1902: Antonio di Lorenzo arrives in New York Harbor

Sepia Saturday 579. Fifth in a photo blog series on my maternal Italian ancestors from Gloversville, Fulton Co., N.Y.

A blog series featuring photos of my maternal Italian ancestors from the Laurence-di Lorenzo-Curcio family album. Photo: Molly Charboneau

After finding a photo of my great- granduncle Antonio di Lorenzo in a family album, I wanted to learn more about the long-lost brother of my mom’s Italian grandfather Peter D. Laurence (nee Pietro di Lorenzo).

But where to look? According to family oral history, Antonio came briefly to the U.S. — likely traveling from their hometown of Limatola in Benevento, Campania, Italy. But he allegedly did not like it here and went back to Italy. So why not start there?

A thwarted birth and census search

Since I had already found an abstract [1]FamilySearch requires a free login to view records. of my great-grandfather Peter’s birth record online,[2]“Italia, Benevento, Stato Civile (Archivio di Stato), 1810-1942”, database with images, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:QGYD-GDYS : 12 May 2020), Pietro di … Continue reading I searched for his brother Antonio’s — plugging in their Limatola hometown, shown below, and their parents’ names, also trying some surname variants. Alas, no luck.

https://www.borghiautenticiditalia.it/borgo/limatola
Contemporary photo of Limatola, Benevento, Campania, Italy — ancestral home of Pietro and Antonio di Lorenzo. An ancient Norman castle rises above the town, which was anchored in farming when Pietro and Antonio emigrated to the U.S. in 1896-1902. Photo: Borghi Autentici d’Italia

Then I tried searching the 1905 New York State and 1910 U.S. censuses to see if Antonio was enumerated in either one during his Gloversille, N.Y., stay — but no luck there either.

Finally, I turned to digitized passenger records. I have tried unsuccessfully to find the passenger record for my great-grandfather Peter. Would I do any better finding Antonio on a ship manifest?

A passenger manifest discovery

The answer is, yes! I was thrilled to find  a manifest showing Antonio arriving in New York Harbor on 26 May 1902 aboard the S.S. Neckar to join his brother Pietro in Gloversville, N.Y. (excerpted below.)[3]Year: 1902; Arrival: New York, New York, USA; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Line: 5; Page Number: 159; Detail: Antonio di Lorenzo.

Antonio di Lorenzo – Passenger Manifest – SS Neckar – Arriving in NY Harbor on 26 May 1902 — Source: Ancestry.com[4]Ibid.
Name Age Marital Status
Job Read,  Write Natl.
di Lorenzo, Antonio 27 Marr Farmer Yes Italian
Last Residence US Port Going to Passage paid by Money in hand Joining
Limatola New York Gloversville Self $10 Brother Pietro

Unpacking a passenger manifest

There is a great deal of information here about my great-granduncle Antonio — so let’s take a column-by-column look.

At age 27 in 1902, Antonio would have been born in 1875 — making him two years younger than my great-grandfather Peter, who was born in 1873 and emigrated in 1896.

A surprise was Antonio’s marital status. On the manifest, the letter d. (for ditto) is given in his marital status column — referencing an entry above his that says “Marr.”

If the notation is correct, this could explain Antonio’s returned to Italy. He may have come to check out the U.S. so his wife could join him — a common scenario — but decided against staying and went back. It may also explain why Peter — the older, single brother — came to the U.S. first, with Antonio following.

Uncle Antonio could read and write. He was a farmer back in Limatola — with only $10 on his person when he arrived (worth about $316 today). And he was en route to visit his brother Pietro (Peter D. Laurence) in Gloversville, N.Y.

What a wealth of information about a once forgotten relative!

A look at the SS Neckar

Having perused the details of Antonio’s passenger manifest, I wondered if I could find a photo of his ship. And sure enough, there are a number of images online of the SS Neckar — a Rhine-class steamship.

https://ships-wiki.fandom.com/wiki/SS_Neckar?file=D995635F-C76D-4A72-9859-0D3EF346844E.jpg
SS Neckar, the ship that transported Antonio di Lorenzo to the U.S. in 1902. The Norwegian-built plied the Atlantic as a North German Lloyd passenger vessel on the Bremen-New York route from 1901 to 1917, when it was seized by the U.S. during WWI and turned into a troopship. Photo: Ships Wiki

A Norway Heritage site says the passenger capacity of the Norwegian-built ship was “arranged for 140 first class, 150 second class and, when the full space was utilized, 2600 steerage passengers.” With $10 in his pocket, I’m guessing Antonio traveled in steerage.

