Jonathan MacPherson-Gray

Country of Origin:

Canada

Themes:

Immigration, Identity & Heritage

Photos:

  • Browse while you listen: images with relate to audio

play video

Bio

2013 Sacred Heart CHS Senior Boys Rugby OFSAA Champions

2013 Aurora Barbarians Senior Boys Rugby YRAA Champions

2013 Engineering Club Founder/facilitator at Sacred Heart CHS

2012 M.S. Run Volunteer for Newmarket

2012 Newmarket Soccerfest Volunteer

2012 Relay for Life Participant at Sacred Heart CHS

2011 Vow of Silence for Charity at Sacred Heart CHS

2011 Beta Sigma Phi Christmas Wrap for Charity

Story

On April 24th, 1899, at the age of 25, Pietro Catalano, born in Camini, Reggio Calabria, set sail from the port in Naples, aboard the S.S. Alsatia, a Scotish ship built by W. Henderson & Company Limited in 1876. The ship carried 1,256 passengers: 156 in first class and 1100 in third class. He is listed on the “List of Manifest of Alien Immigrants for the Commissioner of Immigration”, required by the regulations of the Secretary of the Treasury of the United States, under Act of Congress, approved March 3rd, 1893, to be delivered to the Commissioner of Immigration by the Commanding Officer of any vessel having such passengers on board upon arrival at a port in the United States, as the 28th passenger. His ticket number was 234 and he travelled in third class (http://www.ellisislandrecords.org/).

The Manifest further showed that he was single, his calling or occupation was a labourer and that he could not read or write, although this is disputed since he later became a merchant. He landed in New York, paid for his own passage and would be staying with his brother-in-law and sister in New York. He arrived with $4.25 in his possession and this was his first trip to the United States. The Manifest continued to say that he had never been in prison or an almshouse or supported by a charity. He was not a polygamist and was not under contract, express or implied for labour in the United States. He was in good mental and physical health, was not deformed or crippled. The second page of the Manifest is an Affidavit of the Master or Commanding Officer, or First or Second Officer showing that he had been inspected upon boarding the vessel by the Consulate of the United States in Naples. It declares that he was not an idiot or insane person, a pauper or likely to become a public charge or suffering from a loathsome or dangerous, contagious disease among other things (http://www.ellisislandrecords.org/).

On May 15th, he arrived at the port of New York at Ellis Island. His first glimpse of America was The Statue of Liberty.

My great-grandfather stayed in the United States for seven years. He worked as a labourer, on the city’s infrastructure. During that time one in seven Americans was foreign born. He worked very hard and saved his money. In 1906, he returned to Italy and married my grandmother. He bought the first store in his village in southern Italy, bought several properties and lived quite well with the money he had made in America. He told his children that life in New York at the turn of the century had been very difficult and never returned. In May, 1951, he died of a stroke at age 70.