I just received an email from AncestryDNA. They have more refined maps. For example, rather than just showing Italy/Greece, it highlights Sicily and the southern tip of Italy, and rather than just showing Ireland/Scotland, it shows a region that I know some of our Irish ancestors were from. Pretty cool.
From various census records, and because my grandfather was born in the US in 1911, I knew that my great-grandfather came to the US sometime between 1904 and 1910. The 1920 census said 1907 or so, the 1930 census said something like 1904, but it was hard to read. I had no luck at all finding his immigration record on ancestry.com. I was reading a genealogy book and was reminded about ellisisland.org.
I suppose I always figured that it was just the free version of what I was already paying for with my occasional ancestry.com subscriptions. I should have realized that these are independently transcribed and indexed, so it was quite possible to find something on one and not on the other. Sure enough, with a search I found my great-grandfather, Angelo Palmeri.
arrived on 1 May 1909
departed out of Palermo
traveled on the "Italia" (see below)
"Italia" : Built by D. and W. Henderson and Co Ltd, Glasgow, Scotland, 1903. 4,806 gross tons; 400 (bp) feet long; 49 feet wide. Steam triple expansion engine, single screw. Service speed 14 knots. 1,420 passengers (20 first class, 1,400 third class).One funnel and two masts. Steel hull with two decks. Built for Anchor Line, British flag, in 1903 and named Italia. Mediterranean-New York to 1922 service. Later Glasgow-New York service. Scrapped in 1923.
Interestingly, it lists him as "single" in 1909. That means that he came the US in May 1909, married my great-grandmother Maria Giambrone when she came in June 1910, and my grandfather Joseph Palmeri was born in October 1910.
Angelo was traveling with his sister-in-law, Pietro Palmeri's wife, Giuseppa (Baglio) Palmeri, and his nephew, Pietro's son, Giuseppe Palmeri. The manifest says Angelo was joining his brother Pietro too. Until this past summer, I never knew that my great-grandfather had a brother Pietro, so if I found this before, I would have just rejected it out of hand.
The manifest goes say that they are going to "Yatesboro, PA". Originally I just chalked that up to the immigration officer continuing ditto marks from the people above them. Those listed above him were also from Serradifalco, so he probably assumed they were all going to the same place.
But now I'm a bit uncertain. On the 1920 and 1930 Census, when I found both Pietro and Salvatore and their families, it notes some of their children having been born in Pennsylvania. It could well be that those two brothers spent some time in Pennsylvania (possibly Yatesboro), had some children born there, and later moved to Buffalo.
Serradifalco was a sulfer mining community, and a number of immigrants from there went to work in mines in Pennsylvania. I found some things online that indicated that Yatesboro had coal mines in the early 1900s that were run by the Cowanshannock Coal Company.
So, it looks like my great-grandfather first went to Yatesboro, Pennsylvania, where his brothers Pietro and Salvatore were, possibly working in the coal mines, before heading to Buffalo to join his brother Calogero.
manifest for Angelo Palmeri
My great-grandmother, Maria Giambrone, arrived 24 June 1910. She was going to stay with her sister, Barbara Giambrone, and her brother-in-law, Calogero Palmeri, at 174 Terrace St. in Buffalo.
manifest for Maria Giambrone
Also on ellisisland.org, I found that brothers Pietro and Salvatore Palmeri arrived 30 June 1907. They were going to join brother Calogero who was living at 174 Terrace St. in Buffalo. The manifest also lists father Giuseppe in Serradifalco. They arrive on the "Perugia". It may well be that after joining their brother they went to work in the coal mines for several years in Yateboro, Pennsylvania.
