Need Your Help Finding My Grandfather on a Passenger List

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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Need Your Help Finding My Grandfather on a Passenger List

Postby sacesta » 10 May 2016, 03:40

I've tried to find my grandfather and his brother on passenger lists to no avail. I'm beginning to wonder if they may have come to America illegally.

Maybe someone can help me find them.

My grandfather's name is Rocco Aceste and he was born in Calatafimi, Trapani, Sicily on the 26th of July, 1893.

His brother's name is Camillo, born on May 21st, 1895, also in Calatafimi.

Camillo's daughter told me the two brothers came to the United States together on board the Giuseppe Verdi, arriving in New York in 1922.

The 1930 Census shows Rocco's year of immigration as 1923. He's indexed as Rocco Austa.

The 1930 Census shows Camillo's year of immigration as 1920. He's indexed as Camila Acesta.

Both brothers' surnames were changed to Acesta at some time after their entry into the US.

I have been unable to find either of them on ship's passenger lists. Can you help?
Steve Acesta

Researching Calatafimi, Trapani
Surnames Aceste, Papa, Cusenza, Gruppuso, Sciortino, Sparacino, Zito, and Vona.

Researching Montevago, Agrigento (Girgenti)
Surnames Infranco, La Rocca, Mandina, Bilello, Cacioppo, and Cardino.

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Re: Need Your Help Finding My Grandfather on a Passenger List

Postby adelfio » 10 May 2016, 20:25

Are you sure Camillo, was born on May 21st, 1895, in Calatafimi

Camillo Acesta in the U.S., World War II Draft Registration Cards, 1942
Name:
Camillo Acesta
Birth Date:
21 May 1895
Birth Place:
Castellammare del Golfo , Italy
Residence:
Kings, New York, USA
Race:
White

Marty
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Re: Need Your Help Finding My Grandfather on a Passenger List

Postby sacesta » 10 May 2016, 21:02

My mistake Marty. I shouldn't rely on memory. Yes, you have the correct Camillo.

Rocco was born in Calatafimi. Camillo was born in Castellammare del Golfo.

Thanks for catching that. Didn't mean to send anyone off on a wild goose chase.

Steve
Steve Acesta

Researching Calatafimi, Trapani
Surnames Aceste, Papa, Cusenza, Gruppuso, Sciortino, Sparacino, Zito, and Vona.

Researching Montevago, Agrigento (Girgenti)
Surnames Infranco, La Rocca, Mandina, Bilello, Cacioppo, and Cardino.

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Re: Need Your Help Finding My Grandfather on a Passenger List

Postby kencwalker » 10 May 2016, 22:26

Steve,
I can see why you're struggling to find Rocco and Camillo "Aceste".

I did a search for all male arrivals named R* A*; born between 1892-1896; arriving between 1919-24; on ships starting with "Giu". (I left marital status blank - You didn't say if either was single or married.)
The good news: there are only 15 men that meet the criteria.
The bad news: only two are named Rocco; Rocco Andino from Siderno (in 1920, married w/ wife and child) and Rocco Agostino from Gratteri (in 1924, single). Only Raimondo Aspesi from San Macario arrived in 1922.

I repeated the above with male arrivals named C* A*, and there are only 27 hits.
More bad news: none are named Camillo. Closest hit: Carmine Accardo is listed twice in 1922.

The Guiseppe Verdi was a busy ship. It arrived 8 times in 1922, and 6-7 times the years before and after.

That doesn't mean they arrived illegally. In fact, the concept of "illegal entry" has little meaning in the 1920s. You just arrived, and were admitted (or not). Likely this is a problem due to an indexing error, or a missing manifest, or some other irregularity.

If they became citizens, there's detailed immigration information on their Petition for Citizenship (and/or Declaration of Intention). It will have arrival date and vessel, their birth date and location, and if married, the marriage date and location plus the birth info for spouse and children (if any). These are genealogical gold mines. In addition, immigration in later years (at least since 1930) were verified by US Dept of labor.
Good luck.

-Ken
Researching surnames Pedroncelli and Pilatti in Sondrio; Cantoia in Novara; Penna in Asti.

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Re: Need Your Help Finding My Grandfather on a Passenger List

Postby sacesta » 11 May 2016, 02:56

Ken,

Thanks for conducting the search and for the very helpful information. What you say about their arrival and acceptance makes sense. If they were admitted (and they were), they're legal. I wonder though if they did stow away, if that could that account for why I can't find them on a passenger list?

Both Rocco and Camillo were single when they arrived in the US. And they both became citizens many years later. Rocco not until 1945 (I have his certificate). I do not have First Papers or Petitions for either of them though. Haven't been able to find them.

