Posts tagged ‘Immigration’

Why do they have to always hide?

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

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

airsiren

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>

Head20on20Desk

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>

Head_Meets_Desk_by_CloudRiven

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>

child-head-on-desk-frustrated-e7b22c

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).

Minelli immigration

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?

 

How has family history changed you???

I saw this question posted on the Family Search Facebook page a couple days ago…and it’s still got me thinking.  Were they really asking us to reply to it? Or were they hoping to just get us thinking?  Well…it did both for me.  I almost immediately replied to their question….“Its given me a sense of self. A way to find out a deeper meaning of who I really am.”.  But the more I think about it….it goes so much deeper than that.

I used to think I knew who I was.  But I think I’m still finding that out.  I am not just me anymore, but a combination of two people who’s DNA and family history were merged together to create me.  I am my parents, grandparents, great grandparents, and on and on.  Every new person I find occupies another part of my life and my history.  I have become a stronger person realizing what struggles my ancestors have overcome.

My family and friends would tell you I’m still the sarcastic, quick on my feet, one-liner dropping person.  And that part of me is still there.  But, I look at life a lot differently since I started digging into my family.  I used to think I was a woman of strength and courage…but that, too, has been put into perspective for me.

My ancestors have lived thru the Great Depression, death of children during epidemics, horrific deaths by accidents, raising children without fathers due to war and death, and leaving their homes to sail across an ocean for better lives, only to live in poverty and hardship to find that prosperity.  What have I done that showed such strength and courage???  Nothing compared to them!

We live in a society that seems to focus more on the wants of a family rather than focusing on the needs.  And I’m just as guilty of this as everyone else.  Times were simpler for my ancestors, as I’m sure it was for yours, too.  They worked hard and provided the necessities of life for their families…and one by one or in small groups they brought them to the United States from all over the world.  Once here they all worked together to provide more and more for their families while continuing to bring extended family members here…acting as sponsors and giving them shelter once they immigrated here.  Their kids were educated in our schools, learned English, and integrated their culture and traditions with those of their new friends and neighbors to help create what has become our new way of life.

So, to go back to that thought provoking question….How has family history changed you?  I guess I’ve become more aware of the struggles, the stories, and most of all the successes of my family and myself.  I no longer look at what I don’t have compared to my peers, but what I have been able to overcome and succeed at in an ever changing, modern world.  A world where my ancestors gave up so much and made, what had to be the most heartbreaking and courageous, decisions of their lives.  Decisions that not only impacted their generations but all generations that followed them.