84 years ago

Our weekend trip to New York City was wonderful! The hubster and I enjoyed ourselves very much in spite of the sweltering heat and humidity.

The highlight of the trip for me, along with seeing “Fiddler On The Roof” on Broadway, was going to Ellis Island.

Ellis Island
Originally uploaded by philippaalan.

“Why was this was a highlight?” you ask. The reason is my paternal grandmother, Rose Giacomucci, and grandfather, Nicholas Pietropaolo, came to America from Chieti, Abruzzi, Italy through Ellis Island. Ellis Island has all the records between 1892 and 1924 available in The American Family Immigration History Center.

The Registry Room
Originally uploaded by philippaalan.

The first place the new immigrants were taken was to the second floor to the Registry Room where they stood in long, long lines. When their turn came, they approached the desks (see the far end of the room) and were checked off on the Manifest Log.

I was excited to search the records to see if I could find them and any other’s from my Dad’s side of the family listed. The hubster patiently and excitedly looked over my shoulder as I searched the electronic records for 30 minutes. We struck pay-dirt! I could hardly contain myself! There right in front of my eyes was the name: Carolina Giacomucci, wife of Tommaso Staniscia. Carolina was my Grandmother Rose’s older sister who came to American first, arriving December 11, 1921, along with her one year old daughter Olga, having traveled aboard the passenger ship, Palermo.

What a thrill it was to read Aunt Lina’s name typed across the Manifest Record, seeing Uncle Tommy listed as her husband, and seeing their address. Also noted on the Manifest was Aunt Lina had only $25 in her pocket and responded “no” to all the questions as to whether she was an anarchist, a Communist, and other things like that. She said she could read. Several others listed responded no to that question.

Graffiti Walls
Originally uploaded by philippaalan.

Down The Hall
Originally uploaded by philippaalan.

It was humbling to walk the halls and see the examining rooms the immigrants entered to be assessed, determining their fitness to enter this country, to read about those that were turned away for various medical reasons or other reasons, and to walk the floor that Aunt Lina and Olga walked 84 years ago. Some of the messages the people wrote while waiting their turn to be examined has been uncovered and now is safe behind plexiglass to prevent people from touching and inadvertently erasing the pencil marks.

Once I recall asking Grandmom Rose why she came to America. Her response was, “For a better life.” They all came for that reason. She proudly showed me her little American flag she was given when she became a citizen of the United States of America. She was quite proud of that flag and proud of her new “home.”

I am proud to carry her name as my middle name – Rose. I am proud to have her Italian blood in my veins. I am very proud of my Italian heritage.


5 thoughts on “84 years ago

  1. Beautiful, both the photos and the words!

    I am also proud of my heritage, although it’s more varied than yours is, I’m pretty much a mutt.

    However, my great-grandmother’s maiden name was Trubucco!

  2. That’s an amazing story! Thank you for sharing your thoughts…

    My ancestry is so convoluted I would have a hard time tracing it all!

  3. Good luck finding your Russian ancestry one day, Meg.

    Philippa: WOW! I have tears. Beautiful. And it looks like a beautiful building of itself, although the memories and thoughts that you shared are far more beautiful than any brick or stone building.

  4. It’s a great thing to be proud of one’s heritage, to have a sense of rootedness.

    I’ve never been able to trace my own Russian ancestry — apparently, my relatives came to this country before Ellis Island was the official port of entry, and in fact, my father wasn’t even sure the name *was* Russian. Only a few years ago did my Russian prof confirm that it was.

    BTW, if you read “The Black Marble,” by Joseph Wambaugh — it’s quite gross in a number of places, but it’s also the story of a Russian-American cop who makes the point, “My parents didn’t come to America *for* the good life. America was the *end* of the good life for them.” The first wave of Russian immigrants after the 1917 Revolution lost far more than anything this country could ever give them, and even their grandchildren bear those scars.

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