census and manifest accuracy

Over 25 million Italians have emigrated between 1861 and 1960 with a migration boom between 1871 and 1915 when over 13,5 million emigrants left the country for European and overseas destinations.
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zsnyder
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census and manifest accuracy

Postby zsnyder » 08 Jun 2010, 00:06

I'm tracing the maternal side of my family and I seem to be running into accuracy issues with the census and ship manifests.

I'm working backwards in time so pardon me if it gets confusing.

I've found my grandfather, Christmas Mento, on the 1930's census living in Downingtown, PA with his siblings, father Antonino (aka Antonio, aka Anthony) and mother Margherita (aka Margeret, aka Margaret) Fafaletti Mento.

Family notes states that Antonino is his fathers name although he always comes up in searches as Antonio or Anthony. His birthdate was about 1870 but again this seems to vary from document to document.

1930's census lists Anthony and Margeret as immigrating in 1904. She's listed as an alien but I can't tell if the mark on his line has him as naturalized. I assume he's not as if he was she would be too, correct?

When I go to the 1920's census I notice the surname is listed as Mands with a correction of Mando (ancestory.com) with which I've submitted the correct name of Mento. Here he is listed as immigrating in 1906 and his wife in 1913, both are listed as aliens.

Antonino states that he immigrated in 1906 on the 1920 census so I searched him out on the 1910 census coming up with a probable hit with residence in Chester, PA but the 1910 census lists his immigration date as 1909. I don't see any Mento's listed on ellisIsland.org or castlegarden.org coming over that year.

Closest matching ship manifest has him on the Roma out of Naples in March of 1906 but the manifest lists him as single (I believe he was married to Margherita at the time), 33 years of age (could be correct with a +/- of 3 years) and Monteforte as last place of residence (family notes state he was from Monforte San Giorgio). More inaccurate records or wrong person?

As for his wife, she immigrated in August of 1913 with Christmas' older siblings on the Hamburg. The manifest information seems accurate as all of the children are listed and their ages seem to match those listed in later censuses.

I realize that the census taker can make mistakes, especially dealing with a person that may have a heavy accent, but would the Anglicization or complete misspelling of a name be the fault of the taker or the person in question? Are varying immigration and birth dates de rigueur of the times?

Thanks in advance for any insight.

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Re: census and manifest accuracy

Postby vj » 09 Jun 2010, 19:08

Hi!
You should find that ship manifests are more accurate than census records.

The manifest was filled out at the point of embarkation by employees of the ship's company. At the port of arrival they were checked for accuracy and sometimes corrections were made. In most ports, especially Ellis Island, plenty of interpreters were available.

Census records can be pretty inaccurate.
The enumerator could question anyone in the household (or in some cases neighbors). The information would be only as accurate as the person's knowledge, memory and ability to make themselves understood.

'Americanizing' a surname was the choice of the family - often to 'fit in' in their new country.
Here's a neat article on name changes:
http://www.genealogy.com/88_donna.html

Were there any records you wanted us to look at?
Valarie

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Re: census and manifest accuracy

Postby zsnyder » 09 Jun 2010, 20:12

Hi Valarie. Thank you for the information.

I'm not sure what other documents I can find online and be sure the Antonino I'm looking for is the correct person due the inaccuracies I've come across listed in my original post.

While digging around a couple days ago I came across the explanation for the "PA" marked on his line in the 1930's census. With that in hand, I made a request yesterday to NARA for his naturalization documents - explaining the discrepencies in his first name on the 1910, 1920 and 1930 census - in hope that I can nail down the town in Sicily he and his wife came from. To my surprise I received an email from NARA that the documents shipped this morning. I'll see if I have answers to my questions in a week.

From there I could request a certificato di stato di famiglia from his home commune to begin tracing family in Italy, correct?

There is one more thing that I'm confused about. I thought that after 1912 any immigrant was assigned a case number on the ship manifest. When I look at Margherita's manifest I don't see a number by her name or daughter's name, Maria, but there is one next to her daughter, Giuseppa, and son, Giuseppe. There's also a four year old son, Antonino, with a case number but interestingly he doesn't come up in any family notes.

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Re: census and manifest accuracy

Postby vj » 09 Jun 2010, 21:23

zsnyder wrote:...

From there I could request a certificato di stato di famiglia from his home commune to begin tracing family in Italy, correct?

Yes
And if your town was microfilmed by the LDS you can look for their records.


There is one more thing that I'm confused about. I thought that after 1912 any immigrant was assigned a case number on the ship manifest. When I look at Margherita's manifest I don't see a number by her name or daughter's name, Maria, but there is one next to her daughter, Giuseppa, and son, Giuseppe. There's also a four year old son, Antonino, with a case number but interestingly he doesn't come up in any family notes.

Actually, it was abt 1906
They revised the naturalization policies
They looked for manifests to be sure they had the correct folks
If they couldn't find the last manifest, there wouldn't be any notations

Another interesting site:

http://www.jewishgen.org/infofiles/manifests/occ/

Valarie



Another thought, you may be looking for multiple manifests for your Antonino
It is likely that he came to the US several times to earn enough money to bring his family over.
This was quite common in the poorer areas of Italy at the turn of the century.
If you know the exact birth dates of his children, you can narrow down the manifest possibilities by year before Aug 1913
He could have come thru NY or Philadelphia (or any other port) - usually the one with the cheapest passage
Valarie

for everyone's reference, your 1913 manifest lines 26-30
http://www.ellisisland.org/EIFile/popup ... &line=0026
page 2
http://www.ellisisland.org/EIFile/popup ... &line=0026

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Re: census and manifest accuracy

Postby zsnyder » 12 Jul 2010, 21:21

Ended up receiving files for the wrong Antonino Mento from NARA but I did find his Declaration of Intent at the Chester County, PA archives as Antonio Mento.

I'd like to see if USCIS has more information and would rather skip the index search in favor of the record copy request. Is the "C" file number on the Declaration of Intent the number listed in the upper lefthand part of this document?

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Re: census and manifest accuracy

Postby johnnyonthespot » 12 Jul 2010, 21:43

zsnyder wrote:... I don't see any Mento's listed on ellisIsland.org or castlegarden.org coming over that year.


I want to reiterate yet again that not every Italian immigrant entered the US through Ellis Island or it's predecessor Castlegarden. Huge numbers of Italians came in through Boston, Philadelphia, New Orleans and even Canada ports. You will not find these records at the sites you mentioned.

While it may not apply in this case, it is an important point to keep in mind.
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Re: census and manifest accuracy

Postby johnnyonthespot » 12 Jul 2010, 21:45

zsnyder wrote:Is the "C" file number on the Declaration of Intent the number listed in the upper lefthand part of this document?


No. The "C" number is the number of the certificate of naturalization which was assigned if/when his naturalization process was completed.
Carmine

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