According to the officials at the National Archives, the immigration and naturalization records of my wife's great-grandfather Peter Casattas were destroyed in the great San Francisco Earthquake and its subsequent fire. But there are still records out there. Here we found one of the most important and most informative, his Emergency passport application for return to the U.S. from 1915.
And yes, you see right -- his photo!
We get a treasure chest of info from this document, and the presumption since it is a passport, the veracity will be good. We learn he was born in Santorini, Greece on 6 January 1851. He sailed to the U.S. on an unknown ship from Naples Italy in June 1863. He lived in San Francisco his whole time in the U.S., and was naturalized in the Superior Court of California at San Francisco on 25 January 1894. He was a "fireman." He went to Greece for health reasons. He was gone from the U.S. for three to four months before returning to the U.S. We get to see his actual signature. On the back we get his photo and a physical description.
What we learn: He was only twelve years old when he came to the U.S. confirming that part of the family tradition. Being naturalized in 1894 would be consistent with the records being destroyed in 1906. His occupation is listed as "fireman." We know from census records he was a ship-board fireman. He was 5'10", height runs in his family, as we saw with his grandson Paul. What I find most interesting is that he died less than two years later from cancer, and here he is visiting Greece "for health reasons." Did he know he was afflicted? Was he going to say good-bye to family? Was he seeking a cure?
Research possibilities: ship records, possible Greek relatives
Copyright © 2014 by Kevin W. Walker