Searching ship records for a town of origin in Italy. Beware!

16 Aug

A major breakthrough towards discovering an ancestor’s town of birth in Italy!  We now know her “last residence”, which may turn out to be her place of birth !

I was searching www.castlegarden.org  for an 1887 ship record of Grazia Lingria (an immigration date given on a NY census record).  I entered only the surname “Lingria” and it brought up a record that was a match to her age, with a husband “Antonio”. She arrived in New York on January 20, 1905 on the ship “Nord America”. The listing indicated she had been in the USA previously (since 1889), which was close enough to 1887, (and such info from census records is often a tad wrong). A street name in New York was mentioned. (It didn’t quite match a known address for this family, but from other records collected we know they moved around).  It was a close enough match to follow through on this entry.

The year 1905 would be in the Ellis Island database.  But it didn’t come up there under the spelling “Lingria”.  At the www.stevemorse.org site, I left all names blank and searched only on the town name “Catona”.  This brought up a list of names, including a Grazia “Lingua”, but a person of wrong age to be a match. I followed the link to the original manifest anyway, and there she was !   The original ship manifest actually said “age 54” (as the Castle Garden search results had indicated) and here were additional details (“husband, Antonio Santigati in Brooklyn” !!   That’s her !  Her surname is actually spelled correctly as “Lingria” on the original manifest, but the Ellis Island indexing has both her surname spelling and her age wrong.  You can’t trust it then. You have to be persistent and check things that are suspicious all the way through to the actual original document to see for yourself. Below is the incorrect information that was indexed. It should say age 54 “Lingria”

 Name  Last Residence  Age  Born  Arrival
 Lingua, Grazia  Catona  34 1871  1905

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Now the search is on in the town of Catona, Reggio Calabria, to see if they have her birth record. We have her parent’s names from her 1926 birth record in Broolyn.  It says she was born in 1853, but the ship record indicates 1851, and census records in NY indicate 1855.  So the search will include 1850-1855. Should  have the results in a couple of days from a microfilm search.  If it is the correct town, then hopefully they will also have her marriage record, and then will also be able to discover where her husband was born.

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