46c-D’Agosto and Carnicelli Families in America: Family and Work, Part 3


Genealogist Anthony Vermandois has researched families of the Campania region in Italy. We have used the charts of descent for several families in Agropoli who appear in Parts 1-3 of the posting 46c-D’Agosto and Carnicelli Families in America: Family and Work. To view the source information for these families, please click on a surname below. A new browser window will open and navigate to the page for that family.





Uncle Sammy grew up on 65th Street between 12th and 13th Avenues during the 1940s and 1950s. As we reviewed records for his Uncle Giuseppe D’Agosto we discovered a connection to members of the Carnicelli family who immigrated to America and settled in Dyker Heights and lived on 65th Street. Uncle Sammy asked me to find out if the Julia Carnicelli he remembers from his childhood was related to Giuseppe D’Agosto.

At last, we find Julia

The search for Julia Carnicelli first led us to learn about her brother-in-law Joseph Carnicelli who was featured in Part 1 and Part 2 of this series.

At ImaginesMaiorum, we found Julia entered as Giulia Romaniello, wife of Antonio Carnicelli. Antonio was Joseph’s younger brother. After his arrival in America he was known as Anthony. Anthony was born in Agropoli on January 22 1907. He immigrated to the United States in 1930 and became a citizen after that.

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46c-D’Agosto and Carnicelli Families in America: Family and Work, Part 2


The charts of descent from ImaginesMaiorum-Ancestors of Campania were used to research details about families appearing in this series of postings. To view these charts please click on the surname to open a new navigation window to the site. We thank Anthony Vermandois for making this valuable data available.








In Part 1 of 46c-D’Agosto and Carnicelli Families in America: Work and Family we learned about the relationships between Giuseppe D’Agosto and his cousins Joseph and Anthony. They were his first cousins through his maternal line.

In 1925 Joseph appears as a member of Giuseppe D’Agosto’s family who lived in an apartment in Brooklyn. Joseph’s marital status is entered as “Married” but no wife appears with him in the census record. Initially Uncle Sammy and I thought that Joseph’s job as a shoe shiner may not have enabled him to support a family. We wondered if his marriage suffered some financial strain.

Further research at ImaginesMaiorum provided details into the pain and loss Joseph Carnicelli suffered during the years of his first and second marriages.

Personal sadness: Losing a spouse in 1919 and again in 1924

Joseph’s first marriage was to Anna Communale. She was born on June 3rd, 1890 to Costabile and Giovanna (nee Ruocco) Comunale. There is no date for the marriage. Joseph and Anna’s son Saverio was born in 1914. Anna died in Agropoli on June 21, 1919. We do not know the reasons why baby Saverio does not appear with Giuseppe’s other children in the records of his second marriage.

Francesca Margiotta was Joseph’s second wife. She was born on April 1, 1895 to Luigi and Anna (nee Ciao) Margiotta. Francesca had three children by Joseph: Vincent (b. 1921), Anna (b. 1923) and Raphael (b. 1924). She died on December 15, 1924.

The 1925 New York State Census page on which Joseph Carnicelli appears as a member of the D’Agosto household was dated June 1, 1925. His marital status is entered as “M” for married. Given that Francesca died on December 15, 1924 we think that Joseph did not observe the traditional period of 1 year of mourning before marrying again. He had three young children to care for. We think at the time of the New York State Census, Joseph’s third wife was in Agropoli waiting to come to America.

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44-The Errico Family: From Wilmerding to Brooklyn, 1920-1925


We have used the charts of descent for the Scotti family available at ImaginesMairoum, the site presenting the genealogical data compiled by Anthony Vermandois. This data has been collected from Agropoli and other towns in Campania province, Salerno.

For the other documentation used please see the Resources section at the end of this posting.


In our last posting we introduced Josie Muro. She was the eldest child in a family grew in size to 11 children by the early 1930s. Variations of a family story recounting why Josie left Wilmerding, Pennsylvania at the age of 18 or 19 to come to Brooklyn, New York provided a bare minimum of details. By using the census records and ships passenger lists for other relatives we are gaining insights into what happened to facilitate Josie’s move up to Brooklyn.

We will turn our attention to the contacts the Muro family had in Brooklyn who, we are certain, helped Josie in the very quick move her parents had her make from Wilmerding to Brooklyn. The story gets more interesting as the details fall into place.

