Italian or American?

[ Jérôme, c1910 ]

Jerome, c1910 , Photo probably taken by the Halifax Chronicle Herald, Inconnu,

From the moment he arrived in Nova Scotia, everyone around Jerome, along with dozens of journalists from around the world and the hundreds of tourists who came to see him, wondered where he came from. As you saw in the Aftermath section, many people attempted unsuccessfully to get Jerome to speak. In this section you will see that many have claimed to know the mystery man’s true identity. Others admit they don’t know the answer. Some hypotheses come up more frequently than others.

The vast majority believed that Jerome was an Italian. When he was found in 1863, Italy did not yet exist as a unified country. If he was an Italian, Jerome would have been born in one of the numerous small states (kingdoms, principalities and city-states) on the Italian peninsula, and he might have experienced the long war leading up to unification in 1870. In those days, the language of Italy was not unified either. Every region, at times even every village, spoke a different dialect, and they were not always mutually intelligible. A Corsican could not necessarily understand what a Lombard might say to him.

Others have suggested that Jerome was an American or even Irish. On at least a few occasions, strangers from the United States or elsewhere claimed to be related to him. Whether this was true or not, it is reported that Jerome generally refused to communicate with them.

Finally, you will observe that those who remember him are themselves not certain they know the answer to this question. It’s up to you to decide, based on these theories, where it is most likely that Jerome really came from.