Welcome to the history of the Griffis(Grifasi) family

Sometime before 1925 Michael had our last name changed from Grifasi to Griffis, to sound more American because of the discrimination towards Italians. If your last name is Grifasi please stop and take a minute to write down my email address and send me a message. We are looking for my great grandfather's relatives. (1michaelgriffis@gmail.com) Here is a short summary of the time line. Michele Grifasi leaves San Cataldo Sicily around 1906 to live in the US. He leaves his wife Michela Ferraro and the children Rosario age 6, and Michela age 3. Michela Ferraro leaves San Cataldo in 1910 with her children, and her brother-in-law Giacomo Disalvo. They meet up with Michele in Clarion Pennsylvania; this is shown on the 1910 census. On the ships manifest names are misspelled. Michela last name is spelled Ferrara and her children's last names are spelled Grisoli. She tells the scribe that she is going to meet up with Michele Grisoli in Clarion Pa, and Giacomo Di Salvo tells the scribe he is going to meet up with Michele Grifasi in Clarion Pa. We could conclude that they are both traveling together and are going to meet up with Michele Grifasi. They have six sons,in a number of different towns, in the next 10 years in Pennsylvania. By Micheles' naturalization papers it shows he is living in Jamestown in 1923. I'm sure they are living in Jamestown in 1932 according to newspaper articles. By a San Jose directory it shows they are living in San Jose in 1939. The next document is the 1940 census where it shows they are living in Trenton, NJ. Margaret(Michela) dies March 12, 1945 in Trenton, NJ. Michael Griffis and his three sons all pack up and move to California about this time and the three other sons stay. I will be adding the details as I find them.

Family Tree

Michael's Parents: Rosario Grifasi, Michela Paolina[1854-7 Mar 1889]
Margaret's Parents: Salvatore Ferrara, Rosaria Avola
Marriage abt. 1898 in Sicily Michael(Michele) Griffis(Grifasi)[21 Oct 1872-1 Feb 1951] Margaret(Michela) Ferraro[28 Jan 1887-12 Mar 1945]
  • Rosario[28 Jan 1899-26 Jul 1899] Birth Place: San Cataldo Caltanissetta Sicily
  • Rosario[29 Nov 1900]BP: San Cataldo Caltanissetta Sicily
  • Michela[7 Feb 1903-27 Feb 1903]BP: San Cataldo Caltanissetta Sicily
  • Ross(Rosario)[23 Jan 1904-21 Dec 1985] I have not found records of Ross being born in Sicily.
  • Maggie(Michela)[1906-1925] I have not found records of Michela being born in Sicily.
  • Sam(Salvetore)[25 Jan 1911-4 Jul 1992]BP: Pa.
  • Louis(Luigi)[18 Mar 1912-27 Nov 1994]BP: Pa.
  • James(Vincinzo)[1914-25 July 1999]BP: Pa.
  • Domenic(Domenico)[1916-1925]BP: Pa. Domenic went missing on Dec. 8th 1924 and was found May 18th 1925
  • Raymond(Raimondo)[5 Arp 1919-2 Mar 1999] BP: Pa.
  • Joe(Joseph)[15 Mar 1923-17 Mar 2003] BP: Jamestown, Ny.
Griffis/Grifasi Family
Ferraro/Ferrara Family
DiSalvo Family...Scroll down
Limato Family

The Great Voyage to America

Ship Name: Calabria; Port of Departure: Palermo May 1910

Arrival Date: New York harbor April 8, 1910

Selected images from the ship's manifest.

Names: Di Salvo Giacomo , Michela Ferrara, Rosario Grisoli, Michela Grisoli

Giacomo DiSalvo is going to meet with his brother-in-law Michele Grifasi in Toby, Clarion Pa
Michela is going to meet up with her husband Michele Grisoli in Toby, Clarion Pa.
Kids are listed as meeting up with their father. So as you can see their names are
misspelled but we can conclude that it was Michele Grifasi they were going to see.

Giacomo DiSalva is leaving his wife , Maria Ferraro, and going to Clarion, Pa.
Michele Ferrara and the kids are leaving behind her Mother, Rosaria D'avlo in San Catlado.
They also are going to Clarion, Pa.

1910 census Claion County, Toby Township Pa.

The name Grifasi Michael is spelled Grifas Michael and Micklina should be Michela.
As a boarder you see Salvatore Ferraro is living with them. He is the brother to Michela Ferraro.
Also Gaetoano Vossalo is living in the same house.
Text version scroll down to 177b

The 1920 directory, Jamestown, New York

This image shows that Mike and Margaret Griffis are living at 321 Allen St.

1 June, 1925 census Jamestown NY.
Address/Name/Position/Race/Gender/Age/Country/Years in US/Citizen/Naturalized/

All the Griffis family other than Domenic. Margaret's parents are living with them.
We should mention Giacomo DiSalvo is not listed on the census as head of house.

9 April, 1930 census Jamestown NY.

All the Griffis family other than Maggie. Rosa Ferraro is on the next page.

1939 Directory San Jose Ca.

The entire family left NJ to live in San Jose. Not sure if David Griffis is related to Michael.

April 1940 census Trenton NJ

The first line on first image continues with first line of second image.

Photo taken 10/22/2015 by: Valerie Scarpino of St.James Parish

321 Allen St, Jamestown New York

Helpful resources Genealogy links for research Records from Sicily
Sicilian Naming Convention(SNC)    FamilySearch.org   Ancestory.com Birth, Marriage, and Death Records
History of the Grifasi name EllisIsland.org   Newspapers.com

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