Written By William L. Passauer
January 02, 2002
The Origin of the Grandelis Name
Members of the Grandelis family share a rare name in the world. If one uses the available internet telephone book sources as a guide, there are approximately 23 Grandelis households in the United States, none in Canada, two Grandelis families in Australia, at least two families in Belgium, none in the Netherlands, none in France, none in the UK area, two families in Germany, but the largest congregation according to the Italian Infobel telephone directory reside in Italy. Here there are 74 Grandelis households.
Thanks to a visit with Silvio Grandelis and his family of Tremelo Belgium on October 24, 2001, I was able to find out what he knows about the Grandelis family origin. Through my conversation with him, we may have discovered the origins of the Grandelis family name. His family believes, with good cause, that the Grandelis family name originated in Greece, for two reasons. The first being the syntax and sound of the name Grandelis. Over the years, the Pennsylvania Grandelises have believed that the Grandelis name was either Czechoslovakian or Italian. However, if you look at the syntax and sound of the Grandelis name and compare it to the typical Slovak name such as found on the following homepage, http://www.flick.com/onomastikon/Europe-Eastern/Czech-Slovak/Slavic.htm, you quickly see that there are no similarities between these names and Grandelis. You can also use the same reasoning when you compare the Grandelis name with the typical Italian name, as most Italian names end with a vowel. However, if you perform the same test using the Grandelis name against current and past Greek names, you quickly discover similarities in the syntax and sound.
Even more convincing for the argument that the Grandelis name has its roots in Greece is the story told to Silvio Grandelis by his Italian born father Innocente Grandelis. He told his family of the story of a Greek Grandelis priest that escaped Greece and settled in Northern Italy. From here the roots for the Grandelis family quickly change from Greek to Italian.
Just recently we have discovered proof, via the SS Batavia’s ship’s manifest, that both Ernesto and his cousin Luigi immigrated to the United States on April 1, 1902 from Belluno Italy. This city is in the Belluno region of Northern Italy, again in the same area where many Grandelis families are found today. Also, as of October 2001, it has been discovered by this author that Edith Virginia Colloto, wife of Ernesto Grandelis was born in Cadore of Northern Italy, again the same area where the Grandelis families reside in Northern Italy today.
Where is the Grandelis Family From?
In the mid 1970s, Suzanne Grandelis-Passauer and her family lived in Gaeta, Italy. I, William Passauer, was serving in the US Navy and our daughter, Kristin was 5 years old. During the Christmas of 1974, Albert and Millie Grandelis came to spend the holidays with us. During their visit, we drove North to visit Florence and Venice, Italy and a sleepy little village in the Italian Alps called Lozzo Di Cadore. We were sent there by information from Henry Grandelis, Albert’s brother in search of the Grandelis family roots.
While there, we met and had a wonderful time with Egisto Grandelis and his wife. While none of us spoke much Italian, and they spoke no English, we were still able to communicate the important things. Egisto had an eyeglass frame manufacturing shop on the ground floor of their home. We were all given eyeglass frames to take home. We had a wonderful dinner with them of pasta, of course, and spent the night in their warm beds. They introduced us to flannel sheets, which felt wonderful during the cold night.
After leaving their home, Egisto would communicate with Albert Grandelis from time to time via letters and cards. On one of these occasions, we believe approximately 1981-82, Egisto sent Albert an official Italian family certificate describing the Lorenzo Grandelis family tree. Since the form was written in Italian, and not understanding what it was, the form was put away.
In 1998, after Albert’s passing, Millie Grandelis found and mailed the form to Suzanne in Virginia. At that time, Bill & Suzanne were heavily into genealogy and were communicating with an Arturo Grandelis living in Northern Italy. Not understanding the form, Bill emailed a copy to Arturo requesting a translation. Not ever hearing from Arturo again and not understanding the form, Bill scanned it, and placed a copy in the Grandelis family tree. The form was left there until December of 2001.
Having recently discovered the Silvio Grandelis family living in Belgium and Bill having visiting them there, Bill was aware that Silvio understood Italian. Upon re-discovering the form, Bill emailed a copy to Silvio. Silvio in turn, emailed back a partial translation of the form. It was enough that when Suzanne looked at his work, she realized for the first time that it contained information about the family and grandparents of her grandfather Ernesto Grandelis. Bill, then understanding what he was looking at, completed the translation of the form. The results are found below:
Lozzo Di Cadore is located in Northeastern Italy in the Province of Belluno and the Region of Veneto.
See below in the family listings: Ernesto Grandelis (b.26/12/1884) is the first generation Grandelis in the United States. Luigi Grandelis (b.8/5/1880) was Ernesto’s cousin who immigrated to the United States with Ernesto.
1. (m. 6/12/1877)Giulia Slichtik (Kralovan Ungheria (Hungary)): 2 children: Luigi (Sztannkovan b.8/5/1880) & Giovanni (Svabocz b.9/4/1883)
2. (m.22/11/1897)Catherina Schavel (Savnik b.10/10/1863): 1 child: Giuliana (Ganocz b.21/11/1898)
Father and mother of Catherina: Giuseppe Schavel & Maria Szlivka.
