SAN FELE TO U.S. IMMIGRATION ROSTERS 1862- 1895
SAN FELE: 1879 REPATRIATION LIST
BY TOM FRASCELLA APRIL 2012
The 1870’s continued to see large scale immigration both for extended contract work and residency from Lucania, a region which includes San Fele. Prof Stia’s book includes only one list referring to emigration in the 1870’s and that is for the year 1879. Interestingly, it is a list of people from the town of San Fele returning after completing their work contract in a foreign country. It is the only list of “returning” citizens that he includes in his text. Workers from San Fele were seeking work opportunity wherever it could be found which reflects on the dire circumstances that must have been prevailing in the region at the time. As we have seen in the previous lists from the 1860’s hundreds of San Felese were immigrating to the United States and to South America at the time. Many were also seeking work in Western Europe as well. There were also opportunities in the East, Syria, Turkey, the Balkans, eastern Europe and as far East and North as Moscow all were destinations where Lucanians could be found working in the 1870’s.
The 1879 list recites those San Fele residents returning from a work contract just completed in Turkey. Professor Stia’s list states:
Emigranti ritornati in patria dalla Turchia
The list also includes one individual returning from New York
The 1870’s were an interesting decade in the immigration story of the Lucani/San Felese in the United States. As I have written elsewhere in these essays young male Lucani began arriving in New York City probably as early as the 1840’s and in larger numbers in the 1850’s. By the 1860’s they were arriving in the hundreds again primarily to New York City or to work projects nearby. In 1862 three young San Fele men Vito Frascella, Carlo Sisti and Gaetano Frascella made it to the then small town of Trenton New Jersey. In looking at my family’s documents it would appear that these three men remained the only three San Felese in Trenton for about a decade, working, saving and periodically going back to San Fele to have children.
In following and providing labor for the public U.S. work projects of the time a substantial number of Lucani/San Felese immigrants established working communities in two additional U.S. cities in 1872, Buffalo, New York and Newark, New Jersey.
By the mid to late
1870’s the three Trenton San Felese men had entered a new and final phase in
their chain migration,
bringing immediate family members over. I know Vito brought the oldest of his two children, a son Gaetano, over around the
mid 1870’s. Vito then returned to Italy in 1876 to bring over his wife, Rafeala DiLeo and his daughter Angela. He remained in Italy
three years during which two more daughters were born Rosina, and Maria. The return voyage took the couple and their three
children five and a half weeks from Naples to New York with a stop over in England. Their youngest child Maria did not survive
When Vito arrived back
in the U.S. in 1879 he apparently got word that work opportunities for Italians
were improving in Trenton.
As a result he convinced other San Felese who were working in the U.S. at the time to move to Trenton that year. It is interesting
that this next group of San Felese that moved to Trenton came from other American cities where they had already been living and
working. The list of those who came to Trenton in 1879 is:
When they arrived in Trenton they also found Carlo Sisti, his wife and I believe his daughter Magdalena. About this time Vito’s son Gaetano returned to Italy probably to fulfill a pre-arranged marriage contract as he would shortly return to Trenton with his new bride in the early 1880’s. The articles I have read concerning the above individuals arriving in Trenton all suggest that the above individuals all had a close familial relationship to Vito’s family in addition to sharing a common birthplace.
Although the above list of San Felese arriving in Trenton in 1879 may seem like a small number in the context of the time, Trenton’s population was increasing from being a small town to a mid sized town. In terms of Trenton’s Italian population at the time the arrival of the above doubled the Italian population of Trenton and established the San Felese group as comprising more than half of those living there. Although the next fifty years would see thousands of new arrivals of Italians to Trenton the San Felese community would numerically continue to represent more than half of the Italian population of the city for the next twenty-five years. As a result when discussing the early development of the Italian American community of Chambersburg San Felese are very prominent.
© San Felese Society of New Jersey
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