Essex County Branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society, Vol. #35, Issue #4
Below is a preview and link of the article that the Essex County Branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society, included in their November/December 2013 newsletter.


The America was built in Italy in 1908. There were 2,650 on board and Nana Caterina was among her 2,400 steerage passengers.

I am a second generation Canadian-Italian with Calabrian and Sicilian roots. My Nana, Maria Caterina Spag-nuolo ANDREOLI, was born in Mottafollone, a mountain village in Calabria, southern Italy. In 1912, when she was twenty-three, Nana Caterina boarded a steamship named America in Naples, Italy and crossed the Atlantic Ocean as a steerage passenger. She landed at Ellis Island, New York on January 13, 1913, moved to Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, Canada and married my Nonno, Pietro PERRI, in 1915. My father, Arnold Joseph PERRI, was one of her nine children.

Nana Caterina could not speak or write English. Little was known about her early life and I started genealogical research to solve her family mystery plus explore my Calabrian roots. Using Ellis Island records assisted my re-search and brought Nana’s adventure across the Atlantic to life for me.

Caterina Sept 21, 1915

Nanna and Nonno on their wedding day.

Ellis Island, situated in New York harbour, was an immigration station from 1892 to 1954. Prior to its opening, immigrants entered America through ports including Boston, New Orleans and San Francisco. My Nana Caterina and Nonno Pietro were among the twelve million immigrants who arrived at Ellis Island during this time period.

To read more, click here and find her article on page 42.