Italia and Stefania frequently took me to this beach near Agropoli. In 1976 I could only think of how enjoyable this beach was. I had little knowledge that most of my maternal ancestors did not look to the sea as a form of leisure activity but as the source of their livelihood and survival.
The research done by Anthony Vermandois of Imagines Maiorum-Ancestors from Campania forms the basis for our exploration into the lives of our Serrapede ancestors from Agropoli.
Sabato and Filomena (nee Ruocco) Serrapede
Sabato Serrapede, eldest son of Luigi and Angela Maria (nee Borelli) Serrapede, was born in Agropoli circa 1834. He was a marinaro, meaning a fisherman. Sabato was married twice. First to Filomena Ruocco. Sabato and Filomena were:
- EmilyAnn’s Great-Great Grandparents
- Uncle Sammy’s Great Grandparents
Filomena Ruocco was the daughter of Vincenzo and Anna Maria (nee Conte) Ruocco. Sabato Serrapede married Filomena Ruocco on June 2, 1870. The marriage did not last long. After giving birth to:
- Luigi, (b. 1860)
- Angela Maria (b. 1861)
- Gennaro (b. 1867)
Filomena passed away on January 30, 1869 in Agropoli.
Sabato’s Second Marriage
Sabato selected his second wife from the Ruocco family. On June 2, 1870 after less than 6 months of mourning, he and Antonia Ruocco were married in Agropoli. We are not sure if this Antonia Ruocco was directly related to Filomena. No children are recorded for Sabato’s second marriage.
Discussion about selecting a spouse and marrying distant cousins
My Uncle Sammy and I discussed the possibility that there would be marriages between the same families given that Agropoli was such a small town. In a way it is as if the entire town was an extended family. Sabato married less than 6 months after Filomena’s death. The answer as to why came to us and it is the most obvious one: with three small children he needed a wife and mother. He had observed almost 6 months of mourning which would have been much shorter than most Italian Catholics would have observed. Usually a mourning period was a year but when there are pressing needs such as small children needing a mother these customs can be worked around.
Given that Sabato already knew the Ruocco family, it’s possible that they offered to help him find a new wife and mother by looking within their own family for an eligible single woman. It is interesting to see this pattern of marrying within the family in the next generation of the Serrapede family.
Filomena and Sabato’s son Liuigi married Rosa Ruocco on January 23, 1886. Rosa was the daughter of Giovanni and Petronilla (nee Botti) Ruocco. I have studied the charts to see if there is a direct link in the bloodline between Liuigi and Rosa but so far cannot find one. We think that the extended families socialized extensively so that one’s distant relations were not considered an unusual prospect as a spouse. When Rosa passed away on August 22, 1887 Luigi waited 7 months and then married Lucia Coppola on March 4, 1888. Since Rosa left behind a baby girl also named Filomena, the need for a mother to the child must have been the first priority for the marriage.
We wonder how Sabato’s three small children adapted to their new step-mother. The youngest child Gennaro was almost 2 years old when his mother died. Gennaro Serrapede was my Great Grandfather and my Uncle Sammy’s Grandfather. We never met him. The family never addressed our Sabato by his Italian name. We always called him Sam and his son, Sammy. Grandpa Sam rarely spoke of his parents to me. But my Uncle Sammy remembers a few things Grandpa Sam told him and none of them were loving or affectionate about Gennaro.
Discussed: Sunday, October 19, 2014 5:00 P.M. EST
Written: 5:45 P.M.