Giuseppe DE LUIGI from Campestro (Ticino) – seasonal immigrant in America

From Guglielmo Possa, Italy

Carlo De Luigi (1843-1903), together with his brothers Giovanni and Luigi left Campestro in 1879 for Roveleto di Cadeo (Piacenza) in Italy where they acquired a farm named “Fornace Vecchia”.

The move probably did not take long and was fairly easy since the three brothers only had to cross into Lombardy to reach the location that was a few kilometres from the right bank of the Po river.

That wasn’t the case for another De Luigi, also from Campestro: Giuseppe DE LUIGI. Born in 1863 he left his village at the age of 46 and travelled across France to the port of Le Havre where he departed on board the steamship La Gascogne on April 24, 1909.

This was a boat under the French flag and carrying passengers on the Le Havre-New York route. It was launched at the shipbuilding yards in La Seyne, France in 1887 for the Compagnie French Line. It weighed 7,090 tons, was 507 feet long (155m), 51 feet wide and had two smokestacks and four masts. It had a carrying capacity of 1,055 passengers with 390 in first class, 65 in second and 600 in third. La Gascogne remained in service for 33 years and was demolished in 1920.

After an 11-day crossing, the boat reached Ellis Island (New York) on May 4, 1909, the point of disembarkation, checks and sometimes quarantine for the immigrants.

On line 0029 of the ship’s records, there is an interesting and particular note about the immigrant De Luigi. Giuseppe was married and was possibly travelling with (or had met during the voyage) Nicola Riva, 18 years old, single and a resident of Tesserete. He put down mason as his profession, that he knew how to read and write and his mother was Maria and was headed for San Francisco’s North Point where he would call on Morosoli Dionigi.

stemma-de-luigiFinally, the ship passage had been paid for by his father and he was only carrying $40 in his pockets, even though $50 was the minimum amount required by the American immigration authorities.

With 46 years, he was quite old to have left his country compared to the other passengers on the boat who had left their places of origin. But Giuseppe was a seasonal immigrant and was returning to San Francisco where he had already worked when he was 25 in 1888. He also claimed not to be an anarchist or a polygamist. American immigration officials found him to be in good mental and physical health, not crippled, was 5 feet, 7 inches tall (1.7m), had a clear complexion, auburn hair and brown eyes.

Giuseppe De Luigi returned to his homeland and we uncovered his name in 1930, 67 years old, in Odogno (with the status of a former immigrant) where he was registered as owning three cows and one heifer.

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