61-Muro and Carola Families in America-Assimilation and Acculturation


Acculturation occurs when an immigrant community begins to adapt some of the behaviors of the majority, mainstream culture.  Many of the traditions the community brought with them to America remain in force.  What takes place is a blending of the cultures so that there is a bi-cultural aspect in the lives of the immigrants and their descendants.  The cultural identity of the ancestral country is retained.

Assimilation is a by-product of acculturation.  It occurs when members of the immigrant community accept the values of the mainstream culture to such an extent that they no longer bear the cultural identity which once differentiated them.  The characteristics of the culture from which the family originated are replaced by those of the majority in their new homeland.

We used the 1940 Federal Census entries for the Muro and Carola families to see if we find acculturation and assimilation occurring in the lives of the second generation of these Italian-American families.

Relationship Notes

Sam and Josie (nee Muro) Serrapede were Sammy’s parents and EmilyAnn’s maternal grandparents.

Peter Muro was the younger brother of Josie Muro Serrapede.

Angie Carola Muro was Peter’s wife and mother of Nick, Robert and Peter.  Angie’s name appears as Mary Angela Carola on her marriage license.  In some Federal Census records it appears as Angeline.  She was the daughter of Guy and Rose Carola.  Angie’s siblings were Raffaele, Nicola (Nick), Christina, Antoinette, James, Ralph and George.

Family of Peter and Angie Muro in the 1940 Federal Census

1940 Federal Census with entries for the family of Peter and Angie Muro.

Peter Muro answered the questions for his household when the enumerator visited to record his entry for the 1940 Federal Census.  Peter and Angie had a 1 year old son named Nick.  The family was living at 246 Albermarle Street in Baltimore, Maryland.  Peter was working as a laborer in an aircraft company and had made $500 in 1939.  He’d only worked 20 weeks that year.  Rent on the apartment in Maryland was $12 a month.

In columns 17-20 the census enumerator had to enter where the family lived as of April 1, 1935.  The answer recorded for Peter and Angie is “same place” meaning they were in the same house in Baltimore since 1935.  This is incorrect because in 1936 we know Peter was working in Brooklyn, NY (link to Bergen Beach posting).  When Peter and Angie applied for their marriage license in 1937 both lived in Wilmerding.

By accepting work out of state and in a different industry, Peter was no longer following the pattern of traditional behavior observed by the first generation.  Peter was not working at Westinghouse Air Brake Company like his father did and he did not work in his father’s grocery store.  He also did not stay in the same town after his marriage.  By moving out of state with his wife and child Peter was adapting to life in America.  We do not know if there were relatives in Baltimore but if not that was another change in lifestyle.  Usually the second generation retained close ties to their relatives and paeasni.  The social capital of a network of friends and relatives to secure employment and housing may or may not have remained strong.  With the economic necessity to secure any kind of work as the Depression continued into the late 1930s, it was essential to put aside old world customs in favor of what was most expedient to secure a livelihood.

Continue reading “61-Muro and Carola Families in America-Assimilation and Acculturation”

60-Carola Family in Wilmerding, 1920-1930 Changes in work and family life


The first generation of the Muro and Carola family in America continued to observe the traditions and patterns of behavior that shaped and defined their lives in Agropoli. Although Wilmerding had a diversified mix of European ethnicities as the dominant groups in the community, it was rare for single people in the first generation to marry out of the Italian community. Marriages in the second generation often happened amongst the children of the paesani who knew each other in Agropoli. Many second generation Italian-Americans lived with or in the same town as their parents.

As the process of Americanization took hold, however, forces beyond the control of parents and community came into play. These forces were the ones that exposed the second generation to a broader education, greater choice of friends to socialize with and a choice of profession. We’ll look at how some of these patterns of behavior persisted in the first generation and then gradually began to change with the second generation.

Relationship Notes

Josie Muro Serrapede was Sammy’s mother and EmilyAnn’s maternal Grandmother.

 Guy and Rose (nee Di Luccio) Carola’s daughter Angie married Josie’s younger brother Peter Muro.

Angie and Peter Muro were Sammy’s maternal Aunt and Uncle.

James Lawrence Carola was Angie’s younger brother. His wife was Mary Inez (nee Gilmartin).

