posted by Tony on Thursday 2010 Feb 18 at 15:45
Growing up I knew very little about my Grandmother or her family. She died from complications in childbirth when my Dad was only four years old. I heard her mentioned and saw a few photos, but she remained an unknown through most of my life. My Dad stayed partially in touch with three of his cousins, who were referred to as the 'New York family', but I knew little about exactly how we were related, and nothing of any of my other cousins from this side of the family.
As I dove into the genealogy of this family, relatively quickly I was able to find information on most of my Grandmother's siblings.
I found marriage certificates and census documents. Received word of mouth info from living family members and identified children who were my first cousin's once removed. In fact I was able to learn the spouses and names of children for six of my Grandmother's eight siblings.
However one sibling, the eldest, eluded me. His name was Joseph, and he was 16 years old on the 1910 census. His occupation was listed as 'Piano Maker Shop'. He was born in Italy and he had not traveled with his parents when they came to the USA in 1898. I spent many hours searching ship manifests, as well as the 1920 and 1930 Federal Census, but to no avail.
Then I made a breakthrough. I was searching the death index for New York City
for 'Cascio', the original spelling of the family name. An entry caught my attention. It was for a 'Joseph Cascio', 30 years old who died on Christmas Day 1924. That made the birth year about 1894. I went back to my only other record, the 1910 census. The age matched. Was this man my Great Uncle? I ordered the certificate from the NYC Municipal Archives
The certificate arrived, and at once I knew I had found Joseph, but I had no idea that this would raise many more questions than it would answer. I saw the names of my Great Grandparents on the certificate. But it was the cause of death that really jumped off of the page. I could not read all of the handwriting, but I what I could make out said "bullet pharynx right orbit homicide".
I went to the website of the New York Times
and did a search of the archives
. It only took me a few minutes to find an article with my Uncle's name from Dec 26, 1924 with the title "One Dead and Two Dying, Others Wounded by Holiday Bullets". It was on the front page. I quickly purchased the article and read on in disbelief.
... five victims of the gunmen had been hurried off to Mount Sinai Hospital in an automobile by the brother of one of the wounded men, Joseph Cascio, 32 years old, of 242 East 105th Street. Cascio had been shot in the head, and his brother, Thomas, of 327 East 106th Street, was at his bedside in the hospital when he died about two hours after the attack. Thomas Cascio had requested the police not to take word of the critical condition of his brother to the victim's home because the wife of the dying man had given birth to a daughter less than six hours before the shooting.
A tragic story, but also one the reveals some amazing detail about my family. I have a cousin born on Christmas day 1924. But who is she? How could I ever find her? Might she still be alive? Did Joseph have other children? These questions have become one of my foremost genealogy goals, and foremost brick walls... to learn the identity of this cousin.
Since my discovery I have learned a little more about Joseph before 1910. He was born Giuseppe Cascio on Nov 6, 1894 in Corleone, Sicily. He traveled to the USA in 1901 with his Grandmother and Uncle, three years behind his parents. But from there, the trail goes cold.
I do know that according to his death certificate, his wife's name was Ana. However, I have been unable to find any marriage record for a Joseph or Giuseppe Cascio to an Ana. Likewise, I remain unable to find Joseph on the 1920 Federal Census. I have read through the scans of the area of Italian Harlem where is likely to have lived and tried to search misspellings, but he is not to be found.
I found a cousin, but my only documentation is a newspaper article. I know the birthday of my cousin, but I do not know her name. Even if I did know her name, a birth certificate from New York City in 1924 can only be obtained from the Office of Vital Records and then only by ones self or with written permission of the person.
And so my best hope for a breakthrough is to share this story with the world, and hope that someone can provide me with that missing piece of the puzzle. Any information or ideas are always welcome. Please contact me through the comments section or send me a message via Twitter