Great-grandfather's disappearance

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MaryMena
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Great-grandfather's disappearance

Postby MaryMena » 24 Mar 2010, 13:01

I have been perusing this forum for a while now and, from what I read, I am convinced that if your panel can’t help me, no one can.

My g-grandfather abandoned his pregnant (with my grandfather) wife and a two-year-old son in Italy and left for the US. Until about 8 years ago, I didn’t even know that was where he went. For 100+ years his descendants had passed down an elaborate story about him leaving and not having been heard from again and all the attempts they made to try and find him – until I found him arriving at Ellis Island on the ship Patria on Oct. 19, 1901 and going to Du Bois, PA. He was travelling with five other men from the same town. This led me to believe that for some reason there had to be a cover-up for his departure and that if something had happened to him those men surely would have written to tell his family. When I asked a couple of older relatives point blank, if they knew all along where he was, they admitted that they did. As to the reason why he abandoned his family, they didn’t know (wouldn’t tell?).

I have been searching for him on and off for 8 years. A while ago I discovered that he sponsored five relatives who arrived on the SS Nord America on March 10, 1905. This time he was living in Mingo Junction, OH. This is the last bit of info that I found on him. I have checked as much as I can without having subscriptions to any genealogy sites. I have previously asked for help in a couple of other forums with no results, but I’m hoping that more info is available since then.

I will probably never know why he abandoned his family, but I would like to know what happened to him after 1905. Are there naturalization papers for him? Is there a death record for him? Did he get married in the US? His wife in Italy lived until early 1950.

Name: Francesco Mule’
Born: about 1865, in Ardore, Reggio Calabria, Italy
Wife’s Name: Teresa Chine’
Lat known residence: Mingo Junction, Ohio on March 10, 1905

I would appreciate any information you can find.

Mary

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johnnyonthespot
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Re: Great-grandfather's disappearance

Postby johnnyonthespot » 24 Mar 2010, 13:53

Please understand that it was extremely common in the early part of the 20th century for Italian men - single, married, and/or fathers - to leave Italy alone or in groups to come to the US in search of a better life for themselves and their families. After they settled in, found work, and saved some money, the married men would send for thier wives and children (if any). Both of my grandfathers did this; my paternal grandmother and her son arrived 9 years after my grandfather (though their story is complicated by unusual events); my maternal grandmother and her two daughters arrived four years after her husband.

And, yes, things did happen. My paternal grandfather was caught up in a murder investigation and was sentenced along with another Italian immigrant to life imprisonment in Maine in 1911 - just one year after arriving in the US. Five years later, he was granted a full pardon by the governor upon convincing evidence that he was not involved in the crime and had not received an entirely fair trial. If not for the people who fought to get him a pardon (including the prison warden and chaplain), my grandfather would have spent most of his life in prison and my father would never have been born.

Another thing to keep in mind - sometimes it was the wife who was left behind in Italy who decided not to follow her husband. Sometimes at the insistence of other family members who would warn her of the terrible fate that awaited her in the US. Better Bella Italia than the slums of New York!

So, please, don't be so hard on your great-grandfather until you know for certain what really happened...
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Re: Great-grandfather's disappearance

Postby aliza24 » 24 Mar 2010, 16:39

Wow Johnny! What a story! I wonder, is this story published anywhere? I would think that it would be valuable in telling of the whole Italian immigrant experience- particularly of the discrimination that they faced.

I've heard of many stories where Italians were wrongfully accused of something. They were thought of as 'dirty criminals'. There are scholars that specialize and this in area and would probably like to hear the story- if it's not already out there- that is.
_________________________________________________________

MaryMena- as for your GGF- Johnny is absolutely right. I think the 'abandonment' story should be taken with a grain of salt. Or at the very least, we have to remind ourselves that there are always at least 2 sides to every story.

Being separated for 9 years was not uncommon at all. It took years to be established enough to bring the family over. My GGF didn't bring the wife over until 15 years later! Can you imagine being separated for 15 years- or even 9- back in those days?! No phone, no internet,....that alone I'd think would put some stress on a marriage and cause some problems. Think of how much can happen and how much people can change in a decade! It would be easy for us to make a judgment now but we didn't live back then and we really don't know the full story.

Now as far as finding out what happened to him- there are a few things you could try. If you're near the area where he was last known to live, I'd try a local genealogical society or library. Also, some newspapers have digitized articles and obits for the last 100 years or so and put them online.

Last but not least, Ancestry.com has a lot of free trials. I think they have one going on now. This is by far the best resource. I'd try that out. Look for the Anglicized version of his name too- probably Frank.

