Our Genealogy Researcher and Frankie Valli, Part 2: Immigration, Castle Garden, Some Italians and a Little Confusion

Frankie Valli was originally a Castelluccio. Our RecordClick genealogy researcher finds a way to locate the immigration records of Frankie Valli’s ancestors. Not so simple because a genealogy search for immigration records may take many routes back to the old country.

A genealogy researcher knows to ask: Which way to the boat?  In the genealogy world, we all know that we came here from somewhere else. But, finding the year of immigration and the boat are an important part of the story for the family history researcher. As with so many aspects of genealogy, sometimes it’s easy and sometimes…well…it’s not.

The ancestors of Frankie Valli of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons fame each have a story to tell about landing in America.

Genealogy in New Jersey may include the Italian families like that of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons

Genealogy in New Jersey may include the Italian families like that of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons

First, a little background:

Frankie Valli started out life in 1934 as Francesco Stephen Castelluccio, son of Anthony Castelluccio and Mary Rinaldi.

Anthony b.1911, d.1991 and Mary b.1913,d.1987 are buried in Glendale Cemetery, Bloomfield, Essex County, New Jersey.

Anthony, one of probably seven children, was the son of Frank Castelluccio, b. about 1876 in Italy and d. after 1940, and Millie, b. about 1881 in Italy and d. before 1940.  Mary, one of eight children, was the daughter of Joseph Rinaldi, b. Feb. 1869 in Italy and d. after 1930, and Mary, b. Oct. 1872 in Italy and d. after 1930.

Frank Castelluccio came to the United States between 1899 and 1902 and became a naturalized citizen. Joseph Rindaldi arrived in America in 1884 and became a naturalized citizen.

The probable families:

  • Frank and Millie Castelluccio: James, Josephina/Marie, Susan/Asernte, Anthony, Fred, William and Rose. The three oldest children were born in New York.
  • Joseph and Mary Rinaldi: Andrew, Rosie, Joseph, Frank, Thomas, Angeline, Patrick and Carmel/Mary. The three oldest children were born in New York.

The Castelluccios are a bit harder to follow because they seem to have moved around on a regular basis.

The earliest census this professional genealogist has found them in is 1910, New York, Kings County, Borough of Brooklyn, Ward 26, ED 774, Sheet 8B, 345 Cleveland St., Lines 91-95:

Line Last Name First Name Relation Age Status Birth
91 Castelluccio Millie Head 27 Widow Italy
92 James Son 5 S New York
93 Josephine Daughter 2 S New York
94 Susan Daughter 2/12 S New York
95 Rosalie Mother-in-Law 52 Widow Italy

In the 1920 U.S. Census, this genealogy search has the family, including father Frank, living at 314 Sixth Street in Jersey City. By 1930, the Castelluccios had moved to Newark and were residing at 9 High Street. In 1940 they were at 202 8th Avenue.

This professional genealogist is not sure what was going on in 1910, but in the 1920 U.S. Census, Rose is enumerated as the mother of Frank and Millie is no longer a widow, but the wife of Frank. As a note, Millie was a presser in a linen factory. In the later censuses, Frank was a barber. But nobody said the Italians were neat: This genealogy researcher hasn’t located immigration records for Frank that I am comfortable with.

The Rinaldis, it seems,were a bit more stable.

In the 1900 U.S. Census, they were in New York, Kings County, Borough of Brooklyn, Ward 19, ED 292, Sheet 28A, 438 Marcy Ave., Lines 26-31:

Line Last Name First Name Relation Birth Date Age Marital Status Place of Birth Immigration
26 Rinaldio (sic) Joseph Head Feb. 1869 31 M6 Italy 1884 NA
27 Mary Wife Oct. 1872 27 M6 Italy 1885
28 Andrew Son Dec. 1894 5 S New York
29 Rose Daughter Jan. 1896 4 S New York
30 Joseph Son Mar. 1898 2 S New York
31 Frank Son May 1899 1 S Italy

The family lived at 438 Marcy Ave and Joseph was a cloth presser. Not long after the 1900 census was taken, this genealogy researcher has found that the family moved to New Jersey and that is where the rest of the children were born. Keep in mind that this genealogy researcher has found that in the 1910 census, Frank was listed as being born in New Jersey and in the 1920 census he was again born in Italy. Joseph bought a house at 221 Montgomery Street in Jersey City and the family lived there until the 1920s. Joseph became a barber and, for a time around 1910, he and his son, Andrew, were in business together.

But what about the immigration?

A good genealogy researcher looks into the history of how things work– and immigration is one of those things.

Here is a short timeline:

  • 1790 – The “Naturalization Act of 1790” set the first rules for naturalized citizenship. Other than the act of naturalization, the federal government had little involvement with immigration.
  • Late 1850s – Castle Garden was opened in New York City to process immigrants.
  • 1875 – The Page Act of 1875 banned the entry of immigrants deemed “undesirable”.
  • 1890 – As the number of immigrants increased, the federal government felt a need to get involved and assumed control of immigration. Castle Garden closed.
  • 1891 – The Act of 1891 established a Commissioner of Immigration in the Treasury Department.
  • 1892 – Ellis Island opened to process immigrants.
  • 1906 – The “Naturalization Act of 1906” standardized the naturalization process and created the Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization.
  • 1921 – The “Emergency Quota Act” of 1921 began setting number restrictions for immigrants.

Many a genealogy researcher knows that millions of immigrants landed in New York before Ellis Island opened in1892. The local governments saw a need to find out who these people were and help them get on their way. Joseph Rinaldi came to the United States before Ellis Island opened. So, how does this genealogy researcher find him?

Often overlooked by genealogists and family history researchers, Castle Garden was located near the dock where visitors and tourists now catch a ferry to Liberty Island and Ellis Island. Maintained by the National Park Service, Castle Garden, now has an online data base of immigrants who were processed through that facility. And thus, our genealogy research takes us to:

On 17 May 1884, one Gius. Rinaldi, a 16 year-old laborer from Avigliano, Italy stepped off the ship Scotia to begin a new life in New York.

Here, now, is a mini family tree chart for Frankie Valli:

  • Frank Castelluccio b. @1876 in Italy
  • Millie b. @1883 in Italy
  • Anthony Castelluccio b. 1911 in NJ d. 1991 in NJ
  • Joseph Rinaldi b. 1869 in Italy
  • Mary b. 1872 in Italy
  • Mary Rinaldi b. 1909-1913 in NJ d. 1987 in NJ
  • Francesco Stephen Castelluccio (Frankie Valli) b. 1934 in NJ

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