The name Aceste is uncommon. And the comune that my grandfather comes from (Calatafimi) has a small population. It's been relatively easy to find my paternal ancestors in the church records.

The period of immigration is what I'm most interested in though. Of course, it was a major event in the life of my grandfather. It's been frustrating that I cannot find much in the way of immigration and naturalization documents.

Thanks again for your help,

Steve
Steve Acesta

Researching Calatafimi, Trapani
Surnames Aceste, Papa, Cusenza, Gruppuso, Sciortino, Sparacino, Zito, and Vona.

Researching Montevago, Agrigento (Girgenti)
Surnames Infranco, La Rocca, Mandina, Bilello, Cacioppo, and Cardino.

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Re: Need Your Help Finding My Grandfather on a Passenger List

Postby James » 11 May 2016, 07:23

Steve, not sure if you have Camillo's naturalization... You mentioned having his brother, but not his. It is attached. Is this your Camillo?

I also attached someone with the same address as this Camillo. If this is your Camillo.
Attachments
same address as camillo.jpg
M1164_28-2118.jpg
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Re: Need Your Help Finding My Grandfather on a Passenger List

Postby James » 11 May 2016, 07:25

Also want to make sure this is the same document you have on your Rocco
Attachments
rocco1.jpg
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Re: Need Your Help Finding My Grandfather on a Passenger List

Postby kencwalker » 11 May 2016, 16:21

sacesta wrote:I wonder though if they did stow away, if that could that account for why I can't find them on a passenger list?
.....
I do not have First Papers or Petitions for either of them though. Haven't been able to find them.
.....
The period of immigration is what I'm most interested in though. Of course, it was a major event in the life of my grandfather. It's been frustrating that I cannot find much in the way of immigration and naturalization documents.


Steve, I hear you. I got hooked on this "genealogy thing" after a visit to Ellis Island. I found my maternal grandparents, but could not find my grandmother's father. He also has an unusual last name, and I had the same questions as you, especially when he didn't appear in any US Census searches. I began to think the worst....

The stowaway theory is interesting, but not sure it's realistic. How do they get off the Giuseppe Verdi? They have to avoid immigration when disembarking at Ellis Island AND find a way to the mainland w/out being detected (and it's a small island). Do they jump in NYC harbor when they see the Statue of Liberty and swim to shore? [rhetorical questions]

More likely it's a records issue. The Giuseppe Verdi arrived 8 times in 1922. Passenger record counts range from 21-1905. Average is "around 900-1000". The 25-August manifest only has 21 records, and no image is available. So either a) their name was incorrectly indexed (maybe the "A" was read as another letter) or b) they are on a missing manifest or c) some other strange error.

Hopefully the naturalization records James posted are your Rocco and Camillo (and Filomena). With the petition numbers you should be able to locate their files. Some are available on Ancestry, others are in NARA archives.

Regarding my g-g.father, after lots of searching and digging, I found most of his records. The lack of search results were due to errors in his name. (Cantoia became Contoio, Contois and other variations.) Although search engines can account for some spelling errors, they couldn't handle the Ca/Co switch of the first 2 characters.

Good luck!
-Ken
Researching surnames Pedroncelli and Pilatti in Sondrio; Cantoia in Novara; Penna in Asti.

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Re: Need Your Help Finding My Grandfather on a Passenger List

Postby sacesta » 12 May 2016, 00:21

James, thanks. I didn't have either Camillo or Filomena's cards.
Steve Acesta

Researching Calatafimi, Trapani
Surnames Aceste, Papa, Cusenza, Gruppuso, Sciortino, Sparacino, Zito, and Vona.

Researching Montevago, Agrigento (Girgenti)
Surnames Infranco, La Rocca, Mandina, Bilello, Cacioppo, and Cardino.

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Re: Need Your Help Finding My Grandfather on a Passenger List

Postby sacesta » 12 May 2016, 01:00

kencwalker wrote:Steve, I hear you. I got hooked on this "genealogy thing" after a visit to Ellis Island. I found my maternal grandparents, but could not find my grandmother's father. He also has an unusual last name, and I had the same questions as you, especially when he didn't appear in any US Census searches. I began to think the worst....

The stowaway theory is interesting, but not sure it's realistic. How do they get off the Giuseppe Verdi? They have to avoid immigration when disembarking at Ellis Island AND find a way to the mainland w/out being detected (and it's a small island). Do they jump in NYC harbor when they see the Statue of Liberty and swim to shore? [rhetorical questions]

More likely it's a records issue. The Giuseppe Verdi arrived 8 times in 1922. Passenger record counts range from 21-1905. Average is "around 900-1000". The 25-August manifest only has 21 records, and no image is available. So either a) their name was incorrectly indexed (maybe the "A" was read as another letter) or b) they are on a missing manifest or c) some other strange error.

