Fiermonte Brothers

While working through the 1920 and 1940 U.S. Census, I came across an interesting family–the Fiermontes. James and Tony Fiermonte, two Italian immigrants, ran a store in Alexandria Virginia.[i] These two men peaked my interest; not only because they are two brothers living together, but also because of their financial situation.

While the U.S. Census from 1940 states that James Fiermonte owns a store, it is his older brother Tony who peaks my interest. Although the census names Tony as a clerk at his brother’s store, it also says that he is not making any money.[ii] One would assume that because Tony is employed, he would be making some amount of money. I found it extremely confusing that Tony claimed that he was making no money. By 1940, the two brothers had been living in the United States for forty years, so one would think that they would be well established. One finds it hard to imagine a man who is sixty-four not having a penny to his name. When I saw Tony Fiermonte’s finances, I knew that I had to research a bit to find out what was causing this money mystery.

My confusion was solved with some simple research. While I was looking through the internet, I found a newspaper article from August 15, 1911. This article states that Tony Fiermonte is filing a divorce lawsuit against his ex wife, Helen.[iii] After reading this article, it made sense to me why Tony was not forthcoming about his finances. Divorces can be extremely expensive, and Tony was probably trying to protect his assets. This also explains why it states that he is living with his younger brother in the census.[iv] What I had assumed to be a simple lack of information turned out to yield a pretty interesting discovery. I was surprised that a local newspaper would print an article about a divorce hearing, but without that piece of writing the questions that I had about the Fiermonte brother’s finances would have never been answered.

A second piece of information that I was able to find was Tony Fiermonte’s death certificate. Tony passed away on February 16th 1953 at the age of 75.[v] What was also interesting was that sometime between the year 1940 and 1953, he had remarried. His certificate of death lists that he is widowed, and lists his wife’s name as Rosie Spinks.[vi] I find it amazing that the last thirteen years of Tony Fiermonte’s life were so turbulent. Within that time Tony married his second wife, suffered through her death, and became a United States citizen. Once my research was complete; I felt as though I knew the Fiermonte family on a much more personal level, and solved some of the mystery behind their withheld information.


[i]  1940 census data, Alexandria Virginia

[ii] 1940 census data, Alexandra Virginia

[iii] Louis Duffey, “Post From the County Court Clerk’s Office,” Alexandria Gazette, August 15, 1911.

[iv] 1940 census data, Alexandria Virginia

[v] Department of Health and Bureau of Vital Statistics. Certificate of Death for Tony Fiermonte,

state file #2841. Registration district number 2020.

[vi] Ibid.

Joseph Corsi: An Immigrant on the Move

In Italy’s Many Diasporas by Donna R. Gabaccia, she writes, “in the years between 1870-1940, three generations of Italy’s poor saw their lives transformed by repeated experiences of migration, life abroad, and return.”[1] Joseph (Guiseppe Fernando) Corsi is an Italian immigrant that left Italy during the “Workers of the World” (1870-1914) time frame of Gabaccia’s book, but breaks the mold because he never returns to Italy.

Corsi was born on December 8, 1903 in Carpineto, Italy just south of Rome.[2] At the age of eighteen,  Corsi left with his older brother from Naples, on the S.S. Dante Alighien, arriving in New York City in 1921. [3]


S.S. Dante Alighien. (Photo Courtesy of www.Woodvorwerk)


New York Passenger Lists 1820-1957. (Courtesy of

Gabaccia names New York City as a common place for Italian immigrants to enter and settle in America; however, many moved elsewhere, depending on jobs and family/friends.[4] In 1930, the U.S. Census recorded Joseph Corsi as living in New York City in a home valued at $3,000. [5] Corsi has begun filing his naturalization papers and probably has no intention of returning.[6] Italy’s political climate with the rise of Benito Mussolini combined with the Great Depression, which Europe also experienced, might have impacted his decision to stay.  He was employed as a moulder by the steel foundry. [7]


1930 U.S. Census. (Courtesy of www.Ancestry)

It is unclear why, but by 1935 Corsi moved to Alexandria, Virginia, living at 704 N Columbus Street. This address was located in Ward 3, which is where most of the single Italian immigrants lived in boarding houses. At this point, Corsi was was working as a contracted night watchmen.[8] It can be assumed–because of his living arrangements–that he was not planning to stay in Alexandria.


