I believe I've found the ship's passenger records for li'l Grandpa, Ralph Brandi Sr., and for his parents and brother, when we went to the New York Public Library last weekend. The record for Maria-Domenico Rapa shows that she came to America on the ship Gottardo, arriving in New York on July 6, 1885 from Palermo and other ports. She was 40 years old, which matches the Census records. Her occupation is listed as "Contadina", which one of my books about Italian records translates as "peasant farmer". Her country of origin is listed, oddly enough, as "Piedimonte Oliva". Now, San Potito Sannitico is right next to a moderately large town called Piedimonte Matese, so it makes sense that the word Piedimonte should be in there. Also, I see that in nearby towns, at least, there's a connection with olives (look at the listing for San Lorenzello in November, 1998). So I think it makes sense that she would be from San Potito Sannitico with that origin, but I need to do more research. I don't see an actual place called Piedimonte Oliva in any of my sources. There were a number of other people right above and below her on the manifest who were also listed as being from Piedimonte Oliva. Maria's destination is given as New York, but who knows what that means. Maybe they did live in New York for a while before moving to Saginaw. They had to be in Saginaw by 1890, though, when li'l Grandpa got married. She brought one piece of luggage, and her room was midship between decks.
Immediately below her on the page are Raffaele Brandi, age 14, and Giuseppe Brandi, age 10, which also matches the Census. They both have ditto marks under the occupation, meaning that they were also peasant farmers, and there's an addition marking of "S", which I think is an indication that they're Maria's sons. That would make sense, since li'l Grandpa's death certificate shows his mother's name as Maria Rappa. They're also from Piedimonte Oliva, took one piece of luggage each, and their room was forward between decks.
Vincenzo Brandi, li'l Grandpa's father and therefore my great-great grandfather, appears to have to come to America on the S. S. Galatia, from Bombay and assorted Mediterranean ports, arriving in New York on May 5, 1881. Unfortunately, this manifest is really short on identifying information; everyone on the ship is listed as being from Italy, and their destination listed as U.S.A., and only first initials are given. But the thing that makes me strongly suspect that this is my great-great-grandfather is the fact that immediately above him in the passenger list is one G. Rapa, presumably his brother-in-law or another relative of his wife.
Posted at 11:48:55 PM