The SS Neckar plied the Atlantic for North German Lloyd as a passenger vessel on the Bremen-New York route from 1901 until 1917 — when it was seized by the U.S. during WWI and turned into the troopship USS Antigone.

Amazing what you can find when you start looking! In this case, many interesting details about my long-lost great granduncle Antonio — and about the ship he traveled on. So what else can I discover about my Italian great-grandfather Peter and his brother?

Up next: More on Peter D. Laurence and Antonio di Lorenzo. Meanwhile, please visit the blogs of this week’s other Sepia Saturday participants.

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References

References
1 FamilySearch requires a free login to view records.
2 “Italia, Benevento, Stato Civile (Archivio di Stato), 1810-1942”, database with images, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:QGYD-GDYS : 12 May 2020), Pietro di Lorenzo, 1873 [2 Sep]. Parents: Giuseppe di Lorenzo and Maddalena Aragosa. Certificate No. 58.
3 Year: 1902; Arrival: New York, New York, USA; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Line: 5; Page Number: 159; Detail: Antonio di Lorenzo.
4 Ibid.

14 thoughts on “1902: Antonio di Lorenzo arrives in New York Harbor”

  1. I left last week’s post wondering if you would find anything with a search of passenger lists, and you did! Great discovery!

    1. Thanks, Kathy. Now I am glad I waited to research my maternal immigrant relatives. There are so many more digitized records to discover.

  2. Molly,

    I spent some time on your blog today finally reading the last of your A2Z posts that I missed in April. Yep, I’m slow but by golly Miss Molly I did it! It’s not every day, I tell you that I can use that expression on someone who’s named Molly. 🙂 I really, really enjoyed reading about your early teen years in Endwell. Your writing style simply captivated me and let’s just say that’s not an easy thing to do with my flighty brain. 😀 And, this post on your great granduncle was equally awesome. You’re a gifted author full of personality in your writing. I just signed up to receive updates when your posts publish. Thanks for sharing and it was marvelous to reconnect through the April challenge. Have a great summer!

    1. Hey, Cathy! Thanks for the visit. I see you are doing the A to Z Challenge Road Show, which must be fun. Glad to have you as a subscriber — and hope to pop over to your blog again soon.

  3. It is kind of amazing what can turn up when you start searching. You lucked out! I can see you, as the information turned up – tapping your feet, throwing your arms up, and saying: “Yes!!!” 🙂

    1. You have described my happy dance perfectly! It’s not often we make breakthroughs like this on the the first try — and it was particularly gratifying after having no luck finding Peter’s passenger record.

  4. Well done! That’s a first-rate identification. I know there was a shout of triumph when you read “Brother Pietro”. Those ship manifests certainly do offer amazing details that lead to new avenues of research. I’m impressed that you were able to read it, as in my experience, most ship clerks’ handwriting is often indecipherable. The Norway Heritage website is a terrific resource that I’ve used many times. It’s interesting how thousands of ships traveling to only a few ports of entry had to account for every person. Perhaps you’ll be able to find the shipping record of his departure too.

    1. Thanks, Mike! Yes, I literally did a happy dance when I found this record. Gloversville as the destination was the first tip off that I had the right manifest — and “Brother Pietro” sealed the deal. And yes, it would be great to also find the record of Antonio’s departure back to Italy — so stay tuned for that.

  5. $10 – I guess that was something back then, but still it sounds so risky to travel with so little. Records like this travel record are always so interesting, usually more so than birth and death records.

    1. I looked it up, and $10 in 1902 had the buying power of about $316 today — which does sound a bit better. Most of the other passengers listed with Antonio had between $10 and $30 on them. And I totally agree about passenger records — often more and different info than on vital records.

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