Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Gattos on the 1930 Census

This census record shows the Gatto family at their home at 398 Fifth Ave in Brooklyn. The parents are listed as Dominick, 38, and his wife Mary, 27. Their kids are Pasqualina, age 10; Michael, age 8; Anna, age 7; Jennie, age 6; Dominick, age 5; and Frank, age 3. They rent their house for $30.

Here's where it gets interesting. Dominick says he as well as his parents were born in Italy and speak Italian as their native tongue. Mary, on the other hand, says that she as well as her parents were born in South America, though their native language is Italian. Huh?

Grandpa has always told me his mother's life story, briefly summarized thus:
Maria D'Ingeo's mother died in childbirth with her youngest. Her father's second wife was abusive and neglectful of the kids, and when their father realized it, he threw her out and decided to move the family to America. Mid-way through their Atlantic voyage, though, the quota for Southern European immigrants coming into the country was filled, and so the ship's captain rerouted, taking them to Brazil instead. They lived there for several years, during which one of the youngest children was killed in a tragic accident. I believe he was run over by a wagon. After that, the family was able to again make the trip to America, and succeeded this time.

Their immigration records, though, which I'll post soon, don't offer evidence of this. Instead, they're shown traveling directly from Italy to America. I haven't yet quite pieced together exactly what route their migration took. But in 1930, Maria D'Ingeo Gatto, or someone in her immediate family, told a census taker that she'd been born in South America.

Mary and Dominick give their years of immigration as 1917 and 1912, respectively, and both are naturalized. Grandpa Gatto works as an Iceman (industry: "Ice") and he's working on his "own account." Mr. Rotundo who lives with his family at the same address, is also an Iceman.

Dominick and Mary were married when they were 25 and 16, respectively.


Anonymous said...

I think I a feel a screenplay coming on.... through your sister Laura Loo. Very interesting little story line there. It can be an O'Hara collaboration.Three continents , love, intrigue, mystery. Get to the bottom of it Kathleen.

Gina said...

I didn't know any of this! Maybe the person taking the census was confused or the phrasing was off... like "From what country did you come to America from?" She said Brazil, they wrote born in South America.

Vito said...

My mothers name is Maria D'Ingeo 84 yrs old. Her aunt was Maria D'Ingeo Gatto and her uncle was Domenick. Her cousins were Bessie,Ann,Mike,Dominick,Frank,Jenny If you'd like to know more E mail me at VitoLongIslandNY@aol.com We are all related

Katie O. said...

Vito - Wonderful to hear from you! I'll e-mail you personally.