"Perugia" : Built by D. and W. Henderson and Co Ltd, Glasgow, Scotland, 1901. 4,438 gross tons; 375 (bp) feet long; 47 feet wide. Steam triple expansion engine, single screw. Service speed 13 knots. 1,170 passengers (20 first class, 1,150 third class).One funnel and two masts. Steel hull with two decks. Built for Anchor Line, British flag, in 1901 and named Perugia. Mediterranean-New York service. Torpedoed and sunk by a German submarine off Italy on 3 December 1916.
manifest for Pietro and Salvatore Palmeri
I also found Maria's father, my great-great-grandfather, Giuseppe Giambrone, and her mother, my great-great-grandmother, Giuseppa Amico Giambrone. They arrived Jun 13, 1913, out of Palermo, on the "Principe di Piemonte". They were going to daughter Grazia (Grace) Giambrone at 68 Efner St., Buffalo, NY. He was listed as a laborer. They were also traveling with two of their daughters, Concetta and Paulina, and their son, Vincenzo.
"Principe di Piemonte" : Built by Sir James Laing & Sons Limited, Sunderland, England, 1889. 6,560 gross tons; 430 (bp) feet long; 52 feet wide. Steam triple expansion engines, twin screw. Service speed 14 knots. 1,960 passengers (60 second class, 1,900 third class).Two funnels and two masts. Built for Lloyd Sabaudo, Italian flag, in 1889 and named Principe di Piemonte. Italy-New York service. Sold to Uranium Steamship Company, in 1914 and renamed Principello. Rotterdam-New York service. Sold to Cunard Line, British flag, in 1916 and renamed Folia. Only one trip Avonmouth to New York service. Torpedoed and sunk by a German submarine off the Irish coast. on February 11, 1917.
manifest for Giuseppe, Giuseppa, Vincenzo, Concetta, and Paulina Giambrone
Until now,this is what I know:
Based on the Social Security Death Index, found by searching on ancestry.com, I know that my great-grandfather, Angelo Palmeri, was born 27 Jan 1886 and died in Sep 1969. Based on census records, I know that my great-grandmother, Maria (Giambrone) Palmeri, was born abt 1891. I know from talking with with my dad that she probably died somewhere between 1970 and 1975.
I try calling Holy Sepulchre Cemetery in Buffalo, where I know my grandfather is buried. Maybe his parents, my great-grandparents, are buried there as well. No, they're not. But the cemetery suggests calling Mount Calvary, which is right across the street.
I call Mount Calvary. Sure enough, they're buried there. Awesome!
They can tell me that my great-grandfather died 29 Sep 1969 at the age of 83 and that my great-grandmother died 11 Jul 1972 age the age of 82.
Unfortunately, they have no record in the office about their birth date. But they give me the location of the grave site.
My sister takes on my mission to find their grave. With some calls back and forth, including some searches of google maps by me while on the phone with her, she locates the grave marker and sends me a picture:
gravemarker for my great-grandparents, Maria and Angelo Palmeri
Maria (Giambrone) Palmeri was born in 1890. I don't know the day or month, but this narrows things down a lot from where I was only yesterday.
One lesson I've learned over the past couple of years is to regularly check ancestry.com and familysearch.org. New databases are added all the time.
I'm particularly interested in any records related to the date of my great-grandfather's naturalization. I'm 99% certain that he became naturalized after my grandfather was born. My great-grandfather came to the US around 1908. My grandfather was born in 1911. I'm pretty sure there was a waiting period before people could become naturalized. Also, the 1920 census listed him as "pa", which means that his first papers were filed (declaration of intent), but he was not yet a citizen. Only on the 1930 census is he listed as "na", which means naturalized.
But now I need to find proof. So any documentation will help.
My new search on ancestry.com brought up a pretty spartan record from something called the "U.S. Naturalization Record Index".
Not much to go by here. But I try contacting the National Archives in Chicago (because they were the only ones I could find easily oneline) to see if they can help find an original record to go with this index filing.
They tell me that this appears to be the naturalization of Angelo Palmeri while serving in the military during WWI. According to them, the copy of the index card, along with associated information, indicated that he was naturalized in the U. S. District Court, Western District of New York in 1918. But I needed to contact the NY office of the National Archives. I email them (twice) and am still waiting for a response.
I'm not sure if this is my great-grandfather, given that he was listed as "pa" in the 1920 census, but maybe this indexes when papers were filed not when naturalization was finalized. I also don't know whether he actually served in WWI. We'll see if they turn up anything. Leave no stone unturned.
