We have used the database created by Anthony Vermandois at Imagines Maiorum to research several families for this posting. Please click on the surname to go to the webpage for that family’s charts of descent:
In order to create a snapshot of what the atmosphere in America was like regarding immigration in the U.S. during the time period this posting covers we used material provided by various U.S. government websites. The ship’s passenger list was from Ancestry. All links are provided in the Resources section.
Pedigree Chart for Nicola Muro.
Nicola Muro left Naples on March 26, 1901 aboard the SS. Citta di Torino and arrived in New York City on April, 13, 1901.
He was a young man, 19 years of age and coming to the United States for the first time. We wanted to know what the conditions in the U.S. were like for Nicola so we did some quick look-ups of the expenses he would encounter in 1901. Given that he only had $10 we think he needed to find work if he planned on staying for a long time.
We then reviewed the ship’s passenger list and compared the names of other passengers from Agropoli to Anthony’s charts of descent. We wanted to know if Nicola was travelling alone or with relatives.
- Sammy’s maternal Grandfather
- EmilyAnn’s Great Grandfather
Passenger List of the Citta di Torino-Questions and Answers upon arriving in New York City: Nicola Muro
Passenger List of the Citta di Torino.
Passenger No. 21
- Name in Full: Muro, Nicola
- Age: 19
- Sex: M
- Married or Single: Single
- Calling or Occupation: Handwriting is unclear. It looks like the word “country”.
- Able to read/write: No
- Nationality: Italian
- Last Residence: Agropoli
- Seaport for landing in US: New York
- Final destination in the U.S.: New York
- Whether having a ticket to final destination: Yes
- By whom was passage paid: Himself.
- How much money in possession: $10
- Whether ever before in the U.S.? No
- Whether going to join a relative and if so what relative, their name and address? The handwriting is faint and unclear. The words appear to state “with Cousin” or “with Cuoco”.
- Ever in prison or alms house or supported by charity? No.
- Whether a polygamist? No.
- Whether under contract express or implied to work in the U.S.? No
- Condition of health, mental and physical: Good.
- Deformed or crippled? No.
Nicola stated that he was not here to seek work. All the passengers replied in the same fashion. The ship’s passenger list does not contain a clearly written destination for Nicola in New York City.
Our family stories for Nicola’s life in the U.S. always began with his arrival in Wilmerding shortly after his first daughter Giuseppa was born. We estimated the arrival year for the family as 1911. This new discovery provides insights into the preparations Nicola made prior to bringing his wife and baby daughter over.
We always were told that life in Agropoli was difficult and the family was poor. So we are very reluctant to believe that Nicola just came to the U.S. for a vacation.
Review of the Passenger List
Close-up of the passenger list for the Citta di Torino.
We compared the other passengers from Agropoli who appear on the passenger list after Nicola. We estimated a year of birth based on their ages and then searched for matches amongst the charts of descent at Imagines Maiorum. This is what we found:
Passenger No. 22: Michele Taddeo, age 21.
Est. Yr. of Birth: 1879
Possible match at Imagines Maiorum: Michele Taddeo, born 1880 to Francesco and Anna Maria (nee Sarnicola) Taddeo.
Immigration Info at Imagines Maiorum? No.
Passenger No. 23: Antonio Rota, age 23
Est Yr. of Birth: 1878
Possible match at Imagines Maiorum: Son of Giosefat and Antonia (nee Pecora) Rota. Their son Antonio was born in 1877.
Immigration Info at Imagines Maiorum? No.
Passenger No. 24: Vito Ruocco, age 25
Est Yr. of Birth: 1875
Possible match at Imagines Maiorum: Son of Pietro and Luigia (nee Pecora) Ruocco, born 1876.
Immigration Info at Imagines Maiorum? Yes. Anthony has noted “1901” but there is no Ship information for 1901 trip. There is information on the dates and ships for trips in 1904 and 1905.
Passenger No. 25: Carmine Pecora, age 24
Est Yr. of Birth: 1876
Possible match at Imagines Maiorum: Son of Carmine and *Concetta (nee di Muoio) Pecora, born 1876.
