Around 1928, Josie Muro had to leave her hometown of Wilmerding, Pennsylvania to avoid the damage gossip would cause to her reputation and the honor of her family. A young man named Ernest, who was already engaged to another woman, started a flirtation which Josie was reluctant to stop. Josie’s parents met with the parents of the woman Ernest was engaged to. All parties agreed the most expedient thing to do was send Josie to live with relatives in Dyker Heights, Brooklyn. Ernest would not know where she went and the matter would be settled. Josie came to Dyker Heights in Brooklyn where she lived with her maternal Aunt Elisa Scotti Errico and family.
Three years earlier in August of 1925 Sam Serrapede came to America from Agropoli. Until 1930 he lived with his sister and brother-in-law in Red Hook, Brooklyn. Given the distance between Red Hook and Dyker Heights we will try to use the Marriage Certificate to recreate a possible scenario as to how Josie and Sam got together. Even though Josie and Sam shared many memories and family stories throughout the years, they never reminisced about how they met, their courtship or their wedding day.
Sam (Sabato) Serrapede was the son of Gennaro and Emilia (nee Papplardo) Serrapede.
Josie Muro was the daughter of Nick (Nicola) and Letizia (nee Scotti) Muro.
Josie and Sam were:
• Sammy’s Parents.
• EmilyAnn’s maternal Grandparents.
The Marriage Certificate of Sabato Serrapede and Josephine Muro
Marriage Certificate of Josie and Sam.
Obtaining Josie and Sam’s marriage certificate helped answer the questions we had concerning their whereabouts prior to marriage. Sam gave his address as 2472 West Street in Brooklyn. This is the same address where his sister Filomena and her family were living when the 1930 Census was taken.
Header of 1930 Federal Census page where the Errico family appears.
1930 Federal Census entry for the Errico family.
Josie gave her address as 1170-65th Street when she and Sam applied for the Marriage Certificate. This is the same address where her Aunt Elisa and family were living when the census enumerator recorded the households on this block April 8-9, 1930. Since Josie and Sam got married on March 8, 1930 neither of them appear in the households. We have yet to locate a 1930 Federal Census entry for the newlyweds.
How did they meet?
Page 2 of the Marriage Certificate of Josie Muro and Sam Serrapede.
It is possible that members of the Serrapede and Muro families reached out to their extensive network of relatives and paesani in America in order to make a match. There may be some clues in this direction in tracing who the witnesses to the marriage were. They were Angelo Coppola and Theresa Errico.
The closest Theresa Errico in our family tree would have been Josie’s first cousin and the daughter of her Aunt Elisa. Theresa was born in New York City about 1914. At age 16 she was old enough and close enough to Josie to be not only a witness but her Maid of Honor.
Angelo Coppola does not appear in our family tree. However, Josie and Sam had relationships with the Coppola family by marriage. There were also other branches of the Coppola family that were paesani from Agropoli now living in America. Angelo was, we are sure, drawn from the pool of relationships existing in families of Josie and Sam’s parents and grandparents families.
Even the choice of the Best Man and Maid of Honor were from relationships that originated in Agropoli. This is why we believe Josie and Sam were brought together by relatives acting as matchmakers. There was no such thing as leaving the selection of a marriage partner up to chance nor would the family have approved of a single man or woman going out and meeting a prospective partner on a whim or a casual gathering where nobody knew a thing about each other or the family they were descended from.
We believe that the central family members involved in the matchmaking process lived in Brooklyn. Sam’s sister Filomena Serrapede D’Agosto and Josie’s Aunt Elisa Scotti Errico were the closest family members each had in Brooklyn. The traditional values in the Italian community considered living as a member of the household of a relative or older sibling made them responsible for you. The relationship was more than guest and host. It was family and the ties were defined by blood and/or marriage. The right and honorable thing was to help the relative living with one just as if they were one of the children of the head of the household. With a network of relatives and friends that knew each other and looked out for each other it would not be difficult to set up introductions to eligible marriage partners. It’s too bad Josie and Sam did not share with us the early stages of their search for a spouse. We would have a better understanding about what it was that endeared them to each other.
From our Family Photo Album: Josie and Sam’s Wedding Photos
Josie Muro Serrapede on her wedding day. Studio Portrait.
Josie (second from left) and Sam (second from right) with their wedding party. We think that the man seated next to Josie is the Best Man, Angelo Coppola. The woman seated near Sam on the right may be Theresa Errico, the Maid of Honor. Since Josie and Sam never reviewed these photos with their children or grandchildren we do not know the names of the members of the wedding party who are standing.
Discussion with Uncle Sammy, Sunday December 20, 2015 4 p.m.-4:30 p.m.
Uncle Sammy and I think that there is an error regarding Sam’s profession as entered to the Marriage Certificate. “Shoemaker” is entered but this is likely a misunderstanding. Sam worked as a bootblack when he first came to the United States. We think that before marrying Josie, Sam may have been employed at a shoe repair shop where he shined shoes. Neither my Mom nor Uncle Sammy remembered Sam talking about training or working as a shoemaker.
Mom always took great satisfaction in relating how Sam had saved enough money to pay for the entire wedding, including Josie’s gown and the flowers for the Maid of Honor and Bridesmaids. He even gave Josie a small diamond engagement ring and a wedding band with diamond chips. The engagement ring was lost when Josie experienced the onset of Alzheimer’s. The wedding band is now in my safekeeping. I plan to replace a missing diamond chip and wear it on special days such as the anniversary of their marriage on March 8th.
Uncle Sammy knew Angelo Coppola when he was older, in the late 1940s and through the 1950s. The young man seated to Josie’s left in the wedding portrait resembles the older Angelo whom Uncle Sammy remembers. At some point, Angelo and his family moved to Burlington, NJ because Angelo got a job there. Josie and Sam kept in touch with Angelo and his family after the move. Whenever the New Jersey branch of the Coppola family visited Brooklyn they stopped by to see Josie and Sam.
We cannot identify the rest of the wedding party. There are no resemblances to other relatives we remember. This might be a long shot but we are going to post about our search at such sites as Cousin Connect and contact the Italian Tribune, a newspaper for the Italian-American community in New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania. Our approach is that “Hey, you never know.” You never know until you try.
Previous Postings about Josie Muro and her life in Wilmerding
39b-The Muro Family in America-The Death of a Young Mother
42a-Muro Family in America-Rosina comes to America
43-Muro Family in America-Nick, Rose and Family 1922-1930
44-The Errico Family-From Wilmerding to Brooklyn 1920-1930
45-Muro Family in America-Josie comes to Brooklyn 1929
Postings about other relatives and paesanos mentioned
19c-Scotti Family-Paesanos and Cousins in Agropoli and America
41-Muro Family in America-The sisters of Letizia Scotti Muro