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Re: Great-grandfather's disappearance

Postby johnnyonthespot » 24 Mar 2010, 17:35

aliza24 wrote:Wow Johnny! What a story! I wonder, is this story published anywhere? I would think that it would be valuable in telling of the whole Italian immigrant experience- particularly of the discrimination that they faced.

I've heard of many stories where Italians were wrongfully accused of something. They were thought of as 'dirty criminals'. There are scholars that specialize and this in area and would probably like to hear the story- if it's not already out there- that is.


Murders were big news back then and this was no exception - I have found some 40 newspaper articles concerning the crime, the "escape" of the two men believed responsible, the capture, trial, and eventual pardons of both men. I also have some of the official state records including the indictment and my grandfather's petition for pardon and associated documents.

My grandfather's pardon was based on the fact that he was not a participant in the crime and was not even present, although he did leave town the next morning with the actual perpetrator. The other man was eventually pardoned (after serving 14 years of his sentence) by presenting convincing evidence that the killing was in self-defense as he had always claimed.

One of the researchers I worked with in a Maine library commented to me, "You know, this would make a great book." My first thought was, she's crazy, my second thought was, hmmm - maybe she's right. But, in the end, I don't think I am up to the task and have no idea how to move forward with such a project.

My grandfather is on the left...
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Re: Great-grandfather's disappearance

Postby MaryMena » 24 Mar 2010, 23:45

Thanks, Johnny and aliza24 for your input.

After 1905, he really seems to have disappeared. I have scoured Ellis Island with other names common to my family to see if he sponsored anyone else at a later time, but found nothing. I have checked the US sensuses when I had a month of free ancenstry and even checked all the Canadian censuses. There are lots of "F. Mule's" but it's impossible to know if it's him.

Johnny, I know what your mean about men leaving in the early 1900's to work. Life in southern Calabria at that time was tough, trying to raise large families on little plots of inhospitable land. I spent part of my childhood there and even in the early 1960's it was not much different -- very few adult men in town, most were in Australia, but one by one they all took their families over, first the older sons, then the wife and little ones.

I have been putting a book together for my children, and have found a tremendous amount of information and long lost family branches but I was hoping to solve this mystery before I get it printed in the next few months.

Thanks again
Mary

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Re: Great-grandfather's disappearance

Postby 3lups » 25 Mar 2010, 03:12

I too have a GGF that fell off the map between 1924-1930. He was accused of murder but not tried (the current info I have). I have had help on this board and am convinced he took off/changed his name.

I am stumped as to where to look now.

Good luck!

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Re: Great-grandfather's disappearance

Postby italianlaw » 25 Mar 2010, 07:22

Hello Mary
There are still two Mule' families living in Ardore (RC).

Also I easily found two Teresa Chine, one of which may be wife of Francesco Mule' still on title to abandoned land. Do you know her father's name? This would lead you to the living Mule family.


Cognome Nome Data di nascita Luogo di nascita Sesso Codice Fiscale
CHINE TERESA Ardore
CHINE' TERESA

Interestingly there is a Teresa Chine' living in Arcore today
Tel 0964 64072

Anthony Alioto
www.italianlaw.net
San Francisco

MaryMena wrote:I have been perusing this forum for a while now and, from what I read, I am convinced that if your panel can’t help me, no one can.

My g-grandfather abandoned his pregnant (with my grandfather) wife and a two-year-old son in Italy and left for the US. Until about 8 years ago, I didn’t even know that was where he went. For 100+ years his descendants had passed down an elaborate story about him leaving and not having been heard from again and all the attempts they made to try and find him – until I found him arriving at Ellis Island on the ship Patria on Oct. 19, 1901 and going to Du Bois, PA. He was travelling with five other men from the same town. This led me to believe that for some reason there had to be a cover-up for his departure and that if something had happened to him those men surely would have written to tell his family. When I asked a couple of older relatives point blank, if they knew all along where he was, they admitted that they did. As to the reason why he abandoned his family, they didn’t know (wouldn’t tell?).

I have been searching for him on and off for 8 years. A while ago I discovered that he sponsored five relatives who arrived on the SS Nord America on March 10, 1905. This time he was living in Mingo Junction, OH. This is the last bit of info that I found on him. I have checked as much as I can without having subscriptions to any genealogy sites. I have previously asked for help in a couple of other forums with no results, but I’m hoping that more info is available since then.

I will probably never know why he abandoned his family, but I would like to know what happened to him after 1905. Are there naturalization papers for him? Is there a death record for him? Did he get married in the US? His wife in Italy lived until early 1950.