*Concetta married Carmine Pecora on April 23, 1870.
This makes Carmine Pecora the half-brother of Pietro Sarnicola.
Immigration Info at Imagines Maiorum? Yes. The 1901 trip is not listed but there is information on the ship lines and dates for voyage on 9/21/1906.
Passenger No. 26: Pietro Sarnicola, age 24
Est Yr. of Birth: 1876
Possible match at Imagines Maiorum: Son of Francesco and *Concetta (nee di Muoio) Sarnicola, born 1878.
*Concetta married Francesco Sarnicola on December 9, 1876.
This makes Pietro Sarnicola the half-brother of Carmine Pecora.
Immigration Info at Imagines Maiorum? No.
Passenger No.27: Gaetano Cuoco, age 47
Est Yr. of Birth: 1853
Possible match at Imagines Maiorum: Son of Arcangelo and Maria (nee Scotti) Cuocco, born 1853.
Immigration Info at Imagines Maiorum? Yes, immigrated on Citta di Torino and arrived on April 13, 1901.
Several of the men listed here do not have immigration data at Imagines Maiorum. We are sending the ship’s manifest along with our look-ups to Anthony so he can review.
Using the names and addresses listed in the lighter ink on the Passenger List
This passenger list was a challenge for us to review. First, there are the answers written in dark ink which do not provide specific names and addresses at the passenger’s final destination. Second, another set of answers with names, addresses and what appears to be city names was written in. We decided to place the passenger names and destinations closer together by taking screen shots from the passenger list and placing them side by side. If we got any further information about any of these 7 men we would compare that information with what Anthony had in their chart of descent.
Passenger list with names and final destinations spliced together.
From this exercise we derived the following information:
Passenger Name Name and address of person at destination
Muro, Nicola ………. illegible
Taddeo, Michele ……bro (the rest is illegible)
Rota Antonio ……… too faint to read
Ruocco, Vito ………….(illegible), Coney Island
Sarnicola, Pietro………. —
Cuoco, Gaetano ……… son, Arcangelo, 57 James Street
We could not locate any information for Vito Ruocco’s possible stay at Coney Island but our next look-up for Gaetano Cuoco at ImaginesMaiorum proved very productive. We learned that Gaetano Cuoco:
- Married Carmela Giordano on February 7, 1880 in Agropoli.
- His son Arcangelo was born in 1884.
- Arcangelo immigrated to the U.S. in 1897. He made subsequent trips to the U.S. in 1906, 1919 and 1924. Arcangelo was naturalized in 1924 and lived in Wilmerding. At some point he returned to Italy where he died in Agropoli in 1958.
We also reviewed Nicola’s siblings, their dates of marriage and spouses. Nicola’s sister Filomena Muro was married to Carmine Pecora on October 8, 1898. We think there is a strong possibility that the Carmine Pecora on this passenger list is Nicola’s brother-in-law.
Expenses in New York City in the Period 1900-1902
We present here the list of expenses of food, clothing and rent gathered from the websites listed in the Resources section. When a range of prices exists we’ve given the lowest and highest amounts we found.
- Average salary for a man employed full-time: $438-591 per year.
(This is the general salary. Specific professions made more or less than this.)
- A complete outfit for a man: A three piece suit, dress shirt, overcoat and hat would cost a total of $32 on average.
- Rent on a 3-4 room apartment: $4-7 per month in 1901. $10-12 per month in 1902.
- Butter….26 cents per lb.
- Rice……..07 cents per lb.
- Flour…..12 cents per 5 lb. bag
- Milk……….14 cents per half gallon
- Eggs……..23 cents per dz.
We do not think the $10 which Nicola had when he arrived in New York City would have lasted long enough to make his trans-Atlantic crossing worthwhile. This is why we think he entered the country legally as a tourist and then through family and friends obtained employment off the books wherever and whenever possible.
