approachingthehill

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

Archive for the category “family tree”

Salvatore Cuba – Caltanissetta, Sicily

A few years ago, I wrote a post about my great-uncle Salvatore Cuba. This year, I connected with Salvatore’s descendants so I thought it only fitting to update the post with new information.

Salvatore Cuba was born September 24, 1878 in Terranova di Sicilia (Gela), Sicily. It is likely that the Cuba’s followed the traditional naming patterns common among Italians. The first born son was named after the father’s father. The second son was named after the mother’s father. The first born daughter was named after the father’s mother and the second daughter was named after the mother’s mother.  Rosaria’s father’s name was Salvatore, so it could be that an older son was born before Salvatore, or that Luigi’s father’s name was also Salvatore.

Salvatore married Vincenza Giordano on January 4, 1902 in Caltanissetta. It should be noted that on the marriage record, Salvatore’s last name is spelled Cubba. Salvatore worked as a sulfur miner in Caltanissetta. They had eight children, five who died as infants: Rosaria (1902 -1903), Rosaria (1907 -1910), Nicolo ( 1911-1912), Nicolo ( 1913-1914) and Giovanni (1916-1917). Their three surviving sons were Luigi, Michele and Giovanni. Michele had two children: Salvatore and Vincenza. Michele’s son Salvatore immigrated to Belgium and his daughter Vincenza immigrated to France. After World War II, coal companies in Belgium and France recruited miners from Italy to work for them. That is how Salvatore ended up in Belgium in the 1940s and Vincenza and her husband emigrated to France.

Salvatore never immigrated to America. When his brother John died in Detroit in 1955, Salvatore was distraught and asked how John could have died in a modern hospital in America. Perhaps lack of good medical care was the cause of Salvatore’s children dying? Salvatore died on March 10, 1960 in Caltanissetta, Sicily.

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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!

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.

Collaboration is Key

1923-frank-maiorano-and-grace-pepe-wedding-party

I grew up seeing the photograph of my maternal grandparents on their wedding day in 1923. Their wedding anniversary was celebrated by the entire family until my grandmother died in 1979. Through an earlier blog post, a cousin contacted me and invited me to join her family Facebook page. She then posted a photo of the entire wedding party! What an absolute treasure.

For whatever reason, my mother was of the mind set that genealogical research was a secret to be closely hoarded and rarely shared photos or information outside her immediate family. I’ve read that Italians harbor a suspicion of authority figures and are wary of outsiders. I think that is the view my mother grew up with too. I would have never broken through so many brick walls last year if I shared her attitude.

Long Lost Sister – part 2 (Guiseppa Cuba) – 52 Ancestors

Since I had such good luck finding Italian records on FamilySearch.org, I decided to look for additional Cuba siblings.

By browsing the Italy Image Only Historical Records, I found more documents from Caltanissetta, Caltanissetta, Civil Registration (Tribunale), 1866-1910.

Lo and behold, I found another sister! Guiseppa born to Luigi Cuba and Rosaria Dimenza on 3 February 1886.

Italian families were typically very large. If you are researching your Italian genealogy and can’t find a birth record for your direct ancestor, try looking for the birth records of their siblings. Italian records contain a wealth of information, such as age of parents and occupation.

Buona Fortuna!

Guiseppa Cuba birth certificate close

Long Lost Sister – part 1 (Angela Cuba) – 52 Ancestors

I have been researching my Italian ancestry for over 17 years. I have ordered microfilm from Salt Lake City and have pored over handwritten documents written in Italian until I went cross eyed. I thought I had exhausted every avenue in my research of the Cuba line, short of visiting the old country. And then a funny thing happened . . .

I decided to browse the Italian collection at FamilySearch.org. Did you know that you could browse records by location? When I typed in my family surnames, I wasn’t surprised to find that my ancestor’s records had not been indexed. After all, they were peasants living in tiny, rural towns. But by browsing the Italy Image Only Historical Records, I found that documents from one of the tiny, rural towns had been uploaded to the site. Italy, Caltanissetta, Caltanissetta, Civil Registration (Tribunale), 1866-1910 and Italy, Caltanissetta, Civil Registration (State Archive), 1820-1935 were both present, however, the State Archive has to be viewed at a Family History Center.

