approachingthehill

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

Archive for the tag “research”

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.

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.

Italian Genealogy Research for Beginners

John and Rose Cubba

When I started working on my family’s genealogy 17 years ago, I was told it was hopeless because Italians just don’t care about genealogy. Being a “testa dura” that didn’t stop me from diving in head first! Here are some books that helped me get started and I still refer to them today in this age of digital records.

  • The absolute best book is A Genealogist’s Guide to Discovering Your Italian Ancestors by Lynn Nelson. Published in 1997, it explains the Italian vital records and how to find your ancestor’s home town or comune. Nelson explains how to order micro film from the Mormon church, but more and more of these records are being digitized. Ancestry.com and FamilySearch.org are great resources.
  • Italian Genealogical Records: How to Use Italian Civil, Ecclesiastical & Other Records in Family History Research by Trafford R Cole.
  • Finding Your Italian Roots. The Complete Guide for Americans by John Philip Colletta.
  • Italian-American Family History: A Guide to Researching and Writing about Your Heritage by Sharon DeBartolo Carmack. This is a great resource for putting all your research together.
  • A newer book, Italian Genealogy Records Guide by Jennifer Holik, may also be worth checking out since it was published last year and covers searching digital records.

A new trend I am seeing, is people self publishing their family’s genealogy. Some of these are available on Amazon. For example:

  • Coberly Connections: Pilgrims, Patriots & Presidents by Daniel L. Coberly
  • FALCONARA: A Family Odyssey by Hal Higdon & Rose Musacchio Higdon
  • Ancestors of Salvator Bloise and Rose Pippo by Nick Bloise

So don’t be afraid to start exploring your Italian roots! Yes it is hard work, but “Non v’è rosa senza spina” – There is no rose without thorns.

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