Thursday, December 26, 2019

Immigration Records Unlock Ferraguti Family History

Sam and Rose Ferraguti

My grandfather's sister was Rose Cimino 1918-2004. She was married to Sam Ferraguti.  Sam's full name was Salvatore Silvio "Sam" Ferraguti and he was born on May 1, 1918, in Omaha, Nebraska. His father was Verardo Ferraguti and his mother was Elvira Settini. Sam Ferraguti married Rose Louise Cimino on June 18, 1937, in Papillion, Nebraska. They had four children in 16 years. He died on November 2, 2003, in his hometown at the age of 85.

Some of the most valuable documents for 20th century immigrants can be found in the naturalization paperwork.  For example, here is the Petition for Citizenship for Sam's father, Verardo Ferraguti.

There are so many useful details on a Petition for Citizenship that I recommend that you make a full transcript.  Here is the transcript that I made for the above document:


To the Honorable the DISTRICT Court of THE UNITED STATES of CHICAGO, ILL.

The petition of VERARDO FERRAGUTI, hereby filed respectfully, shows:

(1) My place of residence is 11401 Watt Ave., Chicago, Ill. 

(2) My occupation is Laborer. 

(3) I was born in Torite, Italy on February 18, 1876. 

[Spelling of surnames and place names in these documents is often questionable. This place name is further obscured by a typographical error placing a "t" in place of an "l." In another source I had recorded that Verardo was born in Parma, Italy.  I googled a list of the comunes or towns in the province of Parma and I found that the correct spelling should be Torrile.  Here is a link to the Wikipedia article about Torrile, Italy. ]

[According to Wikipedia, Torrile is a comune (municipality) in the Province of Parma in the Italian region Emilia-Romagna, located about 90 kilometres (56 mi) northwest of Bologna and about 13 kilometres (8 mi) north of Parma.]

My race is North Italian.

(4) I declared my intention to become a citizen of the United States on June 9, 1925 in the Superior Court of Cook County, at Chicago, Illinois.

(5) I am married. the name of my wife is Elvira [We know through other records that her maiden name was Settini.] We were married on May 28, 1904 at Oro Prito, Brazil. 

[Here is another case of poor spelling.  The actual place name is Ouro Preto and here is the link to the Wikipedia article: Ouro Preto was a gold mining town that is 475 kilometers north of Rio de Janeiro by an unlit winding road.]

She [Elvira Settini] was born at Treviso, Italy on March 27, 1884 and [she] entered the United States at New York, City on June 22, 1905 for permanent residence therein, and now resides at Omaha, Nebraska.

[According to Wikipedia, Treviso is a city and comune in the Veneto region of northern Italy. It is the capital of the province of Treviso]

I have 7 children, and the name, date, and place of birth, and places of residence of each of said children are as follows:
Leandro born May 28, 1905 in Ora Preto, Brazil [Ouro Preto]
Arnaldo, born July 13, 1907 in Omaha, Neb.
Luigi, March 25, 1909 in Omaha, Neb.
Antonio, born June 4, 1911 in Omaha, Neb.
Carlo, born April 14, 1913 in Omaha, Neb.
James, born March 2, 1915 in Omaha, Neb.
Sam born May 1, 1918 in Omaha, Neb.
All reside in Omaha, except Leandro who resides in Chicago, Ill.

(6) My last foreign residence was Torile [Torrile], Italy. I emigrated to the United States of America from Rio Di Janiero, Brazil. My lawful entry for permanent residence in the United States was at New York, N.Y. under the name Varardo [sic] Ferraguti on September 19, 1905, on the vessel Tennyson.

[I always find the following phrase disconcerting that so many Americans would have difficulty swearing to this today.]

(7) I am not a disbeliever in or opposed to organized government or a member of or affiliated with any organization or body of persons teaching disbelief in or opposed to organized government. I am not a polygamist nor a believer in the practice of polygamy. I am attached to the principles of the constitution of the United States and well disposed to the good order and happiness of the United States. It is my intention to become a citizen of the United States and to renounce absolutely and forever all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state or sovereignty, and particularly to Victor Emmanuel III, King of Italy of whom (which) at this time I am a subject (or citizen), and it is my intention to reside permanently in the United States.

(8) I am able to speak the English language.

(9) I have resided continuously in the United States of America for the term of five years at least immediately preceding the date of this petition, to wit, since September 19, 1905 and in the County of Cook this state, continuously next preceding the date of this petition, since October 28, 1922, being a residence within said county of at least six months next preceding the date of this petition.

(10) I have not heretofore made petition for citizenship.

I, your aforesaid petitioner being duly sworn, depose and say that I have read this petition and know the contents thereof; that the same is true of my own knowledge except as to matters herein stated to be alleged upon information and belief, and that as to those matters I believe it to be true; and this this petition is signed by me with my full, true name.

Verardo Ferraguti- (Complete and true signature of petitioner)

I will let you read the Affidavits of Witnesses on the original document. Their names and occupations were Samuel H. Masessa, a Washing Machine Salesman and Joseph Napoli, a painter.

This petition for Naturalization was signed and sworn to by the witnesses on the 4th day of June 1932 and it helped me to uncover several details of dates and places of birth and marriage for members of the Ferraguti family.

Thursday, December 12, 2019

A Visit to Carlentini, Sicily 1968

Carlentini Postcards

About 1992
Carlentini, Siracusa, Sicilia, Italia
The images are from postcards received from my cousin, Angelo Randazzo, in Carlentini, Siracusa, Sicily in 1992. The lower image shows a panorama of Carlentini with Mount Etna in the background and the upper postcard includes another panorama with citrus groves on the hillside, an archeological site, the Villa Belvedere and the Palazzo Comunale of Carlentini.
For my friends from Carlentini, scroll to the bottom for my rough translation to Italian.
[Per i miei amici di Carlentini, scorrere fino in fondo per la mia traduzione approssimativa in italiano.]

