place where the Ferraros lived before Francesco Antonio joined the army of the Bourbon king of Naples, Ferdinand IV, and raised his family and my g g grandfather Angelo Ferraro in Santo Prisco, Caserta!
What a painful challenge Family Search’s San Felice a Cancello civil records gave me. Family Search has early 1800s through 1900 available. They were photographed in the 1980s and put on microfilm. They were missing years and lablled incorrectly by village. Researchers can’t avoid ordering the incorrect films because of that. Anyone researching towns in this area of Italy using the Family Search records probably want to pull their hair out! So a friend told me to get the Marcianise records where Francesco Antonio’s son Filippo was born to at least give me a clue about the Ferraro. I did. It gave me the important detail that Antonio Ferraro was not just Antonio. He was FRANCESCO ANTONIO. What a gigantic clue that was. By pure chance, after discovering that, I was able to locate his marriage record in his wife’s birth town of Sei Casali D’Arienzo, which was, again, labeled incorrectly at Family Search. Francesco Antonio Ferraro was also born there according to the record! (Sei Casali d’Arienzo is now known as San Felice a Cancello and Arienzo is a separate comune.)
Unfortunately, the attached marriage documents were supposed to be available on another film, also incorrectly labeled, and to my disgust, once that filmed arrived, that too was labeled incorrectly. Then I discovered that the 1824 marriage documents for San Felice a Cancello WERE NOT FILMED at all! More headaches. The Caserta archives told me they didn’t have them either. So any information that could be gleaned from them about Francesco Antonio’s military service in the Terzo Cacciatori is not available for us there.
As of the date of this post, Caserta records are not on the glorious Italian archival site Antenati San Beniculturali. I have not heard rumors they are close to being up there either. Something about a backseat to Napoli records…I am sure Caserta is next after Piemonte’s records…rolling eyes…
After previously mentioned roadblocks, and maybe because the San Felice a Cancello records were a labeled incorrectly, I discovered that Family Search filmed the Diocese of Acerra church records which included present-day San Felice a Cancello and made all of those church records available for viewing online at Family Search. How lucky!!!!!! .
There are six parishes in historic San Felice a Cancello, a.k.a. Sei Casali D’Arienzo (it’s historic name). If you know your Italian you know “six” was in the historic name. The town was originially 6 separate hamlets, all with their own parish, but not united until the last part of the 18th Century. One of these parish’s records go back to the 1500s in San Felice a Cancello and, the surnames in our tree, including Ferraro, are visible in the 1500s in that parish. The current tag photo at the top of the blog is the ruins of a castello in present-day San Felice a Cancello.
The bulk of our Ferraro lived in Casale Talanico before Francesco Antonio and wife Angela Maria left and their parish was San Pietro Aspostolo. Before that it was Casale San Felice in the parish San Leonardo. Before that it was in Casale Piedarienzo and the parish Sant’Agnese. One of the hamlets of San Felice a Cancello is Cave. The delle Cave in the Ferraro tree either take their name from the hamlet or the hamlet is named after them. Delle Cave appears in the parish records in San Felice a Cancello in the 1500s. I wonder which is older – the surname or the hamlet? In the late 1600s the Barbarino and Nicolino surnames in our tree left nearby Rocca Rainola, Napoli and made their permanent residency in Casale San Felice. The ancestors of Angela Maria delle Cave named Olimpia Librera and Sandra Dragone, may have blood from Rocca Rainola, Napoli where some Dragone in San Felice a Cancello came from. Dragone – I love that name. Sandra Dragone’s mother was Artemia. I love that name too.
These are some of the surnames in the Ferraro Caserta branch: Dragone, Librera, de Lardo, Fruggiero/Fruggieri, Iaderosa, Barbarino, Nicolino, Bonnillo/Bionillo, Ventura, Gammella/Gammelli, Papa, Paciello (peace of heaven), D’Ambrosio, Bernardo/Benardo, Martenisi/D’Addico, Magliulo, Gerardo, Porrino, Piscitella, and now Cioffi. In newer records Iaderosa became just ‘de Rosa.’ In our tree it was always Iaderosa.
DON’T FORGET TO CLICK ON ANY INSERTED PHOTO OR GRAPH FOR LARGER VIEWING.
What do I know about these branches of ancestors? From what can be gleaned from Francesco Antonio’s and Angela Maria’s marriage record, Filippo Ferraro, wife Giuseppa Fruggieri, Luca delle Cave, and wife Olimpia Librera’s occupations were farm workers. I read a blurb in a google book that in 1822 the Terzo Cacciatori were selected from the sons of the nobles in Campania. I don’t know if this applied to Francesco Antonio. The marriage record definitely said his father Filippo was a farm worker.
Because their marriage documents aren’t available for researchers at this time I went to the marriage documents of siblings of Francesco Antonio to get information on the Ferraros and Fruggieri. Filippo’s father was Salvatore and Olimpia’s father was Gennaro. Those names helped me trace back in all of their lines to the late 1500s and early 1600s. Unfortunately I couldn’t find the marriage documents for any of Angela Maria’s siblings and refuse to go through more of the ordeal of ordering the incorrectly labeled film to get them. Family Search is slowly making them available for viewing online at a Family History Center. We can wait.
Anyway, I was able to trace back to 10 x ggparents in Angela Maria delle Cave’s mother’s lines, part of which is pictured above in the descendancy graph. Directly back in the Ferraro name I was able to trace back to a couple who are likely our 11 x ggparents named Santillo Ferraro and Pordenzia Cioffi living in Casale Pierdarienzo in the late 1500s.* They would have been born in the mid-1500s. My 10 ggfather was born in 1590. He appeared to be a twin. Santillo later appeared to remarry to a Cecilia.**
Or another descendancy graph below:
What else do I know about these branches besides baptism, marriage, confirmation, and some death dates? The parish of San Felice’s tithe records f0r 1698-1740 were included in these online church records. Silvestro Ferraro (7 ggfather) and the uncle of Andrea Ferraro’s wife (Giacomo Antonio Barbarino) were big contributors to the church. Sometimes Silvestro Ferraro gave the most to the church in a year and later it was his second son. Another big contributor was a Dragone. I have not been able to establish a relationship between our Dragone and him though.
Not much else is known but names, baptisms, confirmations, marriages, and death dates. The records of Sant’Agnese are numerous and may also contain tithe records. Some Stato D’Anime have also been thrown in with these filmed church records! You have to leaf through every record to find them. Stato D’Anime are census records kept by local parish priests. I will continue to look for a few marriages to see if they name parents and also continue to double-check relationships at the 10th ggparent levels in the tree.
*Cioffi, according to Cognomi Italiani, means ruffian, silly, and thief in some Southern dialects.
**I am confident Santillo Ferraro and Pordenzia Cioffi are ancestors. At 11 ggparents that is the furthest I have researched in any tree. I want more proof they are the right people. A marriage record or death record would help and it takes time to leaf through all the records as the Family Search photographer wrote different numbers on the pages than were originally indexed by the priests who wrote them.
For more reading on San Felice a Cancello check out the Italian Wikipedia entry on the commune and follow San Felice a Cancello, Caserta news online. It seems a world away from the town I am used to researching – Farindola.