These are photos of our great-grand parents, Antonino Tobia, the Don, and Antonina Morici Tobia, the gentle grandmother to our parents. They are the great-grand parents of the Tobias and Salamones since Ursola Tobia married Vincent Salamone.
Vincenzo Salamone and Ursola Tobia met onboard the ship, Sicilian Prince or Principe di Sicilia on May 28, 1904, on their way to New York City. These two families were very close for many years while their 8 children were growing first on 63rd ST. and then on 215 E. 110th St in Manhattan, NYC, NY.
This branch of our cousins also begins in Borgetto. Although I don't have much info as of this posting, I'm hopeful for more incoming as the weeks go by. Here is what I know. Uncle Jim Salamone ("Vincenzo"), married grandpa's sister Ursola Tobia, in New York City, and they had 4 children, Beatrice ("Pietrina"), Tony ("Antonino"), Jim ("Vincenzo"), and Joe ("Giuseppe").
I've received some great information from our Cousin Marie Antoinette Pizzuto-Meyer. The information follows.
Arriving in 1906, sailing aboard the Algeria, Antonino Tobia, of Borgetto, Sicily is listed on the ship's manifest ... age 60, married, occupation Cooper, he could read & write, , he paid his own passage and was going to stay with his children Giuseppe & Orsola Tobia at 334 E. 63rd St. He had a ruddy complexion, white hair, 5' 2" and eyes of BLUE. So, this must be the handsome Don ... the only guy on the ship with blue eyes. So, Giuseppe & Orsola were already in NY in 1906. I find mention of Vincenzo Salamone as the person your grandfather was visiting in 1912, when they lived at 1142 First Ave ... it mentions that your grandfather had been to NY previously in 1905. I have come to the conclusion that my grandparents arrived in 1905. So, did Giuseppe, Orsola & Vincenzo all come to NY together in 1905, and the records are missing. Did they manage to sneak by Ellis Island? Did they use assumed names? Were they stowaways? It's a mystery and of course, it's driving me crazy.or crazier!
By the way, it appears that most of Borgetto headed to E. 63rd.
Cousin Bee, as we called her, was the last to marry because of Sicilian customs. The girl married last usually. Also, in her case, the choices when she was a young girl, were unacceptable. Finally, and happily, she married Vincent Pizzuto and they had two children; Marie-Antoinette married to Stephen Meyer, and Anthony.
Tony married a wonderful lady from Mississippi, named Minnie Hudson, and they had three children,a daughter Ursula, a son Vincent who married Diane ? and has 3 children;Tony, Vincent, and Michael.
James married Eleanor Seitz, and Joseph married Martha Schmidt and had three children; Barbara, who married Robert Cappeller and have two children; Susan and Eric. A son,James who married Brenda Newman and they have two children; Denise and Nicole Christine.
As far as I know, the Tobias and Salamones lived on 63rd Street, New York City, in the shadow of the Queensboro Bridge. This area was known as Hell's Kitchen because of a horrific current, called Hell's Gate, that would cause a whirlpool in the East River when the tide ran out. The year was around 1922 and things were not well for Italian immigrants. My father remembers many fights with the Irish kids whose families had been in the area for a while. The Italians were the "new kids on the block" and had to suffer as all new arrivals did. In any event, the Salamone cousins had the opportunity of education after high-school, which was not the case for the Tobia brothers because they were expected to go directly to work after school. The two families more or less grew up together.
Eventually Grandpa Tobia and his sister Ursola's family bought an apartment building in 1929 just when the Great Depression hit., the building where my brother and I were raised. The address is: 215 East 110th Street, New York City. They bought it at a very reasonable price considering the condition of the economy of the time. They lived side by side on the first floor of this eight family building. These were called "railroad rooms" because the rooms came one after the other. The front door opened onto the livingroom, in those days called the parlor; then came two bedrooms, then a dining-room, a small kitchenette and the bath. No wash basin, only a commode and a bath tub. They tiled all the floors in all the kitchens and baths, and tiled the main hall, and replaced the stairs with marble treads. It was a grand old building. Grandma Tobia called it "lu pallazzu", meaning the palace. This was because back in the old country, no one except the affluent were able to own a 4 story building.
Because of the close proximity of the two families, my brother John and I grew up with cousins who were just as close to us as our own immediate family. I remember when Zia Ursola passed on and they had the wake in the parlor, which was the custom at the time. So many people came to visit and pay their respects to the daughter of Antonino Tobia, a very important man in Borgetto and surrounding areas.(More to come, and photos too, hopefully).
Non ce rosa senza spina. No rose comes without thorns.