Introduction (continued)

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Ship Passenger Arrival Records

At a meeting of the California Genealogical Society in San Francisco I learned that Ship Passenger Arrival Records are a good source of information for anyone who is working on family history because they contain a lot of data about each alien passenger. Since I didn't know the actual date that each of my parents emigrated to the U.S. I decided that this might be the way to resolve that nagging curiosity.

My curiosity had been heightened when we had visited the "comune", the municipal offices in Licodia Eubea, where we had found the original birth records for my two oldest brothers, Frank and Jim and the marriage record of my parents Salvatore and Rosalia. The record for Frank had my father's signature on it but the record for Jim did not. Instead it said that the father could not sign because he was far away. This was an important clue because now I knew that my father had started his journey to the U.S. sometime before my brother Jim was born on April 10th. But I still didn't know the exact date.

On April 29, 1997 I sent two separate requests to the National Archives for information about each of my parents. Much to my delight, on June 25 I got two envelopes with the requsted information. They sent me photo copies of the pages of the actual ship's manifests. One had the information on my father Salvatore's arrival on February 2, 1916 and the other had the data on my mother's arrival on February 20, 1920. (If the National Archives web site is not yet operational, their address is: National Archives And Records Administration, Attn: NWCTB, 700 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW., Washington, DC 20408-0001. They require you to use their Form 81 to order copies of Ship Passenger Records. You need one Form 81 for each individual or family group. Be sure to tell them how many copies of Form 81 you need.)

The records show that my father Salvatore, sailed from Palermo on January 18, 1916 on the SS Patria and arrived at the Port of New York on February 2, 1916 (his 30th birthday). The manifest lists his age as 29 which leads me to believe that the data was recorded some time before the ship actually arrived in New York otherwise he would have said he was 30. I was surprised to see that his occupation was listed as "carpenter" since my father was always careful to describe his occupation as "ebanista" which is correctly translated as "cabinet maker".

My mother Rosalia and my older brothers Frank and Jim, together with my aunt Antoinette sailed from Palermo aboard the SS Europa on February 3, 1920 and arrived at the port of New York on February 20, 1920. Salvatore Dieli at 71 Morgan Street in Hartford is listed as the name and address of the relative they were going to join. It also shows that my mother gave her place of birth as Caltagirone and the place of birth of the children as Licodia Eubea. My aunt Antoinette (Antonina on the manifest) gave her place of birth as Caltagirone and listed Concetta Recca (my grandmother) as her closest relative in Sicily.

I had known that my mother had been an orphan who had been raised in Caltagirone. But I had not known about the earthquake and tsunamis of Messina - Reggio. Now I suspect that she was one of the children orphaned by the Messina - Reggio earthquake of 1908. So the information recorded on the ship's manifest did not resolve my nagging curiosity and my hope that I may be able to trace my mother's family history. A task that has yet to be acomplished.

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Last updated Sunday, May 14, 2006