Hopefully the naturalization records James posted are your Rocco and Camillo (and Filomena). With the petition numbers you should be able to locate their files. Some are available on Ancestry, others are in NARA archives.

Regarding my g-g.father, after lots of searching and digging, I found most of his records. The lack of search results were due to errors in his name. (Cantoia became Contoio, Contois and other variations.) Although search engines can account for some spelling errors, they couldn't handle the Ca/Co switch of the first 2 characters.

Good luck!
-Ken


I've had serious reservations about the stowaway story too Ken, and for the same reasons you mentioned. I agree it's probably a records issue.

Two weeks ago or so I requested a records search on the DHS Genealogical site. Other than the initial confirmation that my request was received and the $20 charge to my credit card I got absolutely nothing. Maybe someone at DHS has the request in their inbox and maybe it takes weeks to get results, but it would be nice to receive an update to let me know at least they're working on it.

I haven't had any luck with my free 14 day trial to Ancestry's premium "All Access" package.

I'm not sure how to access the NARA records, but will look into that.

Thanks,

Steve
Steve Acesta

Researching Calatafimi, Trapani
Surnames Aceste, Papa, Cusenza, Gruppuso, Sciortino, Sparacino, Zito, and Vona.

Researching Montevago, Agrigento (Girgenti)
Surnames Infranco, La Rocca, Mandina, Bilello, Cacioppo, and Cardino.

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Re: Need Your Help Finding My Grandfather on a Passenger List

Postby erudita74 » 13 May 2016, 16:40

About the stowaway concept-in my own ancestry, my paternal grandfather led all of his American born descendants to believe that he had been a stowaway. That was story he told all of his children and daughters and sons in law. The truth of the matter though, which I discovered through my genealogy research years after he died, was that he had been abandoned at a day old in his native Italian town. So his original surname was one that had been invented by the town official. His "natural" parents married 6 weeks later and, when he was almost 3, they went to a notary in their town to reclaim him. At that point, his surname was changed to that of his "so-called" natural father. I say "so-called," as there was no DNA in those days to prove the paternity. At any rate, my grandfather entered this country under this other surname, unbeknownst to any of his descendants, and obviously used the "stowaway" story as a cover-up for the embarrassment and shame his abandonment and early childhood must have caused him.
Erudita

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Re: Need Your Help Finding My Grandfather on a Passenger List

Postby sacesta » 13 May 2016, 18:02

It's interesting what we learn through genealogy. I always knew, for example, that infant mortality was high historically, but I had no idea how high. When I first searched the US census records, I discovered that both my maternal grandfather and my maternal grandmother had siblings that did not survive beyond the first few years and in most cases, the first few days. One family lost 4 of 9 children, the other 3 of 8.

Some of these children were older than my grandparents and it is doubtful that my even grandparents knew of them. My grandmother lost a brother ten years younger. She would have remembered him, but she never spoke of him. What reason would she have had to tell us?

I've always had an interest in restoring old family photos and keeping copies of whatever genealogical documents I could obtain from relatives. My surname is uncommon and every once in a while I would perform a Google search to see what would come up. One day, I discovered that my surname was mentioned in one of the greatest works of western literature - Virgil's Aeneid.

In book V of the Aenid, the Trojan hero Aeneas, in his quest to discover a new home for the displaced Trojans that will one day come to be known as Rome, stops in Sicily, where his father Anchises is buried. There he meets an old friend, a Sicilian King, also the son of Trojan royalty, named Acestes. These events supposedly occurred over 2500 years ago! Some of the ships of the Trojan fleet are burned in port and many women, children and elderly men are left behind in Sicily. A city is created for them and it is given the name Acesta. We know Acesta today as the ancient city of Segesta just outside Calatafimi, the place of my grandfather's birth.

So far, I've found every Aceste I've looked for in the church records of the Chiesa Cattolica di San Silvestri Papa in Calatafimi. I suspect, that if genealogical records existed from the time of Acesta's founding (of course, they don't) that I would find a long lineage of Acestes attached to Calatafimi-Segesta.

The wall I hit recently was with my 3rd great grandfather. Benedetto Aceste appears to be a foundling. His marriage record indicates "natum ex incerits parenti" or born of uncertain parents. I'm waiting on the film that contains his record of baptism, hoping that may shed a different light. Otherwise, it's going to be very difficult to trace the lineage any further.