The Cimino family originated from Carlentini on the island of Sicily. Our family immigrated to Omaha, Nebraska in the early years of the 20th century. Our great grandfather, Antonino Cimino 1878-1963 moved to Sioux City, Iowa and then moved across the Missouri River to South Sioux City, Nebraska.  Most of the Italians of Omaha and Sioux City are connected to Carlentini.

I have been searching for historical information on Carlentini for years but very little has been published. Searching the newspapers of Omaha, I came across this article that deserves to be shared with Omaha and Carlentini history buffs. This newspaper account of life in Carlentini was based on the travels of a gentleman named Sam Monaco in 1968.  He chronicles the profound changes in Carlentini between 1954 and 1968.  Here is a transcription of the article with a few images added to spice it up.

Date: Saturday, April 27, 1968 Paper: Omaha WorldHerald
(Omaha, Nebraska) Page: 4

Midlands News-Nebraska

Robert McMorris-

Sun-up Interview:
Sam Monaco

    THE Old Country revisited: When Omaha's Italian-Americans talk about the "old country," they're usually referring to Carlentini, a small city in Sicily.
    The first immigrant from Carlentini was Joseph Salerno, who came here in 1895. He wrote glowing letters home, saying he had found the promised land. That started a large exodus from Carlentini, where "Omaha" became synonymous with "America."

Sam Monaco image from the Omaha World Herald, 1968

    What is Carlentini like today? Our guide to this "mother city" of so many Omahans is Sam Monaco, now an Omaha produce wholesaler. While he was born in Omaha (53 years ago). his parents were natives of Carlentini and he himself spent most of his boyhood there. Accompanied by a friend, he recently returned to his "other hometown" for a two-month
    You would "hardly believe" the changes that have come to Carlentini. he said.

(Left to right) Old Market staples: Angelo Monaco, Carl Buda, Sam Monaco and Joe Vitale at 11 and Howard.
Notice that the Monaco Vitale Fruit & Veg Sign is in the background.
Photo credit: The Encounter July-August 2011 published by Omaha Magazine

No Donkeys
    AT THE height of the migration to Omaha. Carlentini was a city of about seven thousand. Today there are 13 thousand. Mr. Monaco said.
    "In my last trip there, in 1954, things were pretty much the same as had always been," he added. "You saw a lot of donkeys and horses in the streets.
"People did everything the old way. Many of the men worked on farms during the week and they slept there. And they would come into town on week ends to be with their families."
    Now they work in the new plastics factory, or at the nearby oil refinery, and things are booming, Mr. Monaco said.
    "People have cars and indoor bathrooms," he said. "And TV. They see quite a few old American cowboy movies on TV. Also, shows like 'Perry Mason.' But all the actors speak Italian."
Other signs of progress: Cocktail lounges, where the natives, in addition to wine, are experimenting with Martinis and a variety of American-formula mixed drinks.
    "They've got American whisky and everything," Mr. Monaco marveled. "And aspirins and Alka·Seltzer."

The Kids
    MR. MONACO found that the younger generation of Carlentini is spared the harsh realities that drove away so many others of their town in an earlier day.
    "It used to be that a kid would go to work, watching the sheep and cattle, when he was 6 or 7," he said. ""By the time he was 12 or 13 he'd carry large rocks on his shoulders. They'd use them :for construction work.
    Nowadays the kids are in school. It's just like in America. Girls in mini-skirts and the boys in long hair-although I didn't see any of the boys wearing beads. They listen to the same kind of loud music we've got here. They've got their combos and-guitars and all that."

    ONE thing about Carlentinians hasn't changed: "They love to sit around and tell stories," Mr. Monaco discovered. "What kind of stories? Well, like the traveling salesman and the farmer's daughter.
    "They were telling some of the same stories that I had heard in Omaha before I left. But they put more gestures and feeling into it."

Brothers Prosperous
    SAM MONACO was 6 years old, in 1921, when his parents, who were homesick, left Omaha and returned to their native Carlentini.
Sam came back to Omaha in 1932, leaving his family behind.  Since then his brothers have prospered. One is now the head of a bank in Carlentini. Another, who also still lives in Carlentini, is a professor of French and English. A third brother is a plainclothes investigator in northern Italy.
   "I was 17 and an orange peddler when I decided to return to America," Sam said. "I had forgotten all my English, but I was sure I could do a lot better in spite of the depression."

City Market
    IN OMAHA, Sam went to work at the City Market at Eleventh and Jackson Streets, near where he is now located. This was a bustling place where housewives thronged around open air stands to buy potatoes, lettuce, radishes, onions, cucumbers, peppers, egg plant, squash, pumpkin and sweet potatoes-all hauled in fresh that morning from farms of the area.
    A couple of years later, John Russo, one of the produce wholesalers, made Sam a partner. Eventually Mr. Russo retired and sold out to Sam, who in turn formed a partnership with
Joe Vitale.
    "In the old days, this area was so busy there were two cops down here directing traffic," Mr. Monaco said. "Now our business is strictly wholesale and we are the only ones left handling local vegetables. It's all changed. The retail business dropped off completely. And we only deal with about 15 farmers now. We used to have more than 30 bringing things in.
    "The airport crowded a lot of the farmers out of business. And a lot of the oldtimers have died or retired. The younger ones aren't so interested. And labor is high."

