When Angelina “Angie” Cirabisi was born on September 6, 1909, in New York City, her father, Giuseppe “Joseph”, was 35, and her mother, Leonarda “Lena” Gerace Cirabisi, was only 21 years old.
ANGIE’S FATHER: Angie’s father, Joseph Cirabisi, was born in Italy. He was 33 years old when he arrived at Ellis Island on the S.S. Algeria. As he entered Ellis Island, he stated that his occupation was stone worker and that his last place of residence was Castelvetrano, Italy. His ship had departed from a port in Naples on 17 January 1907 and arrived at Ellis Island on 4 February 1907. He recorded that he was coming to join his uncle Guiseppe Sanfilippo in Brooklyn, New York.
In 1917-1918, men in America were required to register for the draft. I found the document below. Melrose Street is where Joseph lived when he filled out this form and that street is not new in the family story and I found it in many documents.
Another official record that I found was a 1925 New York State census record. At the time of that census, Joseph was 51 years old and was listed as doing “cement blocks.” He was living on Melrose Street with his wife Lena and daughters Angie and Antoinette. He records his citizenship status as alien. I had to do some history lessons to figure that one out. Why would an alien register for the US draft? Well, it turns out that you had to register for the draft if you were an alien residing in the United States! Go figure!
ANGIE’S MOTHER Angie’s mother was Leonarda (Lena) Gerace. Lena was born in Partana, Italy.
Lena traveled to the states at the age of 25 leaving on the ship Luisiana from a port in Naples, Campania, Italy. She listed her last place of residence as Partanna, Trapani. She arrived at Ellis Island on 15 Oct. 1907. (Frank had arrived in February of that same year.)
In the 1925 New York state census, Lena claims she is of alien status.
It was so hard for me to find any good information on Lena. Anne Bivona Barnes had told us that Lena had a brother Gaspare. I was able to find some information on him and will continue as time allows to trace Lena’s family and ancestry through information available on her brother.
ANGIE’S SISTER Angie’s sister was Antoinette Cirabisi. Antoinette was born in approx. 1916. She was engaged to be married but sadly died before the wedding, at the age of 23, from a heart condition. Her date of death was 18 March 1939. Until her death, she had been employed as a bookkeeper. She was buried at St. John’s cemetery.
ANGIE Angie died in Michigan and her death date was recorded as 10 December 1987 and on that same certificate, her date of birth, was shown to be 27 September 1909.
Where was Angie born? Anne Bivona Barnes recalls that Angie was born in NYC so that is probably the case, but I did find a trip that brought Angie and her mother Lena through Ellis Island on 13 June 1913. This was on the ship the Principe Di Pimonte that left from the port of Palermo.
Ancestry reminds us when doing research on Italian ancestors to remember that they did travel back and forth. In other cases of immigration from European countries, people had fled from Europe to the United States to avoid persecution BUT the reason that so many people left Italy was almost entirely economic. That simply means, the Italian ancestors had every reason to go back to visit family, dream of returning to Italy and then often returning again to the states.
At the time that Angie’s family moved to the United States, the Italian unified government was encouraging people in Southern Italy to leave – not enough resources were available for the population. Also, the United States at that time had a labor shortage and were encouraging Italians to immigrate.
In 1925, in the state of New York census, Angie is a US citizen and is employed as a tailor. She lives on Melrose Street with her parents and her sister in that year. Her family told me that she worked in a coat factory.
In 1933, Angie was just 23 years old when she had her daughter Anne Bivona Barnes.
Her daughter Anne recalls that her family lived in Brooklyn at 41 Street and Ft. Hamilton Parkway until about 1939. Then, from 1939 to 1955 the family lived on Bushwick at the corner of Irving and Stockholm Street.
Angie was buried in NY. She had lived to be 78 years old.