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

Acknowledgement

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.

Carnicelli

D’Agosto

Romaniello

Margiotta

Comunale

Taddeo

Introduction

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

45-josie201929_zpsh20mcpow

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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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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31d-Bella Italia in 1976: Gaeta

Our last week in Italy 1976. Fourth stop: Gaeta

Route from Positano to Gaeta.

Some facts about Gaeta

  • One of the most stunning attractions of Gaeta is the Montagna Spaccata.
    • The mountain has deep crevices that create a natural sea grotto.
  • The waters around the coastline of Gaeta appear a deep turquoise blue and provide a stunning contrast to the countryside.

Our Vacation in Italy 1976: Remembering Gaeta

Grandpa Sam’s nephew Gennaro Serrapede and his family hosted us while we stayed in Gaeta. Gennaro love to go diving and showed us many fragments of ancient pottery he found during his dives. I found these object fascinating. On one of them, the handle of an earthenware pot was covered with many tiny shells. Others had deposits built up on them that formed an ornamental scrollwork.  Gennaro displayed these finds on shelves throughout his apartment.

We went for a drive along the coastline, stopping to take photos of the narrow inlets and beaches below the highway. Each view was more beautiful than the next.

The last days of our travels were very hot and lazy. I remember falling into a deep sleep the night we were in Gaeta. I could hardly believe we would be returning to Rome the next day. Three weeks felt like three months. I wondered if I could get back into the faster-than-fast tempo of life once we got back to New York.

From Our Photo Album

Grandpa Sam, his nephew Gennaro, Grandma Josie and Grandpa’s niece Italia. Summer of 1976 in Gaeta.

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30d-Mother’s Day 2016-In Memory of Our Matriarchs

Lord Frederick Leighton “Mother and Child”
Public Domain.  Image from Pinterest.

We give thanks for all the matriarchs in our family line.  Their lives, love, care and sacrifices have contributed to who we are today.

Serrapede Family

Angela Maria Borrelli
Anna Maria Conte
Filomena Ruocco
Antonia Ruocco
Nicoletta Cuoco
Teresa Marino
Giovanna Battista
Teresa Patella d’Alessandro
Emilia Pappalardo

Muro Family

Anna Maria Monzillo
Carminela Cavollo
Clarice Serrapede
Giuseppa Ruocco
Anna Maria Baldi
Rosolia Patella
Maddelena Montone
Irene Guzzi
Maria Giovanna di Giaimo
Letizia Scotti
Rosina Aiello Marasco Muro

Through Josie Muro Serrapede and her daughter Emily L. Serrapede we have had the presence of these earlier mothers in our lives.  Through the flow of time the contributions each has made live on.

Our prayer is that you all may  now be rewarded for the work which you did in this world and that one day we will meet in the world to come.

 

–EmilyAnn Frances May

–Sam Serrapede, Jr.

Mother’s Day, Sunday, May 8, 2016

26-The Muro Family in Agropoli: Pietro and Giuseppa

Acknowledgement

At his website Imagines Maiorum-Ancestors from Campania, Anthony Vermandois presents the results of his research on families of Agropoli and nearby towns. Families are organized into charts of descent that provide dates of birth, marriage, immigration and death.  We have found Anthony’s research a valuable starting point as a means to get to know our ancestors from Italy.

We have used the charts for the Muro, Serrapede and Ruocco (part B) families for this week’s posting.

Links to the articles and public domain artwork used in this posting are given in the Resources section at the end of this posting.

Relationship Notes

Giuseppa Ruocco Muro is of special interest to us because her Granddaughter Josie was named after her. Josie was one of the important and beloved women in the lives of my Uncle and myself.  Josie was his mother and my maternal Grandmother.

Giuseppa was:

–Sammy’s Great Grandmother
–EmilyAnn’s Great-Great Grandmother

We think that if Giuseppa was anything like Josie, she would have been a very resourceful and forward looking woman.

Giuseppa and Pietro: What was their quality of life like?

Pedigree chart for Giuseppa Ruocco.

Giuseppa Ruocco was born in 1844 in Agropoli. She was the daughter of Nicola and Clarice (nee Serrapede) Ruocco.  On September 19, 1867 she married Pietro Muro.

Anthony has located information on the births of the following children of Giuseppa and Pietro:

Giovanni 1871-1871
Giovanna 1873-
Filomena 1875-
Rosa 1879-
Nicola 1882-1966

When Giuseppa and Nicola married, Italy had been a unified country for six years. Nicola, like his father before him, supported his family by working as a bracciante.

The word bracciante is usually translated as “day laborer or hired hand”. When we looked for an expanded meaning of the term we learned that it is mostly used to describe agricultural work.

Given that Italian society was highly stratified at this time we questioned if the Unification of Italy had made any improvements to the lives of people like Giuseppa and Nicola. The condition of a day laborer or agricultural field worker would not have been easy in any time.  Workers are subject to the weather conditions and have no guarantee of ongoing, long-term work.  We wanted to gain some insights into what that life was like.

Since my Uncle and I have very limited time for research, and we do not read Italian, it was a challenge to find material that presented a vivid but concise overview of the conditions of the kind of life Pietro and Giuseppa lived.

We took a creative approach by examining the depiction of Italian agricultural workers in the art of two 19th century Italian painters.  We then compared that to the factual information gleaned from two very well written and informative articles about the difficult lives of Southern Italians and Sicilians which the Unification of Italy did little to address.

The artwork that we found depicts the contadini (country people, farmers). Since they, too, were agricultural workers we used these paintings as a way to get us thinking about the lives of agricultural workers in general during the Post-Unification period of Italy.  We were unable to find paintings of the bracciante.

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