No Regrets
DESPITE the reverses in the produce business, Mr. Monaco said he is satisfied: "It's a comfortable living. This is still the greatest country in the world. I've never been sorry I came back to it. It's been wonderful to me."
    He said about half of the people of Carlentini today vote for Communist candidates in elections. But the Carlentini Communists are "a different breed than the kind we think
about," he said. "They don't stir up trouble or talk politics. I thought I might get into trouble with some of them. But I didn't have a single argument. You wouldn't know they were Communists if they didn't tell you."
    And whatever the influence of Communist ideology, he added, the traditional image of America hasn't changed for Carlentinians. "I didn't run into any anti-Americanism," he said. "Everybody still thinks this country is the greatest and ( they'd all like to come here if they have a chance. Especially to Omaha."


8/8/2016 Articolo di Omaha World Herald
Data: sabato 27 aprile 1968 Articolo: Omaha WorldHerald
(Omaha, Nebraska) Pagina: 4
Midlands News-Nebraska

Robert McMorris-

Intervista Sun-up:
Sam Monaco

    IL Vecchio Paese rivisitato: quando gli italo-americani di Omaha parlano del "vecchio paese", di solito si riferiscono a Carlentini, una piccola città in Sicilia.
Il primo immigrato da Carlentini fu Joseph Salerno, che venne qui nel 1895. Scrisse lettere luminose a casa dicendo che aveva trovato la terra promessa. Ciò ha iniziato un grande esodo
da Carlentini, dove "Omaha" divenne sinonimo di "America".

    Com'è Carlentini oggi? La nostra guida a questa "città madre" di così tanti Omahan è Sam Monaco, che ora è un grossista di prodotti Omaha. Mentre è nato a Omaha (53 anni fa). i suoi genitori erano nativi di Carlentini e lui stesso trascorse lì la maggior parte della sua fanciullezza. Accompagnato da un amico, è tornato di recente nella sua "altra città" per due mesi
    "Difficilmente crederesti" ai cambiamenti che sono arrivati ​​a Carlentini. Egli ha detto.

Nessun asino
    All'apice della migrazione verso Omaha. Carlentini era una città di circa settemila. Oggi ci sono 13 mila. Disse Monaco.
    "Nel mio ultimo viaggio lì, nel 1954, le cose erano praticamente le stesse di sempre", ha aggiunto. "Hai visto molti asini e cavalli nelle strade.
"La gente ha fatto tutto alla vecchia maniera. Molti degli uomini hanno lavorato nelle fattorie durante il
settimana e hanno dormito lì. E sarebbero venuti in città nei fine settimana per stare con le loro famiglie ".

    Ora lavorano nella nuova fabbrica di materie plastiche, o nella vicina raffineria di petrolio, e le cose vanno a gonfie vele, ha detto Monaco.
    "Le persone hanno macchine e bagni interni", ha detto. "E la TV. Vedono alcuni vecchi film di cowboy americani in TV. Inoltre, spettacoli come" Perry Mason ". Ma tutti gli attori parlano italiano ".
Altri segni di progresso:
Cocktail lounge, dove i nativi, oltre al vino, stanno sperimentando Martinis e una varietà di bevande miste di formula americana.
    "Hanno whisky americano e tutto il resto", si meravigliò il signor Monaco. "E aspirine e Alka · Seltzer."
I bambini
    SIG. MONACO ha scoperto che la generazione più giovane di Carlentini è risparmiata dalle dure realtà che hanno portato via così tante altre persone della loro città in un giorno precedente.
    "Una volta era un bambino che andava a lavorare, a guardare le pecore e il bestiame, quando aveva 6 o 7 anni", ha detto. "" A 12 o 13 anni portava grandi rocce sulle sue spalle. Li userebbero: per lavori di costruzione.
    Oggi i bambini sono a scuola. È proprio come in America. Ragazze in minigonna e ragazzi con i capelli lunghi, anche se non ho visto nessuno dei ragazzi indossare perline. Ascoltano lo stesso tipo di musica ad alto volume che abbiamo qui. Hanno le loro combo e chitarre e tutto il resto. "

    Una cosa sui Carlentiniani non è cambiata: "Amano sedersi e raccontare storie", ha scoperto Monaco. "Che tipo di storie? Beh, come il commesso viaggiatore e la figlia del contadino.
    "Stavano raccontando alcune delle stesse storie che avevo ascoltato a Omaha prima che me ne andassi. Ma ci hanno messo più gesti e sentimenti."

Fratelli Prosperous
SAM MONACO aveva 6 anni, nel 1921, quando i suoi genitori, che avevano nostalgia di casa, lasciarono Omaha e tornarono dal loro nativo Carlentini.
Sam tornò a Omaha nel 1932, lasciando la sua famiglia alle spalle. Da allora i suoi fratelli hanno prosperato. Uno è ora il capo di una banca a Carlentini. Un altro, che vive ancora
Carlentini, è un professore di francese e inglese. Un terzo fratello è un investigatore in borghese nel nord Italia.
   "Avevo 17 anni e sono un venditore ambulante di arance quando ho deciso di tornare in America", ha detto Sam. "Avevo dimenticato tutto il mio inglese, ma ero sicuro di poter fare molto meglio nonostante la depressione."

Mercato cittadino
    A OMAHA, Sam andò a lavorare al City Market a Eleventh e Jackson Streets, vicino a dove si trova ora. Questo era un luogo vivace in cui le casalinghe si affollavano intorno
stand all'aperto per comprare patate, lattuga, ravanelli, cipolle, cetrioli, peperoni, melanzane, zucca, zucca e patate dolci, tutti trasportati freschi quella mattina dalle fattorie della zona.
Un paio di anni dopo, John Russo, uno dei grossisti di prodotti, fece di Sam un partner. Alla fine il sig. Russo si ritirò e si vendette a Sam, che a sua volta formò una partnership con
Joe Vitale.
    "Ai vecchi tempi, questa zona era così affollata che c'erano due poliziotti che dirigevano il traffico", ha detto Monaco. "Ora la nostra attività è strettamente all'ingrosso e siamo gli unici rimasti a manipolare verdure locali. Tutto è cambiato. La vendita al dettaglio è completamente diminuita. E adesso abbiamo a che fare solo con circa 15 agricoltori. Avevamo più di 30 persone che vendevano.
    "L'aeroporto ha affollato molti agricoltori per motivi di lavoro. E molti vecchi sono morti o ritirati. I più piccoli non sono così interessati. E il lavoro è alto."

