The charts of descent from ImaginesMaiorum-Ancestors of Campania were used to research details about families appearing in this series of postings. To view these charts please click on the surname to open a new navigation window to the site. We thank Anthony Vermandois for making this valuable data available.
In Part 1 of 46c-D’Agosto and Carnicelli Families in America: Work and Family we learned about the relationships between Giuseppe D’Agosto and his cousins Joseph and Anthony. They were his first cousins through his maternal line.
In 1925 Joseph appears as a member of Giuseppe D’Agosto’s family who lived in an apartment in Brooklyn. Joseph’s marital status is entered as “Married” but no wife appears with him in the census record. Initially Uncle Sammy and I thought that Joseph’s job as a shoe shiner may not have enabled him to support a family. We wondered if his marriage suffered some financial strain.
Further research at ImaginesMaiorum provided details into the pain and loss Joseph Carnicelli suffered during the years of his first and second marriages.
Personal sadness: Losing a spouse in 1919 and again in 1924
Joseph’s first marriage was to Anna Communale. She was born on June 3rd, 1890 to Costabile and Giovanna (nee Ruocco) Comunale. There is no date for the marriage. Joseph and Anna’s son Saverio was born in 1914. Anna died in Agropoli on June 21, 1919. We do not know the reasons why baby Saverio does not appear with Giuseppe’s other children in the records of his second marriage.
Francesca Margiotta was Joseph’s second wife. She was born on April 1, 1895 to Luigi and Anna (nee Ciao) Margiotta. Francesca had three children by Joseph: Vincent (b. 1921), Anna (b. 1923) and Raphael (b. 1924). She died on December 15, 1924.
The 1925 New York State Census page on which Joseph Carnicelli appears as a member of the D’Agosto household was dated June 1, 1925. His marital status is entered as “M” for married. Given that Francesca died on December 15, 1924 we think that Joseph did not observe the traditional period of 1 year of mourning before marrying again. He had three young children to care for. We think at the time of the New York State Census, Joseph’s third wife was in Agropoli waiting to come to America.
The story in the details of the 1940 Federal Census
The 1940 Federal Census entry for family of Joseph Carnicelli.
The 1940 Federal Census contains the same data available at Imagines Maiorum. Joseph’s third wife was entered to the census as Eleanor. At ImaginesMaiorum she appears as Eleonora. Both sources give her year of birth as 1895. The only difference we found is that at Imagines Maiorum Joseph’s fourth child Antoinette, born in 1928, is listed as the daughter of Joseph’s second wife Francesca. Since Francesca died in 1924 this has to be a transcription error which we will notify Anthony about.
In 1940 Joseph is still working as a Bootblack at a bootblack stand. Eleanor was a working Mom. She was employed as a sewing machine operator in a factory that made doll dresses. Joseph’s employment status is “PW” meaning he was a paid employee. He is entered as a part owner of the six family home at 1266 65th Street. This is the building Uncle Sammy remembered as the place where Julia Carnicelli lived. A review of the other 6 families in the building did not turn up Julia but we noticed something else as we went down the entries for the families in the building:
List of Tenants at 1266 65th Street
-Nicola and Josephine Sarnicola and family.
Nicola was a part owner of a Bootblack concession on a ferry boat.
-Pasquale and Isabella Di Luccio and family.
Pasquale worked as a Bootblack at a Concession on a ferry boat. He is entered as working on his own account.
-Gennaro and Letizia Gallo and family.
Gennaro’s job, place of employement and status of employment is the same as Pasquale’s.
-John and Mary Pino.
-Louis and Mary Schanier.
Nicola Sarnicola was an entrepreneur even though the word was not in common usage the way it is today. Uncle Sammy and I think that Joseph Carnicelli worked on the ferry along with Nicola, Pasquale and Gennaro. There were many ferry lines in Brooklyn and Manhattan during the 1940s. Having an available stream of commuters each morning and evening increased the possible flow of cash into the business during the week.
Close-up of entry for Joseph Carnicelli.
Close-up of entries for Gennaro Gallo and Pasquale De Luccio.
Close-up of entry for Nicola Sarnicola.
Another sign that Joseph Carnicelli’s hard work paid off is given by another detail in the 1940 Federal Census. Joseph was part owner of 1266 65th Street. The other co-owners were Nicola Sarnicola and Pasquale De Luccio.
Joseph Carnicelli only had a 5th grade education. He worked at a job many college educated Americans with high aspirations would not even think of doing today. Yet despite his limited education, he achieved the American dream of a job that paid him enough to own property and provide a stable home life for his children and wife. His endurance through the losses of his younger years tells us he had the stamina and determination to make contributions that improved the lives of his family. As a homeowner he put down roots in the Italian-American community of Dyker Heights. By mid-life he had achieved success that today is elusive for middle class, college educated Americans.
Discussion with Uncle Sammy on Sunday, December 6, 2015 11 a.m. – 11:45 a.m.
We discussed how it is still possible for a person to start out as a bootblack and turn the job into a lucrative business. Much has to do with planning, credit, financial backing and creative thinking.
In 2013, the National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies (NAMIC) held their annual convention in Seattle. NAMIC provided complimentary shoe shines to all attendees. The founder of the shoe shine service is Morgan Perkins. At the convention he told his story about how he started out with a concession at Nordstrom’s flagship store in downtown Seattle. As he reputation grew so did his business. Today the family owned shoe shine business has grown to include other locations.
We recommend reading about Mr. Perkins in an article at SeattlePI.com The link to the article is:
“Nordstroms sells shoes, but shoeshining family keeps them looking good”
By Andrea James, P-I Reporter
Updated 10:00 pm, Sunday, September 23, 2007
Sam Serrapede, Sr. (Uncle Sammy’s Dad and my maternal Grandpa) supported his family by working as a bootblack during the Great Depression. In the mid-1940s Sam worked as a bootblack on a ferry just the way Joseph Carnicelli did. There were many ferry lines running from Brooklyn to Staten Island and Manhattan. Uncle Sammy thinks Sam, Sr. worked the ferry line from Brooklyn to New York. The family’s income was supplemented by Josie (Sam’s wife and Sammy’s Mom) working as a sewing machine operator who did piece work at home or worked at small factories run by contractors who set up shop along 13th Avenue in Dyker Heights.
1940 Federal Census
Year: 1940; Census Place: New York, Kings, New York; Roll: T627_2572; Page: 5A; Enumeration District: 24-1013
Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2012.
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