51-Serrapede Family in America April 18, 1931: It’s a girl! (Part 2)

(This posting is a continuation of 51-Serrapede Family in America April 18, 1931: It’s a girl! in which we considered the day Emily L. Serrapede was born and some of the issues she faced growing up as an Italian-American.  In this posting the discussion expands to experiences Uncle Sammy and I had.)

The Detail in the Birth Certificate that might point to an answer

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Close-up of the birth certificate.

I think I found a clue to Emily’s sensitivity regarding her ethnicity. Looking at her birth certificate I found the following: Color or Race-It. The It. means Italian.

Southern Italians were considered a race unto themselves. This was not in a good way. They were seen as incapable of joining the mainstream. An article from a 1914 edition of “The World’s Work” expresses sentiments held at that time about why this was so. It came down to this: Southern Italians were non-Caucasians. Therefore, the thinking went, they’ll never make it into the mainstream. In the 1910s the sentiment against Southern Italians was very negative. Their admission to this country was thought to have a detrimental effect on society. Census records list Italians as members of the Caucasian race but outside of their immigrant community the treatment was not always considerate or kind. When I was a child I was told by outsiders that we were “Wops” because our Grandparents were all here illegally. “Wop” meant “without passport.” Recently I’ve read it also could mean “White on paper.” Meaning for things like the census records Southern Italians were entered as Caucasian or White but in reality they were treated as “others”.

To what degree Emily experienced negative treatment I do not know. She never told me of any events in her life that would be a contributing factor to the strong show of emotions I witnessed when I did things like ask to get my ears pierced or why she wouldn’t teach me how to speak Italian as good as she did.

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51-Serrapede Family in America April 18, 1931: It’s a girl! (Part 1)

Introduction: Events around Brooklyn on April 18, 1931

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Close-up of page 1 of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle edition for April 18, 1931.

Weather forecast for April 18th-19th, 1931 in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle.

On Friday, April 18th, 1931 the Brooklyn Daily Eagle’s weather report stated that “at 8 a.m. the temperature in New York City was 52 degrees.” A milder day was ahead on Sunday, April 19th.

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Short news items from page 1 of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle.

Page one combined headline stories such as a crisis in Nicaragua and a movement by Catalonia to separate from Spain with many short news items that were not the stuff of headline news. They provided bits of information readers could discuss with their neighbors or co-workers. In Florida, Conkey P. Whitehead was being sued by a woman claiming breach of promise. Jack Guzik, a business manager for Chicago gangster Al Capone, pleaded guilty in Federal Court to income tax evasion. And in Brooklyn, New York restaurant owner Patrick White was taken to Greenpoint Hospital after a former employee punched him in the jaw.

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Mrs. John Krall of Queens is pictured with her three sets of twins on the day her youngest ones were baptized.

Page 2 featured a photo of Mrs. John Krall and her three sets of twins. Her latest pair was baptized on April 18th. Mrs. Krall had three other children not included in the photo. She lived in Middle Village, Queens. We know a family in Bath Beach, Brooklyn who were also celebrating a happy day on April 18, 1931. Sam and Josie Serrapede welcomed their first child, a girl, into the world. This baby girl’s birth never made it to the newspapers but in our family history it was big news.

The baby Josie and Sam named Emily Leatrice grew up to be Sammy’s big sister and my Mom. Her birth certificate provides many details that enable us to create a snap shot of what life was like at the time she was born.

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28a-Nicola Muro-From Agropoli to New York, 1901

Acknowledgements

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:

Muro

Taddeo

Rota

Ruocco

Pecora

Sarnicola

Cuoco

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.

 

Introduction

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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.

Nicola was:

  • 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

28a-nicola20muro-190120ship20passenger20list_zps0iwwvgozPassenger List of the Citta di Torino.

 Passenger No. 21

  1. Name in Full: Muro, Nicola
  2. Age: 19
  3. Sex: M
  4. Married or Single: Single
  5. Calling or Occupation: Handwriting is unclear. It looks like the word “country”.
  6. Able to read/write: No
  7. Nationality: Italian
  8. Last Residence: Agropoli
  9. Seaport for landing in US: New York
  10. Final destination in the U.S.: New York
  11. Whether having a ticket to final destination: Yes
  12. By whom was passage paid: Himself.
  13. How much money in possession: $10
  14. Whether ever before in the U.S.? No
  15. 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”.
  16. Ever in prison or alms house or supported by charity? No.
  17. Whether a polygamist? No.
  18. Whether under contract express or implied to work in the U.S.? No
  19. Condition of health, mental and physical: Good.
  20. 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.

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11e-The World’s Work, August 1914: To Keep Out Southern Italians

Here are screen shots of the second article from “The World’s Work” of May 1914 that inspired us to craft a response in the form of three letters to Gennaro Serrapede as featured in postings 11a, 11b and 11c..

Please note that the language in the following article is not acceptable by modern standards.  You need to view it from the point in time during which it was written in 1914.  Uncertainty, fear, confusion and outrage prompted calls for restriction on immigration.

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