52b-Serrapede Family in America: The Great Depression-$120 a month (Part 1b)

Introduction

This posting concludes the topic we began in 52b-Serrapede Family in America: The Great Depression-$120 a month (part 1a).  In that posting we considered the nature of the work shoe shiners did and how much they may have earned.  When the posting concluded we made note of how the young American boys who did this work faced competition from the waves of immigrants coming from Europe at the start of the 20th century.  Many members of our immediate and extended family worked as boot blacks after arriving from Italy.

We now turn our attention to some of the ways bootblacks worked throughout Manhattan.  Then Uncle Sammy and I share our family stories and discussion at the conclusion of this posting.

Relationship Notes

Sam Serrapede was born in Agropoli, Campania, Salerno Italy.  He immigrated to the U.S. in the late 1920s.  In 1930 he married Josie Muro.  The newlyweds made their home in Dyker Heights, Brooklyn, N.Y.  Sam worked as a shoe shiner during the 1930s through the late 1940s.

Sam was the Father of:
*Emily Leatrice Serrapede
*Gerald (“Gerry”, Gennaro) Serrapede
*Sabbatino (Sammy) Serrapede

Sam was the maternal Grandfather of:  EmilyAnn Frances May

Bootblacks around New York City during the Great Depression

This shoe shiner waits for a customer on the corner of 14th Street and 8th Avenue in New York City.  He’s set up his station outside of the New York Savings Bank.  The sign above him contains a quote from Disraeli which says, “The secret of success in life is for a man to be ready for his opportunity when it comes.”

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The shoe shiner outside the New York Savings bank got a customer.  He is located in a good spot next to the entrance of a subway station.  The set-up is very simple and would not cost much to keep up.  However, the customer getting his shoes shined would not be very comfortable since the chair is very small.  To have an edge over other shoe shiners in the area this man would have to have better supplies or a better technique.

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This shoe shiner was working near Union Square, another busy area.  Judging by the background he may have been near the park.  Union Square is also in the vicinity of 14th Street and is close to a subway station making it an ideal place to attract customers.  This shoe shine station is more elaborate.  It might have attracted more customers than the one of the shoe shiner on 8th Avenue because the bench has a higher back and the awning provides some shade during a bright day.

A study of the photographs makes you realize that if these shoe shiners were working on their own their ability to earn a steady income was impacted by weather conditions.  Another down side to working outdoors was the vulnerability to pickpockets and thieves.  The shoe shine operation needed a steady location in order to cultivate relationships with clients.  How the matter of where the shoe shiner worked outdoors was not described in any of our readings.  It’s possible that the shoe shiner had to get permission to work outside of a business like New York Savings Bank.  There were most likely licensing requirements and fees to be paid.

An independent shoe shiner would also have operating costs for the upkeep of his stand and supplies.  The shoe shiners in these photos may have been working for a service that provided the station and the supplies.  Even so, working outdoors had its drawbacks.  Better locations would be indoors at such locations as Grand Central Station, the Staten Island Ferry Terminal or a local barber shop.

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47-Giuseppe D’Agosto in New York-A young man with a job and a passport

Acknowledgement

The chart of descent for the D’Agosto family, available at ImaginesMaiorum, Ancetors from Campania, was used to provide information about the date of Giuseppe D’Agosto’s marriage. We thank Anthony Vermandois for making the results of his genealogical research available at his website.

Introduction

47-giuseppe20dagosto20in20new20york-192320passport20photo20close-up_zps6i3sivbo

Close-up of Giuseppe D’Agosto’s photo affixed to the application for a passport in 1923.

Giuseppe D’Agosto is related to Uncle Sammy and me by marriage. He was the husband of Filomena Serrapede D’Agosto. Filomena was the elder sister of Sabato Serrapede who was Sammy’s Dad and EmilyAnn’s maternal Grandfather. This makes Giuseppe and Filomena D’Agosto:

  • Uncle Sammy’s paternal Uncle and Aunt.
  • EmilyAnn’s Great Uncle and Aunt along her maternal line.