Nessun rimpianto
CONTRO i rovesci nel settore dei prodotti, il signor Monaco ha dichiarato di essere soddisfatto: "È una vita confortevole. Questo è ancora il più grande paese del mondo. Non sono mai stato dispiaciuto di esserci tornato. È stato meraviglioso per me. "
     Ha detto che circa la metà della popolazione di Carlentini oggi vota per i candidati comunisti alle elezioni. Ma i comunisti Carlentini sono "una razza diversa da quella che pensiamo
", ha detto." Non creano problemi o parlano di politica. Ho pensato di potermi mettere nei guai con alcuni di loro. Ma non avevo un solo argomento. Non sapresti che erano comunisti se non te lo dicessero. "
     E qualunque sia l'influenza dell'ideologia comunista, ha aggiunto, l'immagine tradizionale dell'America non è cambiata per i Carlentiniani. "Non ho incontrato alcun anti-americanismo", ha detto. "Tutti pensano ancora che questo paese sia il migliore e (a tutti piacerebbe venire qui se ne hanno la possibilità. Soprattutto a Omaha."

Saturday, September 21, 2019

The Descendants of Sebastiano Cimino and Carmela Grasso

Sebastiana Cimino, my great grandfather's sister, was born in Carlentini 21 January 1886.

Back in 1992, I started a quest to learn the names of the descendants of Sebastiano Cimino and Carmela Grasso.  These were the parents that were left behind by my great grandfather, Antonino Cimino when he left Carlentini, Sicily for a new life in America in the first decade of the 20th century. With many starts and stops over the last 27 years, I have accumulated several names. But now with a trip to Carlentini planned in 2020, I have a new urgency and have achieved new successes.

Here is a translation of the letter that I received from the City of Carlentini back in 1992.

13 / JUNE / 1992
Dear Sir:
From the research carried out in our registers it appears that Sebastiano Cimino and Carmela Grasso had 4 children:
- Alfio Cimino, born in Carlentini  7 August 1872; Antonino Cimino born in Carlentini 23 December 1878; Sebastiana Cimino born in Carlentini 21 January 1886; Rosario Cimino born in Carlentini  2 April 1892- [My research shows two more daughters: Anna born 20 July 1875 and Lucia born 29 January 1882.]
[My great grandfather's brother] Alfio Cimino was married to Rosa Gulizia  1 November 1897 and they had 5 children: Carmela born 12 February 1898; Sebastiano born 14 May 1902; Sebastiana born 20 September 1904; Salvatrice born 23 November 1911 and Antonino born 2 March 1919-
[my great grandfather] Antonino Cimino married Maria Ossino, who was born in Lentini 10 March 1879. They were married 30 June 1903 and they had 3 children born [in Carlentini] Carmela was born 28 April 1903 and died 14 October 1903; [in the Sicilian tradition the next child was also named Carmela to carry forward the name of the paternal grandmother. The second...] Carmela was born  8 August 1904; Giovanni born  3 July 1909, of this branch of the family we have no other news because Antonino Cimino transferred to the U.S.A. about 1909- [The Carlentini official had no record of the fact that my grandfather, Sebastiano Cimino was born in Lentini in 1906.]
[My great grandfather's sister; see picture above] Sebastiana Cimino was married to Luciano Inserra  22 October 1904 and they had 3 children Carmelina born 16 October 1912, Salvatore born  16 July 1920, Giuseppe born 13 June 1924-
Rosario Cimino married Carmela Idolo on 20 August 1921 and transferred to Lentini-
In our City there are currently living many of your relatives, if you wish you can also contact  Mr. Angelo Randazzo who is the son of Salvatrice Cimino; His address is: Angelo Randazzo via Carlo Quinto, 26 96013 Car1entini Province of Syracuse-

Here is a summary of what I know about my second great grandparents who remained in Carlentini.

Sebastiano Cimino was born 28 December 1841 in Carlentini, Sicily and died there 2 April 1917. His father, Alfio Cimino, was 64 and his mother, Anna Gulizia, was 46 when he was born so there were most likely previous marriages for both of them. He married Carmela Grasso, daughter of Alfio Grasso and Giuseppa Tomaselli, on November 2, 1871, in his hometown of Carlentini. They had six children in 19 years.

Two of his children, Antonino and Lucia, immigrated to Omaha, Nebraska in the first decade of the 20th century and settled permanently in the United States. One son, Alfio Cimino, immigrated to the U.S. and worked there alongside his brother, Antonino but returned to Sicily and never returned to the U.S.

The death record says that Sebastiano Cimino lived on the Via del Leone in Carlentini. His occupation was contadino which means peasant farmer. Carlentini is mainly an agricultural center and produces citrus fruits, olives and cereals. There are also cow, pig and sheep farms.

The oldest son was Alfio born 1872 and in the Sicilian tradition he was named after his paternal grandfather. The next child was a girl named Anna born in 1875 and she was named after the paternal grandmother, Anna Gulizia. My great grandfather, Antonino was the third child born in 1878. The second son should have been named after his maternal grandfather but the name Alfio was already given to the first son.

