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  • Writer's picturePatty Vitale

Domenico Caldarelli’s Time at Sing Sing

Domenico Caldarelli, my great-great-grandfather (and father of Elisabetta Caldarelli Vitale), was born in Naples, Italy in 1845. I wasn’t sure he immigrated to the U.S. until I found him in the 1900 Census. He was listed as a prisoner in Sing Sing. Further research showed that this was, most likely, my relative. After learning that the Sing Sing records could be found at the New York State Archives, I went to Albany to try to find out why he was imprisoned.

I got lucky and found both his admission record and his discharge record. Other Sing Sing records (the prison case files) were, unfortunately, lost in a fire in the early 1900s. His admission record (see below) showed that he was arrested in Manhattan and convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to 10 years in prison. The record also gives a physical description. He was 54 years old when admitted, and stood 5′ 5-3/4″. He weighed 166 pounds and had a dark complexion, brown eyes, and dark hair with some gray. His fingernails were, “very short from biting,” and he had a “long, sharp nose, crooked at bridge.”

According to his discharge record (also below), his sentence was commuted but he did serve some extra time for violating “Rules 3 & 6.” I really want to find out what the rules were, particularly Rule 3. If you look at the other inmates discharged on the same page, they all violated Rule 6 and each lost a handful of days for it. Domenico violated Rules 3 and 6 and lost over 10 months. Rule 3 must’ve been a doozie.

Now I really want to find out the story behind his arrest and conviction. I haven’t been able to find anything in the newspaper sources I’ve researched, but I recently learned that court files from Manhattan in the 1890s are housed in the New York City Municipal Archives. I’m hoping to get there in the next month or two.

Caldarelli was admitted to prison 1 Dec 1897

Caldarelli was discharged from prison 18 April 1905

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