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.
Pedigree chart for Letizia Scotti Muro.
Letizia Scotti Muro was the daughter of Carmine and Maria Giovanna Scotti. She was born in 1888 in Agropoli. Letizia had many siblings including a twin sister named Concetta. They were sororal twins.
Nick Muro returned to Agropoli from America in January 1909 to marry Letizia. In 1912 Letizia, with their 3 year old daughter Giuseppa (Josie), joined Nick in Wilmerding, Pennsylvania to begin their life in the United States.
Letizia Scotti Muro was the mother of:
Peter James Muro
Letizia was the maternal Grandmother of:
Sammy (Sabbatino) Serrapede (son of Josie)
Letizia was the maternal Great-Grandmother of:
EmilyAnn Frances May (through Emily L. Serrapede, daughter of Josie)
The Florence Nightingale of Wilmerding
Letizia was called “The Florence Nightingale of Wilmerding” by those in the community where she lived. She had a wide range of remedies she could make or recommend to help nurse children and adults back to health after a minor illness or mishap. Letizia was also called upon whenever a woman was about to give birth at home. She was known to have skill in midwifery.
Who was Florence Nightingale
Public Domain-Wikimedia Commons
Florence Nightingale was born in 1820 to a wealthy English family. As a young woman she rejected the constrictions and self-centered lifestyle of other young women her age and class. Despite her parent’s opposition she pursued a course in nursing. Florence told them she felt called by God to the great work she undertook as a nurse to the wounded soldiers during the Crimean War in 1853. Her influence led to a revolution in the way which hospitals treated the sick and the dying. Florence introduced scientific methods to evaluate the success or failures of her treatments and campaigned for higher standards of hygiene in hospitals. She established guidelines for the training and hiring of nurses as well.
Florence is depicted in art carrying a lamp. She was also known as “The Lady with the Lamp” because of the light she shined on the dark areas of patient care that had not been attended to previously.
Grandma Josie and I shared many stories about our lives during the time I lived with her from early 1978 to mid-1979. I loved having breakfast with her on Saturday morning in the sunny kitchen where she had her morning coffee and read the newspapers. One day we started talking about how babies were travelling more and more with their mothers on the subway or else outside late at night. We thought this came about due to the newer, lightweight strollers available on the market.
Grandma Josie told me that when she was a little girl, children were in bed early each night. Even if they did not get to sleep right away, it was considered best if they were trained in the habit to go to bed at a regular time each night.
In Wilmerding there was a popular product many mothers used called “Baby’s Friend.” Mothers gave the baby a few drops and there would be no more crying or fussing. The baby quickly fell asleep to the relief of the rest of the household. Letizia did not approve of this product even though it helped many of the mothers with large families get needed sleep.
Grandma Josie said that Letizia recommended two ways to deal with a fussy baby who won’t go to sleep. First you pick it up and hold it close. Then you sit with the baby in a rocking chair talking in a soothing tone of voice. The other thing you can do is walking back and forth as the baby is held. Again talking to the baby helps as does gently stroking its hair.
What was Baby’s Friend?
I kept this conversation alive in my heart and mind ever since then. I wondered what Baby’s Friend was and what ingredients it contained. What could have made my Great Grandmother disapprove of this product so much?
A Google search brought the answer to me and after all these years I now know why.
Notice about Kopp’s Baby’s Friend from the AMA in 1919.
News article from Urbana Daily Courier, April 30, 1915.
Kopp’s Baby’s Friend was manufactured in York Pennsylvania. Newspaper ads which appear in the 1910s marketed the product as a general cure-all for various infant ailments. The federal government had the contents analyzed after complaints were received from the public. One of the ingredients was morphine. The AMA and newspapers across the country issued warnings as the government began to take steps to remove this product from the market.
Discussion with Uncle Sammy, Sunday, September 6, 2015
My Mom told me that when Uncle Sammy was a newborn he had periods where he was very cranky. She remembered Josie being an absolute mess when she had to get up in the middle of the night. No matter what time it was she brought Sammy into the living room where she had a rocking chair. She’d rock and rock until he calmed down. Grandma Josie did not put him back to sleep until he was quiet.
This was a method of soothing a baby to sleep that one of Letizia’s other daughters used, too. In both cases the babies were very happy with the rocking, walking and talking but the mothers were even more exhausted by all the expenditure of energy.
Photo of Florence Nightingale
Florence Nightingale Biography
“Beware of ‘Kopp’s Baby’s Friend’ Dope”
Urbana Daily Courier, Urbana, IL
April 30, 1915
Notice of Fraudulent Advertising for Kopp’s Baby’s Friend
The Journal of the American Medical Association, page 440
February 8, 1919