The official records state that Letizia Scotti Muro passed away from Lobar pneumonia in 1921. She was 32 years old and left behind a husband and five children. According to the death certificate, Letizia was interred two days after she passed away. Our relative has provided some of the stories about Letizia’s wake that were handed down in his family.
Uncle Sammy and I compare Letizia’s wake to one held in our immediate family 22 years after her passing. Our goal is to find what patterns persisted in Wilmerding, PA and Brooklyn N.Y. that have survived, changed or fallen out of use.
Letizia Scotti Muro was:
–Sammy’s maternal Grandmother
–EmilyAnn’s maternal Great-Grandmother
Letizia’s Wake in Wilmerding, Pennsylvania
What follows is a retelling of the events shared by one of our relatives who got the story from his mother…
The family held the wake for Letizia in the apartment which the Muro family rented. The body was cleaned, dressed and laid to rest in a casket which was placed on top of a table. Chairs were brought to the place where the casket was. Relatives came to visit in the evening and some stayed throughout the night.
There were many bouquets and wreaths near the coffin. One little girl wanted to see Letizia and walked up to the coffin. She remembered being over powered by the fragrance of the flowers. The memory of the funeral came back anytime she was near a very fragrant bouquet or garden. Because the memory associated with the fragrance of flowers was not a happy one, the girl grew up to dislike bouquets of fragrant flowers.
Funeral Customs in the Italian Immigrant Community
This summary is based on our readings about Italian-American funeral customs described in “Funeral Customs” in The Italian-American Experience: An Encyclopedia and a research paper entitled “The Italian-American Funeral: Persistence through Change.” The links are given in the Resources section.
To all our blog readers and subscribers,
May this poem by the late Helen Steiner Rice inspire you, as it does us, to take time out and give thanks for the many blessings we have each day.
Happy Thanksgiving to all.
–EmilyAnn Frances May
Fill Your Heart with Thanksgiving
by Helen Steiner Rice
Take nothing for granted,
for whatever you do
The ‘joy of enjoying’
is lessened for you
For we rob our own lives
much more than we know
When we fail to respond
or in any way show
Our thanks for the blessings
that daily are ours…
The warmth of the sun,
the fragrance of flowers,
The beauty of twilight,
the freshness of dawn,
The coolness of dew
on a green velvet lawn,
The kind little deeds
so thoughtfully done,
The favours of friends
and the love that someone
Unselfishly gives us
in a myriad of ways,
Expecting no payment
and no words of praise
Oh, great is our loss
when we no longer find
A thankful response
to things of this kind,
For the joy of enjoying
and the fullness of living
Are found in the heart
that is filled with thanksgiving.
Woman with Cornucopia
Italian Cermic Tile image
There are two versions about the circumstances surrounding Letizia Scotti Muro’s death in 1921. The Death Certificate provides the official version of the story. The other version is the story provided by my late Mother to me. In this posting we will consider the Death Certificate and the events as related by my Mom and try to make a sequence of events that piece together and make sense out of what happened to Letizia.
Pedigree chart for Letizia Scotti Muro.
Letizia Scotti Muro was the daughter of Carmine and Maria Scotti. She was born in Agropoli, Italy in 1888. Letizia had a sororal twin named Concetta. Both sisters married in Agropoli and immigrated to Wilmerding, Pennsylvania in the late 1900s-early 1910s.
Letizia Muro was:
–Sammy’s maternal Grandmother (through Letizia’s daughter Josie)
–EmilyAnn’s maternal Great-Grandmother (through Josie’s daughter Emily Leatrice)
As a little girl my mother, the late Emily Leatrice Serrapede, told me I had two Great-Grandmothers. One was named Letizia. She went to live in Heaven long, long ago. The second was Rose who lived in Wilmerding, PA near Great Uncle Peter. I loved my Grandma Josie as much as I loved my Mom. I want to know about Letizia becase she was Grandma Josie’s mother.
Mom would only tell me that Letizia had a very difficult time with her pregnancies and died at a young age. She left behind five small children who needed a mother and a young husband who needed love and companionship. For this reason, Great Grandfather Nick went back to Italy to propose to Rosina Marasco. Rosina’s husband died in battle during WWI. She had one son. Great Grandmother Rosina took on a great responsibility when she married Great Grandfather Nick. Mom always stressed that point.
When Uncle Sammy and I began our research and discussion sessions for the family history project this was the extent of what we knew about Letizia. As we researched and networked through Ancestry some memories of Letizia were shared with us. They add to the scant information we previously had.
Grandma Josie shared only one memory of Letizia with me that I have held on to all these years. When I prepared this posting I realized it fits the sketch that has emerged about Letizia based on the memories of others have shared.