I started by looking at the Nascite (birth) records for the years surrounding my grandfather’s birth year. Giovanni Cuba was born in 1887 and I knew his brother Michele was born in 1884 and brother Giuseppe was born in 1890. Were there any older or younger siblings? An index of births is produced each year which lists surnames in alphabetical order. It is tedious work, looking through the handwritten indexes of each year, but luckily my ancestors were the only Cuba’s living in Caltanissetta. Once you find your surname in the index, you need to find the specific record number it references.

And then I found her – Angela born to Luigi Cuba and Rosaria Dimenza on December 31, 1881. Eureka! As fate would have it, a few weeks after I found Angela’s birth record, I was contacted by one of Angela’s descendants who told me that Angela had married Calogero Vizzini, had four children and died in Italy. For the past year, I have been putting more and more of my genealogical research online. I’m not sure how my cousin found me, but I’m glad she did. I am hoping to share more information and photos with her.

By the way, more and more Italian records are being uploaded to Ancestry.com. Their Italian records are broken out by year which makes it a bit easier to search. If you don’t want to pay for an Ancestry subscription, most public libraries do have a subscription and you can browse their collections for free.

Concetta Abbate Fiandaca (Ernestine Fiantaco) – 52 Ancestors

Concetta Abbate 2Concetta Abbate was born May 2, 1858 in Villarosa, Sicily, Italy to Ignazio Abbate and Rose Vitale. She married Angelo Fiandaca on September 8, 1881 when she was 23 years old. Angelo was 33 and a widower with at least two children. Concetta and Angelo had three children – Ignacio born in 1888, Guiseppe born in 1890 and Rose born in 1893. Angelo died on April 17, 1910 in Villarosa.

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. Concetta indicated that she left a daughter, Rosina behind in Villarosa and is traveling to DuQuoin, IL with her 9 year old grand daughter, Maria Brunco. Maria was traveling to her mother Barbara Fiandaca in DuQuoin. Concetta’s passage was paid by her son Pietro.

In the 1920 census, Concetta can be found living with her son Sam Fiantaco in DuQuoin, IL. She was now known as Ernestine. In 1930, she was living with John and Rose Cubba in Detroit and was present when twins Michael and Rosalie were born.

Ernestine died on February 23, 1951 in Detroit, MI at the age of 83. She may not be considered beautiful by today’s standards, but she loved and raised her step children and children in Italy. Then traveled to America to help her children and grandchildren here. The grandchildren referred to her as little grandma because she was only 5 feet tall.

Concetta Abbate 1

Jane Downey Waelde – from Ireland to New York – 52 Ancestors

Jane Downey WaeldeBeing 100% of Italian descent, I don’t have a drop of Irish blood. But my husband and children do.

My husband’s 3X great grandmother, Jane Shaw Downey was born April 30, 1824 in Londonderry, Ireland. Her parents were Sarah Shaw, born in Ireland, and Robert Downey, born in Ireland. Jane immigrated to the United States in 1844 and married John Charles Waelde, a potter, on May 6, 1850 in Ithaca, Tompkins, New York, United States. 

North Bay Pottery

A rich deposit of clay near mill stream attracted potters to North Bay in New York. In the mid 1800s, potters settled in North Bay, attracted by the abundance of clay, wood and water. German craftsman, John C. Waelde, produced stoneware through 1875. John C. Waelde’s pottery was popular because of its hand painted and stenciled artwork. Many of John’s pottery jugs still exist and bring a pretty penny at auction.

Jane and John had nine children:

Sarah Jane, born 24 March 1851 and died in 1930

Erwin Robert, born 26 July 1852 and died 29 April 1940

Julia Elizabeth, born 21 August 1854 and died 6 February 1955

Mary Ann, born 6 July 1856 and died 20 December 1887

Helena born 1 November 1858 and died 8 September 1861 (only age 2)

Emma Louise, born 8 December 1860 and died 16 September 1945

Charles Henry, born 18 May 1863 and died 26 December 1916

Anna Emile, born 7 January 1866 and died 17 November 1936

William Howard, born 12 March 1870 and died 27 August 1889

On the 1860 Federal Census, John and Jane were living in the Town of Vienna, Oneida County, New York, North Bay Post Office. Sarah Downing, Jane’s mother, was living with them.