In this posting we share the discovery the 1920 Federal Census brought us once we learned who Giuseppe was working for. Of all the relatives we’ve studied so far he is the first we know of who became a civil service employee. He achieved much and went far in the 7 years after he came to the United States in 1913.

What was the DSC?

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Close-up of 1920 Federal Census entry for the Gibaldi family.

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46c-D’Agosto and Carnicelli Families in America: Family and Work, Part 3

Acknowledgement

Genealogist Anthony Vermandois has researched families of the Campania region in Italy. We have used the charts of descent for several families in Agropoli who appear in Parts 1-3 of the posting 46c-D’Agosto and Carnicelli Families in America: Family and Work. To view the source information for these families, please click on a surname below. A new browser window will open and navigate to the page for that family.

Carnicelli

D’Agosto

Romaniello

Introduction

Uncle Sammy grew up on 65th Street between 12th and 13th Avenues during the 1940s and 1950s. As we reviewed records for his Uncle Giuseppe D’Agosto we discovered a connection to members of the Carnicelli family who immigrated to America and settled in Dyker Heights and lived on 65th Street. Uncle Sammy asked me to find out if the Julia Carnicelli he remembers from his childhood was related to Giuseppe D’Agosto.

At last, we find Julia

The search for Julia Carnicelli first led us to learn about her brother-in-law Joseph Carnicelli who was featured in Part 1 and Part 2 of this series.

At ImaginesMaiorum, we found Julia entered as Giulia Romaniello, wife of Antonio Carnicelli. Antonio was Joseph’s younger brother. After his arrival in America he was known as Anthony. Anthony was born in Agropoli on January 22 1907. He immigrated to the United States in 1930 and became a citizen after that.

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46c-D’Agosto and Carnicelli Families in America: Family and Work, Part 1

Acknowledgement

We acknowledge and thank genealogist Anthony Vermandois for the work he has done researching the families of Agropoli and other towns in Campania, Italy. The information he has gathered is presented through charts of descent at Imagines Maiorum. To access the particular charts for the families featured in posting 46c parts 1-3, click on the surnames that follow. A new screen will open and navigate to the page for that surname at Anthony’s site.

Carnicelli

D’Agosto

Romaniello

Margiotta

Comunale

Taddeo

Relationship Notes

Filomena Serrapede was the eldest sister of Sabato Serrapede who was Sammy’s father and EmilyAnn’s maternal Grandfather. She married Giuseppe D’Agosto in 1923.

This made Filomena and Giuseppe D’Agosto:

–Sammy’s paternal Aunt and Uncle
–EmilyAnn’s Great Aunt and Uncle along her maternal line.

Introduction

During our initial research about Giuseppe D’Agosto, we learned that his mother was Raffaela Carnicelli. Uncle Sammy mentioned that as he was growing up the Carnicelli family who lived on 65th Street were paesanos of our family. Since many first generation families from Agropoli settled close to each other in Brooklyn, he wondered if they were our relatives. In particular, Uncle Sammy remembered a Julia Carnicelli who he thought lived in a multi-family dwelling where the other Carnicelli paesanos lived.

This set me on a search for Julia that was almost like following a fairy as she flew here and there leading me through the garden as I gathered flowers. Only I was actually gathering data that came together to tell a story not only about Julia, but her husband, brother-in-law and Giuseppe D’Agosto. The story is in the details and there are many. To avoid overwhelming the reader we have broken the posting into three parts. Part 1 will focus on Giuseppe D’Agosto and how he was related to Joseph and Anthony Carnicelli. We will also learn about Giuseppe’s life after his marriage in 1923 to Filomena Serrapede.

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33-Muro Family in America: Wilmerding, a company town

Introduction

 Nick Muro was a shoemaker in his home town of Agropoli, in Salerno province of Italy. In 1900 he made his first trip to the United States when he was 18 years old. He returned to Agropoli for his marriage to Letizia Scotti in 1909. Sometime after that he returned to the United States. In 1912 Letizia came to the United States with their 2 1/2 year old daughter, Josie. The family settled in Wilmerding, PA.

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 “Arrival of the workmen.”
The train station is in East Pittsburgh. George Westinghouse began his business in Pittsburgh.
Library of Congress, public domain.