4 children: Ernesto(b.26/12/1884), Vicenzo(b.27/9/1886), Giuliana(b.11/7/1891), Adalberto(b.13/11/1893)
“di marimonio” should be “di matrimonio” = day of marriage
moglie = wife
figlio = son
figlia = daughter
Fratilli = brother
Luogo di nascita = place of birth
Trips to the Old Country
During the late 1960s and the 1970s, Henry and Lorraine Grandelis made several trips to Europe in search of the Grandelis family roots. While there, they met a:
A. Mráza 6
821 03 Bratislava
Phone: 011 4212 4329 3668
Mr. Ulbricht was still living at the above address and phone number as of November 2001. He acted as translator for Henry and Lorraine during their visits.
While in Slovakia, they met a Stephan Grandelis and his wife. This Stefan claims that Ernesto Grandelis was born in Poprad, Slovakia and lived there with his mother and father.
Stefan Grandelis (Henry’s son is named after the European Stefan Grandelis. The European Stefan Grandelis has a sister Anna Grandelis. It is unknown if she is still alive in 2001.
Coming to America
This is the story of how Ernesto and Luigi Grandelis came to America. For our branch of the Grandelis clan, they were the first generation to enter the United States.
Approximately September 2001, this author saw a report on the television news on how the Church of Latter Day Saints recently finished the massive effort of entering all of the Ellis Island immigration records into the Ellis Island internet homepage, www.ellisisland.org. After seeing the report, Suzanne mentioned to me that she believed her grandfather Ernesto and his cousin Luigi Grandelis entered the United States through Ellis Island. After logging onto the Ellis Island homepage, and entering the Grandelis name, we discovered information about both Ernesto and Luigi Grandelis. And along the way learned some surprises.
The Manifest of the SS Batavia
The SS Batavia ship’s manifest describes the information that Ernesto & Luigi Grandelis provided the ship’s purser about themselves during their boarding interview. Before boarding the ship, each passenger is interviewed. During the interview, each person is asked questions such as their nationality, where they are from, whether they are married, can read or write, and how much money they have in their pockets.
For the following discussion, the reader should observe the image of the manifest of the SS Batavia. Ernesto Grandelis is along row # 2 and his cousin Luigi Grandelis is along row # 3. Rows 1 thru 4 are displayed because there is evidence that these four people were traveling together. Note that in column 6, all four persons are “stone cutters”. There is further evidence that they are traveling together in the following slides.
The following is a typed version of the contents of rows 2 and 3 of the ship’s manifest:
Where Ernesto and Luigi Grandelis Lived
Belluno Italy, the city where Ernesto and his cousin Luigi Grandelis lived. City (1991 pop. 35,572), is the capital of Belluno province., Venetia, is located in Northeast Italy, on the Piave River at the foot of the Dolomite mountains, Northwest of Venice. It is an agricultural and manufacturing center. A Roman town, it later belonged to various lords and was a free commune before voluntarily submitting to Venetian rule (1404–1797). The city has a 16th-century cathedral with a beautiful baroque bell tower and a Renaissance city hall.
Suzanne and I have also communicated with a Silvio Grandelis of Belgium. Silvio had discovered a copy of an e-mail message I sent to the Belluno Italy area requesting additional information. Silvio wrote that there are many Grandelis families living in the little city of Campologo di Cadore, near the Austrian border, in the ‘province’ of Bulluno. The village is located between Santo Sefano di Cadore and Sappada. There’s even a road called ‘Via Grandelis’ in Campologo. (the man was a famous artist.)
How Ernesto and Luigi Came to America
Ernesto and Luigi journeyed from Belluno Italy North to Bremen Germany, their port of departure.
You may be wondering why Ernesto and Luigi ventured all the way to Bremen Germany for their departure rather than sail from an Italian seaport such as Genoa. Not every seaport handled immigrating passengers to US ports of call. When you research the old seaport maps that are shown to have moved immigrants, Italy doesn’t always show up. Generally, seaports in Germany and France were used the most. Perhaps this was such a case. It certainly would have been much easier for them to have gone to Genoa than Germany. Cost might have been another issue. We will never know for sure.
The port of Bremen Germany is the second largest seaport in Germany and was the port of departure for the SS (Steam Ship) Batavia and Ernesto and Luigi Grandelis on their way to America.
The SS Batavia
The SS Batavia, the ship taken by Ernesto and Luigi Grandelis on their journey to America. The following is information about their ship:
Built by Blohm & Voss Shipbuilders, Hamburg, Germany, 1899. 10,178 gross tons; 517 (bp) feet long; 62 feet wide. Steam quadruple expansion engines, twin screw. Service speed 12 ? knots. 2,700 passengers (300 second class, 2,400 third class).
Built for Hamburg-American Line, German flag, in 1899 and named Batavia. Mediterranean-New York, Hamburg-Baltimore and Hamburg-Boston service. Sold to Unione Austriaca, Austrian flag, in 1913 and renamed Polonia. Trieste-Quebec City-Montreal service. Sold to Hamburg-American Line, German flag, in 1913 and reverted to Batavia. Laid-up at Hamburg in August 1914 owing to the outbreak of World War I. Transferred to German Navy, in 1917. Transport service. Transferred to Messageries Maritimes, French flag, in 1919 and renamed Batavia. Marseilles-Far East service. Scrapped in 1924.
Can you imagine what it must have been like for our ancestors to have seen lady liberty. “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!” How appropriate this is for even today. Here is Ellis Island as it was in the early 1900s.
The First American Grandelis Family
Ernesto met and married Virginia Collato of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.