45-Muro Family in America: Josie comes to Brooklyn, 1929

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Josie Muro in 1929.

Introduction

Josie Muro was the daughter of Nicola and Letizia (nee Scotti) Muro. She was born in 1909 in Agropoli and came to the United States with her mother in 1912. Her father came a few years earlier in order to secure work and a place to live. The family settled in Wilmerding, Pennsylvania.

Josie came up to Brooklyn, NY sometime between 1928 and 1929. My Mom told me of the events leading up to it in a general way but without too many details. As a child, Uncle Sammy learned of a similar version of the story.

The information obtained from our reviews of the 1920 Federal Census in Wilmerding and the 1925 New York State Census entries for Brooklyn, NY helped fill in the spaces that existed in our knowledge regarding the story of Josie’s coming to Brooklyn. We shared what we knew. Then using the factual evidence from the Census records created a time line that provides us with a framework to better understand events that were in place before, during and after Josie’s move to Brooklyn.

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

Acknowledgement

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.

Introduction

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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42b-Muro Family in America-Rosina comes to America

Acknowledgement

A big thank you goes out to Francis Marasco and Rosina Coltellaro for their contributions to our family history project. Their support has enabled us to present a well rounded look into the life of Rosina Aiello Marasco Muro. Francis is Rosina’s grandson and Rosina Coltellaro is her niece.

For the first part of this series please see:

42a-Muro Family in America-Rosina Aiello Marasco of Martirano

Leaving Italy

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Drawing of the S.S. America.

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Passenger list of the S.S. America.

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41-Muro Family in America-The sisters of Letizia Scotti Muro

Introduction

Letizia Scotti Muro, wife of Nick Muro, passed away in 1921 at the age of 32. She left behind 5 children. Her daughter Josie often spoke of a relative named “Titsie” with great fondness. The correct Italian word for “aunt” is zia but I have heard it pronounced like “zitsie” or “titsie”, too. Whenever I visited my Grandma Josie, she got very lively if the relative named Titsie called. There was always a big smile on her face and a glow afterwards that told me this caller was someone special. My Mom said that this person was my Grandmother’s Aunt. I never asked what her name was.  I took it for granted that some day I’d get around to that.

Since I hadn’t asked more questions about who Titsie was I could not be sure if she was my Grandmother’s maternal or paternal Aunt. As Uncle Sammy and I study the family history I am gaining more insight into which direct line relatives played a role in the lives of Letizia’s children after her death. This posting will provide an overview on how I came to know the identity of who my Grandmother’s Auntie (Titsie) was and why she was an important part of her life.

Relationship Notes

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Pedigree chart for lineage of Letizia Scotti Muro. The names of her siblings are included.

Letizia Scotti Muro was:
–Josie’s Mother
–Sammy’s maternal Grandmother
–EmilyAnn’s Great Grandmother

Josie Muro Serrapede was:
–Emily Leatrice & Sammy’s Mom
–EmilyAnn’s maternal Grandma

Concetta Scotti Fasano and Elisa Scotti Errico were:
–Letizia’s sisters
–Josie’s maternal Aunts
–Sammy’s Great Aunts
–EmilyAnn’s Second Great Aunts

The Sisters of Letizia Scotti Muro

Our research has not turned up any immigration records for the sisters of Josie’s father, Nick. As of this date (10/3/2015) the only immigration records we have for our branch of the Muro family are Nick’s.

This past summer I located documentation that Letizia’s twin sister Concetta and younger sister Elisa immigrated to Wilmerding, PA around the same time as Letizia did. Both sisters still resided in Wilmerding at the time of Letizia’s death. We will review the 1920 Federal Census entries to gain a snapshot of what their lives were like at that time.

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40-Muro Family in America-The Ethnic Mix on State Street

Introduction

As a child I thought my Grandmother and Mother grew up in neighborhoods where the entire community was Italian-American. I was very scared about going to kindergarten. Some of our neighbors told me that the children of servicemen stationed at Fort Hamilton would be amongst my classmates. These children had travelled to different countries in Europe or different states in America. Some of their mothers were from different countries. Instead of looking forward to making new friends I became unsure of myself. I told Grandma Josie and my Mom that I didn’t want to go to Public School. Instead I wanted to attend St. Bernadette where the student body consisted solely of children from Dyker Heights.

Mom and Grandma Josie shared stories of their childhood and adolescence with me in an effort to show me that they never lived in the strictly Italian-American world my 4 1/2 year old imagination created. I was told that sooner or later the bigger world would call out for me to participate in it. Going to kindergarten was the first big step I had to take.

Uncle Sammy and I decided to check out the stories Grandma Josie shared with me and compare them with the ethnic mix as recorded in the 1920 Federal Census for the Muro family in Wilmerding, PA. We then compared our own experiences of growing up in Dyker Heights and the ethnic mix we encountered throughout our school years. This exercise showed us that official records can be used to check the veracity of the family stories. In the case of the examples my Mom gave, we learned how important it is to collect as much material on a topic from each generation as possible. This personal history is sometimes never entered to published works on a community since they can be written by people who have not grown up or experienced the life of members of the community. For this reason, we believe that researchers do a great service to the genealogical community and amateur family historians when they include interviews with the people from the community they are writing about.

Relationship Notes

Josie Muro Serrapede was:

  • Emily Leatrice Serrapede’s Mother
  • Sammy Serrapede’s Mother
  • EmilyAnn’s maternal Grandmother

Emily Leatrice Serrapede was:

  • Sammy’s Sister
  • EmilyAnn’s Mother

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39d-Muro Family in America-Interment customs in the Italian immigrant community

Introduction

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.

Relationship Notes

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.

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39b-Muro Family in America: The Death of a Young Mother

Introduction

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.

Relationship Notes

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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)

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