I'm putting this out there in hopes that readers can add to or correct
the few facts that I know about the owners of the B.A.B. Organ Company.
B.A.B. stands for the last names of the three people who were the
owners of the company: Bona, Antoniazzi, and Brugnolotti.
Let me start with Andrew Antoniazzi. He was born in October of 1880
and died in October of 1967 at the age of 86. According to the 1940
U.S. census, he lived in the Kings section of New York at 1658 East
51st Street and listed his occupation as "organ mfg." The highest
grade completed in school is listed as 4th grade. He reports his 1939
annual income as $1200 for a 48 hour work week. His family in 1939
consisted of his wife Julia, age 50, and children Andrew (24), Wilson
(21), Elenor (20), Joseph (18), Alfred (16), Gloria (14), and Edmard
Section K6 of the Sunday News for October 5, 1958, has an article about
him, with his picture. It reports the he and two partners established
the B.A.B Organ Co. in 1906, soon after Antoniazzi came here from
Italy. It states that one of his two partners, E. Bona, died in 1934
and the other D. Brugnolotti died a year ago.
Dominick Brugnolotti was born in Italy as Domenico Brugnolotti in 1875
or 1876 (more likely 1876). He entered the U.S. on November 16, 1891,
at the age of 15. At the age of 18 he got the call to serve in the
Italian Army. Not yet being a U.S. citizen, he returned and served in
the Italian Cavalry from 1896 to 1899. I have a picture of him in his
military uniform and a photocopy of the staff list of his unit, the
X Corpo d'Armata. The 1940 U.S. census lists him as naturalized and
living at 190 39th Street in the Kings section of New York, with four
daughters, Mary (35), Flora (26), Ellenor (21), and Catherine (17).
His occupation is given as carpenter/construction.
An undated newspaper clipping from 1949 states "In 1918 Brugnolotti and
Antoniazzi, who had also been in the same line [of work] for several
years, became partners." Besides pictures of Dominick, I have pictures
of his son, Aldo, and grandsons Anthony, Roy, and Edward.
E. Bona is the mystery man. Nothing reliable was known of him aside
from his death date (1934) and the name "E. Bona," the proper spelling
of which is testified to by two pictures I have showing the name
together with Antoniazzi's. The one picture, of an instrument case,
says "E. Bona & A. Antoniazzi, manufacturers of cilinder [sic] pianos
& organs, 336-338 Water St., New York." The other picture, of a tune
sheet, says "A. Antoniazzi & E. Bona, manufacturers of cilinder pianos
and organs, 126-128 Water St., New York."
Mechanical music literature has sometimes given his name as Ervista
Borna. We knew from the above that Borna is incorrect. Ervista
also seemed incorrect on at least two grounds: Italian names ending
in "a" are female names, and neither "Ervista" nor "Ervisto" appear
to be Italian forenames.
Using the resources of Ancestry.com I was able this week to find our
mystery man. He is Evaristo Bona, born October 26, 1880, in Italy.
He arrived in the U.S. in 1902, and petitioned for naturalization
September 3, 1918. His wife's name was Caterina. He appears in
several New York City directories, listing his home address as
[illegible - 738?] Water Street and his workplace as "E. Bona & A.
Antoniazzi, 336 Water Street." That's what I got for free from
Ancestry.com; subscribing would get further information, I am sure.
[ Articles about the B.A.B. firm of New York, and the crank organs
[ and barrel pianos they built and repaired, are indexed at
[ http://www.mmdigest.com/Archives/KWIC/B/b_a_b.html -- Robbie