1940 United States Census (Courtesy of

Soon after the 1940 U.S. Census was recorded, Corsi enlisted in the U.S. Navy and began working at the U.S. Naval Air Station, also known as FLloyd Bennett Field, in Brooklyn. Although the United States had not officially entered the war, the country was mobilizing for the inevitable, and Corsi was part of it.[9]

Corsi’s journey after enlisting in the U.S. Navy is difficult to follow; however, based on a marriage certificate in 1948, Joseph Corsi married Martha Lee Vasto in Barbour County, West Virginia.[10] Vasto was born and raised in West Virginia. There is limited documentation following their marriage, and it is unknown exactly where the couple settled for the remainder of their lives.


Muster Roll of the Crew, 1938-1949. (Courtesy of

Joseph Corsi was an Italian immigrant on the move. He left Italy after World War I. According to Gabaccia, the rise of fascism pushed many Italians to leave the country.[11] Corsi left his home in southern Italy and lived in New York, Virginia, and possibly West Virginia and probably countless other undocumented places. This particular Italian immigrant seemed to have no intentions of returning to Italy, but pursued American citizenship.



[1] Donna R. Gabaccia, Italy’s Many Diasporas (Seattle: U of Washington, 2000), 81.

[2] Joseph Fernando Corsi Life Story, 1903-1986, accessed October 10, 2016,

[3] New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957, accessed October 10, 2016,

[4] Donna R. Gabaccia, Italy’s Many Diasporas (Seattle: U of Washington, 2000), 102.

[5] 1930 United States Federal Census, accessed October 10, 2016,

[6] Ibid.

[7] Ibid.

[8] 1940 United States Federal Census, accessed October 10, 2016,

[9] U.S. World War II Navy Muster Rolls, 1938-1949,

[10] West Virginia, Marriages Index, 1785-1971, accessed October 10, 2016,

[11] Gabaccia, 153.

Anthony Ciuffreda

The residents of the Italian peninsula have been among the most migratory peoples on the earth.[i] According to Donna R. Gabaccia’s, Italy’s Many Diasporas, 16.6 million peoples departed Italy from 1871 to 1921.[ii] This departure was part of a much larger global population shift tied to industrialization and transportation improvements. The majority of Italians came to the United States to fill the jobs in factories, mines, and railroad industries.[iii]

Cover of Donna R. Gabaccia’s book, Italy's Many Diasporas.

Cover of Donna R. Gabaccia’s book, Italy’s Many Diasporas.

Arriving in the United States in 1908, Anthony Ciuffreda was part of this large immigration trend. According to the New York passenger manifest, Anthony departed from Napoli (Naples) on the passenger ship S.S. Conte Rosso and arrived in New York City a few weeks later.[iv]  Previously residing in Monte San Angelo, Anthony settled in Alexandria, Virginia. Anthony married Helen Orndorff, an eighteen year old from Colorado, on March 20, 1918 in Washington D.C.[v] In December 1925, Anthony petitioned and became a naturalized citizen.[vi] The 1940 U.S. Census shows that once settled in Alexandria, Anthony became the proprietor of a garage, and owned property worth $8,400.[vii]

Once arriving in the U.S., Anthony immediately attempted to immerse himself in the experience,  getting married, applying for naturalization, and becoming the proprietor of a business.

Map of Monte San Angelo, Italy. Courtesy of Google Maps.

Map of Monte San Angelo, Italy. Courtesy of Google Maps.


Naturalization petition. This image is provided by

Naturalization petition. This image is provided by


Passenger ship Conte Rosso. Courtesy of

Passenger ship Conte Rosso. Courtesy of


Manifest of Alien Passengers aboard the Conte Rosso. Courtesy of

Manifest of Alien Passengers aboard the Conte Rosso. Courtesy of


With the outbreak of World War I, Anthony registered himself for the draft. However, it is interesting that Anthony did not register for the draft until June 5th, 1918.[viii] According to the national archives military records, the U.S. government did not apply a draft for the third registration, which was held on September 12, 1918, for men age 18 through 45 until much later in the war. This registration would have included Anthony.[ix]

World War One registration card, 1918. Courtesy of

World War One registration card, 1918. Courtesy of



[i] Donna R. Gabaccia, Italy’s Many Diasporas. (Seattle: U of Washington, 2000.), 1.

[ii] Ibid., 58.

[iii]  Ibid., 59.