Update (19 Oct 2011)
I received a reply. It turns out this belonged to someone who is definitely not my great-grandfather:
Military Petition Number S2-302 from the Western District Court of New York
Name – Angelo Palmeri
Address – Stationed at Fort Niagara, NY
DOB – January 14, 1887 at Perugia, Prov. Prorricia, Italy
Date of Naturalization – June 1918
Too bad. But now that I have a contact in the National Archives, I'm asking if they can search their records given the information I have. This is in parallel with a search request I submitted to Homeland Security. Still waiting.
One particularly critical piece of documentation I need for dual Italian citizenship is my great-grandfather Angelo Palmeri's naturalization record.
In order to qualify for Italian citizenship, my grandfather must have been born before my great-grandfather became naturalized.
I need a statement from homeland security showing his full name, place of birth and date of birth, date of the naturalization, certificate number (or, if a legal alien, his permanent resident card number). Before ordering this record, I had found my great-grandfather's birthdate when I found his Social Security Death Index record on ancestry.com.
My first filed attempt was a Freedom of Information (FOIA) request to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service. Apparently, since 2008, naturalization records are no longer access via FOIA. So my request by email and fax was rejected.
Instead, I submitted an online request through the Genealogy Program website at http://www.uscis.gov/genealogy. Requests can also be mailed to USCIS Genealogy Program, PO Box 805925, Chicago, IL 60680-4120.
It took a few clicks to find the right place on the web site. First, I clicked on "Make a Genealogy Request" along the left hand side. "Order Online Now" appeared on the right hand side. Apparently, this is a two step process. First, for $20, you need to do an Index Search Request. If that returns a match, for $35 you need to do a Record Request.
We'll see how long it takes to get a result of the index search.
My mother's father, my grandfather, was Donald Burke. His father, Arthur Burke, was Irish. His mother, Margaret De Guehery, was French.
Or so we thought.
For my initial pass at filling in our family tree, it was a treasure hunt whenever I poked around on ancestry.com, hitting the jackpot whenever I found a distant cousin researching part of my family tree. But as I grew more serious about genealogy, I wanted to make sure that any distant cousins I might find were as serious as I am about documenting records. So now I contact them directly. Some never respond. Many have. Now I have a small network of distant family sharing finds and working on the same problems.
One of these distant cousins is related to Margaret De Guehery.
I knew that Margaret's parents were Emanual de Guehery and Marion Cuthbert. I even had some very old pictures of Marion from my aunt. A search on familysearch.org had revealed their marriage record in Ontario, with Rudolph and Goddlibien de Guehery and Thomas and Margaret Cuthbert listed as their parents.
I also knew that the de Gueherys and Cuthberts had lived in Chalk River, Ontario, both from our own family history, and from the familysearch.org records I found.
What I didn't know was that the Cuthberts were Scottish.
At some point in my search a few years, I had found a Marion Cuthbert in England but rejected that as nothing more than a false alarm.
Well, my fourth cousin had discovered that both Thomas and Margaret Cuthbert had both been born in Scotland. Thomas in Bathgate. Margaret in Glasgow. At the same time, someone in the Upper Ottawa Valley Genealogical Group found Margaret's obituary in a search of their records for me, confirming that Margaret Ogilvy (Downie) Cuthbert had died at age 80 and that she was born in Glasgow, Scotland.
The family had moved to London, England, where Marion and some of her siblings were born. So my find from a few years ago was spot on.
We're Scottish. A small part Scottish, to be sure. After all, it's only my great-great-grandmother who is Scottish. But that's still 1/16.
My cousin also had some photos to share, including a group picture that includes my great-great-great-grandmother, a picture of my great-great-great-grandfather, and a picture of the Cuthbert family farm in Chalk River that had appeared in the newspaper.
He is a descendant of the gentleman at the left of the photo below, William Cuthbert, Margaret's son and Marions' brother. William took over the Cuthbert farm. What's kind of cool is that my cousin just recently bought the farm for himself and his family.
Margaret Ogilvie (Downie) Cuthbert, my great-great-great-grandmother with William Cuthbert's family
Thomas Cuthbert, my great-great-great-grandfather
the Cuthbert family farm
My grandfather, Joseph Palmeri, married my grandmother, Sarina Millonzi.