Another interesting thing I've discovered is that I am the first son of several generations of first sons. My father's name was Benedetto, his father before him, Rocco. Rocco's father, Benedetto. Benedetto's father, Rocco. And Rocco's father, Benedetto. Had my father not broken the naming tradition, my given name would be Rocco, not Steven.

One of the most fascinating chapters of any ethnic Americans' story is, of course, the immigration of our ancestors. I know of the horrible social conditions in Sicily during the early 20th century. But otherwise, I know little of why Rocco left his family to begin a new life in a foreign country that he probably knew little about. Hopefully, I will learn a good bit more...

Steve
Steve Acesta

Researching Calatafimi, Trapani
Surnames Aceste, Papa, Cusenza, Gruppuso, Sciortino, Sparacino, Zito, and Vona.

Researching Montevago, Agrigento (Girgenti)
Surnames Infranco, La Rocca, Mandina, Bilello, Cacioppo, and Cardino.

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Re: Need Your Help Finding My Grandfather on a Passenger List

Postby erudita74 » 13 May 2016, 19:05

"The wall I hit recently was with my 3rd great grandfather. Benedetto Aceste appears to be a foundling. His marriage record indicates "natum ex incerits parenti" or born of uncertain parents. I'm waiting on the film that contains his record of baptism, hoping that may shed a different light. Otherwise, it's going to be very difficult to trace the lineage any further."

Steve
Even though my grandfather was reclaimed, and his surname was changed to that of his father, I found that both of his parents had also been abandoned as infants and also had invented surnames. So I've reached a dead end with those two lines.

BTW, I went through, page by page, all of the Giuseppe Verdi passenger lists for 1922 via the stevemorse.org Missing Manifest option and didn't see either Camillo or Rocco. I've also gone through some of the 1923, and haven't seen either of them. Sometimes names are just so badly transcribed that they just can't be found through the search option.

Erudita

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Re: Need Your Help Finding My Grandfather on a Passenger List

Postby sacesta » 13 May 2016, 19:47

Erudita,

I'm sorry to hear you hit a wall with your great grandparents. But it is encouraging to hear that you were able to find the parents of your grandfather despite him having been earlier abandoned.

And thanks also for taking the time and effort in searching the Verdi records. Rocco has been a mystery. I sent a request for records to NARA yesterday. I'm hoping I get something positive back from them. Time will tell…

Steve
Steve Acesta

Researching Calatafimi, Trapani
Surnames Aceste, Papa, Cusenza, Gruppuso, Sciortino, Sparacino, Zito, and Vona.

Researching Montevago, Agrigento (Girgenti)
Surnames Infranco, La Rocca, Mandina, Bilello, Cacioppo, and Cardino.

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Re: Need Your Help Finding My Grandfather on a Passenger List

Postby kencwalker » 13 May 2016, 23:01

Steve, Eurdita
(and anyone else who uses the stevemorse.org site to search the missing manifests page by painful page):

I ran into a similar situation with my grandparents return from a 1929 trip to Italy. A search on Ancestry revealed Ellis Island records. (However, I don't have a subscription, so have to go to the library to view the manifest.)
So, I tried using an Ellis Island passenger search. How hard could that be? I have their names, exact arrival date, the ship.... but, no luck, no matter which name I entered (g.father, g.mother, aunt#1 or aunt#2). Then I tried searching with the Steve Morse white pages, and still did not find them. Then I used the missing manifest tool to view every single page of the Augustus log for 13-Aug-1929. Still no Pedroncellis. Strike Four, you're out! So off to the library I go to see what Ancestry finds. Sure enough, there they are, the whole family clearly listed on Alien List 3.

So, I thought "what gives"? Because I love this stuff so much, and am a glutton for punishment (and am off today), I went back thru the manifest page by page, and found the problem. Take a look at what stevemorse.org displays from the Ellis Island site:
http://assets.libertyellisfoundation.or ... _00141.jpg
http://assets.libertyellisfoundation.or ... _00142.jpg

No wonder I can't read "Pedroncelli" from lines 11-14 (and it's not properly indexed).
The same pages are clear as bell on Ancestry. Obviously they have a different image (at least for these records).

Although I love using the Steve Morse tools when Ellis Island doesn't work, clearly it's limited by the quality of the images and indexes available.

Once you receive the Naturalization records, you should have a laser pointer path to the immigration records you're looking for.

-Ken
Researching surnames Pedroncelli and Pilatti in Sondrio; Cantoia in Novara; Penna in Asti.


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