Josie’s Zia Elisa

Josie’s mother, Letizia passed away in 1921 when Josie was 12 years old. We think Letizia was a weakened by an accident in the previous year plus the frequency of her pregnancies. Nick Muro, Josie’s father, married Rose (Rosina) Aiello Marasco in late 1921 – early 1922. We know from Josie’s own discussions with us that she had many chores and errands to perform each day to help Rose with the household.

Letizia’s two sisters, Concetta and Elisa, also lived nearby in Wilmerding. The Scotti family remained close to Letizia’s children during the lifetimes of the first generation of our family in America. Josie enjoyed long phone calls with Elisa. I remember during the times we visited, that even if she were cooking in the kitchen, she’d take time out to sit down and listen to what her Aunt was calling about.

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30b-Muro Family-Letizia and Giuseppa leave for America


We have used the charts of descent for the Muro and Comite families as the basis of this week’s posting. This data is available at Imagines Maiorum-Ancestors from Campania, a site where genealogist Anthony Vermandois presents vital statistics and marriage banns for families in Agropoli and other nearby towns.

We have also used the passenger list of the SS Canada for Letizia Muro’s voyage to New York. Please see the Resources section for link.

Muro family link: http://www.imaginesmaiorum.net/surname.cfm?id=368

Comite family link: http://www.imaginesmaiorum.net/surname.cfm?id=559

Relationship Notes

Letizia Scotti Muro was:

  • Sammy’s Maternal Grandmother
  • EmilyAnn’s Great-Grandmother along her maternal line.

Giuseppa grew up to become:

  • Sammy’s Mom
  • EmilyAnn’s maternal Grandmother

Nicola and Letizia Marriage

Nicola and Letizia were married on January 9, 1909 in Agropoli. Anthony Vermandois lists a voyage that Nicola made to America in 1909 but so far we cannot locate such documentation.

Birth of Giuseppa (Josie)

Nicola and Letizia’s first child, a girl, was born on November 1, 1909. They named her Giuseppa, in honor of Nicola’s mother, Giuseppa Ruocco Muro.  In America Giuseppa was known as Josie.  Only her younger sister Philomena called her Giuseppina.

Departing Agropoli, Arriving in America

Letizia arrived in New York City with Giuseppa (Josie) on August 13, 1912. They left Naples on July 30th, 1912.

The page on which Letizia and Giuseppa are listed contains only one other passenger who was also from Agropoli. His name was Giuseppe Comite.  At first it was easy to think he had no connection with Letizia.  The Comite surname was not familiar and had not come up in previous research sessions.  We then had to recall the customs and attitudes the first generation of immigrants had concerning women and the code of honor they lived by in matters of women and family.  With this in mind we think that Giuseppe was a travel companion to Letizia since at that time a woman with a 3 year old child would not be permitted to travel so far on her own.  It was a matter of honor that a woman be chaperoned, if not by her parents, then by a brother or a male relative to protect her.

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22d-Growing up Italian-American: La Befana? Who is that?


La Befana receiving the Three Wise Men at her home. In Italian folklore she is the bringer of gifts to children on Epiphany.


When I was a child my maternal Grandma Josie and Grandpa Sam never discussed Christmas observances in Italy. We had the rich traditions of the Italian-American communities in Wilmerding, Pennsylvania and Dyker Heights, Brooklyn, New York to draw on.  All I did know was what I learned in religious instruction classes at St. Bernadette’s Shrine Church:  that the feast of Epiphany on January 6th is when children in Europe receive their presents.




Cheery images of Santa Claus were part of my childhood Christmases.

 The Three Wise Men and Epiphany involved a different level of gift giving in my mind.  Santa Claus also had a part in my childhood. He was a jolly delivery man who I never equated with anything other than someone who brought the gifts the elves made in their North Pole Workshop.  Santa existed at the popular level and the Three Wise Men at a higher level.  But the two never connected for me as being the same.  Epiphany was a feast day and something sacred.  It pertained to God and therefore deserved a serious and quiet reverence.

