29 January 2017

Case Study on "O Brother, Where Art Thou?"

Here's a lesson that supports my earlier post, "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" I have one branch of my family where the information was pretty scant. In fact, I never knew my great grandmother's maiden name was Caruso until the eve of my first trip to Italy—the trip that sparked my interest in genealogy. Later I heard from a distant cousin named Michael who was very interested in the Caruso family tree and shared a great deal of first-hand information with me.

As with any information I receive without documentation, I set about proving all of the facts Michael had shared with me, and in doing so, I learned quite a bit more facts.

My great grandmother, Maria Rosa Caruso, had at least four older brothers, all of whom came to upstate New York in the very early 1900s. Giuseppe came here first because each of this brothers' ship manifests says they were joining their brother Giuseppe at 827-829 Canal Street, Elmira, New York.

Maria Rosa's ship manifest was the hardest to find, and even after finding it, I was not sure it was the right Maria Rosa Caruso for quite some time. The manifest has some facts that are correct for her (born in 1880 or 1881 in Pescolamazza, and coming to join her brother Giuseppe), but it also has facts that do not work.

The manifest says she was married as of July 1906, but that doesn't work because I have her November 1906 marriage certificate from Hornell, New York. It also says her final destination is Addison, New York. While that is not terribly far from Elmira, or even Cameron, New York, which is another place her brother Giuseppe lived, I have no facts putting any members of this Caruso family in Addison. There is an address beneath her brother Giuseppe's name, but it appears to say "236 Bore". I can't make anything out of that.

She wasn't married, despite the ship manifest.
I kept returning to this 1906 ship manifest and finally noticed something very important. Where the manifest shows an "m" for married, in much lighter ink there is an "s" for single overwriting the "m". (See the far-right side of the image.) So it was an error.

That left me with the troubling town of Addison. But in a web search today I discovered that Addison was the end of a particular railroad line that connected with the New York Central Railroad. So there is a good possibility that Maria Rosa had her ticket from New York City to Addison and then had to get on the Erie Railroad to get to her brother. At that time, Giuseppe lived in Cameron, New York, on a street parallel to the railroad tracks where he worked. I can see a railroad line on Bing Maps that runs from Addison to Cameron. And on her marriage certificate, Maria Rosa lists her residence as Cameron.

Now I feel as if the 1906 ship manifest finally makes sense. And this illustrates how important it is to gather as many provable facts as possible about your ancestor and their entire family.

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