Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Weeding Out the Wrong Carmelos

So, these are two pages worth of Carmelo Orlandos who came to the United States from Italy in the mid to late 1800s tothe early 1900s. To start my search, I went to and I entered my grandfather's name with some approximate dates of birth and death.

After that, I looked at the town or birth origin and I googled each town to see which ones are in Calabria. There are only two: one from Curinga and the other from Gerace. Since both of these Carmelos are relatively close in age, I need to look more closely at other information on the ship manifest. As I mentioned in previous postings, there were two pieces of evidence that pointed me towards Curinga, and not Gerace.

  • Carmelo from Curinga had a final destination of Wilkes-Barre, PA
  • Carmelo from Curinga had a father by the name of Bruno

Wilkes-Barre happens to be the town where my grandfather got married, had three children, and died.

Bruno happens to be the name of my uncle, Carmelo's oldest son. There is a tradition of naming your first born after your father in Italian culture.

Not shown here is my grandfather's WWI Draft Card. He registered for the draft, as an alien, in Wilkes-Barre, PA in 1917, seven years after he arrived to Wilkes-Barre. That document confirms he was born in Curinga, so it was the same Carmelo on the ship manifest. The Carmelo from Curinga who had a final destination of Wilkes-Barre, PA.

It seems like he was pretty loyal to Wilkes-Barre, PA. He got off the ship, he went to the town, he registered for the draft, he got married there, he had three children there, and he died there. Can someone tell me you agree with me that this seems to be the likely guy?

A Letter to Curinga/Una Lettera a Curinga

Here is a letter that I composed in Italian, with the help of my Italian instructor. I will translate it in my next post. I was able to make contact with an Orlando family in the town of Curinga, and we exchanged email addresses. I don't know if we are related, but since this family was willing to help and seemed interested in learning if there is a connection between my grandfather, Carmelo, and them, I thought I should take advantage of the opportunity.

The Letter-La Lettera

Caro/a .....,

Come sta? Le ringrazio molto del suo aiuto con l’investigazione geneologica che faccio sul mio nonno, Carmelo Orlando. È molto importante che io sappia la storia di mio nonno perchè io non avevo mai l’opportunità di conoscere Carmelo. È morto in 1937 qui negli Stati Uniti. Io sono nata in 1970. Era giovane e solo aveva 50 anni, ma ha lavorato nelle mine di Pennsylvania ed è morto della polmonite.

Mia madre, Angela Orlando (morta due anni fa) non sapeva molto del suo padre perchè era molto giovane quando Carmelo è morto. Adesso io faccio l’investigazione perchè voglio sapere di mio nonno e la storia della sua vita.

Ecco l’informazione che ho trovato fino adesso.

Date di Carmelo Orlando
Carmelo Orlando è nato il 16 luglio, 1887 a Curinga. È morto negli Stati Uniti il 12 dicembre, 1937 a Wilkes-Barre, PA.

Suo padre si chiamava Bruno Orlando. Ho trovato questa data nei documenti del nave. Carmelo Orlando arrivò negli Stati Uniti in 1909. Il suo destino finale era Wilkes-Barre, PA. Con mio nonno, viaggiavano le seguente quattro persone di Curinga con la stessa destinazione: Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. L’informazione del documento:

Franceso Fiore (Sersale, Catanzaro) (M. Salvatore èd il suocero)
Francesco Currado (Curinga, padre: Guiseppe Currado) (amico di G. Tripedi)
Franceso Gigantino (Curinga, moglie: Elisabetta) (nipote di Tripedi)
Francesco Persano (Curinga, padre: Nicola Persano) (cugino di Tripedi)
Carmelo Orlando (Curinga, padre: Bruno) (cugino di Guiseppe Tripedi)

Ci sono due persone nel documento che sono parenti che abitavano negli Stati Uniti. Le due persone abitavanno a Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania:

Guiseppe Trapedi
M. Salvatore
Mio nonno era cugino di Guiseppe Tripedi.

