Chapter Two


    When it comes to Annetta Siciliano Carrocci we find that we have to solve some mysteries. There are very interesting questions surrounding her entry into the U.S. and what happened to her in those early days.

    Years ago I remember seeing immigration papers for Annetta Siciliano that showed that she came into the U.S. on October 19, 1907. In a search of the Ellis Island immigration records there was no Annetta Siciliano coming into the country on that date. There was, however, someone by the name of Auiretta Siciliana. Did someone scribble Annetta to make it look like Auiretta? Possible.

    Here is a copy of the entry record. It’s the correct date and the correct town in Italy and the age is correct. An interesting item is Marital Status, showing that Auiretta was married. So, the first question in the mystery is whether this woman was Annetta. I think that she was. Years ago, Annetta told me that she was married before she married Pietro, but she never said what happened to her first husband. A researcher in Ashtabula wasn’t able to find much, but she did find a listing of Tony and Annie Basile in the 1912 Ashtabula City Directory as follows:

Basile Tony (Annie), lab, h, 51st Street, EAH

The lab means laborer, the h means it was their home on 51st Street, and no one can figure out what the EAH means.

This is a picture of the ship, The Nord America, on which Auiretta Siciliana came to America. The ship was built by John Elder & Company, Glasgow, Scotland in 1882. It was rated at 4,902 gross tons, was listed as 418 feet long and 50 feet wide. It carried 90 first class and 1,223 third class passengers. Cruising at 16 knots, it would take The Nord America three to four weeks to sail from Naples, Italy to The United States and the Port of New York.

   Here is an old picture that Annetta, who called herself Anna, kept over the years. I saw it as a little kid, but never thought to ask her who the people in it are. Now I wonder if they aren’t Anna and her first husband. While I can’t be sure, I certainly do think it’s a very strong probability. She never mentioned his name or anything else about him. Judging from the clothes in the picture, it looks like it could have been taken around 1907.

So Far, we have a woman named Auiretta Siciliana, whom we’re pretty sure is Annetta Siciliano, in the U.S. on the date listed on her immigration papers. We also know that she was married, according to the Ellis Island entry record and from what she herself has said.


     There’s another mystery about Auiretta Siciliana. That would have to be her married name, if the entry record is correct. Or did the infamous immigration officials get it wrong again?  I think they did. During my trip to Italy in 1985, I was able to visit Altavilla, but was able to find only one person who knew of the Siciliano family. I’ll get to him later.

Altavilla, which literally means high village, is located in the mountains north east of Cosenza. It is a small town of about 250 people. I have no idea what people do for a living. Annetta never talked about her childhood, other than to say that she lived on a small farm. She got a letter from one of her sisters, Franceschina Siciliano that was dated 26 November 1963. The return address was S. Bennedetta in Guarano, which is a small town very near Altavilla. I wasn’t able to find any members of the Siciliano family there, either. A copy of the letter in Italian is in the addendum.

    Then there is mystery number three. Annetta’s first child, daughter Mary, was born October 23, 1908, a little more than a year after Annetta arrived in the U.S. She always said that Mary’s last name was Basil. Even Mary said that her last name was Basil. If Siciliano was Annetta’s married name, one would think her daughter’s name would also be Siciliano if Annetta was married when she came into the U.S. This is why I think she was still single and married a man named Basil shortly after arriving. It’s a strong probability that she was betrothed to Mr. Basil before she left Italy.

I remember Anna telling me that she had three sisters. Here is another old picture that she kept over the years. She said that one  sister or relative  lived in Ashtabula, Ohio. Then there is the letter from her sister Francesca, who had stayed in Italy. The letter is signed Franceschina, which is the diminutive for Francesca and was used inside the family. The letter mentions one sister named Adelina, and possibly another sister named Louise. The three women pictured here could possibly be Anna’s three sisters.

Below is a translation of the letter that was sent to Anna Carrocci on November 26, 1963 from her sister Franceschina. Like all translations, this one is not exactly word-for-word, but it does convey the gist of what the writer was saying. I think it was the last letter that Anna ever got from her sister. I found it in some papers that Anna had after she had passed away on January 1, 1966. My sister Theresa and I went through all her papers and saved what we then thought would be important. Even then I was thinking about putting together some kind of family history. Too bad I didn’t think to ask more questions while Pietro and Anna were still alive.

Dear Sister,

            I write these lines to let you know that we are fine. I hope your family is fine. Sister, we are unhappy that we got a second letter. We are happy that you answered at once. The letter we wrote came back and after a month watched for your letter. We are unhappy that the address we wrote lacked the correct name. Now we have changed the address and we hope you get the letter.  You know that grandfather’s land has been sold, twice. The house is the same as you left it. The lady is the same. They did not give it to their mother because we wanted to sell it

            We think of you often and remember that our mother used to talk about you. You wanted to know about cousin Lancia and sister Louise. They have been dead for many years. And sorella never writes to us never sent even a fozzoletto. We asked Posallina for the address. She did not give it to us.

            Dear sister our nephew Benigno has a daughter. We wish her well. Dear sister, we would like to be near you and help each other. Dear sister, you can’t imagine our joy that we would have if we could see each other if God wills. I can’t wait for the day to come to see you near to us. We could talk, enjoy ourselves, go up to visit the Sila (a resort-like area) lots of tourists go there. We hope to go soon. We hope you feel better. We pray especially for you. It is enough that we are fine. We are okay. Adeleine remembers you like in a dream. She was in diapers.

            We wish you happiness, long life. Write soon. A kiss from me and Adeline and Clemente We think of you often.

Someone must have written the letter for Anna to her sister Franceschina because Anna could not read or write Italian and I know she could not read or write English either. Also, she and Pietro spoke the old Calabrese dialect, which fewer and fewer people in Calabria speak today. The schools in Italy now teach standard Italian. Anna didn’t even know the English names of common household items. As an example, when we moved from Steubenville, Ohio to Tucson, Arizona in June of 1950 we lost the squollapasta(sp), a common and very necessary kitchen utensil. She went to the store to look for one, but couldn’t find it on the shelves. After thinking about it for awhile, she went to a clerk and asked if he had a squollapasta. He said, “I don’t know, Lady, what’s that.” She said, “That’s where the pasta stop, but the water go ahead.” The clerk gave her a colander.

I remember one time when my children were about two and four: we went to visit Grandma. The kids were in the house for two minutes then went out into the yard to play. Mom and I were having a cup of coffee and I asked her what she did that day. She said she went shopping. Understand that she spoke with a heavy Italian accent. She told me that she met a “poody lady” at the grocery store and that she helped her shop. Anna shopped by looking at the pictures on the labels of the cans. She said the woman was from Italy and spoke very high class Italian. I had a suspicion and asked the name of the woman. She said, “I don know, I think it was Sophie something.” The woman turned out to be Sophia Loren, who was in Tucson making a movie. Mom had no idea who “Sophie something” was.

    As it is, we think Annetta Siciliano (Basil?) was married and living in Ashtabula, Ohio in 1910. I have yet to search the 1910 census records for Ashtabula County, Ohio so I don’t know if Auiretta Siciliana or Anna Basil is on the rolls. We’ll return to Anna later.