Father and son stood on the dock in Naples,
Italy watching as the huge ocean liner Prinzess Irene stood against the pier, her hawsers kept the ship
tied tight to the cleats fore and aft.
The Prinzess Irene was built in
1900 by A/G Vulcan Shipyards, Stettin, Germany. It was rated at 10,881
tons and carried 2,354 passengers: 268 in first class; 132 in second
class; and 1,954 in third class.
It was the morning of the 24th
of May in 1906 and the ship which stood in the shadow of Mt.
Vesuvius was ready to make her way to the United States and the Port
of New York. 41-year old Domenico
Carrocci and his oldest son Pietro had third class passage booked for the
three week trip to the U.S. that departed that very day. The two shared a
small cabin deep in the bowels of the largest ship the 17-year old Pietro
had ever seen. They were excited about their upcoming adventure, but they
were also thinking of home and family as they made their way on board.
Home is Caulonia,
Reggio Calabria, a town of about 3500 people in the toe of the Italian
peninsula. When asked later in life, Pietro always said he came from Reggio
Calabria. There are three principal cities in Calabria:
Reggio in the far south, Catanzaro
in the center and Cosenza in
the northern part of the province. Most people
identified with the principal city nearest their town.
The terrain where the main
town is located has steep hills that are covered with heavy growth. The
climate is right for olive trees and grape vines, both of which were
introduced into the area by the Greeks. Now chestnut and pine trees also
line the roads in the area. The countryside is dotted with small plots of cultivated gardens and
vineyards. Many families have small plots of land where they grow their
own food. The climate is hot and humid in the summer and cool and humid in
The mountain town is called Caulonia
Superiore because it is the center of the local area. There are
several small villages surrounding the main town, including Caulonia di Marina, which is located on the Ionian coast, San
Nicola, Ursini, Strano, Crochi, Cufo, Foca, Piraralli, and Campoli.
All official business for the area is done in the town hall of Commune
The family that Domenico Carrocci left behind was his 36-year old
wife, Fortunata Lopresti Carrocci, 14-year old son Francesco, 12-year old
daughter Maria, nine-year old son Ilario, and one-year old twins Antonio
and Rosaria. Also, Fortunata was pregnant with daughter Angela, who would
be born while Domenico and Pietro were on their way to the United States.
Above is Domenico in a composite picture
with three of his sons: Antonio on the left; Pietro next; and Ilario to
The trip to the United States took them about three weeks. One can
just imagine the thrill they must have felt sailing into New York Harbor
and seeing the Statue of Liberty for the very first time. The part of
Italy they left was depressed; men had a difficult time finding work and
supporting their families. Migration records show that hundreds of men
relocated to the United States, Australia, and other countries through the
years. Domenico Carrocci was no different in that regard. He was looking
for a better life for himself and his family. He, like millions of others
from all over Europe and Asia, thought that going to the U.S. would
achieve that goal.
The sail from Naples, Italy
out into the Mediterranean Sea,
through the Straits of Gibraltar and across the Atlantic Ocean to the Port
of New York must have been uneventful. Pietro never mentioned the trip
whenever he talked about coming to America. They arrived at Ellis Island
on June 14, 1906.
The immigration officials at Ellis Island are
famous for getting the information about the immigrants almost right. The above entries show that Domenico and Pietro lived
in Caccionia, Italy
when in fact they came from Caulonia. Close enough for government work. There are some in the family who think that Ilario (1896-1949) came
to America at the same time, but there is no record of him in either the
immigration files or on the passenger manifest for June 14, 1906.
Obviously, he came later. But there they were, Domenico Carrocci and his
17-year old son Pietro, finally in the United States and ready to start
making a new life. Neither could speak English. Pietro said that he had
only three years of schooling as he grew up in Caulonia.
Here is an early picture of Domenico Carrocci. Very little is known about him other than his parents were Pietro Carrocci, born June 5, 1828, and Anna Rosa Lupis, who was born about 1830. The records at the Caulonia Superiore town hall donít mention when the two were married. They do, however, list the earlier Pietro Carrocciís parents. They are Ilario, who was born around 1800 and his wife was Teresa Murdocco, also born around 1800. This is as far back as the records go. There were two people who helped me research the Carrocci family while I was in Italy.
They are Maria Roccisano,
who works in the Caulonia Superiore town
hall and Domenico Carrocci, who must be a distant relative. The names of
his family ancestors do not show up among any of our family names. This
Carrocci lives in San Nicola,
and at the time was a member of the Caulonia
Superiore town council.
I asked about church records, but was told the church had burned
and all the early records were lost. All the names and dates are contained
in the genealogy reports in the addendum to the Carrocci Family History as
the Descendants of Ilario Carrocci. I never did get to the cemetery where
the Carroccis are buried when I visited Caulonia
in 1985, so I have no idea if there are engraved grave stones with
additional information. Maybe one of these days Iíll be able to go back
and update names and dates.