49-Serrapede Family in America: The Little Church in Dyker Heights, 1930


Filomena Serrapede D’Agosto was the eldest sister of Sam Serrapede.  She was the first member of Sam’s family to come to America.  Filomena married Giuseppe D’Agosto in 1923.  Giuseppe secured employment as a truck driver for the New York City Department of Sanitation.  The D’Agosto family lived in Red Hook, Brooklyn, NY.

In 1925 Sam came to America with the intention of making a new life for himself.  He aimed at getting himself established through securing employment and beginning the process towards citizenship.  Giuseppe and Filomena provided him with a place to live during his first five years in America.

Relationship Notes

• Sam (Sabato) Serrapede was:
• The son of Gennaro and Emilia (nee Pappalardo) Serrapede of Agropoli, Salerno, Campania Province in Italy.
• Sammy’s father.
• EmilyAnn’s maternal Grandfather.

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37-The Towns of Turtle Creek Valley: Pitcairn


Uncle Sammy and I decided to include brief entries whenever possible about the towns near Wilmerding. During our visits to Pennsylvania we sometimes went to visit these towns because relatives lived there. The towns were very close and at times it seemed like one flowed into another. This was because of the closeness the relatives maintained and the frequency of their visits.

The towns of Turtle Creek Valley: Pitcairn


Pitcairn Street Scene, circa 1910.
Public Domain. Image courtesy of Monroeville Historical Society.


 Map of Pitcairn, circa 1901

Pitcairn started as a village where a railyard was constructed near Turtle Creek.   It was incorporated as a village in 1894. The town had a major switching yard for the Pennsylvania Railroad. Population peaked between 1910 through 1940. After this time there was a decline in the ability of the railroad yards and shops to provide employment.

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35a-Robert and Claudia Muro


This week I’ve had the pleasure of working with Claudia Lane Muro on creating a page for this blog.  Claudia is the wife of Robert Muro.  He is a grandson of Nick and Letizia Muro and the nephew of my late Grandma Josie.


Claudia and me at Becco in 2014.

Claudia has been very helpful in filling in the blanks for information on the Muro family when I first started researching my maternal line.  She has written a very heartfelt and lovely piece about what she has learned about life in an Italian-American family setting.


Robert and me at Becco in 2014.

Robert’s parents, Peter and Angie (nee Carola) Muro will be featured in a series of postings later in 2016-early 2017 as we continue the story about the lives of the second generation of the Muro family in America.  Please visit Claudia and Robert’s page for a photo and the memories Claudia so kindly shared with us.

29-Station Break: Cassone, il coredo and biancheria

The bride prepares for her new home

As in previous centuries, the love for fine linen tablecloths and bed sheets embroidered or trimmed with lace continues in Italy. This youtube video provides a good overview of the range of modern biancheria (embroidered sheets, pillowcases and bed spreads) available for the bedroom.

While Nicola Muro was away in the United States during the early 1900s, Letizia Scotti was making preparations for their marriage. At the turn of the 20th century women throughout all of Italy prepared a chest filled with a beautiful array of linens and lacework pieces to be used in their new household.  Most of the pieces were made by the future bride.  Others were purchased or received as gifts.

Letizia’s daughter Josie was my beloved maternal Grandmother. She gave me a lace tablecloth that Uncle Sammy and I think dates back to the 1930s.  Josie had an appreciation and preference for these kinds of things all her life.  Such sensibility comes from living in a home where simple beauties like these are part of everyday life.  Letizia’s sisters outlived her and were known as excellent homemakers. Not just for cooking and cleaning but for creating a sense of home as a place of beauty. In the kind of home Josie created, and such keepsakes as this lace tablecloth, we find a link to Letizia and the matriarchs who came before her. We can envision the kinds of hope chest and linens Letizia brought to her marriage.

The Lace Tablecloth

Grandma Josie’s lace tablecloth.

 Grandma Josie gave me this lace tablecloth when I began discussing with her my plans to decorate an apartment of my own one day. This was in the spring of 1983.

“What are you waiting for?” she asked. “You should decorate your room right now!”

She went into her room. When she came back Grandma Josie handed me a box that was very yellow and old.

I took the lid off the box, unwrapped layers of tissue paper and carefully took out the exquisite lace table cloth shown in this photo. My Mom remembered seeing the tablecloth only a few times.  Many first generation Italian immigrants had special table cloths, doilies and bed linens that would come out only on holidays or when relatives came to for an extended visit.

