Raffaele "Ralph" Morelli was born 28 February 1891 in Rapolla, Italy. He first came to he US in 1907, working as a barber and living with his uncle in Jersey City. He returned home, and came back to the US permanently in 1913. He settled in Jersey City, eventually owning his own barber shop at the corner of Ege and Westside Avenue. He married Fortunata "Fannie" Piro in 1917, and they had one child (my grandmother). They are pictured together, below, while they were courting. (I love this photo - the print is actually cut out in the shape of a heart.)
Ralph naturalized as a US citizen in 1923. He part-owned a farm in Hopewell, NJ, with his brother-in-law. The story goes that he and my great-grandmother had been picnicking on Doris Duke’s Estate, which they loved because of its natural beauty, and were chased away by the groundskeepers, leading them to want and buy a farm of their own. (True? Not sure!) Stories were always told about the well on the farm, and their dog, Mickey. Another story says the farm was only a mile from the Lindbergh house, and they were questioned after the Baby Lindbergh kidnapping. Ralph died on the farm (called Benjamin Farm) in 1940.
Ralph is particularly special to me because it was through him that I was able to claim dual citizenship. I visited his birthplace for the first time in Summer 2017.
Are you ready to meet your immigrants? Let's work together to find your roots.
View Ralph's original post on Facebook.