why were so many Gaetanos renamed Thomas here in the US?

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timo
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why were so many Gaetanos renamed Thomas here in the US?

Postby timo » 18 Oct 2010, 11:34

I see a lot of men called Gaetano (Thomas) so-and-so when searching the internet. What is the origin of this association? When they arrived at Ellis Island were Gaetanos instructed to use the name Thomas instead? Is it known how Thomas got to be such a common substitute?

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Re: why were so many Gaetanos renamed Thomas here in the US?

Postby Eleven » 18 Oct 2010, 15:20

Probably for the same reason/reasons Vincenzo is James.

I often wondered if it had to do with the sound of the name. vincenzo-chenzo-CHENZ sounds like James?

Gaetano- when pronounced by Italians..sort of sounds like guy-tahn. Tahn sounds like Tom?

That is all I was ever able to come up with.

Nobody instructed anyone on their names on Ellis Island. No names were changed. These people had travel documents/passports with their names on them. If errors/changes were made, they were either made on the document/passport or by someone misreading a document/passport. These "changed on Ellis Island" stories are just not true.

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Re: why were so many Gaetanos renamed Thomas here in the US?

Postby Squigy » 18 Oct 2010, 17:09

How about this one; Angelo to Charlie. My great granduncle was born Angelo, but he went by Charlie. He had three cousins named Angelo (all after their grandfather) who all went by Charlie, too.
My Italian surnames:

Caserta: Maietta, Rossano, Tessitore, Negro, Peluso, Musone

Campobasso: D'Andrea, Barile

Catanzaro: Fiorelli/Fiorillo, Romito

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timo
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Re: why were so many Gaetanos renamed Thomas here in the US?

Postby timo » 18 Oct 2010, 17:22

The sounds-like theory is plausible but I don't find it a really compelling explanation all by itself. My grandfather, one of these Gaetano-Thomases, somehow had the impression that Thomas was the American translation of the name, not merely a convenient soundalike. Google, BTW, was for a while translating Gaetano as "Gary". :roll:

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Re: why were so many Gaetanos renamed Thomas here in the US?

Postby ForzaItaliaPgh » 18 Oct 2010, 18:19

I know my Great Grandma and her sister both got their "American" names in Catholic school. One was Rosaria (it's like pulling teeth finding out info, so I don't know which) and they went by "Rose" and "Sara" thanks to the nuns at their school - or so the story goes.
Researching BARONTINI family from Tuscany

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Re: why were so many Gaetanos renamed Thomas here in the US?

Postby Eleven » 18 Oct 2010, 18:55

My uncle was born Carmine and goes by charlie. So did his cousins with the same name. I thought that was odd.

My mothers name changed in school. The teacher was trying to figure out what to use for Giovannina. Johanna, Jennie, Jean. Somehow, Jennie was selected. A woman that I know had a mother named Giovannina, also. She went by Jean.

But this Gaetano/Vincenzo to Thomas/James..is all over the place. Its not just in one family. If its not from a sound alike. I would love to know how this name change came about for so many of them.

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Re: why were so many Gaetanos renamed Thomas here in the US?

Postby Squigy » 18 Oct 2010, 19:42

Eleven wrote:My uncle was born Carmine and goes by charlie. So did his cousins with the same name. I thought that was odd.

My mothers name changed in school. The teacher was trying to figure out what to use for Giovannina. Johanna, Jennie, Jean. Somehow, Jennie was selected. A woman that I know had a mother named Giovannina, also. She went by Jean.

But this Gaetano/Vincenzo to Thomas/James..is all over the place. Its not just in one family. If its not from a sound alike. I would love to know how this name change came about for so many of them.


My g-g-grandmother's name was Giovannina, and she went by Jennie, too. She had a niece named Joan, and two granchildren named Joanne and Jeanne after her.

Oh, here's another one, an uncle of mine was named Gennaro, and when he went to school the teacher had no idea what he was saying, and she said "Oh, all Italians names are Tony, so we'll just call you Tony" He used that name for the rest of his life.
My Italian surnames:



Caserta: Maietta, Rossano, Tessitore, Negro, Peluso, Musone



Campobasso: D'Andrea, Barile



Catanzaro: Fiorelli/Fiorillo, Romito

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Eleven
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Re: why were so many Gaetanos renamed Thomas here in the US?

Postby Eleven » 20 Oct 2010, 03:13

LOL Maybe thats why there were so many Tonys..lol


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