Posts tagged ‘Ellis Island’

Why do they have to always hide?

****WARNING…WARNING…BEEP…BEEP…BEEP…OOOO-GA….OOOO-GA!!!****

***Long post ahead…enter at your own risk!!! ***

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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>

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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>

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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>

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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).

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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?

 

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My Lucky Number 13!

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Everyone has a number that they consider their “Lucky Number”.  I’ve bounced this number around many times…sometimes its 17 (my birth day)…sometimes its 5 (my birth month)…but I’ve always been drawn to the number 13.  Even in my search for family records, 13 seems to be my lucky number.

Growing up I remember hearing a story that my great grandfather was one of 13 brothers that were all Sicilian Mounted Police.  I don’t know if that story is true or not because I have not been able to find any generation with 13 male children, but its an intriguing story.  I even have to laugh a bit because my cousins remember a different story with the great grandfather being on a different family line.  Someday, maybe I’ll be able to figure that one out….but it still reminds me that the number 13 is tapping me on the shoulder.

Well…recently, I hit the number 13 again in my research.  I had just returned home from a local Genealogy Society meeting, grabbed a few snacks, and settled down with my computer.  I wanted to run some searches with my “Minelli” surname….again.  Earlier in the day I had received a full translation of my Great Grandfather, Ferdinando’s birth record and the family was on my mind.  Ferdinando had been given up at birth and I finally had, not only the quick translation of the document, but a word for word translation of it.  It was the midwife that stated his name was to be Ferdinando and his surname Minelli.  Maybe this name had something to do with the family after all. There might still be hope of finding out who his parents were.  I wanted to see what other MInelli’s were nearby to the town of Castrovillari, Cosenza, Calabria, Italy.  So…I did like I had done a dozen times in the past year…click, click, click…..nothing…..click, click, click….nothing…over and over again.  Everything I was finding was the same stuff.  The stuff I already knew and had verified.  Now what?

The kids….lets look for info on the kids!  That would keep me busy for a while and maybe give me something that I didn’t already have.  So…I grabbed my files to see what I already knew and what was already in the files (I hate thinking I found something new, only to find out I had just overlooked it before).  I knew that Ferdinando and his wife, Maria Somma, had 12 kids.  Well…at least I had documented the births of 12.  I also knew that I had one death certificate and one of those children I assumed died before they immigrated to the US, as I have no record of that child coming here.  I also had one…their last child born…that I have no clue what happened to her.  She was born in 1913 (hmmm….is that a “13”?) but was not on the 1920 census…and I have not found a death certificate for her.

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So…here I sit, with the files of the “kids” spread out on my bed.  Yes, I love to research while I’m curled up in bed in fuzzy jammies and a nice warm blanket on my bed (I live in Northern Michigan so it gets pretty cold here sometimes).  I start flipping thru the files….Theresina (Theresa)…Michele (Mike)…Pilerio (Lawrence)…Rosina (Rosie)…Natale (Nato)…Francescadina (Frances – my grandmother)…Giuseppina (Josephine)…Frances Rosario Pasquale (Birth in Italy, but not immigrated and no death record yet)….Carmelo (born and died in 1896)…Sam…Annie…and Antonia.  That’s 12 kids…WHEW!!  I knew the least about Carmelo and Frances…They were both born early in Ferdinando and Maria’s marriage.  Carmelo died as an infant.  I had his death registry.  Frances I also assumed has died before the family immigrated to the US because there is no record of him on a ships manifest or in any census records after they arrived here.  So I started with these two children.  Carmelo’s records were BAD copies…so I wondered if I could find them online and at least save them differently (I had found them on microfilm at the Family History Library during my trip to Salt Lake City in 2011).  So I started with Carmelo….

Now, anyone that has ever searched for records online knows the procedure….enter in basic information…wait for the results to pop up…refine your search…find nothing…go back and redo your search…over and over again.  All while hoping for a small hint of a relative.  I entered in  “CARMELO MINELLI” in the search fields…pressed enter….WOW…a lot of hits on this one. So I scanned the list…nope…nope…nope…maybe….click….nope….go back…over and over.  Then I saw a manifest into Ellis Island.  Hmmm…I wonder….who this might be…City says Cosenza, which is the right area.  And I knew that when I found the children’s birth record EVERY Minelli in Cosenza was this family…Fingers crossed.  Then I realized it said CARMELA….not CARMELO.  Female child not male.  Darn it….I was looking for a male child…but I looked anyway.  It said line 11…yep, there was Carmela…Female…age 16 (really?!?!?!)…I don’t have a Carmela…maybe its another family.  So I kept looking….Name and address of nearest relative or friend in country where alien came from….Grandfather Giuseppe Somma!!!!  THAT’S MY GREAT GREAT GRANDFATHER!!!!  I FOUND ANOTHER CHILD!!!  NUMBER 13!!! 

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I couldn’t believe what I was reading.  I had just found the answer to another family story!  I had talked with my cousin Sissy about 3 weeks ago.  She told me she remembered her mom talking about a sister that had immigrated with the family to the US (to Chicago, specifically), and had gone back to Italy to get married.  I had heard this story before, but nobody could remember her name.  I think I might have just found her!!!  The best part is….I now added another family member…I had an Aunt Carmela.  She is my new Lucky Number 13!  Now I just have to find out what happened to her…who did she marry?  Did she have children?  Is she related to the Minelli’s that currently live in Cosenza?  Am I related to them too? There are always more questions to answer!  I’m off to find more answers…be back soon!

Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak Came to Town!

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WOW!!!  I’m in awe!  That’s the only way to describe last Saturday.  Sitting “Front Row Center” in front of one of the greatest genealogists in the world and listening to her share how she solves hundreds of genealogy mysteries each year…its like a dream come true.

Megan shared 4 separate programs with us at the Charlevoix Public Library last Saturday (April 27th). “Reverse Genealogy”, “Find That Obituary”, “Right Annie, Wrong Annie”, and “Cases That Made My Brain Hurt”…her four fast-paced, in-depth conversations with a room of about 50 genealogy “fanatics”. Her personality and excitement for each person that she has researched, her down-to-earth discussions of how she finds primary and secondary next of kin (P-NOK and S-NOK, for short) for the military so that the remains of our lost soldiers can be returned to families, and how she solved the mystery of Annie Moore, the first immigrant thru Ellis Island and how the “wrong” Annie Moore has been getting all the credit.

Future Blog postings will highlight some of the amazing information that Megan shared with us “Genies” (the term she used for avid genealogists), including links that might help you in your quest for your own “Right Annie”.