08 May 2017

My Immigrant Ancestor : Marian (Reina) Maita

Marian [or Mary or Marianna] (Reina) Maita, on the right, and an unidentified friend or relative. Collection of E. Ackermann, 2017.
Marian [Marianna] (Reina) Maita, right.
Collection of E. Ackerman, 2017.
If you recognize the lady on the left,
drop me a note!
What a thrill to hold in your hand a photograph of someone you've never met, but who is intimately connected with you. A person that is, if you think of it, instrumental to the mere fact of your existance.

I would like to introduce you to my great-grandmother, Marian (Reina) Maita.

That's her, on the right in the photo. You can click on it if you'd like to see it a bit larger.

This "meeting" would not have been possible without the happy convergance of a number of things. First was the generous gift of this photo, along with many others, from a first cousin of mine. He did not know who these ladies were, though my first thought was "that woman sure looks like Grandma Traina." The second was the wonderous connections that Ancestry.com DNA has given me to living cousins that I never knew I had. I was able to send a digital image of this photo to one of them who confirmed that it was her grandmother - my great-grandmother. Hooray!

"They were married in Sicily..."

The helpful cousin who identified the photo for me shared the few facts that she knew about her grandmother, who died when my cousin was a young child. According to her, Marian and her husband, Vincenzo Maita, were married in Sicily before coming to the United States. They lived in Elizabeth, in "the Italian section" – Peterstown, where Vincenzo had a house built on Christine Street. The house is still there, and she describes it as being all brick, with a green door and shutters. My cousin also confirms that Marian and Vincenzo had eight children, one of whom was my grandmother, Lillian.

So now I have a place to start, and I know 100% more about my great-grandmother than I did two weeks ago.

"...then they came over to the U.S."

It's the Maita line that, ultimately, pushed me into researching my family tree. A death in the family lead to frantic e-mails amongst cousins asking "do you know Grandma's maiden name?" We sorted it out after a bit, but it bothered me that none of us knew even that much about our grandmother. Sheesh.

Early investigations led me to discover that three of my grandparents had more siblings than I ever knew of - if I knew of any at all. At least I had personal knowledge of my maternal grandmother's family, and I knew my great-grandmother in that line, although she died when I was a child.

In any case, aside from the Dixons, who appear to have been in this country for many more generations, I have three sets of great-grandparents who were immigrants to this country. This is, to coin a phrase, a very long walk off a short pier that points straight out into the Atlantic Ocean. But before I put on my water wings and take that leap to research in the "old country" there is plenty of research to do in my homeland - Elizabeth, New Jersey!

No comments:

Post a Comment