The fourth child was a girl, named Lucia and she was born in 1882. A daughter Sebastiana was born in 1886 and the last child, a son, Rosario was born in 1892.

It must have been difficult for Sebastiano Cimino and his wife Carmela to see two of his children depart for the United States and never return. But they had four children that remained in Carlentini. There were four weddings to celebrate and many grandchildren would also fill their lives with joy.

Salvatrice Cimino born 23 November 1911 in Carlentini.
She is the mother of Angelo Randazzo and the granddaughter of Sebastiano Cimino and Carmela Grasso.

I did correspond with Angelo Randazzo for several years and he put me in touch with his uncle Antonino Cimino that lived in Milan.  When I moved to Texas in 2010, I was able to get in touch with the daughter of Angelo Randazzo by email. Recently, I have discovered that she and her sister and brother are all on Facebook and we have been corresponding in anticipation of my visit to Carlentini in 2020. We have been sharing pictures of our grandparents and I have been recording all of this information in my family trees on and

If you have accounts on either of those websites, you can view my Sicilian ancestors at the following links:

Here is the link to my family tree on
Here is the link to the family tree on Family Search:

I highly encourage you to sign up for a free account at if you have not already done so.  This site is particularly helpful for those of us with ancestors outside the U.S. which I think is just about all of us.

I look forward to my Sicilian family reunion in 2020. Vito and Michael Corleone had brass bands waiting for them in the Godfather movies.  I do not expect to have the whole town come out to greet me but the list of my Sicilian Facebook friends and relatives is growing quickly!

Friday, July 19, 2019

Chain Migration from Ulster: A Case Study

In 2018, I presented a webinar on the topic of Chain Migration from Ulster using my Bamford and Nevin families as a case study.  If you join the Southern California Genealogical Society you can watch an archived version of the webinar which is available free to members of the society.  Here are a few of my favorites images from that presentation.

Much of the trouble and the strife in Ireland throughout recorded history has been due to a struggle between Protestants and Catholics.  The six counties that comprise Northern Ireland today have been predominantly, Protestant.  One of the organizations that was founded by Protestants in 1795 was known as the Orange Order.  So I have used the color Orange as the theme of this presentation.

My goal today is to inspire you to go to Ireland.  As genealogists you will find that there are more and more records coming on line every day.  But online records are absolutely no substitute for going there.  Even if you have already discovered your Ulster Ancestry and have a fully illustrated published family history to prove it, I still recommend that you go there.

There is a process that happens when you walk on the same ground where your ancestors walked.  I like to call that process “getting your bearings.”  You get a sense of direction and purpose that you really cannot experience unless you go there.

If you take a look at these statistics you will see the numbers of people that came from Ulster during a series of 70 year time periods. 

The first figure of approximately 2,000 includes the Caribbean and South America.  The rest of the numbers are for North America

During the 1820-1890 period there were also about a half million people that moved to Scotland, England and Wales.  Because you had many people from Ulster in Great Britain it is also a good strategy to search for people with your surnames in Great Britain that were born in your subject counties.  The British census records for example give the name of the county in the birthplace column.

In the period of the Famine we have estimates based on the censuses of 1841 and 1851 that close to 300,000 people left Ulster during that ten year period alone.

One of the things to note here is the reference to Familia the Ulster Genealogical Journal.  I highly encourage you to start reading this periodical for historical context.  For example, the December 2005 edition has an article that talks about inheritance being a factor in chain migration. 


¢ Chain migration -the social process by which immigrants from a particular town (or family) follow others from that town (or family) to a particular city or neighborhood.
¢ Ulster -a province comprising nine counties, three of which in 1921 joined Irish Free State (now Republic of Ireland) while six remained with United Kingdom
¢ One Name Studies -a project researching all occurrences of a surname, as opposed to tracing ancestors or descendants of a particular individual

 Most immigrants from Ulster came to North America based on the recommendation of a friend or relative from their home town.  Perhaps they had an offer of support by the purchase of a ticket and an offer to provide lodging.  This process of encouraging your family and friends to immigrate is known as chain migration.

We have seen the map of Ulster in the title slide and we know that there are nine counties in the region known as Ulster and  six of those counties remained in the United Kingdom as part of a new country known as Northern Ireland.  The counties of Donegal, Monaghan and Cavan became part of the Republic of Ireland.

Due to the scarcity of Irish records an excellent genealogical approach is to widen the focus from a particular pedigree to all occurrences of a surname in your Irish locality whether it be a townland, a county or a region like Ulster.  Unfortunately, due to fires and government record destruction, you will never have all of the pieces of your Ulster genealogical puzzles." By systematically gathering all records relating to your subject surnames you can effectively piece together an image of your Ulster ancestry.

I am going to be using two of my Ulster surnames as a case study to illustrate the principals of Chain Migration and One Name Studies.  The scope of this study quickly becomes quite large when you consider all of the descendants of these people.

By tracing all of the descendants, I have been able to find written accounts and documents that have helped to tie all of these people together into family groups. However, many mysteries remain.

 Before we dig deeper into the one name study methodology, let’s talk about the history, geography and government of Ireland.

Today the island of Ireland is divided into two countries: (1) the Republic of Ireland, also known as Éire and (2) the Northern Ireland region of the United Kingdom.  Eire is represented by the IE abbreviation and URL.  The government agencies of Northern Ireland use the URL. 

Northern Ireland uses the British pound as their currency and Ireland is part of the Euro Zone and uses the Euro for their currency.  If you are planning a trip to Ireland you will need to carry both currencies if you plan to cross the border.

Prior to 1922. the island of Ireland was one country and it was one of the four constituent countries of the United Kingdom together with England, Scotland, and Wales. The language most widely spoken is English but the Republic of Ireland also publishes many of their documents in Gaelic and is actively attempting to preserve and promote Gaelic language and heritage.