 Wilmerding was established as a company town by George Westinghouse, Jr. He was the inventor of the air brake which revolutionized rail travel and safety. His first company was located in Pittsburgh. Wilmerding was estabished as the demand for the air brake increased. Mr. Westinghouse wanted to attract the very best workers possible and instill in them loyalty to his company. His company, the Westinghouse Air Brake Company, would be the main employer and benefactor in Wilmerding. Westinghouse ensured that his workers had access to housing, education and recreational facilities as the town prospered and expanded.

George Westinghouse’s vision was of benefit to the Muro family. Within 10 years of settling in the country Nick secured full-time employment at the factory. Talk of WAB Co. was always part of the visits to Wilmerding when I was a child in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Uncle Sammy remembers it during his childhood in the 1940s and 1950s, too.

This posting presents a brief overview on what a company town was like and why they were formed. We will also present some highlights from the life of George Westinghouse. The concluding section consists of a summary of a 1904 news article on the pros and cons of living in Wilmerding.

Relationship note: Nick and Letizia Muro were Sammy’s maternal Grandparents and EmilyAnn’s Great-Grandparents on her maternal line.

Josie was Sammy’s Mom and EmilyAnn’s maternal Grandma.

What was a company town and why was it formed?

Company towns were situated in distant locations. To attract a talented and stable workforce the employer provided housing, schools, recreational facilities and retails shops in the town. There would be only one employer in the town who hired employees for the main business as well as contractors and those who provided services in the shops the company owned in town.

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32a-Muro Family in America: A new life awaits

Introduction

Nicola Muro travelled to and from America during the period 1900 to about 1909.  He networked with friends and relatives from his hometown of Agropoli to secure employment and familiarize himself with the best place to settle prior to his marriage in 1909.  On August 9, 1912 Nicola’s wife Letizia and daughter Giuseppina landed in New York.  They then travelled to Wilmerding, Pennsylvania where a new life awaited them with Nicola.

For this posting we focused on the conditions in Italy and Pennsylvania during the period 1911-1912.  This informal overview gave us some insights into the circumstances that were in play during the time the family decided to immigrate.  Although this was an informal process we gleaned enough information to better appreciate the willingness the family had to make a new home for themselves in America.

We have pulled information from a wide variety of sources since each one vividly conveys the mood and impression of what was going on in Italy and America at the time.  This is followed by our discussion notes that include our insights from this week’s readings.

Relationship Notes

Nicola and Letizia Muro were Sammy’s maternal Grandparents and EmilyAnn’s Great-Grandparents.

Giuseppina Muro married Sabato Serrapede in 1930.  She was Sammy’s Mom and EmilyAnn’s maternal Grandmother.

Americanization of the Italian birth Names

Beginning in this posting, we will start calling our family members by the names they used in America.  We believe it is in keeping with the new life and identity they made here.  These are also the names everyone knew them by.

Nicola became Nick Muro.
Giuseppina (a/k/a Giuseppa in Italy) was always known as Josie after coming to the U.S.

Overview – Italians in Pennsylvania

• The earliest Italian immigrants to Pennsylvania came from Northern Italy in the late 17th-early 18th centuries.  Many settled in the Philadelphia area.

o The Northern Italian immigrants were well-educated and from the middle and upper classes.

• In the 1860s, Americans supported the struggle of the Risorgimento movement in Italy.  The Risorgimento, under such leaders as Giuseppe Garibaldi, sought the unification of Italy into one nation.  America was in the midst of the Civil War at this time and understood the spirit Garibaldi represented.

• After Unification, Southern Italians were worse off than before.  The new Italian government favored the industrialized North.  As a result immigration from Southern Italy to the U.S. increased after 1870.

• The Southern Italian immigrants followed a different pattern of settlement than the Northern Italians.  Some did go to Philadelphia to work or live.  But many more headed to Pittsburgh and the smaller industrial towns in the Pittsburgh area.

• The social identity and culture of Italian immigrants were defined by the town in Italy from which they came.

o If many immigrants from the same town settled in an area they could become a self-sustaining “Little Italy” in a bigger city.

o In the smaller industrial towns there might be some isolation which heightened the feeling of separation from mainstream American life.

o The smaller towns also had a diverse mix of other Europeans.  Unless the Italian immigrant had family or paesani from the same village living close by they would have a more difficult time adjusting.

