approachingthehill

Focusing on Italian Genealogy and uncovering the testa duras in my family tree

Archive for the month “March, 2017”

Using Facebook as a Genealogy Tool

Jeanne Rollberg recently wrote a post called Harness Social Media to Connect to your Ancestors World. http://blog.ancestorcloud.com/2017/03/23/harness-social-media-to-connect-to-your-ancestors-world/

I can personally attest to the power of Social Media in genealogy.

In 2010, I started a Facebook Group for Cubba and Fiantaco genealogy. I was hoping to connect with my relatives across the United States. I purposefully set up the group with my family’s American names (instead of Cuba and Fiandaca) to make it easier for people to find it. Initially, the group’s members were just my children, siblings and a few local cousins. In 2011, a 2nd cousin in Minnesota discovered the group and soon more members of his family joined. Other cousins trickled in over the years and we started sharing photos and family stories.

On Christmas Eve, 2016, I got a request from a man in Belgium with the last name Cubba to join the group. Curious, I added him to the group and asked how he was related to us. To my astonishment, I discovered that he was my 2nd cousin, once removed! I learned that after the Second World War, the Belgian and French governments recruited Italians to work in the mines. His brother and cousin, who lives in France, also joined the group. More importantly, this connection has allowed me to fill in a huge gap in my family tree because I had next to no information for that branch.

Salvatore Cuba family tree

If you are interested in using Facebook as a genealogy tool, I encourage you to look at Katherine Willson’s Genealogy on Facebook list https://socialmediagenealogy.com/genealogy-on-facebook-list/. Who knows? You may connect with long lost relative too! Buona fortuna!

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Ellis Island Mystery Discovered

I have written about my great-grandmother Concetta Abbate Fiandaca before. Recently, while looking at her Ellis Island immigration record, I discovered something new when I searched the www.libertyellisfoundation.org website for her name.

In 1911, now a widow, Concetta came to America at age 53. She sailed from Naples aboard the Cedric, leaving on March 16 and arriving March 29. She is traveling to DuQuoin, IL with her 9 year old grand daughter, Maria Brunco. Concetta also traveled with Angelo Notarrigo and Giacomo Cianciana (or Cianciania) from her home town, Villarosa. Angelo and Giacomo’s final destination was also DuQuoin, IL.

Concetta, Maria and Giacomo can also be found on a Records of Aliens Held for Special Inquiry page after they arrived at Ellis Island.

Concetta Abbate Record of Aliens held for special inquiry

The three were held together and questioned together. The Primary Immigrant Inspector in the Great Hall held the immigrant for Secondary Inspection. Immigrant Inspectors usually annotated the manifest to show that the immigrant was referred for a hearing. The trio’s annotation was LPC. The most common exclusion was LPC or Likely Public Charge, taken from the section of law which excludes anyone who might become a burden on the public. In general, women and minors were not permitted to travel alone unless someone was expecting them. Women and children were detained until their safety after they left Ellis Island was assured. A telegram, letter, or prepaid ticket from waiting relatives was usually required before the detained women and children could be sent on their way. At the initial hearing, most immigrants were admitted after explaining their situation or producing a recent letter from a friend or relative at their destination. Others might not have the proof with them, so they would wait until someone came to testify in their behalf or sent a telegram. Under the left columns for Actions for the Boards of Inquiry, the trio has a notation as an immigrant found excludable and deportable. The date listed is April 2, which means Concetta, Maria and Giacomo had to stay at Ellis Island while their fate was decided. In the right columns are notations for immigrants admitted to the country by the Board. Three Inspectors sitting on a Board of Special Inquiry would question the immigrant further and decide whether to admit the immigrant or not. Later, the annotation might be “stamped” to show the outcome of the hearing.

Ellis Island’s numerous dormitories were filled to capacity nearly every night with immigrants who were being temporarily detained. Many immigrants stayed in large dormitory rooms located along the balconies. The dormitories consisted of two long, narrow rooms, one on either side of the balcony. Each room accommodated about 300 detainees, who slept in triple-tiered bunk beds that could be raised, thus converting the dormitory into a daytime waiting area. At night, immigrants received blankets to spread over their canvas or wire-mesh mattresses.

Ellis Island dorm

I can’t imagine how frightening it must have been for Concetta and little Maria to be stuck at Ellis Island awaiting their fate.

Concetta, Maria and Giacomo were finally allowed to enter the country on April 8 and were not deported. Columns at the far right of the BSI list are entitled Meals, and show the number of breakfasts, lunches, and dinners served to detainees during their stay. After holding the trio for ten days in detention, the BSI list record shows the Government would be charging the steamship line for 30 breakfasts, 30 lunches, and 30 dinners.

More and more Ellis Island records have been indexed. It may be worthwhile to search for ancestors again to see if you can find any additional immigration records. Buona fortuna!

 

 

Family Search Updates for Italian Research

Beginning 1809, areas of Italy controlled by Napoleon, including Sicily, required civil registrars to keep vital records. Usually these records included more information than the church records that were kept during the same time. This is extremely fortunate for those of us with Italian ancestors!

The Family Search website recently updated the Italy Indexed Historical Records of Italy, Enna, Civil Registration (State Archive), 1866-1944. When you enter an ancestor’s name, you get a message that “These images are viewable: at Il Portale Antenati.” The Il Portale Antenati (The Ancestors Portal) website is fairly easy to use, and only a cursory understanding of Italian is required. If you right mouse click on the page, you can get the website navigation translated into English. The records are also available when using the Family Search site at a Family History Center.

http://www.antenati.san.beniculturali.it/

Il Portale Antenati websiteThe Family Search website also updated the indexing the Italia, Caltanissetta, Stato Civile (Archivio Di Stato), 1820-1935. The original images are only available for viewing at the Family History Centers, but the indexed information still gives a wealth of information.

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