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By Lois De Stefano Borton

It all began in Provincia di Avellino in the town of Ariano. Nonna Filomena Ricci was born June 7, 1868 although the U.S. census shows different birthdates. Grandfather Nicola Di Stefano was born either in 1874 or 1875 to Antonio Di Stefano and Maria Giovanna. I often wondered what their young lives were like in a country so far away. None the less, they searched out for the new world in hopes, I'm sure, of a better life.

Ellis Island records show some information but I wonder if I found the right Di Stefano's who in 1896 crossed the ocean blue. BUT, I know without a doubt that in 1900 my Greatgrandpa Antonio and Greatgrandma Giovanna, Greataunt Zia Lucia and her cousin Giuseppe Paglialonga made the trip of their dreams and arrived in New York on March 26 via the Tartar Prince. Ellis Island ship manifests document that they were visiting their son Nicola in Newark, New Jersey. They must have yearned so deeply to see their son, that in their ages of 60 and 65 they came to America. How exciting this was for me to read, as I never knew my grandfathers, so it was like a page of my life opened up to see this information.

Grandpa Nicola was a hand press laborer and Nonna was a homemaker. Life must not have been easy for these poor immigrants but their love was enough to get them through. Nicola, at the young age of 33, died of Tuberculosis leaving Nonna with four children. I remember hearing a story of the children being placed in an orphanage until Nonna could support them. So life remained difficult but determination and love and desire held her together. Much of the years remain blank as words were not easily shared. But, I do remember a Nonna who was a terrific ravioli maker, loved her children and I loved her.

Her children all born in New Jersey were: Jennie, Antonio, Carmella and my precious father Luigi (Louis) De Stefano. (somehow the Di in the name was changed to DE).

Look deep within a picture book
Search records wide and take a look
Italian Immigrants I long to know
Their names their face what will it show
The miles long and the oceans wide
Look deep and savor every stride
Seek out and find a friend who shares
Your same desires and who truly cares
Whose hands stretch out the wide expanse
Whose tid-bits may cause you then to dance
My search went on throughout the night
The burning candles no longer bright
So I'll search for a family life that is no longer there
Except on pages to be shared

Grazie, Lois De Stefano Borton
SEARCHING (part 2)
I'll close my eyes and envision your face
In a far away country, a foreign place
Must I travel so far in search of you?
Seeking a Grandma and Grandpa I never knew
Where do I start to search for your home
In the green fertile valleys or the blue ocean foam
Shall I search for your name in a dusty old book?
Will I find you there only to take one look?
Yes, I'll search for you Grandpa wherever I can
I'll cross the blue ocean to that far away land

Lois De Stefano Borton 7/2002

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