***Long post ahead…enter at your own risk!!! ***
I have always wondered why certain documents seem to “appear”, when they do, within my research. They might not even be on the family line that I’m working on, but all of a sudden…there they are!
Two weeks ago I went on “vacation”…ok, so I spent a week and a half walking cemeteries, staring at a computer screen in an air conditioned library, and looking at microfilm in a darkened room…its what I consider a “Vacation”. I was back home trying desperately to piece together another small part of my family history and the history of a dear, dear friend.
So I went to the county microfilm office to research. I knew the routine…I had done this before many times…but….There was an “index” book that I had never ventured into before, so I thought…”Why not”. It turned out to be the Naturalization Index for the county. There were actually 3 books total…2 were indexes for 1880-1952 and then another one that the clerk stated was prior to that time frame. So I checked in the 1880-1952 book and…sure enough I found my grandpa and his brother Dominico. It really only confirmed what I had already found out about his date of immigration. But I still got copies of the records ($3 per complete record seemed like a bargain to me). Then I continued on with the computer and microfilm…but I kept looking at the other index. I didn’t have relatives before that timeframe…but I grabbed it anyway…just to look. BINGO!!! It wasn’t prior…it was AFTER 1952. My grandmother has also filed for Naturalization. I’m still not sure why…her father and her husband had both been Naturalized and she was mentioned on both their documents. (So, technically this was the THIRD time she was “Naturalized”) But I also know that Nani (Grandma in Italian) was a VERY strong willed (a.k.a. stubborn as H*LL) woman who did what she wanted, not what others told her to do. So I had them pull her record too. WOW…I finally had a date for her immigration thru Ellis Island!!! She was one of the relatives that I couldn’t find. Her papers stated she arrived on the Duca Degli Abruzzi, September 1, 1908. BUT….IT ENDED UP BEING WRONG!!! <insert head banging on my desk>
Last night I searched for her in the Ellis Island database….I had tried to do this a million times before…this time I had the ship to search for and a date of the voyage. Page by page I searched for her and members of her family…I knew she wouldn’t be traveling alone because the date proved she was only 6 when she arrived at Ellis Island. But…NOTHING…Zip…Zilch…Nada…They weren’t there. <Back to banging my head on the desk>
So…I took another approach to this. I knew about the right time frame…Nani had always said she was 6 or 7 when she came here. So I tried doing an advanced search based on her year of birth, 1902 (+/- 2 years), plus the 1908 date of arrival (+/- 2 years) and put in a partial first and last name (“starts with”)… I didn’t put in more than 3 letters of each name. It pulled up 9 children…and the 3rd one down, even though it was not spelled right (which I knew it had to be mis-spelled), was HER!! Instead of being listed as Frances Minelli…which was what we always knew her name to be…she was listed as Franceschina Minetta. I knew it was her…it was the right location (town and province in Italy)…so I clicked on the link to show me the manifest…I was so excited!!! I checked line 25….And….She’s NOT THERE! <bang…bang…bang…THUNK>
Why do my ancestors do this to me CONTINUALLY?!?!?! I can almost hear her laughing…”HAHAHAHA…You didn’t find me, did you!!! BWAHAHAHAHA”…UGH!
I spent 2 1/2 hours last night, going page by page…thru the entire manifest for the S.S. Florida..August 11, 1907 arrival…but I finally found her!!! She arrived with her mother (Maria Somma), her brothers Pilerio (later known as Uncle Larry) and Natale (Uncle Nato), and her sisters, Ceralina (It was actually Terasina, Aunt Teresa eventually), Giuseppina (Aunt Josephine),and possibly Carmela (this one I’m still not positive about – If she did come here, she went back to Italy…and there is a family story about one of the daughters returning to Italy to marry). There is a note on the manifest that states their surname was changed on the manifest (originally they had been listed with mom’s maiden name of Somma, but it was changed to Minetta…which was still wrong…their father’s surname was Minelli).
Oh well…I won this round of the genealogy game of hide and seek….so…Now its your move Nani. What other road blocks would you like to toss in my way?