[iv] New York Passenger List, 1820-1957, accessed October 10, 2016,

[v] Select Marriages, 1830-1921, accessed October 10, 2016,

[vi] U.S., Naturalization Records, 1840-1957, accessed October 11, 2016,

[vii] 1940 United States Federal Census, accessed October 7, 2016,

[viii] U.S. World War One Draft registration cards, 1917-1918, accessed October 10, 2016,

[ix]  “World War I Draft Registration Cards”, The U.S. National Archives and Records Administration, accessed October 14th, 2016,

Domenico Oresto Colangelo

Reading Donna R. Gabaccia’s Italy’s Many Diasporas motivated me to reconsider my former ideas about the ways in which people migrate and the complexities of their movement. This great migration of people occurred from 1871 to 1921, whereby  16.6 million inhabitants departed Italy.[1] Italians came from all parts of the peninsula, with some staying permanently in the U.S., while others traveled back and forth, and still others gradually returned home. Gabaccia suggests that, to understand the migration further, one must look to the wider world and consider the anti-imperialist revolutions in the Americas during this time. This created sparsely populated states along with millions of jobs for artisanal and industrial workers.[2] It was the global market fulfilling the needs of peasant families (and vice versa) with humble skills looking for work. Perhaps this is precisely why Domenico Oresto Colangelo appears on the passenger list of the Duca degli Abruzzi whereby he arrived on April 16, 1920 in New York City, with plans to go to Pittsburgh, PA. [3]

Pittsburgh, PA., Manifest of Alien Passengers bound for the United States courtesy of

Manifest of Alien Passengers bound for New York City.  Courtesy of


Domenico was born February 2, 1901, to Felice and Angela, in Abruzzo, Italy, in the village of Ateleta. He traveled to the U.S. on April 16, 1920, searching for work and settled ultimately in Alexandria, Virginia. He appears on the 1940 U.S. Census along with his wife, Virginia, and children. The census records indicate a total of 4 daughters and 3 sons residing in the household at 308 Cameron Street.[4] The records likewise show Domenico working in construction for a steam shovel company originally.  By 1959,  the local city directory confirms his upward mobility to President of Anco Builders Incorporated. [5] On November 20, 1955, The Washington Post announces the purchase of a large land tract by Anco, adjoining the Belle Haven Country Club for the building of new homes.[6]


Alexandria City Directory for 1959. Photo courtesy of


 See more regarding Anco and the purchase of land for Belle Haven in Alexandria, VA:


When migrating, many Italians turned to familiar faces for information and advice. They depended on other migrants who returned home to Italy to help them navigate their own journey. This may have very well been the case with Domenico, as his own father, Felice, once traveled to the United States in 1893 as a laborer.[7] It was with certainty that Domenico asked his father’s advice when making his own personal journey 22 years later.


Manifest of Alien Passengers Bound for New York City for March 3, 1893. Photo is courtesy of


Domenico married Virginia Giammittorio, who was born on December 24, 1906 in Lynchburg, Virginia to David and Rosina. Both of Virginia’s parents were Italian immigrants who came to the U.S. in June 1906, just 6 months prior to Virginia’s birth.[8] David Giammittorio applied for naturalization September 19, 1921, and took the oath of allegiance becoming a U.S. citizen on January 4, 1922.[9] Interesting as well, the 1940 U.S. Census confirms that Virginia’s parents lived at 313 Calvert Street, just a few doors down from their daughter and her family.


U.S. Naturalization Records for David Giammittoro. Courtesy of


Cultural and personal identities of Italian migrants are uniquely defined and vary among those individuals– Italian migration was not a one size fits all. Some Italians returned home like Domenico’s father while others made new and permanent lives in the U.S. Often, Italian families who made a permanent home in the U.S. stayed close by one another, as was the case with the Colangelos and Giammittorios. It is special to know that Domenico Colangelo played a part in building up the city of Alexandria as evidenced in the Belle Haven community, which still stands today. This is the case with many Italians who aided in building this country and by making it great.


[1] Donna R. Gabaccia, Italy’s Many Diasporas (Seattle: University of Washington, 2000), 58.

[2] Ibid., 59.

[3] Pittsburgh, PA., Passenger Lists 1820-1957, accessed October 10, 2016,

[4] 1940 United States Federal Census, accessed October 10, 2016,

[5] U.S. City Directories, 1822 -1995, accessed October 10, 2016,

[6] “Bellehaven Tract Sold.” The Washington Post and Times Herald, Nov 20, 1955.