Nicola came to America at a time when the Federal Government began to tighten the requirements for admission
Summary of American Immigration Policy 1900-1917
- The federal government began to enforce its authority over all immigration issues beginning with passage of the Immigration Act of 1891.
- The federal government formed the Immigration Service and opened Ellis Island on January 2, 1892. Now classes of desirable and undesirable immigrants were established. Tighter controls were enforced to eliminate undesirables such as those with criminal records or contagious diseases. The expenses for deportation were billed to the shipping line that brought such immigrants here.
- Boards of Inquiry were set up beginning in 1893 to consider whether or not to admit immigrants who had no means of support or a sponsor in this country. Sometimes they were granted admission if an immigrant aid society agreed to take responsibility or if someone could post bond.
- The top priority of the immigration laws of the 1900s was to protect American workers and their jobs. In 1903 the Immigration Service was transferred from the Treasury Department to the newly created Department of Commerce and Labor.
- Prior to 1906 each state had its own immigration policy set by the state level courts. With such a variance in requirements from state to state it was difficult to verify an immigrant’s true status. The Basic Naturalization Act of 1906 was a major development towards a uniform path towards citizenship which continued to evolve as the 1910s advanced.
–Our notes summarizing the information at the official website of the Dept. of Homeland Security.
(see Resources section for link)
After 1911 the movement towards tighter controls over immigration and emigration was in progress:
- A report was publicized in 1911 by the Dillingham Commission recommending limitations on immigration. Southern Europeans such as the Italians from Naples and Agropoli were considered a threat to the American society. This commission was established by Congress to study the long term effects of immigration. The results of the Commission’s reports led to development of a more restrictive immigration policy as the 1920s began.
–Our notes summarizing the entries for 1911 at Harvard University Library Open Collections Program. (See Resources section for link)
Discussion with Uncle Sammy on Sunday, June 14, 2015 11 a.m. to
My Uncle and I discussed the travel patterns of our ancestors from Agropoli. They have the following characteristics in common:
- One or two male relatives from a family travel together and get established in New York City, Brooklyn or Wilmerding.
- That individual prepares a place to live and then acts as the contact point for the other male relatives coming over.
- Each man travelling from Agropoli tells immigration that he is not in the United States to seek work.
- The new arrivals have only $10-15 on average in cash when they arrive. There are occasions where the traveler from Agropoli has more money, such as Gaetano Cuoco did on the 1901 trip aboard the Citta di Torino. He had $66 in cash which was a considerable sum at the time. This, however, is the exception and not the usual amount we have seen so far.
- New York City was usually the first stop. From there the relatives would move on to relatives established in the cities mentioned in Point no. 1.
These are the features of a Bird of Passage. What we have not been successful at locating answers to our questions:
- What were the specific immigration policies in place during the first two decades during which the number of Southern Italians travelling to and from the U.S. increased?
- If a person entered legally by means of a tourist visa what happened if they were caught working off the books?
- What percentage of companies legally hired Birds of Passage?
- What percentage of jobs performed by Birds of Passage off the books?
- In the communities where Italians and Sicilians congregated such as Wilmerding, PA and New York City’s Little Italy, were there underground networks that provided the immigrants jobs? If so what kind of jobs were they?
We would welcome any additional information that will help us get a better picture of the situation in which our immigrant ancestors were placed when they came to work in this country.
One’s attitudes towards matters of immigration changes very much when one considers the possible course of action their ancestors had to resort to in order to get started. It is possible that out of sheer necessity and a strong desire to establish a pathway to bring the rest of the family Nicola came here legally as a tourist but then had to resort to working off the books in order to have the money to eventually bring his wife and daughter to America.
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Harvard University Library Ope Collections Program
Facts and Figures
Income and Prices 1900-1999
US Diplomatic Mission to Germany
This website consists of a collection of data about the United States.
Housing and Expenses in Tenement Apartments, NYC
1870s, 1890s and some 1900s
How much did things cost in 1900?
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
Early American Immigration Policies
Blog: Going Places, 1898-1920
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