18 Feb 1861 - 14 Dec 1922
One year after my great grandfather Buonaventura arrived at Ellis Island, his younger brother Stefano sailed to New York on the SS Algeria to begin the American journey for his family. On August 9, 1902, he stepped off the ship and was bound for his brother's new-found home of Mulberry Street. It would take nearly three and a half years before the rest of his family were able to make their passage to the United States. In November 1905, his wife Giuseppa Dolce and their three children, Grazia (19), Luciano (16) and Domiano (14) joined their father on Chrystie Street in Little Italy.
Buonaventura and Stefano led similar lives in New York in the early years of the 20th century. The brothers that worked together in their native Sicily, now lived just minutes from each other and both found work as laborers -- probably often times working side by side once again. While Buonaventura would eventually leave the city for upstate New York, Stefano spent the rest of his life in the close-knit lower Manhattan Italian community (on Catherine and Henry streets). In his later years, he worked as a "boot black" (shoeshine) and suffered from chronic tuberculosis, which would ultimately take his life at the end of 1922, less than two weeks before Christmas. He is buried in Calvary Cemetery in Queens.
Grazia, Luciano and Domiano Siragusa were all born in Collesano and came to America as teenagers. Tracing their children and grandchildren are the key to finding this "new" branch of the family that until a few years ago, I never knew existed. As so many immigrants did, all three children would adopt new (and seemingly multiple in some cases) American-style names. Changed names and the typical misspelling and indexing errors of vital records have made this one of the more challenging branches to research.
Born November 15, 1886 in Collesano, Grazia Giovanna Siragusa was the second child of Stefano and Giuseppa, and given the name of Giuseppa's mother. Less than a year after Grazia's birth, her older sister Rosaria died at the age of just 34 months. Grazia grew up in Sicily and would celebrate her 19th birthday just 10 days after arriving in New York City. On December 2, 1906 she married Giuseppe Termotto, also a native of Collesano, who had just landed in America that summer. The next known traces of the couple come in a World War I draft registration card for Giuseppe, showing them living at 83 Henry Street around 1917. The 1920 Federal Census confirms they are still on Henry Street, where Grazia (now known as "Jennie") and Giuseppe now have a family of five children -- Jennie, Josephine, Tony, Rosina and Sarah.
Luciano (born March 30, 1889) is the namesake of my 2nd Great Grandfather, Stefano and Buonaventura's father. He married Carmela Blandino in 1913 and lived on Staten Island with their family of four sons and a daughter. In the 1940 census, they are still at the same Fremont Avenue house and have now changed the spelling of their last name from Siragusa to Siracusa. It's not known exactly when the spelling change occurred, but the family story suggests that a clerical error in one of their children's school paperwork was the reason.
The youngest of Stefano's children and the one I know the least about (so far). Born June 4, 1891 in Collesano, the last confirmed trace of him, at this point, is at age 30 in the 1920 census -- listed as "David, Jr.," unmarried, living with his parents at 83 Henry Street, New York.
** More coming soon **
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