• Italian immigrants in big cities and small towns banded together to form fraternal societies.  They offered a limited form of life insurance, health insurance, death benefits and job search assistance.

o In time the members of these mutual aid societies joined forces with organized labor as more Italian immigrants went to work in the factories where labor organizing took place.

• The Catholic Church was another important part of the Italian immigrant’s life.

o The Italian immigrants did not want to worship at churches where Catholic Irish priests ministered due to the cultural and linguistic differences.

o This led to establishment of parishes focused on the needs of the immigrants.  These were called nationality parishes.

• In an effort to help Italians form their own unique identity in America, the fraternal societies organized celebrations commemorating the feast days honoring patron saints of the hometown where the immigrants came from.

o There were also parades honoring notable Italians such as Christopher Columbus as a means to foster cultural pride and a positive image of the emerging Italian-American.

• Of all Italian immigrants who came to Pennsylvania during the period 1870-1914 71% settled in the small towns rather than the large cities of Pittsburgh and Philadelphia.

o These smaller towns were called company towns because they grew around a factory or mine that was the main source employment.

• Italian immigrants avoided programs run by outside organizations that offered assistance accompanied by efforts to “Americanize” them.  They turned instead to family, paesani and the fraternal societies within their own communities.

We will see some of these factors at work as we begin our journey into the early years of the Muro family when they settled in Wilmerding, PA.

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11g-Back in New York City-Did Cousin Sabato Serrapede become businessman Sabato Sarrapere? (part 2)

We continue our investigation into what happened to our Cousin Sabato Serrapede after he came to New York.  For the background please see part 1 of this posting.  With the discovery of the naturalization papers of a Mr. Sabato Sarrapere we have to consider if these are two different people or if Cousin Sabato changed his surname after coming to New York…

Sabato Sarrapere:  The story contained in his Naturalization papers

Complete Petition for Naturalization for Sabato Sarrapere.

Close-up of the top of Sabato’s Petition for Naturalization.

Close-up of the Petition for Naturalization with the story of the fraudulent certificate.

The Petition gives an estimated Date of Birth for Sabato of September 27, 1868.  He was born in Agropoli and came to the United States on the SS Brittania on September 27, 1888.  Although this date differs from the Britannia Passenger List our search turned up we think it is a mistake on the Petition.  Sabato’s date of birth is also entered as on or about September 27, 1868 which differs slightly from the date of September 16, 1868 which appears at ImaginesMaiorum.

The story of the fraudulent Certificate of Naturalization states that:

“This petitioner was in possession of a fraudulent certificate of naturalization purporting to have been issued by the United States District Court, Eastern District of New York, October 27, 1893.  Said paper was surrendered and duly cancelled October 27, 1903, and this petitioner is permitted to reapply for naturalization by an order signed and entered, on notice to the United States District Attorney, in the office of the Clerk of the District Court of the United States, Southern District of New York, March 1, 1907.”

I held hope at this point that there might still be more factual data available to find a link between Cousin Sabato Serrapede and Sabato Sarrapere.

Overview of Sabato Sarrapere’s life

According to the Petition for Naturalization, in 1907 Sabato Sarrpere was living at 43 Mott Street with his wife Arcangela (nee Aloise) Sarrapere.  Their children were:

Rosina, Sept. 30, 1898
Carmela, Aug. 9, 1900
Gennaro, Nov. 29, 1902
Ronato, May 7, 1904
Giuseppe, Sept. 13, 1906

All the children were born in New York City.

1905 NYS Census.

Two years earlier, the NYS Census enumerator visited the Sarrapere family.  Again the name is misspelled, this time as Sarrapieda.  The family had a boarder named Antonio Corrento living with them.  Sabato’s profession is described as laborer.

Our next breakthrough came with the discovery of Mr. Sarrapere’s real estate transactions.

Note:  Uncle Sammy said that the Correnti family of 1166-65th Street were friends with the first generation of the Serrapede family.  The name Corrento, however, is not familiar to us.

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