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Google Your Family Tree - Award Winning Book for Genealogy

Google Your Family Tree
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by Daniel M. Lynch

di Tota

Orsatti Genealogy

Orsatti family lines in Abruzzo / Molise, Italy
This will be information about Orsatti, especially the family of Anna Orsatti, daughter of Giustino Orsatti (of Fara San Martino) and Teresa Di Cesare (of San Giovanni in Galdo).

On 17 May 2002, at least one branch of Orsatti family tree celebrated their American centennial. On Saturday, 17 May 1902, a twenty-six year old ship named Marco Minghetti, operating under the Italian flag, departed from the Port of Naples bound for America. The ship had a capacity of 960 passengers, with fewer than 25 in first class and remaining passengers making up third class or “steerage”. With a service speed of 12 knots, it was sixteen days before the ship reached America. On Monday, June 2nd, the ship entered the Port of New York at the tip of Manhattan Island, passed the Statue of Liberty, and docked within view of Ellis Island. Passengers and their belongings were shuttled by ferry to Ellis Island for processing by immigration officials.

Among the passengers on the Marco Minghetti preparing to pass through the Ellis Island immigration station – sixteen year old Giovanni Orsatti. His place of residence listed as San Giovanni in Galdo, his age and date of arrival would place his birth about 1886. According to information recorded on the original passenger manifest, Giovanni was single and reported his occupation as stonecutter. He had never before been to the United States and paid for his own passage. Giovanni’s final destination in America was listed as Thomaston CT, he did not yet hold a ticket to this destination, but had $40(?) upon arrival. While it appears that he was travelling alone, a 26-year old named Guiseppe Antonio Tiadico, also from San Giovanni in Galdo, appears on the same ship manifest. Antonio, a tailor, was heading to Omaha, Nebraska. Given their listings one after another on the passenger manifest, it is not difficult to imagine the two young men becoming friends as they prepared to share a common, but uncertain life experience.

Portion of original Passenger Manifest from Marco Minghetti showing 16-year old Giovanni Orsatti (line 18)

Giovanni’s arrival is the first known immigrant connection between the Orsatti family from the Italian province of Campobasso and the greater-Waterbury area of central Connecticut. Now, more than 100 years later, there are family stories, faded photographs, and many names, events, and traces that can be pieced together to rebuild the story that began with that voyage on the Marco Minghetti in the Spring of 1902.

The details of this Italian-American family story begin with John B. Orsatti, Sr., but also include his mother, brother, and sisters who would later follow his path to America. Born in San Giovanni in Galdo, Italy (province of Campobasso, region of Molise), Giovanni Battista Orsatti was the son of Giustino Orsatti and Teresa (Di Cesare) Orsatti. One of four children known to have been born to these parents, Giovanni was the oldest and is believed to have been born on September 24, 1885. Giovanni’s younger siblings included sisters Anna and Chiarina, as well as brother Pietro.

The passenger manifests from Ellis Island seem to verify the memories of family members that have descended from this Orsatti family. Giovanni was believed to have come to America to live briefly with an aunt in Thomaston, Connecticut. Within a short time, he appears to have moved to the nearby city of Waterbury. As the eldest son, it is also believed that Giovanni was making preparations to have his mother and other family members join him in America, perhaps earning money for their voyage. His father is believed to have died prior to 1902 in Italy, leaving a widow in her early 40’s with four children.

While research has yielded proof for other recorded trips for passengers named Giovanni Orsatti, it has not yet been verified if they are for separate passengers or possible records of re-entry for this same person. What has been verified, however, is the arrival of his immediate family nearly four years later. On May 4, 1906, the ship Barbarossa also arrived at Ellis Island – this time carrying a 44-year old widow travelling under her maiden name. Teresa Di Cesare appears as the leading entry on a passenger manifest for the ship which departed the Port of Naples on April 20, 1906. Appearing below this entry are details of four additional passengers, all from the same town of San Giovanni in Galdo, Italy. Daughters Anna and Chiarina Orsatti (ages 15 and 11, respectively), and son Pietro (9).

All children show the last name Orsatti and their destination as Waterbury CT, but final confirmation appears as Teresa lists their relative in America as “son Giovanni”, living on Phoenix Ave, Waterbury.


At right (enlarged) and below, a portion of the original Manifest for the Barbarossa, arriving in America on May 4, 1906.

There is one additional passenger, a 21-year old married male named Pasquale DeRubertsi that also appears to be travelling with the Orsatti family. In addition to same towns of origin and destination, his contact in America is listed as “cousin: Orsatti Giovanni”. This would mean that Pasquale was travelling with his Aunt Teresa and young cousins. Given the last name and label of cousin, it is possible that Teresa had a sister that married a DeRubertsi, yielding Pasquale in about 1885. Neither Teresa, her young children, or her nephew Pasquale had ever traveled to America before.

In the years that followed, each of Teresa Di Cesare Orsatti’s children married and she became the matriarch of a large extended Italian-American family. In the 100 years since her son first arrived in America, at least six generations and more than 100 individuals share the bloodline extending from this woman born in Italy 140 years ago.

In the Winter of 1920, the Fourteenth Federal Census of the United States was being conducted by U.S. government enumerators. Some members of the Orsatti family can be found listed on Hamilton Avenue in the city of Waterbury. Teresa Orsatti (now 59) was living with her youngest daughter Carrie (25), now Mrs. Michael Tartaglia, and their children Anna (4), Peter (3), and William (1) at 466 Hamilton Avenue. Other Tartaglia children would follow, but these were the only ones born at the time the 1920 census was taken. Michael Tartaglia (34) was listed as the head of household and owner of the property. His occupation was listed as a tool setter at the brass mill. Both Michael and his wife Carrie were noted to have been naturalized U.S. citizens, in 1915 and 1916 respectively. Also living with the Tartaglia family was Carrie’s brother, Peter – age 23 and single. He and his mother Teresa were still listed as aliens and Peter’s occupation was recorded as machinist at Rolling Mills.

Living next door to the Tartaglia family, at 460 Hamilton Avenue, was Teresa Orsatti’s eldest daughter Anna (28), now Mrs. Domenico Ditoto. Anna had married Domenico Ditoto in May 1908 and the couple was reported to have four children at this time – Louise (9), John (7), Theresa (5), and Ida (3). Domenic was listed as 35 years old, a machine hand in the watch shop, and the owner of his home. Although neither Domenic nor his wife were listed as naturalized citizens, both had filed naturalization papers.

As of this writing, the record for John (Giovanni) Orsatti could not be located in the 1920 or 1910 census. Sometime prior to 1910, Giovanni wed Philomena Cacovella and the couple would eventually have eight children.

(Source: 1920 U.S. Census. Waterbury (New Haven County) CT. Ward 5, Enumeration District 470, Sheet 58A)


» View selection of various Orsatti photos (more coming soon)
» View scanned images of various Orsatti documents (more coming soon)
» Visit the Fara San Martino Web page



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