10c-Cousin Raffaele of Wilmerding, Pennsylvania in 1920


The research of genealogist Anthony Vermandois has provided the basis for this wonderful journey of discovery into our ancestral roots in the town of Agropoli in Campania province, Italy.  This week’s posting on the Matarazzo, Serrapede, Patella, and Battista families is based on the information at Anthony’s website ImaginesMaiorum-Ancestors from Campania.  Please click on the family names within this paragraph to go to the genealogical charts for the family at Anthony’s website.

We have also used information from the 1920 U.S. Federal Census and Raffaele Matarazzo’s Petition for Naturalization.

Relationship Notes

Our direct line ancestors featured in this posting are Gennaro Serrpaede and Giovanna Battista Patella.

Gennaro Serrapede was:

Sammy’s Paternal Grandfather
EmilyAnn’s Great-Grandfather through her maternal line.

Giovanna Battista Patella was the Grandmother of our Gennaro’s wife Emilia Pappalardo Serrapede.  Her daughter Teresa was Emilia’s mother.  Giovanna was:

Sammy’s Great Great Grandmother along his paternal line.
EmilyAnn’s Great-Great-Great Grandmother

Cousin Rafaelle in Wilmerding, PA

10c-19s0 Fed Cen Raffaele

1920 Federal census entry for Raffaele.

In 1920, the Matarazzo family was now living at 148 State Street, Wilmerding, PA.

10c-1920 Fed Cen Carmella

Census entry for Carmela and the children.

Carmela and Raffaele were the parents of:

Mary, 7 years old
Antonio, 6 years old
John, 5 years old
Gaetano 3 years, 6 months
Andrew 1 year, 8 months
Philip, 5 months

Raffaele was working in the machine shop at Westinghouse Air Brake factory.  It was a big year for him because on December 20, 1920 he was naturalized.  The papers for his naturalization give an arrival date of May 23, 1910.

Another major achievement is that by 1920 Raffaele and Carmella owned their own home.  This is indicated by the “O” for owner and “M” for mortgage in the highlighted columns of the Header for the page on the census on which Raffaele’s name is entered.  He is at the bottom of the page and his wife and children continue of the next page.

The Matarazzos were on their way to achieving the better life in which so many immigrants placed their hopes when they left the hardships of Southern Italy behind during the years of the Great Exodus which spanned roughtly the 1880s through the 1920s.

The Declaration of Intent and Petition for Naturalization of Raffaele Matarazzo

10c-Raffaele Ded ov Intent

The Declaration of Intention lists Raffaele’s occupation as a grinder.

10c-Dec of Intent Raffaele

The Petition for Naturalization gives the children’s names in Italian as well as specific dates of birth follows:

Maria (Mary), b. Oct. 16, 1911
Antonio (Anthony), Nov. 25, 1912
Giovanni (John), Aug. 4, 1914
Gaetano, July 17, 1915
Andrea (Andrew), Mar. 2, 1918
Filippo (Philipp), Dec. 27, 1919

10c-Dec of Intent witnesses-

The character witnesses for Raffaele’s petition were:

Cosimo Serrapede, (profession is unclear).
Saverio de Napoli, laborer.

Of note on this document are the use of Italian names for the children whereas in the census entry the English version of their names are given.  We have seen this on the census records of our own family members, too.  We think that the English equivalent of a name was used when interacting with those who were not of the Italian immigrant community.  In a way it gave the appearance that our immigrant ancestors were adapting to their new country and wanted to be accepted.  But amongst the inner circle of family and community a preference for certain things that still connected them to their own culture and heritage expressed itself in the choice of the Italian version of their names.

The importance of the Westinghouse Air Brake Company in Our Family History

The Westinghouse Air Brake Company (a/k/a WABCo.) started in 1869 by George Westinghouse.  The location of the plant was moved to Wilmerding, Pa in 1889.

Westinghouse chose Wilmerding because it was located along the Pennsylvania Railroad.

The company had progressive working conditions for the time:  a 9 hour work day and 55 hour work week.

Products of the plant improved speed and performance of railways nationwide.

Not only was the factory a reliable employer in the early 20th century but also during Sammy’s childhood and mine as well.  We remember our visits to Wilmerding all throughout the 1940s up until the early 1970s.  The factory was still a key employer at that time.

Discussion with Uncle Sammy, May 9, 2015 11:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.

Neither my Uncle nor I ever had contact with the Matarazzo family in Wilmerding during our visits.  We also do not remember them as paesanos of our family in Brooklyn, New York.  We tried to find a link that would explain why our Gennaro called Raffaele his cousin.  There are no members of the Matarazzo family in our direct bloodline.

Pedigree chart for Emilia Pappalardo.

The relationship between Raffaele Matarazzo and our Gennaro Serrapede might have been by marriage.  The closest and most obvious link at the time Gennaro lived came through his wife Emilia Pappalardo.  Emilia’s maternal Grandmother was Giovanna Battista Patella.  We do not have any information on her dates of birth, death or parentage.

Raffaele Matarazzo was the son of Maria Battista Matarazzo.

There may have been a connection between the Batista family of Raffale’s mother and the Batista family of Emilia’s maternal Grandmother.  If this was the case then Gennaro and Raffaele were cousins by marriage.

Whether it was a blood tie or one by marriage Raffaele played an important part during Gennaro’s stay in the United States in 1913.  We consider him a good example of Chain Migration and Social Capital because he provided our Gennaro with the means necessary to come to the U.S., find work and have a safe place to stay during his time here.

Note:  The Cosimo Serrapede who acted as character witness for Raffaele when he was naturalized is not from our direct line.  We have not found the nature of their relationship, whether they were cousins or paesanos.

The rewarding part of this review, May 22, 2015

Uncle Sammy and I first located the 1920 Federal Census record for Raffaele Matarazzo in late October 2014.  The information from the census helped us provide info to the Memorial Manager of Raffaele and Carmela’s memorials at FindAGrave.  It is this kind of connection that renews and strengthens the links to our relatives in the past and assists others in their work as family historians or memorial managers.

You can visit their memorials by clicking on the following links:

Raffaele Matarazzo http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=64629072

Carmela Matarazzo http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=64629084


Westinghouse Airbrake Company


1920 Federal Census
Source Citation
Year: 1920; Census Place: Wilmerding, Allegheny, Pennsylvania; Roll: T625_1530; Page: 16A; Enumeration District: 873; Image: 544

Petition for Naturalization
Raffaele Mattarazzo
Source Citation
National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), Washington D.C.; Naturalization Petitions of the U.S. District Court, 1820-1930, and Circuit Court, 1820-1911, for the Western District of Pennsylvania; NARA Series: M1537; Reference: (Roll 257) Petitions 34736-34965

One thought on “10c-Cousin Raffaele of Wilmerding, Pennsylvania in 1920

Comments are closed.