Wednesday, September 9, 2020

The Two Aurelias in San Remo, Italy

Aurelia Frances Schober was born in Boston on April 26, 1906 to Aurelia and Francis Schober, both natives of Austria. On February 8, 1909 in Boston, Francis Schober completed his U.S. Petition for Naturalization form: citizenship papers found copied in the Plath archives. Francis filled in its blanks:

My wife’s name is Aurelia. She was born in Vienna, Austria, and now resides at San Remo, Italy. I have one child, and the name, date and place of birth, and place of residence of said children is as follows: Aurelia F., April 26, 1906  Boston Mass.  San Remo, Italy


What? [Click the image to enlarge.] In February 1909 Aurelia F. Schober is not yet three years old, but away “residing” with her mother on the Italian Riviera? This is never mentioned again in any archives.


Located between Genoa and Monte Carlo, San Remo was and still is a residence and retreat for Europe’s wealthy and cultured. Empress Maria Alexandrovna after a visit in 1874 donated the now famous San Remo seaside promenade. Alfred Nobel’s former home there is a museum now. 


Francis Schober wrote “San Remo” on this form twice and clearly, so it is unlikely to be an error. 

A ship’s manifest for the Kaiser Wilhelm II, sailing from Bremen on May 18, 1909 and docking at Ellis Island May 26, 1909 yielded, on Lines 13 and 14, two Aurelia Schobers, the younger represented by ditto marks and the designation “ch.” For the adult Aurelia, the clerk scrawled: “U.S.A. Citizen” and “husb U.S.C [citizen].” [1] (By default, wives then took their husband’s nationality.) Aurelia Senior had left the U.S. an alien but returned a citizen, or a soon-to-be one. Francis's full citizenship was granted by the court on July 10, 1909. A handwritten note on Francis's Oath of Allegiance says as of July 6 his new address is 2049 Columbus Avenue, Boston.


So mother and daughter Schober were in May 1909 returning from at least four months overseas. If too young to recall that trip, did Aurelia Plath never hear her parents reminisce? Because Francis had a San Remo link too.


According to the ship's manifest, when Francis (as “Francois”) Schober left Europe for the U.S. in 1902, boarding the ship Vancouver in Naples [his Petition for Naturalization, dated 1909, says "Genoa"] he listed his last job as “butler” in San Remo. [2] Why in 1909 were his wife, age 21, and small daughter “residing” there? If vacationing, wouldn't their residence be Boston? Was Aurelia Senior “wintering” with relatives she had last seen in Vienna in 1904, bringing her toddler namesake? Did she find a job there? (San Remo's posh Casino Municipale opened in 1905.) Had Francis proudly sent his wife and daughter on a fine vacation? Perhaps they were not in San Remo but somewhere else. A mystery half-solved. 


[1] Year: 1909; Arrival: New York, New York, USA; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Line: 14; Page Number: 28. New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957 (database on-line). Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2010.

[2] The National Archives at Washington, D.C.; Washington, D.C.; Series Title: Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at Boston, Massachusetts, 1891-1943; NAI Number: 4319742; Record Group Title: Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, 1787-2004; Record Group Number: 85; Series Number: T843; NARA Roll Number: 052. [Francois Schober is on line 9.]

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