There are several acronyms here that you need to learn. GRO is an abbreviation for General Register Office which retains the civil records of birth , marriage and death. PRONI stands for Public Record Office of Northern Ireland which functions more like the U.S.  National Archives.

I had collected photos and notes about the Banfords and the Nevins from my Aunt Aline.

The girl is my great grandmother Anna Elizabeth Banford.  She was born in Schuyler County, Missouri which is on the Missouri and Iowa state line.

The old woman in this photograph is shown here as “Grandma Nevin.”  Her maiden name was Anne Bamford. Several descendants were named Anna Elizabeth so that may have been her full name too. She was born in County Fermanagh and came to the United States in 1850 with her husband, Thomas Nevin and three daughters. 

 This pedigree chart shows what I know today about my Ulster ancestors.  I have learned that there were relatively few people with the surnames Bamford and Nevin in Ulster and especially in County Fermanagh and County Tyrone where I have focused my research.  I still struggle to a great extent to find records about these Ulster ancestors but the picture that has emerged has been helped by the One Name Study approach.

When I started, I knew that this family group in the large red circle immigrated in 1850.

It is not clear whether George Banford was considered a friend or a family member.  George immigrated in 1853 and married Mary Nevin in Schuyler County in 1859.  George and Mary were living next door to Thomas and Anne Nevin in 1860.

Samuel and Alexander in the fourth generation on the pedigree chart are the right ages to be siblings but I have not found any records to support that conclusion.  If Samuel and Alexander were brothers, then George Banford and Mary Nevin would share a great grandfather which would make them 2nd cousins.

With Irish research sometimes it is better to be lucky than to be good.  My One Name Study of the Bamfords was incredibly luck to find this 1821 census record of the Alexander Bamford family.  So let’s zoom in and take a closer look at this family.

This 1821 record for the townland of Ramult in County Fermanagh shows us just how tragic it was that most of these census records were lost. This 1821 census lists the names of all of the members of the household and states their relationship to the head of household.  We don’t get this until 1850 in the U.S.

This census also states the occupation of all of the family members that were working.  The father, Alexander Bamford was a farmer who apparently was growing flax because his wife, Jane is listed as a Flax Spinner and his son, Joseph is a Weaver.

After several years of poring over this census record, I have been able to find that Alexander Bamford was my ancestor.  Most of the people in this family immigrated to North America.

You might not be as lucky to find a census fragment that lists your ancestors but if there is one of these for a nearby location, you might want to pay attention to it because of the social and economic history that it might contain.

 The first person in this chain migration example was Joseph Bamford who was the weaver that we saw in the 1821 census.  We have not been able to find him on a passenger list but we know that he was married in April 1831 in Belmont County, Ohio and that he lived there until he died in 1892.  From 1831 to 1850, he must have kept in contact with his siblings as three of them would end up residing near him.

Margaret Bamford immigrated from County Fermanagh to Canada some time prior to 1846 when she married William Bryans in Toronto.  The Bryans family lived in Port Stanley, Ontario for at least 20 years and prior to the 1870 census they migrated to the U.S. and settled in Moundsville, West Virginia which is across the Ohio river from Belmont County, Ohio where her brother, Joseph Bamford had been living for almost 40 years.

Thomas Nevin and his wife, Ann Bamford immigrated in 1850 with their three daughters.  In 1850, we find them living with Ann’s brother, Joseph Bamford in Belmont County, Ohio directly across the river from Wheeling, West Virginia. By 1860 Thomas and Ann Nevin had settled in Schuyler County, Missouri where they lived the rest of their lives.

William Bamford was a brother of Joseph and Ann and he immigrated about 1850 and went directly to Wheeling, West Virginia.  He was married twice in Ireland and had five children in Ireland and was married a third time in Wheeling and had five children with his third wife.

This is screenshot of the 1911 Census website sponsored by the National Archives of Ireland.  These records appear to be complete for the entire island.

You can see that this is a listing of the surnames found residing in the six households in the Townland of Rafintan.  In house six, you will notice that the head of household is named Irvine and that there is also someone named Nevin living in that household.  It turns out that this is a widow probably living with her daughter’s family.

But for demonstration purposes, let’s look at the Lynn family.

This is the transcribed list of occupants and again we should repeat that this census database was sponsored by the National Archives of Ireland.  We see that the head of household was Thomas Lynn and that his wife was Grace.  I was able to find a marriage record for Thomas Lynn and Grace Nevin and I was able to determine that both of them are Nevin descendants.  The mother of Thomas Lynn was Jane Nevin.  The father of Grace Nevin was Galbraith Nevin. 

The landlord for the Rafintan townland was the Brooke Family.  Their manor house is called Colebrooke and the nearest town is called Brookeborough.  When I was in Ireland, I went to the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland and looked at the Rent Book for the Brooke Estate for 1851.  The book shows the names of the tenants in the townland of Rafintan and the rents collected.  The listing for my ancestor Thomas Nevin shows a half year's rent due May 1851 of £7, 10p, 5 1/2d that was paid by Galbraith Nevin.  This would indicate that Thomas Nevin and family had left Ireland and that they had transferred their interest in the land to Galbraith Nevin.  When we dig into the Griffiths valuation we will learn how to trace the transfer of ownership of the lands of Rafintan.

Here we see the original image for the 1911 census listing of the Lynn family.  There is some additional information here about education levels and occupations and in the far right column it gives the County of Birth.  In the case of this family, they were all born in County Fermanagh.

One of the things that I also want you to notice are the first names of the children: Richard, Mary Jane and Isabella.