In the 1875 New York census, John and Jane were living in Vienna, Oneida county, New York. John was employed as a potter and was a Naturalized citizen. They lived with their 7 children, Sarah, Julia, Mary, Emma, Charles, Anna and Willie. Sarah (age 24), Julia (age 20) and Mary (age 12) all worked as weavers at a cotton factory in New York Mills.

On the 1880 U.S. Federal Census, Jane is listed as head of household and married. John is not listed as living with them. I can’t find John in any census records from 1880. She and her children (Emma, Charles, Anna and William) were living in Vienna, Oneida, New York. Also, the children list their father’s birth place as Wurttemberg, Germany.

In the 1892 New York census, John is back living with Jane and their daughter Anna in Maryland Township, Otsego County, New York. John’s occupation was listed as Potting Ware.

According to the 1900 federal census, John C. Waelde and wife, Jane, lived in Maryland Township, Otsego County, New York. John’s birth date was listed as August 1819 and Jane’s was listed as April 1830. Jane indicated that she had 9 children, 6 of which are still living. John said he was born in Germany and his parents were both born in Germany. Jane said she was born in Ireland and her parents were both born in Ireland. John said he came to the U.S. in 1847 and Jane immigrated in 1844. John is listed as blind.

Jane died 16 March 1914. She was preceded in death by John, who passed away in 1903.

From the Syracuse Herald, 17 March 1914, page 4

Mrs. Jane Waelde – North Bay Woman of 90 Years Died at Daughter’s Home

North Bay, March 17 – At the home of her daughter, Mrs. Sarah Brown, on Main street, yesterday morning occurred the death of Mrs. Jane Waelde. Last fall she came here to spend the winter with her daughter and until several weeks ago she was in her usual health. Her maiden name was Jane S. Downey and she was born in Londonberry, Ireland. Had she lived until April 16th she would have been ninety years old. Her marriage to John C. Waelde took place May 6th 1850 and for twenty years they resided here leaving here in the spring of 1881 to make their home in Schenevus.

She leaves six children, Mrs. Sarah Brown of North Bay, Mrs. Julia Palma of Durhamville, Mrs. Emma Mason of Newport, KY, Mrs. Anna Earing of Maple Valley, Erwin R. Waelde of Poughkeepsie and Charles Waelde of Newburgh, also several grandchildren and great-grandchildren. The funeral (not legible) Mrs. Brown at 1 o’clock this afternoon, the Rev F. J. Fulton officiating and tomorrow morning the body will be taken to Schenevus, Otsego county and laid to rest beside her husband.

Salvatore Cuba, Sicily – 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks

Salvatore Cuba is the relative that has a birth date closest to mine. Salvatore was born on September 24, 1878 in the seaside town of Gela, Sicily. He is the oldest son of Luigi Cuba and Rosaria DiMenza. Sometime between 1878 and 1884, the family moved 60 km inland to Caltanissetta, Sicily where three more sons were born. The younger sons, Michele, Giovanni and Giuseppe all eventually moved to America, but Salvatore never did. He died in Caltanisetta on March 10, 1960.

My father has talked about his uncles Mike and Joe, but I have never heard any stories about Salvatore. Did he ever visit his brothers in America? Did anyone ever travel back to Italy to visit Salvatore? I can find no evidence of either.

I have mentioned before the Italian tradition of naming children after grandparents. First born sons are named after their father’s father. Second born sons are named after their mother’s father. First born daughters are named after their father’s mother. Second born daughters are named after their mother’s mother. Remaining children are usually named after the parent’s brothers and sisters. Brothers Michele, Giovanni and Giuseppe all named their oldest sons Luigi Cuba!

Since Salvatore was Luigi’s oldest son, I can assume that Luigi’s father’s name was Salvatore, but I haven’t been able to verify this. I do know that Rosaria’s father’s name was Salvatore, so perhaps Salvatore Cuba was a second born son and I don’t have any information about the first born. Or perhaps both grandfathers were named Salvatore.

To research my Italian ancestors, I have had to order microfilm from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Salt Lake City and spend hours in front of a microfilm reader. Fortunately, more and more Italian Civil Records are being loaded online at FamilySearch.org and Ancestry.com which makes research easier.

Corso And Monument Umberto I. Caltanissetta, Sicily 1934; Photo by: TCI/EyeOn/UIG via Getty Images

Corso And Monument Umberto I. Caltanissetta 1934

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