Carola Family in 1920 Federal Census

In the 1920 Federal Census Gaetano and Rosa’s names were Anglicized to Guy and Rose. We have found that many census enumerators entered the names of our relatives this way. Yet when we speak to family members today, the Italian version of their name is still used.

Close-up of 1920 Federal Census.

Guy was 48 years old and Rose 44 years old. When they left Italy in 1900 they had two children, Nicola and Rafael. In 1920 Nicola was called Nick. He was now 19 years old. The elder Rafael is not listed in this census. The children born after Guy and Rose settled in Wilmerding were:

Name         Age in 1920

Christina         11 y.o.

Antoinette         9 y.o.

Angeline*………..7 y.o.

James ……………..5 y.o.

Ralph…………………2 yrs. 3 mos.

George … ………… 6 mos.

*(also called Mary Angela, “Angie”)

When a child died it some families used that child’s name again when a new baby was born. The choice of the name Ralph indicates that the older Rafael born in Italy may have died before Ralph was born.

Guy could read and write according to the Census. The Census does not specify English but that must be what is meant. In contrast, Rosa is entered as not being able to read and write. This leads one to believe that many of the wives of our ancestors and their paesani were illiterate. But this is often not the case. After the Unification of Italy schooling was mandatory up to the 4th grade. The women would have had an ability to read and write in basic Italian.

Guy worked as a bricklayer in a forge shop while Nick worked as a machinist. These job descriptions appear over and over for residents of Wilmerding. When the employer is specifically named it is always Westinghouse Airbrake Company.

From the 1920 Federal Census we can see that many customs from life in Italy continued such as:

  • Naming a child after a sibling who passed away while still young.
  • Grown children who were not married lived at home with their parents.
  • Father and son worked in the same factory or the same line of work.

Continue reading “60-Carola Family in Wilmerding, 1920-1930 Changes in work and family life”

59a-Carola family of Agropoli-Hoteliers, Coachmen and Shopkeepers, Part 2


This posting is a continuation of 59a-Carola family of Agropoli-Hoteliers, Coachmen and Shopkeepers, Part 1.  We turn our attention now to the professions of the family heads in Angie’s maternal line.  Also considered are possible connections between Angie’s Carola line and Uncle Sammy’s Serrapede line.

Aunt Angie’s Maternal line—Possible relationships to our Serrapede and Muro lines

59a-Angie's maternal line
Angie’s maternal line-di Luccio family.

Aunt Angie’s mother, Rosa di Luccio was born on December 5, 1875. She was the daughter of Salvatore di Luccio and Filomena D’Agosto. Salvatore’s professions included agricultural work and driving a coach. It’s interesting to consider that Rosa’s father-in-law was also a coach driver. Their work may have created a close relationship between the families so that when Gaetano was ready to marry his parents introduced him to Rosa as a good match.

Aunt Angie’s maternal lineage is composed of relationships that might intersect Uncle Sammy’s by ties of blood and/or marriage through her maternal Great Grandmother Maddalena Montone (1820-1900)

Uncle Sammy’s Third Great Grandmother was also named Maddalena Montone. She lived in the latter part of the 18th century and was the wife of Giuseppe di Giaimo. The Montone bloodline enters Sammy’s pedigree through his mother, Josie Muro Serrapede. Although Anthony has done some new research on the Montone family in Agropoli there isn’t any information available about our Maddalena Montone at this time.

59a-Uncle Sammy Serrapede chart
Sammy’s paternal line-Serrapede family.

Another possible relationship by blood or extended family connections created by marriage may come through Aunt Angie’s Great Grandmother Rosa Serrapede. There is no record of her outside of the marriage to Filippo di Luccio. If there exists a relationship it enters Sammy through his father Sam Serrapede’s line.

Continue reading “59a-Carola family of Agropoli-Hoteliers, Coachmen and Shopkeepers, Part 2”

59a-Carola family of Agropoli-Hoteliers, Coachmen and Shopkeepers, Part 1


What started out as a simple addition of some family members to the family tree of Mary Angela (Angie) Carola’s branch turned up some possible connections between her maternal line and Uncle Sammy’s maternal line. We also gained some insights into the business activities of the Carola family. Since most of our direct line and branch families made their living in agriculture or from the sea we spent time discussing some of the possibilities that offered the Carola family the opportunity to open their own hotel in Agropoli during the late 19th-early 20th century.

