46c-D’Agosto and Carnicelli Families in America: Family and Work, Part 2


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

46c-1940 Giuseppe Carnicelli Fed Cen

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.

46c-1940 fed cen closeup giuseppe carnicelli

Close-up of entry for Joseph Carnicelli.

46c-1940 fed cen di luccio and gallo

Close-up of entries for Gennaro Gallo and Pasquale De Luccio.

46c-1940 Fed Cen Nicola Sarnicola

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:

Seattle PI

“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

Giuseppe Carnicelli
Source Citation
Year: 1940; Census Place: New York, Kings, New York; Roll: T627_2572; Page: 5A; Enumeration District: 24-1013
Source Information
Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2012.

Additional Reading

“Anthony Nixon talks about his shoe-shine business”
StarNews Online
By Kate Elizabeth Queram
Published: Sunday, September 11, 2011 at 12:30 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, September 9, 2011 at 12:28 p.m.


“Ethics of Shoe-Shine Pricing”
Posted March 24, 2011
The Business Ethics Blog
by Chris MacDonald, Ph.D.

Ethics of Shoe-Shine Pricing

“The Average Income of an Airport Shoe Shiner”
by Tom Streissguth, Demand Media


“Student Loan Debt Still Forcing Millennials to Delay Purchases of Cars and Houses”
By Ellen Chang Follow | 08/18/15 – 08:55 AM EDT
The Street


18 thoughts on “46c-D’Agosto and Carnicelli Families in America: Family and Work, Part 2

  1. I’m from Washington and have spent quite a bit of time in Seattle. It’s hard to imagine a shoe shiner making much income in Seattle shining shoes because it is always so wet all the time. I suppose stand location is everything. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  2. My great great grandfather was Matteo Giordano who married Raffaella D’Agusto. I traveled to Agropoli and was able to obtain copies of birth certificates. Does anyone have any more information about the Giordano family in Agropoli.?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hello, Vera. Nice to meet you and thanks for subscribing to our blog. I have checked my family tree. We do not have a Rafaella D’Agosto or Matteo Giordano in the direct bloodline or as relatives by marriage. We also do not have any paesani from the Giordano family. I’m sorry I cannot help you. Have you tried going over the charts at ImaginesMaiorum.net? The only other thing I can do is ask my cousin Michael Muro who travels to Italy several times a year. Can you please provide me with more information? Like the years of the marriage, dates of birth, the names of Matteo’s and Raffaella’s grandchildren and great-grandchildren? It’s a long shot but worth trying because at some point family and friendship did cross lines throughout Agropoli and our hometowns of Wilmerding and Brooklyn.


    • Vera, I am researching my cousin Rita Errico from my maternal line. Her paternal grandparents were:

      Paternal Grandfather: Constabile Errico, 1855-1919

      Paeternal Grandmother: Teresa Giordano

      I haven’t had the opportunity to look into this in any depth at this point. Does this help you in anyway? I have some tidbits about Vincenzo Errico but have nothing on Teresa Giordano Errico right now.


  3. One of the things I enjoy about reading your blog is the way you work together with your Uncle Sammy. How fortunate you are to have a family member to work with you and discuss all the records with. It must have created such a special bond!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I can’t imagine how anyone could make much from bring a shoe shiner now, but it might have been more important when you couldn’t shortcut by spraying shoes to protect them from rain, snow etc?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, I agree. Today we have many products available. Plus there are many alternatives to leather that do not require too much maintenance.

      I think the man mentioned in the news article and the one my Uncle saw at NAMIC had the benefit of an excellent location. Nordstroms is a high end department store. Yet the cost of a shine is still under $5 as the most recent reviews at Yelp! report. The owner of a shoe shine business might make the money from the other services offered like shoe repair, handbag zipper repair and other services I’m not aware of.

      I still can’t get over how my Grandpa Sam supported the family for over 15+ years doing this job. The census of 1940 says he made $1000 in 1939. That was considered a great salary. I do think he worked extremely long days plus he did so many other things at the Barber shop where his shoe shine stand was situated. Uncle Sammy said he was the go-to and go-fer of that shop.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Overall, though, I think the shoe shiner who does not own any business would still have a very hard time today. I can only think that since the salary is so low it would be necessary for other family members to work full time and contribute to the household.


  5. I keep coming back because this discussion is proving very helpful. I’m remembering things my Mom told me. The first generation in America often scrimped and saved money going only to the doctor and dentist when absolutely necessary. I think that even then the ability to buy a house came at a big sacrifice. It had to. Even though the prices of food and rent seem so low to us now it was all relative to the salaries paid back then. Plus the social safety net was just emerging in the 1940s.


    • Vous êtes les bienvenus Anita. Cette série a été un défi. Nous avons obtenu beaucoup d’informations officielles, mais nous n’avons aucune histoire familiale sur la façon dont ces hommes ont copié leurs bas salaires. Nos ancêtres immigrés se plaignaient rarement. Ils ont travaillé très fort et ont contribué à la société ici aux États-Unis. Je prie pour que les gens se souviennent de cela et gardez à l’esprit que tout le monde ici est le descendant des immigrants et que la plupart d’entre eux étaient d’origine très humble. J’apprécie votre soutien et votre enthousiasme.


      • You are welcome Anita. This series has been a challenge. We got a lot of official information, but we have no family history on how these men copied with their low wages. Our immigrant ancestors rarely complained. They worked very hard and have contributed to the society here in the United States. I pray that people will remember this and keep in mind that everyone here is the descendant of the immigrants and that most of them were of very humble origin. I appreciate your support and your enthusiasm


  6. Pingback: 46c-D’Agosto and Carnicelli Families in America: Family and Work, Part 3 | Through The Byzantine Gate

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