Monday, June 16, 2014

Great Uncle Brasso Famoso KIA WWI

My great uncle Biagio "Brasso" Famoso was born in Bari, Italy in 1891. I found his birth record and several census records with his name on them. I also found his name on a ship's manifest when he came to the USA on November 30, 1901 with his mother and siblings. The ship was Citta di Torino. He is listed on the NYC 1905 census as "at school". Wouldn't I just love to get hold of his school records. The closest schools to his home were P.S. 83 and P.S. 172. He is listed on a later census as being a telegraph delivery boy. I don't know if that means he was a bike messenger or a driver delivering the telegrams. He may even have been a walking delivery boy since they lived in Harlem, NY at 326 East 109th Street, NY, NY.

My problems begin with my uncle's service in WWI. He was inducted into the army in May of 1917. He was not drafted so there is no draft card in existence. Why would he sign up for the military during wartime, you ask? I may have some idea. He could have been caught up in the propaganda of the time or he thought he would get U.S. citizenship or he may have just needed a job. I have found his military record through the New York State Archives (SARA). Without their help and some assistance from and, I would not have found any information about Brasso. I know that he was a member of the Expeditionary Forces, he was an MP for a short time and he was in the 1st Infantry (The Big Red 1). He was only 25 and 9 months old when he was killed in action. He was a young man. It is the saddest thing to me that every trace of him (or almost) has disappeared. I found out that there had been a photograph of him when he was in his military uniform that was in his brother Alphonse's house for many years but Alphonse gave it to his youngest sister Loretta who lived in Boston at that time. Both Alphonse and Loretta have passed away many years ago. Alphonse has descendants but I have never found any of Loretta's grandchildren. Her married name was Loretta Famoso Galeota Esposito. Loretta died in 1986. Both of her sons have passed away in 1999. I am literally at a dead end with finding that photo. Brasso's military record seems to have disappeared in the fire of 1973 at the National Archives. That is such a huge loss to me. I feel that it is a disgrace to our WWI heroes to just ignore them. I want this to be my memorial to my great uncle.

Here is what I have found:

He is buried at Oise-Aisne American Cemetery in France.
He was killed in the battle of Chateau Thierry.
His obituary
The original telegraph message reporting his death.
He was entitled to a Purple Heart and Silver Star plus a medal from France

What I am  hoping to find is someone who has experienced success in researching military records of American soldiers who died in WWI.  I am also selfishly hoping to find some photo, dog tags or some other record of Brasso from while he was alive. I can't imagine that he lived totally in a vacuum.  Someone must have known him.  For all I know, he may have  had a girlfriend or fiance.  I know he wasn't married at the time of his death but a girlfriend is not outside the realm of possibility. In fact, he might have had many.  He could even have had children that he did or did not know about. I am hoping the universe will send me something of his. A letter to a girlfriend or family member that is owned by a collector, finding anything like that would be a great success for me.

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