So, today I'm emailing and writing churches in the City of Buffalo to see if any have a record of the marriage of my grandparents, Joseph Palmeri and Sarina Millonzi.
I'm also writing the clerks and courts of the City of Buffalo to see if they have any record of an official name change for my grandfather from "Joseph Palmieri", as on his birth certificate, to "Joseph Palmeri", as he went throughout his adult life.
We'll see what happens.
Update 13 Feb 2012
The Erie County Clerk returned my email. This is what they said:
Mr. Palmeri: The search for a court action to change a name would be filed in our court. However, an immigrant is allowed legally to change his or her name by simply having the new name stated on the Certificate of Naturalization. So there may not have been a formal action.
If you would like us to search for the court action, you may make your request in writing to the Basement Record Room, Erie County Clerk's Office, 92 Franklin Street, Buffalo, New York 14202. The cost will be $5 for every two years searched per document type (court action). The more information that you can provide, the easier potentially it will be for us to search (and the less expensive for you.)
Years ago, if the parent changed the name, the surname of the minor child was also changed, so there might not be a record of the change of name, but there would be an amended Birth Certificate. However, it is possible that the spelling of the name was not officially noted and that your grandfather just used the name as you know it.
Update 28 Feb 2012
Another response from the Erie County Clerk:
Thank you for contacting the Erie County Clerk’s Office. CHRISTOPHER L. JACOBS has requested that I respond to your email.
Your request will engender a search charge. Please make your request in writing to the Erie County Clerk – Basement Record Room, 92 Franklin Street, Buffalo, New York 14202. You may simply copy this email and mail with your check. As a suggestion, since we will not know the actual cost until the search is completed, you may send in a check with the amount blank and a note that the check is not to exceed a certain amount. We will return a receipt.
The cost for a search is $5 for every two years per name, per document.
The cost for copies is $1 per page and certification is an additional $5.
Please indicate the name(a) under which you would like us to search.