Geneablogy: An occasional Journal about our experiences exploring our heritage

Wednesday, October 24, 2001

Laura's Aunt Ginny had dinner the other night with Laura's first cousin twice removed Rosie. Rosie is 91 years old, and possibly the last person who could have provided us with some important information. Her mother and Laura's great-grandmother were De Rosas, the branch of Laura's family we know the least about. For everyone else, we knew the comune (village) in Italy they came from, but not the De Rosas. Last year, we had asked Laura's great aunt Jo for information about where her father, Filippo Saracco, had come from, and she told us. She ended the conversation by asking if we wanted to know anything about the De Rosas. We did, of course, and made a vague promise to go visit next time we were in the area. Aunt Jo died a week later. And with her, so we thought, died our chances of finding out where the De Rosas came from.

Not so. Earlier this summer, Laura's cousin Chris was here for a visit and mentioned that Rosie was a De Rosa and lived in Tuscon near him and his mother. Ah! Opportunity! Chris promised to contact her and ask her where the De Rosas came from. I guess he didn't, but his mom, Laura's aunt, did. And the other night they got together for dinner. According to Rosie, her mother, Mariantonia De Rosa, and Laura's great-grandmother, Francesca De Rosa, came from Calitri in Avellino province.

According to Rosie, Mariantonia came to America after the rest of the family; Francesca, her brother Raffaele, and their mother apparently came earlier. I looked them up on the Ellis Island site. There was one Mariantonia De Rosa from Calitri. She came to America on the Kaiser Wilhelm II, arriving in New York on 22 July 1897 as a 21 year old single woman. Searching for Francesca De Rosa brought up the most likely suspect as Maria Francesca De Rosa, who came to America on the Furst Bismarck, arriving in New York on 19 November 1901, possibly at the age of 17 (the manifest is a little difficult to read, but Laura and I both deciphered it as probably 17 years old). Also on this page were Giuseppe De Rosa, age 16, and Raffaele De Rosa, age 12, along with the woman listed as their mother, Maria Columba De Rosa, age 39. The names Francesca and Raffaele fit with what we know, but Giuseppe is new, as is the name of the father, Luigi Cancetto. Not only that, but this family came before Mariantonia, rather than after as Rosie claimed. Rosie also said there were only three children, but that conflicts with this information, as Mariantonia is accompanied by her brother Michele De Rosa, and they are both coming to America to stay with their brother Vitale. All of that makes me question if this is the right family. But they do appear to be from Calitri, which wasn't exactly a large village. So this bears further investigation.

Fortunately, in looking at the Family History Library web site, I found that records from Calitri have been filmed by them from 1809 to 1910, meaning that Laura's great-grandmother's birth record is almost certainly easily available, and that we can trace this line of her family back as relatively easily as my Brandi line in San Potito Sannitico.

Rosie also mentioned that her brother Tony had started a family history before he died. She promised to look and see if she had his notes. She's also got a photograph of all the De Rosas, which I believe is something Laura's family does not have.

Aunt Ginny has apparently been talking to Rosie for a while about this stuff, too. One of the things she mentioned was that her father, Giuseppe Massucci from Serino, Avellino, had learned how to fix looms from Filippo Saracco, Laura's great-grandfather and Giuseppe's brother-in-law. Mariantonia and Francesca lived on two floors of the same house, but apparently weren't as close as that situation might have you believe. Mariantonia and her husband were very poor at the time, and that might have had something to do with it.

Anyway, it was a tremendous relief to have found Rosie, especially after we lost aunt Jo. Hopefully she can fill us in on more information about what their life was like when they first came to America.

Posted at 9:42:17 PM