The gravestones of Ulster are particularly valuable because you find several members of the family listed on the same gravestone.  Here is an example that helps to tell us more about the Lynn family that we just saw in the 1911 census.

Thomas Lynn is clearly noted as a resident of Rafinton.  He and his wife and children are all named on this stone with their dates of death and their age at death.  This is like having a family group sheet printed on the gravestone.  I will tell you now that I had to go to Ireland to get this picture.

The daughters, Mary Jane and Isabella were the last known residents of the farm in Rafintan so before I made my trip, I was very interested in finding anyone named Lynn that resided in County Fermanagh.

One of my strategies while planning my trip to Ireland was to look for people in County Fermanagh with the names Bamford and Nevin in the online version of the British Telecom white pages.

There were no Nevins.  So since I knew that the Lynns had occupied Rafintan townland, I also looked up the listing for the Lynn surname.  I got really excited when I found a listing for George Nevin Lynn.  So I called him up with my International calling card and let him know we were coming to Northern Ireland.  He met us at the Town Hall gave us a tour of the area and took us home for dinner.  I was able to get enough information from him to determine how he was connected to the Nevins.

After I interviewed George Lynn in Ireland and looked at his family documents, I was able to piece together his family history when we got home.  As you can see he was in fact a Nevin descendant.  George had Nevin as a middle name.  George’s paternal grandfather had Nevin as a first name and his great grandmother was Jane Nevin daughter of Richard Nevin and Isabella Mosgrove.

 Bertie Morrow was a retired postman that was introduced to us by some Banford descendants.  I tracked down a Banford descendant in Canada who had connections with a woman name Betty Warrington who lived at Fivemiletown on the Fermanagh Tyrone border.  I called Betty and let her know we were coming and when we arrived she set us up with Bertie as our tour guide.  Bertie took us to see properties in Fermanagh and Tyrone that he knew were connected to Bamfords.  And later, Betty and her brother, Wilfred Anderson took us on a tour of their family homesteads and cemeteries.

Keep in mind at the time we went, we were not sure if any of these people were actually related.  We only knew that they had some connection with either Bamford or Nevin.

The picture above is the Colebrooke Cemetery and the grave that we were visiting was in a Bamford family plot.

Example of Griffiths search for my ancestral name Nevin in County Fermanagh, Aghalurcher Parish 

Copies of the Valuation are widely available in major libraries and record offices, both on microfiche and in their original published form. The dates of first publication will be found under individual counties. 

The Valuation was never intended as a census substitute, and if the 1851 census had survived, it would have little genealogical significance. As things stand, however, it gives the only detailed guide to where in Ireland people lived in the mid-19th century, and what property they possessed. In addition, because the Valuation entries were subsequently revised at regular intervals, it is often possible to trace living descendants of those originally listed by Griffith. (See
Valuation Office Records

Surnames section of this site provides counts of the number of households of a particular surname recorded in the counties and civil parishes of Ireland, based on the returns of Griffith's Valuation.

 Over the last several years PRONI has been in the process of adding these Valuation Revision books which are the original records that were the source of the Griffiths valuation.  These books are currently searchable by place name so again we are using Rafintan as an example. 

You can see here that there are a series of books ranging from 1864 to 1929.  My ancestors had already left Ireland during this period but many of their siblings and cousins remained there.

When you click on the links you get to the original images which start here with the cover. The title of the book is General Valuation of Ireland. Rafintan was in the Union of Lisnaskea and the Electoral Division of Cross. VAL 12B/28/11A is the PRONI reference number which should be included in your source citation.

This is an index page which shows which page each townland is listed.  So we page forward to Rafintan on page 36. You may also notice that the townland of Ramult is on page 39.

So now we are on page 36 and you see that the tax collectors used the same book over a period of years and crossed out names when a new family occupied a farm.  I have told you a little about Galbraith Nevin that he paid the rent on the farm of my ancestor Thomas Nevin in 1851.  Sir Victor Brooke was the lessor of the land and he was also known as the Lord of the Manor.  Galbraith Nevin also became a lessor after the departure of John Beatty.  At the bottom of the page you will see that Anthony Nevin took over the land of Samuel Beatty.  So make a mental note of these names as you will continue to see them in other records.

As you step back further in time, one of the alternatives to census records are the tithe applotment records. The applotment books for each parish give the names of the occupiers, the amount of land that they held and the value assigned to it.  The owners or lease holders were required to pay a tithe to the Church of Ireland.

This example shows the owners and occupiers of Rafintan townland and the other Nivens listings in the County.  Richard and Thomas Nivens were resident in Rafintan in 1833.  Unfortunately there is no descriptive information to state their ages.

You remember Samuel Beatty was one of the occupiers in the Valuation Books.  This gravestone was marked at the bottom with the words that I have superimposed here: the Family Burying Ground of Samuel Beatty, Rafinton.  This gravestone was located in Colebrooke Cemetery.

You can see that the wife of Anthony Nevin was Jane Beatty and that she died in 1896.  The marriage record of Anthony Nevin and Jane Beatty confirms that Samuel Beatty was her father and it also states that Anthony’s father was Galbraith Nevin.

This stone was erected by Richard Nevin of Rafinton in memory of his parents, his wife, daughter and also his son Thomas who departed this life Sep't 16 th 1838 aged 28 years Also Richard Nevin who departed this life 14 Nov 1862 Aged 84 years Also Isabella Nevin daughter of the late Richard Nevin of Rafinton departed this life July 17 1872 aged 58 years
 This stone clearly states that Richard Nevin was a resident of Rafinton and that he had a daughter named Isabella.  The family history notes that I received from my Aunt Aline stated that Thomas Nevin had a brother Richard who had a daughter named Belle.  Belle is a nickname for Isabella.  So based on these facts I have made a tentative conclusion that Richard Nevin on this gravestone is the brother of my ancestor, Thomas Nevin.

