Geneablogy: An occasional Journal about our experiences exploring our heritage

Saturday, June 24, 2000

I asked my dad last night if we had any relatives in Grand Rapids, because of Joseph, Amelia, and Raymond Brandi appearing there in the 1910 Census. At first he said no, but then remembered that the family used to go to Grand Rapids all the time when he was a kid to visit some people. So I've sent mail off to my Aunt Lonnie asking her, since she has a memory, unlike my dad. :-)

Although I suspected they were brothers, I wasn't sure of the relationship between Joseph and li'l Grandpa (and to be honest, I don't have complete proof yet), but this morning at the New Jersey State Library, I found a reference in Italians to America to "Raffaele Brande", age 14, and "Guiseppe Brande", age 10, apparently travelling with their mother, Maria-Domenico Rapa, who appears immediately above them in the shipping list. (Maria's profession is listed as "Farmer".) Li'l Grandpa's death certificate lists his mother as Maria Rappa, so I'm pretty sure this is them. They came to America on the ship Gottardo, which sailed from Naples and Palermo to New York, arriving on July 6, 1885. At least that's what the book said; next step is to try to find the actual original records. Unfortunately, the book didn't list their village, which suggests that the ship records won't either. Oh well. The fact that the three of them were travelling together suggests to me that Raffaele and Guiseppe, or Ralph and Joseph, were brothers. Like I said, it's not definitive proof yet; maybe the original records will say something about that. The 1910 Census says that Mary Brandi had had three children, two of whom were still living in 1910. The fact that the third child wasn't with them on this trip suggests to me that maybe he died in Italy.

(The Immigrant Ship Information page has a description of the ship Gottardo.)

I think I also found when li'l Grandpa's father Vincenzo (Vincent) came to America. The same set of books has an entry for a V. Brandi, age 34, who came to America on the ship Galatia from unspecified "Mediterranean ports", arriving in New York on May 5, 1881. The thing that makes me think this is Vincenzo is the fact that immediately above him on the list is on G. Rapa, age 26, who would possibly have been his brother-in-law.

I also may have found a listing for Laura's great-grandfather, Filippo Saracco. He's listed in volume 7 as a laborer, age 26, travelling from an unknown port to New York on the ship Alsatia, arriving on June 16, 1893, home village and destination unknown. I have his birthdate as circa 1868, based on his age in the 1920 Census. Being 26 on June 16, 1893, would place this Filippo's birthdate between June 16, 1867 and June 15, 1868, so that fits. It doesn't agree with Laura's mom's claim that Filippo came to America before Ellis Island was opened, though, since Ellis Island opened in 1892.

I found a number of other Brandis in volumes 1 and 10-12 of Italians to America. The one I found particularly interesting, though, was Michele Brandi, male, aged 16, a shoemaker, with a final destination of Michigan. He arrived on December 22, 1897, on the ship La Normandie, travelling from Genoa to New York. Michael Brandi of Saginaw is mentioned as a tailor in the birth records of his children, but his brother Salvatore (Sam) is a shoemaker, so maybe Michael changed professions.

They have a bunch of CD-ROMs available at the New Jersey State Library, including a bunch of the World Family Tree CDs. That's good, because I've found mentions of my grandfather and Aunt Lonnie in one tree and of Michael Brandi in another on the Family Tree web site, but didn't want to have to spring for the CDs. Unfortunately, it doesn't appear that you can extract any information about who submitted the trees so you can contact them. Feh. You can't get a reasonable overview of the tree, either. That makes the damned CDs nearly worthless (so I'm glad I didn't have to buy them to find that out). And there wasn't any information about who Michael's parents were; whoever submitted the tree seemed more focused on his wife Mary Zito. They listed their eight kids (!), but didn't go any further down the tree than that. The CD did manage to mention that Michael was from San Potito Sannitico, Casserta, Italy, so that's another part of the tree that seems to be from there (although since there was no source for that bit of information, I can't check it, so I don't really count it yet).

I didn't have much more time, but I did manage to find the CDs of Germans to America and search for the name Prillwitz, but I didn't come across anyone named Helen. There was someone named Hedwig, but she was six months old in the 1880s and therefore definitely too young to have married li'l Grandpa in 1890 or thereabouts. I didn't have time to copy any of the records down, but I have the dates, and they seem to have all of the books of the Germans to America series (64 volumes!), so I'll look in the actual books next time I go to the library. The books seem more useful than the CD versions, because they preserve the context. For example, I would have never noticed on the CD that Maria-Domenico Rappa was immediately above Raffaele and Guiseppe Brandi on the list, providing a strong indication that they're the people I'm looking for, because that context is missing from the CD. Bleah. I'm just not at all impressed with what I've seen of the Family Tree CDs.

All in all, not bad for a couple of hours at the library. One of these Saturdays I'll go back for a whole day and maybe do some Census or city directory research on Laura's family. It was very quiet there today, with only a couple other people on the whole floor. Jeez, where is everybody else, at the beach? :-)

Posted at 10:25:40 PM