finding the home town

     One key piece of information in the search for present-day relatives is the home town of your own ancestors. You have to know where to begin your search. What can you do if you are uncertain of exactly where your immigrant ancestor was born?

 

   If your ancestor entered the United States through Ellis Island, you can search for an image of your ancestor's arrival record on the "Passenger Search" section of the Ellis Island web site. In some cases, the immigrant's last place of residence outside the United States appears among the personal data. You might also find your ancestor's home town in your ancestor's obituary, in the archives of the newspaper which served the area where your ancestor died.

 

   I have found that some oral family histories are inaccurate regarding an ancestor's home town. Whether for the sake of simplicity or for ease of description, some of our ancestors named the city closest to their home town when asked their place of origin. Immigrants from towns as far as fifty miles from Naples sometimes identified themselves as being from Naples, perhaps believing that the actual home town would not be known to the person asking. Other immigrants might have responded with the name of the province where a home town was located, which can lead to confusion,  because "Naples," "Salerno" and "Benevento" are examples of names which describe cities as well as provinces.

 

   Although these errors are often blamed on language barriers, this imprecise information was sometimes provided by an immigrant to children and grandchildren long after learning to speak English. 

 

   One key piece of an you do if you are uncertain information in the search for present-day relatives is the home town of your own ancestors. You have to know where to begin your search. What can you do if you are uncertain of exactly where your immigrant ancestor was born?

 

   If your ancestor entered the United States through Ellis Island, you can search for an image of your ancestor’s arrival record on the “Passenger Search” section of the web site for Ellis Island. In some cases, the immigrant’s last place of residence in Italy appears among the personal data. You might also find your ancestor’s home town in your ancestor’s obituary, which can be found in the archives of the newspaper which served the area where your ancestor died.

 

   I have found that some oral family histories are inaccurate about an ancestor’s home town. Whether for the sake of simplicity or for ease of description, some of our ancestors named the city closest to their home town when asked their place of origin. Immigrants from towns as far as fifty miles from Naples might have identified themselves as being from Naples, perhaps believing that the actual home town would not be known to the person asking.