#MeetMyImmigrants: Giovanni Angelo Raffaele Piro

Giovanni Angelo Raffaele Piro was born 23 January 1854 in Capriglia, Pellezzano, Italy. He was one of my thirteen immigrant 2x-great-grandparents. He lost his father when he was very young - 8 years old. He married Raffaela Napoli in Baronissi in 1882. They had at least three daughters in Italy, including my great-grandmother, Fortunata "Fannie." He, his wife, and two younger daughters immigrated to America in 1904, arriving at New York City.

According to family legend, upon arrival at Ellis Island, someone in the family was sick, and had been marked with a chalk "X" on their coat (as if they were to be singled out for further inspection, and perhaps deported). My great-grandmother said that they copped on that people with these X marks were being sent elsewhere, so whoever in the family that been marked with an "X" turned their coat inside out, and there were no further problems. While I cannot confirm this story, if it is true, I may not be here but for that quick thinking. Giovanni worked as a weaver in Italy, but apparently became a piano maker when the family settled in Italian East Harlem. He died from tuberculosis in 1907, only 3 years after his arrival in the US, and when his youngest daughter, Fannie, was only 7. It's interesting, and tragic, how history repeats itself. (Lucky for us, Fannie had longevity and lived to 96!)

Are you ready to meet your immigrants? Let's work together to find your roots.

View Giovanni's original post on Facebook.

Photo from Family History Library microfilm, originally held at New York City Municipal Archives.