[7] New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957 for Felice Colangelo, 1897, sheet no 52 of 677, accessed October 10, 2016,

[8] U.S., Naturalization Records, 1840-1957 for David Giammittoro, Alexandria City Directory, accessed October 10, 2016,

[9] U.S., Naturalization Records, 1840-1957 for David Giammittoro, Alexandria City Directory, accessed October 10, 2016,


Antonio Pulzone

According to Donna R. Gabaccia in Italy’s Many Diasporas (2000), “millions of laborers migrat[ed] in an out of Italy between 1870 and 1940.”[i] The vast majority of these Italian migrants were men who sought employment in the myriad of unskilled labor positions that became available as foreign nations industrialized. Many Italians specifically came to the U.S. in the late-nineteenth century in order to fill the jobs that had been recently abandoned by emancipated slaves, and other labor positions within factories, mines, and railroads.[ii]

Antonio Pulzone was one of the four-million Italians that Gabaccia estimates to have migrated from Italy between 1896 and 1905.[iii] Pulzone was born to Angelo Pulzone and Rose Walla on April 25, 1887, in Montepagano, Italy.[iv] According to the S.S. Balilla’s passenger manifest, Pulzone last resided in Bellini, Italy, before he arrived in New York City on May 8, 1901.[v] The manifest also reflects that Pulzone was a laborer, paid for the trip across the Atlantic Ocean himself, possessed just five dollars, could read and write, had not previously been to the U.S, had never been in prison, was in good physical health, and that he came to the U.S. to join his brother-in-law in an unnamed city in New Jersey.[vi] Based on this information, Pulzone matched Gabaccia’s profile of a typical Italian immigrant who went to a foreign country for employment purposes and lived with already-established relatives or friends.

Records indicate that as early as 1914, Pulzone had become a resident of Alexandria, Virginia. According to an article in the Alexandria Gazette on September 2, 1914, “William A. McGreen et al ha[d] sold to Antone Pulzone a lot at the northeast corner of Madison and Columbus streets.”[vii] Two days later, a subsequent article appeared in the Washington Herald, and specified that the property purchased by Pulzone was part of John W. Green’s estate sale and included four building lots.[viii] Though the amount that Pulzone paid for the property was not disclosed in these articles, this information demonstrates that Pulzone was able to save up enough money while in the U.S. in order to obtain a mortgage, or purchase outright, the four lots in Alexandria. Additionally, after comparing the Sanborn Maps from 1912 and 1921, it is quite possible that these four building lots were vacant and without structures at the time of Pulzone’s purchase.[ix] Therefore, assuming that this inference is correct, it is equally impressive that Pulzone was able to afford the additional costs of new construction on top of the purchase price of the four lots.

The 1912 and 1921 maps are juxtaposed to show the differences in structures found within the lots that were purchased by Pulzone in 1914. Click on the middle cursor and drag from left to right to see these differences. (Maps courtesy of ProQuest, LLC. Juxtapose created by Dino Reschke using JuxtaposeJS, which is available through the Northwestern University Knight Lab).

Meanwhile, city directories over the next quarter-century disclosed that Pulzone was employed as a mechanic in the booming railroad industry.[x] Pulzone was listed as a car repairman for several different railroad companies, including Armour Car Lines, Fruit Growers Express, and the Richmond, Fredericksburg, and Potomac Railroad.[xi] According to a 2009 article by the Alexandria Times, Fruit Growers Express “constructed and repaired refrigerated railroad cars … [it] was formed as a separate company in 1920 after the federal government ordered Armour and Company to sell its fruit-shipping subsidiary following an anti-trust decision.”[xii] Based on these facts, it is likely that Pulzone continued to work in the same position and location even though his employer’s name changed as a result of government intervention and changes in company ownership.

Image courtesy of the Library of Congress. Available at

Potomac Yards, 1916
(Image courtesy of the Library of Congress)

An assortment of documents reveals that Pulzone made Alexandria his permanent home. Pulzone married Alexandria-native Effie Ellen Simms on April 6, 1916, in Elkton, Maryland.[xiii] The 1920 U.S. Census reported that Pulzone and Effie owned their residence at 807 North Columbus Street, located in Ward 3 of Alexandria.[xiv] The 1920 U.S. Census also recorded that Pulzone worked nearby as a mechanic at Potomac Yards, that his citizenship status was “unknown,” that Effie was unemployed, and that they had an infant daughter, Carlie.[xv] The 1920 U.S. Census was the only U.S. Census in which Pulzone’s name appeared; however, city directories confirmed that he stayed in the Alexandria area because his various home addresses were 211 West Peyton Avenue (Del Ray) in 1934, r827 North Columbus Street in 1938, and r807 North Columbus Street in 1940.[xvi] The 1930 U.S. Census did not list Pulzone as residing in the same home as Effie, but “Coralie” (11) and another daughter, Francis (7), appeared under Effie’s name.[xvii] Though Effie was still unemployed, she was recorded as having owned her home, which was valued at $2,500. Both Pulzone and Effie were absent from the 1940 U.S. Census.[xviii] Based on the abstract of divorce decree from November 11, 1947, which listed the cause of divorce as “desertion,” it is likely that Pulzone and Effie had an estranged marriage for quite some time and he had left the family.[xix]

