Sunday, May 9, 2010

Introduzione: Un racconto de due Felici

Introduction: A tale of two Felices

After I married my wife, Junel, I figured at some point I might be researching her ancestry. This began to happen a little more in earnest in the fall of 2009 after I volunteered to carry on the post of family historian for my side of the family following in my mother's daunting footsteps.

When I asked Junel's father, Paul, about his parents and grandparents, he told me his father's name was Joseph C. Bacigalupo and his mother's name was Frieda Strenger. He didn’t remember a lot about his grandfather. He knew that his name was Felice (It. happy) and that he was from Genoa, Italy. He lived on Rice St. in St. Paul, MN across the street. Paul’s older brother, Harold, had told him Felice’s wife’s name was Maria and that he thought Felice had come over unmarried with a woman named Catrina Bacigalupo. Well, this was a start.

Joseph’s death record in the Minnesota Death Index 1908-2002 indicated his mother’s maiden name was Corsiglia. So Maria Corsiglia should be the maiden name for Felice’s wife. The record also gave Joseph's middle name as Carmelo.

Polk’s Directory for St. Paul from 1944 listed a Felice Bacigalupo on 166 Central Av W. in Apartment 1. Across the street at 163 Central Av W was Ernest Strenger and Joseph C. Bacigalupo. Ernest Strenger was Joseph’s father-in-law. According to the directory, in 1944 Rice Street intersected Central Av W between numbers 139 and 143. Ravoux intersected it between numbers 174 and 177.

New York Passenger Lists 1820-1957 showed a Felice (27-farmer) and his wife, Maria (20) Bacigalupo arriving together from Tribogna, Genoa 17 Apr 1908 on the Konigin Luise with their final destination St. Paul. That would make Felice’s birthdate abt 1881. His closest relative in Italy is listed as his uncle Luigi.

Another family of Bacigalupos (Antonio, Luigia, and daughters, Matilde and Luigia) from Neirone, Genoa was also on board but their final destination was New York.

An search for Felice Bacigalupo actually brings up quite a few records. There is another record from the New York Passenger Lists 1820-1957 for a Felice Bacigalupo (26-merchant) and his wife Luigia (20) arriving from Genoa 19 Apr 1907. His birthdate would also be abt 1881. This would appear to be a different Felice Bacigalupo than Paul's grandfather, Felice. To distinguish them let’s call him Paul's grandfather, Felice 1, and this other Felice, Felice 2.

They are listed alongside Pietro Bacigalupo (24-shoemaker), wife, another Luigia (21), probable daughter Vittoria (11), and Carlo Bacigalupo (19-merchant). Carlo already appeared to be an American citizen. All were traveling to St. Paul. Listed beneath Felice’s Luigia was a Carmelo Terrile (23-farmer).

Soon after I began uploading and saving information to my tree at, I received an email from a Brian Mulhern indicating that I had the date incorrect for his grandfather. As it turned out his grandfather was Felice 2 and he confirmed that his grandmother’s maiden name was Terrile. I thought it was interesting that his grandmother's brother's name was Carmelo as that was Joseph's middle name. But more on that later.

I decided to begin looking at the Census Records. The 1930 US Federal Census showed a Felice (49) as the head of the household at 1474 Edmund in St Paul. Living with him are wife Louisa (42), Louis (22), Evelyn (20), John (19), Alice (16), Louisa (15), Jean E. (5), and Phyllis N. (14 mos.). This had to be Felice 2 as the wife’s name was similar but Americanized. Further there was no child named Joseph C. who if born in 1911 would be about 19. Brian Mulhern was able to confirm that his grandfather did live at 1474 Edmund and also that he had an older brother, David Bacigalupo (1876-1951).

There was another 1930 Census record for Felice Bacigalupo. However, he was not listed with Maria or Joseph C. He was an inmate at Faribault, Rice Co., MN. The age was right as was the estimated birth year of 1881. He was probably Felice 1, but we can’t know for sure unless corroborated by other evidence.

There was also a record for a Joseph C. Bacigalupi (18) in the 1930 Census. He was listed at 166 West Central Ave. which as we saw was the address for Felice 1 in 1944. The age was about right. He was listed with two brothers Louis F. (14) and James A. (12). The only problem was that the head of the household was Tresa Bacigalupi (42). It appeared that the last name was probably transcribed incorrectly. But who was Tresa? Was she Maria using her middle name? The age was about right. The boys were definitely listed as sons of Tresa. Paul Bacigalupo also confirmed that he had an uncle Louis and an uncle Jim. For now Tresa must remain a mystery.

Phillip Bacigalupo (38) showed up again in the 1920 US Federal Census. Judging from the family names, he must be Felice 2. Living with him are Louise R. (32), Louise C. (Actually Louis, 11), Evelyn R. (10), John D. (9), Alice T. (6), and Louise D. (4 and 11 mos.). These names tracked nicely with those of the 1930 Census listed above.

On September 12, 1918, Felice Bacigalupo registered for the draft. On his World War I Draft Registration Card his address is listed as 1474 Edmund, St Paul, and his wife Louisa was listed as nearest relative. So this must also be Felice 2. Another important piece of information to distinguish them was that the birth date was given as October 5, 1880.

Now I could make some sense of the Minnesota Death Index records. One listed Felice’s birth as 25 Feb 1881 and death as 3 Nov 1955. This must be Felice 1 as Felice 2’s birth date on his draft card was October 5, 1880. Another listed no birth date, but a death date of 25 Jul 1954. Since this is a different date, this record must belong to Felice 2.

I was off and running on the Bacigalupo family, but more discoveries would have to wait.


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