view of Salandra, Matera, Basilicata, Italy by Antonio DiPersia

Friday, August 2, 2013

Francesco Domenico Ambruso and Giovanna Maria Garaguso

The "Atto della celebrazione del Matrinonio" document from Salandra, dated 1870, for Francesco Domenico Ambruso and Giovanna Maria Garaguso.

Francesco Domenico Ambruso was born in Salandra in May 1845.  He married Giovanna Maria  Garaguso in Salandra in 1870 (see Marriage Document above).  Francesco was the first son of Michelarcangelo Ambruso and Maria Giuseppa Iula.  He was a true “pioneer” since he was the first Ambruso from Salandra to come to America.  The records are sketchy, but it seems that he came in 1881, and then Giovanna and the children came about 1885, according to the information they provided to the U.S. Census takers.  They proably came through New York City, but settled in the Italian section of Philadelphia.  They almost certainly had friends or relatives from Salandra already living in South Philadelphia at the time. 
As any genealogist knows, census records can contain some inaccuracies.  I picture the census taker with a large book, standing at the front door asking questions and entering data in script with an ink pen.  He is probably there during the day when the man of the house is out working, so he is speaking to the wife, who in the case of many immigrant families, does not speak very good English.  The ages and dates are always questionable, but the given names written down are usually the name by which that person was commonly called.  In the 1900 U.S. Census at 712 S. Mildred Street in Philadelphia, Francesco was called “Frank”, and Giovanna was called “Jennie”.  The same census says that Frank was already a naturalized US citizen.  Sadly, it also says that Jennie had nine children, but only three were still alive. 

Many Italian immigrants of the period went back and forth between the USA and Italy.  They seemed to miss the old country and their families.  This was certainly not true for Frank.  He planted his roots in the new country and never left.  In the 1900 Philadelphia City Directory, his occupation is listed as laborer.  In subsequent City Directories his occupation is listed as “rags”.  He had a humble beginning in America, but his great grandson tells us that he eventually owned several properties in the area. 
The censuses indicate that Frank and Jennie’s three children, Felicia, Michele and Leonardo, came to America with their mother in the mid 1880’s.  Buy 1899 they were all married to Italian immigrants and living in Philadelphia. I will talk about them in articles to follow.

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