Close-up of the lace table cloth.

On subsequent visits to Grandma Josie’s house she told me how she had learned embroidery and sewing as a child because these skills were part of what a woman brought to the marriage. The works of her hands would beautify her home with lace doilies, embroidered tablecloths and even guest towels made of linen with a crocheted border.

Grandma Josie rarely spoke of her mother Letizia because she died quite young. The story of her passing varied depending on who I heard it from.  She was the kind of person who was very open.  There were a few questions my Mother told me never to ask and those concerned Letizia.  The subject was a painful one for my Grandmother.  This is why I accepted this gift without asking any questions since she gave it to me so purposefully and without any further comment.

With these thoughts in mind, I spent several evenings researching what the preparations for marriage were in an effort to draw closer to Letizia as a young woman. What follows are my notes taken during reading various online sources.

In my readings I learned that families also bought items to add to the Coredo (dowry). Uncle Sammy and I wonder if this lace tablecloth is older than the 1930s and if, perhaps, it was an item in Josie’s own hope chest.  If any reader knows how this tablecloth can be dated please post in the comments.  My Uncle and I do not know how old it is or what type of lace work it is.

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22a-Serrapere family of Wilmerding: The Anniversary Photo at Angie’s Pizzeria

22a-Angies Pizzeria

Cosimo and Anna Maria Serrapere at their 50th Wedding Anniversary dinner in 1959.

Have you ever gone to an old school luncheonette, family owned restaurant in the neighborhood or a famous eatery where photos of families and celebrities from yesteryear hang on the walls?  As a child I sometimes wondered who these people were.  It was easy to identify the famous people because they always autographed their photos.  Since most of the other photos lacked any captions my curiosity was never satisfied.  I wanted to know the story told by the photo and why the people in it looked so happy.  Of course once the meal was brought to the table, I forgot all about things like that since I got caught up in the present, the good food and the conversation going on around me.  If I persisted in being a pest about the photo, an Aunt or Grandparent would give me a nickel or a dime so I could busy myself with selecting a song from the jukebox.

Antoinette Serrapere has shared a family photo with me from her Grandparent’s Wedding Anniversary celebrated in 1959.  The family got together at Angie’s Pizzeria in Wilmerding, Pennsylvania for an afternoon dinner.  Mr. and Mrs. Serrapere gave a copy of the photo to the original owner of the Pizzeria.  When Angie sold the establishment to the current owners, the photo remained on the wall.  It is still there today.  I thought it would be good to share the photo with our blog readers.  Every picture tells a story and so does this one.  Thanks to Antoinette’s help the story behind the photo and details about some of the family members appear in this posting.

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7d-Figliola and d’Amico Families: A bride from out-of-town


The research done by Anthony Vermandois at Imagines Maiorum-Ancestors from Campania forms the basis for this exploration into the lives of our ancestors who lived in Agropoli.

Imagines Maiorum includes a compilation of vital statistics for families who lived in Agropoli, Atripalda, Castellabate, Laureana Cilento, Monte san Giacomo, Padula.  New data is being compiled for the residents of these towns who immigrated abroad.

A bride from out-of-town

We were not able to find in-depth material about the traditions associated with courtship and marriage in 19th century Southern Italy.  Since some of the matriarchs that married into our branch families were from outside of Agropoli we questioned how a match would be made between a male relative who lived in Agropoli and a bride who came from another town.  This posting presents some of the scenarios we considered.

Marriage Banns

Our ancestors were Roman Catholics.  In this tradition the marriage banns are published from the church of the future bride since the marriage would take place there.

A bride from another town who married into a family from Agropoli most likely married in the parish church her family attended in her hometown.  This is one reason why the banns of a marriage performed outside of Agropoli do not appear in the data Anthony has compiled for the families of Agropoli.  We found the inclusion of a wife’s home town valuable as we searched among our extended family for a bride another town who married into a family from Agropoli.

Meet Rosa from Laureana Cilento

My Uncle and I considered the specific situation of Rosa d’Amico who came from Laureana Cilento before her marriage to Carlo Figliola of Agropoli.  We know her home town because Anthony has included it in the entry of her vital statistics at Imagines Maiorum-Ancestors from Campania.

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