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An Immigrants Tale (IV): 
Finding Antonio Palmieri at Ellis Island
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The Immigrant's Tale:  Part I   Part II   Part III  Part IV

(The following appeared in Pizza News, November 2000)
(Volume II No. 11) (ISSN: 1533-3795)
  Grande Publishing 2000

In the last three issues of "Pizza News" we wrote of our search for Antonio Palmieri, my maternal grandfather. He was born in Brazil and moved back to Italy with his parents when he was 17.

He traveled to America with hopes of returning to Brazil. His destination was Providence, Rhode Island, where his father's friend lived. He would remain in Rhode Island for the rest of his life.

Since we knew he landed in New York, we began our search at the Ellis Island web site. This site has chronicled the arrival of over 22 million immigrants. After numerous attempts we came up empty handed. There was no record of our Antonio Palmieri.

We next tried searching for my maternal grandmother Leontina Fratantuono. Grandma Palmieri (as she was known to me,) had always said she was born in Italy. She came over when she was one year old. We started our search by typing in the name of my mom's grandfather, Leopoldo Fratantuono.

We were able to find him at the site. You can read the ship's manifest yourself: Click HERE! (To find Leopoldo go to line 25.) The graphic is large and may take several minutes to view.

My mother then suggested we look for her Aunt Catherine, Antonio's sister. She had come to the United States in 1924. After trying several different spellings we found her.

Caterina Palmieri was 24 when she passed through Ellis Island on November 25, 1924. She traveled on the ship Duilio from Naples, Italy. We then, read ship's manifest.

(Here is a thumbnail of the manifest.)
Click on thumbnail to view.
(The manifest will open in a new window)

catarina1.jpg (193020 bytes)

(You can look at the original  passenger record and
Duilio Manifest
Right Here.)
Caterina is listed on line 9

 She had $32 dollars and had been born in Jahin, Brazil. She was coming to stay with her brother Antonio at 571 Harris Ave. in Providence Rhode Island. My mother had tears in her eyes as she explained that Harris Ave. had been her childhood home.

Finally, we found Antonio Palmieri, at Ellis Island!

Antonio hurriedly splashed water on his face and then, using his shaving brush, lathered quickly. He began to scrape his face with his straight edge razor. He was a little groggy from playing mandolin for the Serenade.

His ears still buzzed from Louise shouting at him when he rolled in after 2:00 AM. The Serenade was an Italian tradition whereby a man asks several musicians to play music for his intended bride.

The musicians would play a number of songs outside the house and then be invited inside. After the music, there always was a party. The beer and wine flowed freely! Antonio had a difficult time saying "no" for any Serenade.

Antonio Palmieri with his mandolin!
Antonio Palmieri with his beloved mandolin!

 

"Today is the day", he thought. "Mama and Caterina are finally coming to America". He had last seen his mother and sister Caterina in Italy, right after the family had moved back from Brazil. That was over twelve years ago. Now he was married with two daughters.

He kissed his wife, Louise (Leontina), and patted her bulging belly. "Maybe this one will be a son". He had to hurry to meet Caterina and Mama!

Antonio recognized her immediately. He shouted:
"
Caterina, Caterina". He ran up to her, and gently squeezed her.
He looked around. "Mama, Caterina, where is Mama?"


 "Antonio," she said,
 "Mama
decided not to come. She is going to stay in Italy."


Antonio
looked down, and said nothing.
 He would rarely speak of his mother for the duration of his life.

Although millions and millions of immigrants came through Ellis Island,
there were just as many, who decided to stay in their homeland.
That, is the tragedy of the immigrant experience.
M
any friends and loved ones, for one reason or another, were left behind. 

After immigrating to Brazil and then returning to Italy, Antonio's mother, had decided, she had enough traveling to last a life time.

She would remain in Italy for the rest of her life.

And that's the story.

 



The Immigrant's Tale:  Part I   Part II   Part III  Part IV


Ellis Island Video
Ellis Island
Video

Italians in America
Italians in America, Vol. 1: The Journey

Ellis Island : New Hope in a New Land

 Land of Hope 
(Ellis Island Stories)

 I Was Dreaming to Come to America :...

 

 

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