I knew my grandmother’s birth date. I was fairly sure that she was born in Sicily and came to the US as a little girl. I did not know my great-grandfather’s first name. He died when I was 5 years old. I remember my great-grandmother very well. She died when I was 19. I knew she went by the name of “Mela” and I thought that her maiden name was Parisi. The Millonzis came from a town in Sicily called “Montemaggiore”. But I knew little else.
With my monthly membership to ancestry.com in hand, I do a search for the Millonzi family.
Millonzi is not a common name, but a bunch of possibilities come up. After rejecting many, I find a New York Passenger List with my great-grandfather, great-grandfather, grandmother, and my uncle.
I see that my great-grandfather’s name is Rosario. It was incorrectly transcribed as Rosaria, a female name. So I submit a correction. It lists his age as 34, born abt 1886.
My great-grandmother’s full name was Carmela. Born in 1892.
My grandmother’s birth name was Rosaria. The diminutive for a small girl would be Rosarina. So that’s where Sarina came from. It says she was born abt 1916. But I know she was born in 1915.
Now I learn that my great-uncle Iggy (Ignatius) was also born in Sicily. He was only 1 month old. With a crossing to the US by ship taking a couple of weeks, either my great-grandparents immigrated with a newborn or he was born on the ship coming over.
It’s humbling to imagine my own family coming through Ellis Island. My great-grandparents, speaking no English at all, with my 4 year old grandmother and my infant uncle. They’re heading to Buffalo to join my great-grandfather’s brothers who came to the US years before.
Carmela (Parisi) Millonzi, Ida (Millonzi) Russo (infant), Iggy Millonzi, and Sarina (Millonzi) Palmeri, abt 1923.
My father thought that his grandfather died when I was little, so I figured that was probably the late 1960’s or early 1970’s. But I had nothing else to go on. I knew his name, I thought I knew where he was from, but I didn’t know his birth date, death date, or the name of my great-grandmother.
Having heard about ancestry.com, I thought I might give that a try. After creating a free membership, I did a search for “Angelo Palmeri” and “Buffalo” and some matches came up. With a free membership, ancestry lets you see the 1930 census but not much else. You need to pay to see more.
There he was. It’s cliché, I know, but I got chills seeing my grandfather and great-grandparents listed right there on a census record taken 80 years ago. Anyone who does genealogy knows that feeling. If for you these are just old lists of dead people, then you don’t do genealogy. For me, I had a new hobby.
It had his age (44). Given that it was the 1930 census, I figure he was born around 1885-1886. Cool. I also see that he was a naturalized US citizen. That would turn out to be important later.
Listed next to him was my 18 year old grandfather, Joseph Palmeri. I knew from my dad that he was an only child. Now I had a rough idea of my grandfather’s birth year. He was 18 years old in 1930, so that would mean he was born around 1911-1912. I also see that my grandfather was born in the United States.
And there was my great-grandmother. Mary. Now I had a first name. No last name. But that was something at least.
And oddly, right above them was a whole bunch of other Palmeris. Charles and Barbara and bunch of kids. Not only were they neighbors, but they were living in the same house. I knew there were a lot of other Palmeris in Buffalo and that we were somehow related to them, but I never knew how. So I call my dad. He says “Oh yeah, that’s uncle Chuck and Aunt Barbara. My grandparents lived in the same house with them. Don’t you remember going to their house when you were little? They had a big staircase with a really cool banister. You used to love it when I made you slide down it.” I had a vague memory of some house with a staircase and an old man giving me jelly beans, but nothing else. When my dad said that was probably when I was 2 or 3 years old, it made sense that my memory was so sparse. And I never heard of an uncle Chuck and Aunt Barbara until now.
My dad told me that these Palmeris were more than just cousins. Charles (Calogero in Italian) and Angelo, two brothers, married two sisters (Barbara and Maria). My dad tried, but he couldn’t really remember their maiden name. Maybe it was something like “Gembrone”, but that was the best he could do. Maybe someday I could find a relative of Charles and Barbara and find more information about the “Gembrone” family.