When my great grandfather Moretto immigrated to the US he included on the ship manifest that he was coming to be near a cousin in Westville Illinois. This was right between two censuses, making it hard to be sure that the family would be in the same place at the 1900 Census and the 1910 Census, but my next step should be to search for a person living in the area with a similar name around those times.
My mother remembers being told that my great grandfather was an orphan, but I remember hearing a story about him visiting an aunt that lived in Havre France…. So finding whether he knew his family would be interesting. Great Grandfather passed away when my Grandmother was only about 3 in the flu of 1918. He had worked as a coal miner his whole life in the US, and left 9 kids with my great grandmother. My great grandmother scraped by, cleaning houses, raising a garden, and doing what little she could. My grandmother was the only one of the kids to be able to go to high school. Her mother thought she was too sickly to be able to work, according to my grandmother…. so the kids scraped together the money for her to go to school. My grandmother borrowed old school books and managed to finish high school. I remember her getting to attend her 50th class reunion! One of her jobs, and the one she was working when she married my grandfather, was as a kindergarten teacher. -Teachers at the time couldn’t be married, so she had to hide her marriage until later. My grandfather and grandmother got married in Indiana to hide their marriage.
My grandfather only lived a few years, and then my grandmother moved back with my great grandmother. My great grandmother had left family behind in Italy, but my grandmother never mentioned family that was already here in the US.
Things that I will search include Census Records and Directories….
Locana Italy is a small comune (City) in the north part of the country. Locana is located in the moutains. This sign shows distances to nearby towns as well as you can see a Welcome to Locana sign in the background. The second picture is a picture of the town of Locana. There is a group on facebook dedicated to ancestors of families from Locana. I was pretty excited when I found it!
My grandmother didn’t remember many stories about Locana but my Aunt Kate told a couple… of course it was many years ago and I wasn’t even a teenager yet. My g-grandfather passed away when my grandmother was three so my g-grandmother had no one to share stories with and reminisce about Locana. Life was tough and my mother thought my g-grandmother was always afraid she would be made to go back to Italy if she was found out. My g-grandfather was in the process of applying for citizenship when he died of the flu in 1918. My g-grandmother didn’t go on to get citizenship until the early 60s I think.
My Aunt Kate always said that my g-grandmother’s family lived above a cow barn. The cows were used to keep the home warm as heat rises. I can’t even imagine what it must have been like to grow up above a herd of cows, but I assume you get used to it over time.
Another story I remember is about a beggar that showed up to their door each day. My Aunt said that my G-g- grandmother would give scraps to the beggar each day when he would come begging at the door. One day a dog came to the door instead of the beggar and my ancestor through leftover hot coffee instead out and burnt the face of the dog. The next day the beggar was back but with a burn on his face.
Finally there was a story about a chick in the cemetery next to their home. The chick was on a grave, and when they returned there were several chicks (that story I’m much more hazy on.) I wish at the time I had used a tape recorder to capture the stories. Now I’m relying on my faulty memory.