Chapter 4. 1908: Going to America.

“John Ullian and Linda Ferraro:  Roots and Legacy   March 2018”




John Ullian came to the U. S. in 1908 to join his brother Antonio in the coal mines of Centerville, Iowa. His brother Romano had come to the U.S. in 1906 to join their brother Antonio in Kensington, Illinois, then moved to Centerville. Romano’s wife Teresa and young son Anthony joined him in 1908.



John Ullian arrived at age 18 in the Port of New York on 8 Dec 1908.


Listed as Gio. Batta [Giovanni Battista – named after John the Baptist] Ulian in the ship manifest, he was a steerage passenger on the S. S. Chicago, an oceanliner of the French Line (Compagnie Générale Transatlantique) that departed Havre, France, on 28 Nov 1908. The ship manifest shows him as a 5'3" single Northern Italian male in good health with auburn hair/eyes, a laborer who was born in Salero [Salcedo] Italy, and who last resided in Vicensa [Vicenza], Italy. [Vicenza may refer to either the city of Vicenza or the province of Vicenza, the latter of which includes the town of Salcedo.] He listed his mother Maria Mascarello as his nearest relative remaining in Italy. He had $25 with him and a ticket to his ultimate destination – Centreville [Centerville], Iowa, where he would join his brother Antonio (address: P. O. Box 5). He had never been in the U. S. previously. [The Ellis Island Records site shows his surname as Uhan, an error in transcription from the manifest.]


The decades around the turn of the century were those of the Industrial Revolution, accompanied by a great immigration into the United States of America.


The area of southern Iowa around Centerville, the county seat of Appanoose County, had a great need for laborers to work in the coal mines that were expanding to fill industry’s increased need for coal. The jobs available in that area attracted many immigrants from Europe, including Italy, especially around the 1890s. It was common at the time for potential European immigrants to be recruited by agents working for employers to fill their labor needs. We have no information on whether John was so recruited, or simply decided to join his brother Antonio (who himself may or may not have been recruited).


Many Italians departed from the Italian ports of Genova [Genoa] and Napoli [Naples], but many of the northern Italians departed from Havre [Le Havre], France. This seaport is about 800 miles from where John was born. His travel to Havre would probably have been by train. The S. S. Chicago, of the French Line (Compagnie Generale Transatlantique) had made its maiden voyage to New York on 30 May 1908, just 6 months before John sailed on it.


One story John’s son John A. had heard about John’s immigration was that his father liked to gamble, and that in France prior to departure he successfully gambled (probably dice) his passage funds to be able to move up from steerage to second class. Nonetheless, he is listed on the ship manifest as traveling in steerage. Luck was evidently not with him.








John Ullian (Gio. Batta Ulian) listed on the first line of the Ship Manifest.

He arrived from Havre (France) on 28 Nov. 1908 Onboard the  S. S. Chicago



S. S. Chicago [From]



Earlier, in 1906, John’s brother Romano had also listed their brother Antonio as the person he was joining when he came to the U. S., but Romano had indicated that Antonio was in Kensington IL. Kensington was an industrial magnet for Italian immigrants. It was south of Chicago in Cook County, Illinois. Romano’s wife and young son Antonio joined Romano in Centerville in 1908, as did John a few months later.








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