Interestingly, though Pulzone was not an American citizen, he participated in both U.S. World War drafts. Pulzone’s World War I draft card from June 5, 1917, reflected that his citizenship status was “alien” and that he was 30 years old, short with a medium build, had brown eyes and black hair, and was not bald.[xx] He lived at 832 North Washington Street in Alexandria, VA, was employed as a car repairman at Armour and Company, and married with only his wife to support.[xxi] On July 17, 1917, the Washington Herald featured the article “Alexandria’s Quota of 153 Names Drawn: Government Lotter Tells Men of Selection for National Army,” which identified Pulzone by his draft number of 1323.[xxii] Pulzone’s name and draft number is also contained in the Alexandria Library’s online transcription of the World War I draft registrations for northern Virginia.[xxiii] Additionally, records show that on April 27, 1942, Pulzone registered for the World War II draft.[xxiv] According to his draft card, he was 55 years old, white, 5 feet 2 inches tall, had brown eyes, no hair, his complexion was “ruddy,” and he had a scar on his forehead.[xxv] He provided his Alexandria address of 805 North Columbus Street and Effie’s name as a person who would always know his address.[xxvi] Notwithstanding these aforementioned sources, there is no readily available evidence that Pulzone ever actually served in the Army or in either World War.

Pulzone was the antithesis of an Italian immigrant from this time period. While the majority of Italians who immigrated to the U.S. either returned to Italy or permanently resided in the U.S. and applied for U.S. citizenship, records indicate that Pulzone stayed in Alexandria for the remainder of his life but never submitted an official petition to become a U.S. citizen.[xxvii] Indeed, according to their certificates of death, both Pulzone and Effie died in Alexandria.[xxviii] Effie died from breast cancer on March 27, 1952, and Pulzone died from pneumonia on June 12, 1969.[xxix] Both were buried in separate lots in Ivy Hill Cemetery in Alexandria.[xxx]


(Created by Dino Reschke Using GoogleMaps)


[i] Donna R. Gabaccia, Italy’s Many Diasporas (London, UK: Routledge, 2000), 12.

[ii] Ibid., 59.

[iii] Ibid., 58.

[iv] U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007, accessed October 7, 2016,

[v] New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957, accessed October 7, 2016,

[vi] Ibid. The name of Pulzone’s brother-in-law is listed on the manifest, but it is illegible, and the city in New Jersey was not provided.

[vii] “Local Brevities,” Alexandria Gazette, September 2, 1914, 1.

[viii] “Site Selected for Alexandria Hospital: Building to be Erected on Square Bounded by Columbus, Alfred, and Wythe Streets; Will Collect All Pledges,” Washington Herald, September 4, 1914, 8.

[ix] Digital Sanborn Maps, 1867-1970, ProQuest, LLC, accessed October 15, 2016, University of Mary Washington Library.

[x] U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995, accessed October 7, 2016,

[xi] Ibid.

[xii] Amy Bertsch and Lance Mallamo, “Out of the Attic: Fruit Growers Express,” Alexandria Times, April 16, 2009.

[xiii] Virginia, Divorce Records, 1918-2014, accessed October 7, 2016,

[xiv] 1920 United States Federal Census, accessed October 7, 2016,

[xv] Ibid.

[xvi] U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995, accessed October 7, 2016,

[xvii] 1930 United States Federal Census, accessed October 7, 2016,

[xviii] 1940 United States Federal Census, accessed October 7, 2016,

[xix] Virginia, Divorce Records, 1918-2014, accessed October 7, 2016,

[xx] U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918, accessed October 14, 2016,

[xxi] Ibid.

[xxii] “Alexandria’s Quota of 153 Names Drawn: Government Lotter Tells Men of Selection for National Army,” Washington Herald, July 17, 1917, 7.

[xxiii] Alexandria Library, “World War I Draft Registrations – Northern Virginia,” accessed October 7, 2016,

[xxiv] U.S., World War II Draft Registration Cards, 1942, accessed October 7, 2016,

[xxv] Ibid.

[xxvi] Ibid.

[xxvii] Alexandria Library, “Index to Naturalization Petitions, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Virginia, Alexandria, 1909-1929,” accessed October 7, 2016,

[xxviii] Virginia, Death Records, 1912-2014, accessed October 7, 2016,

[xxix] Ibid.

[xxx] Find A Grave, “Effie E. Pulzone,” accessed October 11, 2016,; Find A Grave, “Antonio Pulzone,” accessed October 11, 2016,