For more historical context on your Ulster Counties, I recommend that you get a copy of the Ordnance Survey Memoirs for your county.  These books were compiled by the staff of the Ordnance Survey.  The best way to describe the Ordnance Survey is that they were the map makers similar to our U.S. Geological Survey that produces the topographic maps of the United States.  The memoirs are a snapshot of everyday life in the 1830s when the maps were first being made.  

These memoirs were published in the 1980s and 1990s by the Institute of Irish Studies at Queen’s University of Belfast.  There is a section on each parish in the county.  The descriptions include the natural features such as hills, lakes, rivers, bogs, woods and climate.  The towns are described including  their history, the buildings, and the occupations of the local population.  The economy is described listing the principal industries and the local agricultural methods.  The principal landowners are featured in some detail with lists of the townlands on their estates.  These books provide very helpful historical context for the everyday life of your Ulster ancestors.


Few people realize that many of the landed estate owners kept detailed records of their estates, including records of their tenants. These estate records are invaluable for the genealogist and many of them are held at the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland.

The diversity of sources found in estate records is amazing. The PRONI website has a description of estate records.  Suffice it to say that there are plenty more records for me to explore when I return to the Public Record Office on my next visit to Belfast.

An interesting side note to the Irish estates is that since they have been divested of their land, the current owners have had to come up with a variety of schemes to maintain these massive houses.  You can see the Lord of the Manor here advertising his deer hunting adventures.  The latest scheme is the Colebrooke Spa which was developed in a reality TV series.

There is a new URL for PRONI the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland. PRONI.GOV.UK is short form URL that I show in the orange box here and still works.

I spent five days at PRONI and only scratched the surface of their archival records.  Before you go, I encourage you to spend lots of time with their extensive web resources.  I only have time to show you one example of a document that is extracted in their E-catalog.  Notice that I searched on just the first four letters to try to find variant spellings.

The image above is an extract of a lease.  When I got to PRONI, I requested a copy of the original document.  When I got home I transcribed it:

!RESIDENCE: 1807; Derryheely, Co. Fermanagh D998/26/254 23 Feb. 1807 Lease from Henry Brooke, Colebrooke, Co. Fermanagh, to Samuel Bamford of Derryheely, Co. Fermanagh, Farmer a part of the lands of of Derryheely now in his possession containing 7 acres 1 rood 35 perches and one half perch as lately surveyed by Wm. Cairns  bounded on the north by that part of the lands of Derryheely now in the possession of James Byers & on the south by that part of Derryheely now in the possesion of William Scoles      For the lives of John Bamford aged about ten years, William Bamford aged about eight years, first & second sons of Samuel Bamford, the Lessee and Adam Byers aged about five years, eldest son of James Byers of Derryheely: (1) Rent £14 11s. 7 1/2d.; (2) Receivers fees nil; (3) Fourteen days work of man and horse and fourteen hens or tenpence in lieu of each days work and fourpence in lieu of each hen; and, (4) Corn, etc, to be ground at mill of Henry Brooke, payment for not doing so £5. Copy of Deed from PRONI in the possession of Nick Cimino since 2008

On the left is another example of a lease on the Brooke Estate involving  my immigrant ancestor, Thomas Nevin.  I have displayed the lease next to his gravestone from Schuyler County, Missouri. The gravestone yields a birth year of 1791.  The lease gives us an estimated birth date of 1793.  We also have a baptismal record dated 1791. Here is the text of the above lease transcribed:

D998/26/295 : 29 Sep. 1812 Lease from Henry Brooke, Colebrooke, Co. Fermanagh, to Richard Neven and Thomas Neven, Rafintan, Co. Fermanagh, of 25a. 2r. 5p. of Rafintan, Co. Fermanagh, for the lives of Thomas Neven, lessee, aged about nineteen, Mathew Lucy, son of Thomas Lucy of Dogary [Doogary] aged about nine years and Thomas Neven, eldest son of Richard Neven one of the lessees aged about four years

This is the survey drawing of that lease dated 1812.  The area on the bottom of the image is the demesne where the Brooke family lived. There is the name of an adjacent townland named Tattynuckle with an alternate spelling but otherwise there is very little detail.

By 1841 the property had been split between Thomas and Richard Nevins so that they both had 11 acres. Some of the adjacent lease holders are named as well as the names of some adjacent townlands.  My ancestor, Thomas Nevin left Ireland nine years later so this shows the land that he left behind.

This is how the land looked in the 1860s from the Ordnance Survey maps for the Griffiths valuation at the site.  The parcels that are labeled 3A and 4A are the Nevin parcels.  Parcel 5 is the bog. 

Here is the legend to the Griffiths Valuation Map and it shows that Galbraith and Richard Nevin were leasing land and subleasing land to other tenants.

In conclusion, here is a picture of Bertie Morrow and I in 2008. We were walking up the muddy road on the Lynn property which previously belonged to the Nevins.  This was the same property where my ancestor, Thomas Nevin lived prior to immigrating to the United States in 1850 and here I was over a 150 years later walking on that same ground.

When we went in 2008, the signs of the Irish Troubles were evident everywhere we went.  A shaky peace had been established which reduced the level of violence between Catholics and Protestants to the point where it was safe to travel there.  The people were ready for peace and reconciliation.  

They were ready to accept their American cousins with open arms.  The people were so gracious and welcoming.  The Irish now realize that genealogical tourism is an important part of their economy and they have been working hard to maintain the peace for a decade.  So go there. Now!  

Many of the cousins that I met there have passed away.  So go there, now!  You will treasure your trip to Ireland for the rest of your life