Name: Francesco Mule’
Born: about 1865, in Ardore, Reggio Calabria, Italy
Wife’s Name: Teresa Chine’
Lat known residence: Mingo Junction, Ohio on March 10, 1905

I would appreciate any information you can find.

Mary

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italianlaw
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Re: Great-grandfather's disappearance

Postby italianlaw » 25 Mar 2010, 07:57

I have found a reference to Francesco Mule. I can even tell you the parcel of land he worked and then abaondoned

MaryMena wrote:I have been perusing this forum for a while now and, from what I read, I am convinced that if your panel can’t help me, no one can.

My g-grandfather abandoned his pregnant (with my grandfather) wife and a two-year-old son in Italy and left for the US. Until about 8 years ago, I didn’t even know that was where he went. For 100+ years his descendants had passed down an elaborate story about him leaving and not having been heard from again and all the attempts they made to try and find him – until I found him arriving at Ellis Island on the ship Patria on Oct. 19, 1901 and going to Du Bois, PA. He was travelling with five other men from the same town. This led me to believe that for some reason there had to be a cover-up for his departure and that if something had happened to him those men surely would have written to tell his family. When I asked a couple of older relatives point blank, if they knew all along where he was, they admitted that they did. As to the reason why he abandoned his family, they didn’t know (wouldn’t tell?).

I have been searching for him on and off for 8 years. A while ago I discovered that he sponsored five relatives who arrived on the SS Nord America on March 10, 1905. This time he was living in Mingo Junction, OH. This is the last bit of info that I found on him. I have checked as much as I can without having subscriptions to any genealogy sites. I have previously asked for help in a couple of other forums with no results, but I’m hoping that more info is available since then.

I will probably never know why he abandoned his family, but I would like to know what happened to him after 1905. Are there naturalization papers for him? Is there a death record for him? Did he get married in the US? His wife in Italy lived until early 1950.

Name: Francesco Mule’
Born: about 1865, in Ardore, Reggio Calabria, Italy
Wife’s Name: Teresa Chine’
Lat known residence: Mingo Junction, Ohio on March 10, 1905

I would appreciate any information you can find.

Mary

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Re: Great-grandfather's disappearance

Postby MaryMena » 25 Mar 2010, 13:53

Thank you, Anthony, for taking the time to answer.

Teresa's father was Giuseppe Antonio (b. c1839, d1896).
The Chine's in Ardore are very numerous, especially from the town of San Nicola.
As for the Mule's in Ardore, I have no doubt that I'll find a link if I go back far enough, but the two sons that Francesco abandoned moved here to Canada with all their family members in the early 1960's.

I'd be curious to know in what area Francesco's plot of land is. There is a lot of abandoned land in the area. My own father had a plot of 8 "ari" that is being used by by his niece's children.

I am systematically ordering films from the FHL and finding lots of info on my ancestors. My main goal for this post is to find out what happened to Francesco in the US.

Mary

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Re: Great-grandfather's disappearance

Postby Bette » 26 Mar 2010, 01:02

Mary,
Have you joined Facebook? I am thinking that you may need to contact other people with the Mule name. There may be other Francesco Mule's out there who were named after their grandfather and maybe you could track him down this way. If you have a photo of him, that would help.
Just a suggestion.
Bette

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Re: Great-grandfather's disappearance

Postby johnnyonthespot » 26 Mar 2010, 02:39

We have a member here, Mulé, who turns up quite often. I don't know if that his his family name or some other reference.

Perhaps MaryMena might want to PM him.
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Re: Great-grandfather's disappearance

Postby MaryMena » 26 Mar 2010, 13:37

Bette, I haven't joined Facebook. I suppose he could have descendants in the US, but would they know his town of origin? I would think that if he got married or not, he would hide the fact that he had a wife and two children back in Italy. Ellis Island has quite a number of Francesco Mule's arriving but he is the only one from Ardore, most of the others are from Sicily.

Which brings me to your post, Johnny -- I have followed Mule's posts in this forum just on the off chance that there might be a connection, but his ancestors seem to hail from Sicily.

Does anyone have any ancestors who had a wife in Italy, but got married in the US? Would he have had to get a certificate from Italy stating that he was not married there. Or did they just assume a new identity to avoid this. Francesco's wife in Italy died in the early 1950's when he would have been past 85 years old.

Mary

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Re: Great-grandfather's disappearance

Postby maestra36 » 02 May 2010, 14:32

I sent you two private messages this morning


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