This is how I grew up understanding the difference. I’m sure a religious teacher would find flaws in this but there was little consideration or discussion about it.  Santa Claus and the Three Wise Men co-existed in the glittering and beautiful world of the entire Christmas Holiday.  The Sisters who taught me never commented on Santa Claus.  They gave us small presents each year like a prayer card, a pen, or some candy.  They reminded us that we received a gift each morning when we woke up and were blessed with another day of life.  Good health, a house to live in, food to eat, and playmates were some of the gifts the Sisters taught us that God gives us every day.  Christ was the ultimate gift for all time.  When I looked at it that way Santa Claus never took a superior position in my childhood imagination.

So how did Italian children celebrate Christmas and Epiphany?

Since I do not know how my maternal Grandpa Sam experienced Christmas as a child in Agropoli I did some research on gift giving in Italy during Epiphany.

What I learned is a complete surprise! Santa Claus has been popular in Italy since the end of WWII.  He is called Babbo Natale which means something like Daddy Christmas (Babbo=Dad and Natale=Christmas).  Italian children, though, have a unique bringer of gifts on Epiphany that is all their own.  Her name is La Befana.  She’s a kindly old woman bringing a basket of gifts.  But I took pause as I read on.  I thought, “How cool is this?  Here’s an older woman bringing gifts.”  Then I had to think a little more because of my reaction to imagery of La Befana:  she flies on a broom through the sky.

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22b-Dyker Heights Christmas Lights 2015: Let the light shine!

Every year before Christmas, I make a pilgrimage of sorts to my childhood neighborhood of Dyker Heights.  There I see the extravagant, over-the-top display of Christmas lights and decorations that adorn the mini-mansions and homes in this neighborhood.  It is also a time that I feel a special message come to me as I walk the streets, absorb the mood, and reflect on the impressions I receive .  Each year the experience is completely different.


The first effect of seeing so many softly colored lights against the dark of night is a sense of euphoria.  The world is completely different and as I walk closer to the heart of Dyker Heights in the 80 Streets, there is a temporary lapse of all sense of past and future.  Every sense is focused on the present moment.


The ordinary becomes extraordinary.  Trees that light up the night suddenly seem a possibility.


Even the mini-mansions are transformed into castles where anyone can live like a prince or princess in a happily-ever-after land.

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Dec. 21, 2014: Memories of Christmas Past in Dyker Heights

December 21, 2014
For me there is no place like Dyker Heights, Brooklyn.  I grew up in this neighborhood and when I have time I go back to visit St. Bernadette’s Shrine Church.  Afterwards I walk through the streets where so much happened and where many good times were had with my best friends during Junior High School and High School.  My maternal and paternal Grandparents lived here as well as many relatives on both sides of the family, too.

When I was growing up Dyker Heights was like a secret hidden away.  Very few people outside of the immediate area knew much about it unless they’d grown up there.  It was well known amongst the Italian-American community as a place with good bakeries and great Italian restaurants.  As a child my favorite bakeries were Your Baker and Mona Lisa.  The Italian restaurant my paternal Aunt favored was Romano’s on 13th Avenue near 70th Street.  While I loved their food there was nobody who could cook Italian the way my maternal Grandma Josie Muro Serrapede could.  Christmas Eve at her house was a feast filled with a dinner called “Frutta del Mar” which means fruit of the sea. An abundance of seafood like squid, octopus, clams, and shrimps was served.  This would be accompanied by pasta and a salad. Dessert consisted of demitasse and a confection called struffoli, which is a type of honeyball combined with sprinkles and candied cherries and orange peel.

This was followed by midnight mass at Regina Pacis Church.  After mass a small group might return to my Grandparents’ house for another hour of conversation accompanied by an Italian liqueur like Strega, Sambucca or Amaretto.

Sleep would come, deep and peaceful.  On Christmas morning all of Dyker Heights would be still, calm and oh-so-very-quiet.  If there was snow you could almost think there would be a Santa Claus and if you were more inclined you’d believe that the Christ child was at work in the world once more bringing hope and wonder back to our lives.

It is the memory of these events and people that keep me rooted very deeply in the borough where I was born.  The history of this borough and New York City are also my history.  In these streets and communities past and present I connect and take meaning in my life.

These are some of the thoughts that come to my mind as I walk the streets of Dyker Heights to experience the wonder of the Christmas lights on display.  I say experience because it is more than a passive intake to me.  And unlike a tourist seeking out a novelty or an amusement I find something very deep and moving in the efforts the residents make to share their joy so freely with others.