Non so se ci sono altri parenti nostri a Curinga con i cognomi Orlando, Currado, Gigantino, Persano o Tripedi. Il documento di nave indica che mio nonno era cugino di G. Tripedi.

Domande per Lei:

1. Aveva mio nonno fratelli o sorelle? Come si chiamavano?
2. Come si chiamava la madre di Carmelo?
3. Quando sono morti la madre ed il padre di Carmelo?
4. Voi siete i parenti di mio nonno?
5. Ci sono parenti di Carmelo a Curinga o vicino a Curinga?
6. Se risponde sì, come posso parlare con loro?
7. Come sì può ottenere i documenti dal commune di Curinga?

Grazie del suo aiuto. Aspetto la sua risposta.

Jennifer Rafferty

Monday, November 17, 2008

Introducing, Carmelo Orlando, My Grandfather

As someone who has spent the last 4 years doing genealogy research on my maternal grandfather’s family, I can say that there is nothing like that very first moment you make a discovery about your ancestors. When I do research diligently and I uncover something after hours in front of the computer, I get a rush of confidence and I start to think that I have cracked the code, found the secret to researching my family tree. I plug along, inspired by that first initial discovery, but I eventually realize that genealogy research is not for the faint of heart. Major revelations in my family tree and ancestral history have not been overly abundant in the past 4 years, but there have been some gems and those key moments keep me moving down this path of finding my place in the world through genealogy.

I started my research on my grandfather, Carmelo Orlando, back in 2007. I initiated the search for my grandfather’s identity because I was interested in obtaining dual American Italian citizenship. I never, ever thought I would become the family genealogist.

I didn’t know much about my grandfather because he died in 1937, 33 years before I was born. My mother was only nine at the time of his death and her family lost the only picture they had of my grandfather. It’s amazing how a picture validates someone’s existence. My grandfather seemed to be more of a myth to me without any picture to look at. My mother seemed to have so few memories of him that he never took up much space in my mind. That all changed the day I discovered that he would be my link to obtaining my Italian citizenship.

I didn’t know the first thing about doing genealogy research when I got started. I imagine that it’s the same for many of you too. Today, thanks to the Internet, genealogy work has become a lot easier because we can search for records online at websites like Ellis Island dot org and Ancestry dot com.

I initiated my research on my grandfather at ellis island dot org, an amazing, free resource that has ship manifests for passengers who immigrated or traveled to the United States from 1892 – 1924. There I searched for all the Carmelo Orlandos who came to the United States from between the years of 1892 to 1921, which was the year that my grandparents got married in Wilke-Barre, PA.

I printed out lists of names, I googled cities in Italy, and one by one, I eliminated all Carmelos who were not from Calabria. Although I didn’t know my grandfather’s town of origin, I did know that he was Calabrian because my mom always made it a point to mention that he wasn’t Sicilian like my grandmother. So I had that one anecdote to help me.

The process was slow and it took me more than a few days to weed out the wrong Carmelos from regions other than Calabria. Once I was down to a manageable list of about three men, I started to look at the dates of arrival and birth dates for the few who were still left on the list. Amazingly enough, I found someone on the list who had my grandfather’s name and who had a destination of Wilkes-Barre, PA. This man was from Curinga, in the region of Calabria, and he arrived in to New York on March 31st, 1909.

I took a closer look at the ship manifest to see if I could uncover any more details about this man and to my delight, I found something that brought tears to my eyes. As you may know from reading my blog, my grandfather named his first son Bruno. That was my Uncle Bruno, my mom’s brother. In Italy, as it is in many other countries, it is a tradition to name your children after the parents of the husband. I didn’t know how seriously Italians immigrants took this tradition in the early 20th century, but I discovered it reading that historical document. The ship manifest listed my grandfather’s father’s name: It said Bruno Orlando. Just like Carmelo’s first born son. I sat with that information for a moment. I did nothing but look at the words written on the 18th line of the ship manifest as if the hard to read cursive were a portrait of Carmelo’s face. I had found my grandfather: Carmelo Orlando.

Circolo Calabrese