19a-Scotti Family in Agropoli-A Change in Fortunes-The Children of Francesco and Rosolia

Acknowledgement

The research done by Anthony Vermandois at Imagines Maiorum-Ancestors from Campania forms the basis for this exploration into the lives of our family who lived in Agropoli before immigrating to the United States.

Relationship Notes

Francesco and Rosolia Scotti  were:

–Sammy’s 2nd Great Grandparents
–EmilyAnn’s  3rd Great Grandparents.

Children of Francesco and Rosolia

Francesco (1807-1887) was the second son of Aniello and Anna Maria (nee Baldi) Scotti.  Like his father and older brother his profession was described as a Possidente.  This means he either had land holdings or was a landlord.

We cannot determine the date when Francesco Scotti married Rosolia Patella.  No information about Rosolia or the marriage is available right now at Imagines Maiorum.  Their children were:

Raffaele Scotti
Born: c.1835

CARMINE SCOTTI (our direct line ancestor)
Born: c.1846

Carmela Scotti
Born: c.1850

Antonia Scotti
Born: c.1853

Discussion with Uncle Sammy, Sunday March 8, 2015 1:00 – 1:30 p.m.

 There was an 11 year difference between the birth of Francesco’s  first son Raffaele (1835) and his second son Carmine (born 1846).  Anthony has not included any children who died very young.  What could the other reasons be for the long time between births?

During these 11 years Rosolia may have lost a child during the earliest stages of pregnancy.  That would account for no written record of the child’s death.

Francesco’s sons Raffaele and Carmine did not inherit the title of possidente from their father.  Instead they became fishermen.  19th century Italy was a very stratified society so I believe this change made a big difference in the quality of life for Francesco’s sons.

Unlike their cousin Fillipo, who was a landowner and notary, the Scotti brothers were dependent upon the forces of nature for their livelihood.  Carmine and Raffaele worked outdoors.  Paintings of the mid-19th century Neapolitan fishermen show muscular and suntanned men wearing rolled up trousers.  They are barefoot and sometimes bare chested.  Their bodies show the physical effort involved in moving the boats out to sea or pulling in nets full of fish.

There are many possibilities for this change of fortune in Francesco and Rosolia’s family life.  Some scenarios we considered are:

  • Francesco and his brother Giuseppe owned the property in common.  A situation developed which necessitated Francesco selling his share to his brother.
  • The brothers had a falling out over the property.  Francesco sold to his brother to be done with it.
  • Maintenance of the property became burdensome.  Francesco’s sons didn’t want any part of the work involved.
  • Carmine and Raffaele did not get along with their cousin Filippo and told their father they wanted to work in a different profession.
  • Francesco was in debt and sold his share of the land to his brother or another relative.

Another consideration is whether or not Carmine and Rafaelle worked for themselves or as part of a group of fishermen working for someone else.

Differences of Lifestyle between the sons of Francesco and Giuseppe Scotti

I could not find any reading material about the conditions of fishermen in 19th century Agropoli.  It’s been said that one picture is worth 1,000 words.  The following paintings are from different time periods but communicate the difference between the work and lifestyle of  Filippo Scotti and his cousins Carmine and Raffaele.

“Italian Notary”
by Giusto Giusti (1406-1483).

“Neapolitan Fishermen In Mergellina The Castel Dell’ Ovo And Vesuvius Beyond”
by Franz Ludwig Catel

“The Fisherman’s Net”
by Pietro Gabrini

After looking at these paintings Uncle Sammy and I had an unexpected response:  as we thought about the strenuous work and unpredictable nature of making one’s living from the ocean we felt very close to Carmine Scotti.  Much closer than we ever could have thought.  Like other marinaro within our family line, he lived to an advanced old age for the time.  Their skill at fishing, navigating on the boats and understanding the elements must have been very keen.  There also had to be a capability to observe and understand the interplay of the elements in nature and remember the conditions that were favorable to bringing in a large haul of fish.

Memories of my Grandpa Sam

I can say this with great conviction because I observed this sensibility at work in my Grandpa Sam.  Whenever I visited as a child, we would all sit out on the porch of my Grandparents home on 67th Street in Brooklyn.

Grandpa Sam would observe the phases of the Moon and how she appeared in the sky.  He called the Moon “La Luna” or “She”.  He taught me how to recognize that when there was a haze around the moon it meant rain.  He also explained to me that rain could be expected if there was a fragrance of the earth and flowers when the weather was damp.  If the birds no longer sang or flew across the sky and the squirrels were not scampering across the telephone poles it meant a storm with thunder could be coming.  His weather predictions were always on the mark.  Grandma Josie would tell me he learned all of that when he worked as a fisherman in Agropoli before immigrating to the United States.

When we were in Agropoli I loved to watch the boats on the water at night.  My Grandfather explained to me the purpose of the lanterns which the fishermen took out with them.  The light would confuse the fish and stun them so that they wouldn’t escape the nets.  He spoke as one who knew and I realized he had learned that if not from his father, then from other young men who had learned it from their fathers and so on in the previous generations.

 Resources

“Italian Notary”
Painting by Giusto Giusti (1406-1483)
Google Images

“Neapolitan Fishermen In Mergellina The Castel Dell’ Ovo And Vesuvius Beyond”
Painting by Franz Ludwig Catel
Source:  http://www.wikigallery.org/wiki/painting_389081/Franz-Ludwig-Catel/Fischer-In-Mergellina,-Neapel-(Neapolitan-Fishermen-In-Mergellina,-The-Castel-Dell’-Ovo-And-Vesuvius-Beyond)

“The Fisherman’s Net”
Painting by Pietro Gabrini
http://www.wikigallery.org/wiki/painting_386926/Pietro-Gabrini/The-Fisherman’s-Net
Permission Free for non commercial use.

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