Once immigrants arrived in America and made it through the tests and inspections, it was time for the next part of the journey, the trip to their new life. Most traveled by train, especially those going to upstate New York. The journey can best be described through a first hand account.
Antonio Greco left his home of Ottati, Salerno, Italy on May 9, 1910 to travel to America. He recollects his journey from Ellis Island to Auburn:
“We arrived at the port of New York on May 23rd , and we remained in port for most of the day while they checked our documents. That evening, a small boat took us from the port to the train station. While on the train from New York to Syracuse, which had departed around 11:00 p.m., it was a long night because I could not sleep fearing that I would be missing my destination which was Auburn.
So we arrived in Syracuse around 7:00 or 8:00 a.m. and we were advised to get off the train because we had to change trains. I didn’t know if this was Syracuse so I asked people in the station if it was Syracuse. We were seated in the station waiting to be called, because we could not go to the information window because we did not speak English. I do not remember how long I waited before being called. I was called to board the train for my destination, Auburn, which I believed was about two hours from Syracuse.
I decided before boarding the train, after the second calling, that I had to make sure it was going to Auburn. Then I boarded the train. All was dark on the train and I sat by a small window looking out to see the name of the station at each stop. After four or five stops, I saw AUBURN Station, arriving at 11:00 a.m. on May 23rd.
Now, how do I find my brother John’s home on 62 S. Division Street? I had the address in my hand. I showed it to the station attendant. While he was attempting to tell me where to go, someone nearby told the attendant that he knew the place and would take me there. Because someone knew our cousin Antonio Greco and his family, I finally arrived at his home around noon. My brother was at work because he did not know exactly when I would arrive and I could not notify him. So the wife of our cousin was waiting to eat. In mid-afternoon our cousin’s friend who happened to be at the house, knew where my brother worked, which was not too far away.
He took us there, so I was able to surprise my brother whom I had not seen in three years, and I also was with my sister Anna.
So this was my journey from my hometown, Ottati.”
Most immigrants came to America with the help of a sponsor.
Sponsors were people that signed a federal document saying that they know the immigrants and will either have them live with them or find them a place to live. Many sponsors were family members and offered housing in their home, with other members of the extended family.
Sponsors were a crucial element of the immigrants’ lives, especially for assisting with language barriers. If sponsors were not family members, they often became lifelong friends.
The Falcone family emigrated in 1891, and purchased a home at 59 West Street in 1903. The home was used as a boarding house for new immigrants, and the Falcones served as sponsors for many families. Pictured on left is 59 West Street.
Luigi Nocilli arrived in 1903 and traveled around the U.S. before choosing to settle in Auburn, for the industrial opportunities. When he came to Auburn he lived with the Leone family on Barber Street.
Loreta Gianone arrived in 1911 and settled in Auburn because other people in her village had come. She lived with the Falcone family, who fixed her up with Luigi Nocilli. They married and raised a family on Spring Street.