We acknowledge use of the research of Anthony Vermandois of ImaginesMaiorum in the preparation of this posting. Please see Resources section for links to the charts of descent for the Carola and branch families mentioned in this posting.

Relationship Notes

Mary Angela Carola lived on the same block in Wilmerding as Peter Muro did. The Muro and Carola families were from Agropoli in Campania Province, Italy. Mary Angela and Peter married in 1937. Everyone called Mary Angela “Angie”.

Peter Muro was the younger brother of Josie Muro Serrapede. Josie was the wife of Sam (Sabato) Serrapede and mother of Sammy, Gerald and Emily.

Angie and Peter were Sammy’s maternal Aunt and Uncle.

They were EmilyAnn’s Great Aunt Angie and Great Uncle Peter but because these terms were never used I called them my Aunt and Uncle, too. So you will find this manner of addressing them used in the posting and the discussion.

Tracing back the earliest mentions of the hotel

The only way to trace the evolution of the family’s entry to the hotel business was to examine what the occupations of the men were in Angie’s family line from the earliest ancestors Anthony Vermandois has researched. As we entered each family member into her pedigree chart we used online dictionary Reverso (see Resources section) to find the English equivalents of the Italian words used for the occupations. At first nothing seemed to come together until we completed entering Angie’s parents to her chart. There were certain occupations that struck us because of their relationships to each other. We will put those particular ones into bold font. The children in each generation who are part of Angie’s direct paternal line appear in italics. Let us know if you begin to make the associations we did as we progress through Angie’s family line.

59a-Angie's paternal line
Angie’s Paternal Line.

Aunt Angie’s Paternal 2nd Great Grandparents

Ignazio Carola and Anna Pirro. No other information is available except that Anna was from the town of Prignano Cilento.

Aunt Angie’s Paternal Great Grandparents

Ignazio and Anna’s son Gennaro Carola was born in 1801. He married Gabriella di Lembo, born in 1798 to Pasquale di Lembo and Rosa Cincio in Prignano Cilento.

Gennaro worked as a blacksmith (fabbro ferraio). With Gabriella he had four children for whom Anthony found birth dates:

Rosa born circa 1827
Nicola born circa 1830
Alfonso born circa 1835
Raffaele born circa 1844
Gennaro died in Agropoli on January 28, 1866.

Angie’s Paternal Grandparents

Gennaro and Gabriella’s son Raffaele married Cristina Vitagliano di Giuseppe. They were the parents of:

Nicola b. April 20, 1868
Gabriela b. 1866
Gaetano b. February 15, 1870
Mariangela b. 1872
Alfonso b. 1874
Rosa b. 1877

According to Anthony’s research Raffaele worked as a coach driver or a coachman (vetturino). Raffaele passed away in Agropoli on January 5 1879.

Angie’s Father

Raffaele and Cristina’s son Gaetano was born on February 15, 1870. He married Rosa di Luccio in Agropoli on January 18, 1896. Before they immigrated to America Raffaele and Cristina became parents of:

Raffaele 1897-1916
Nicola b. 1900

While he lived in Agropoli Gaetano worked as a fisherman (marinaro). He was also a landlord or landowner (possidente).

Raffaele and Cristina had more children after immigrating to the U.S. They were:

Christina 1910-2003
Antoinette b. 1911
Mary Angela October 12, 1913-October 24, 1978
James 1915-1998
Ralph b. 1918
George 1920-1967

Things are looking very interesting when you consider the possibilities:

  • Angie’s Great Grandfather Gennaro was a blacksmith. His customers would include people with horses that they rode or used to pull carriages or coaches.
  • Angie’s Grandfather Raffael was a coachman or a coach driver. It’s possible that he got this position through one of Gennaro’s clients. Raffael may have been exposed to working with and handling horses from an early age and so came recommended for a position as a coach driver.
  • Gaetano, Angie’s father, did not work with horses or carriages but is mentioned as being a landowner or landlord while the family still lived in Agropoli. So where did the connection to the hotel come in and how do these pieces come together? It became necessary to look at the professions of Gaetano’s brothers and we found what we believe completes the answer to our question as to possible ways in which the family got into the hotel business.

Continue reading “59a-Carola family of Agropoli-Hoteliers, Coachmen and Shopkeepers, Part 1”

58a-Muro Family in Wilmerding-Peter and Angie’s Marriage License, 1937, Part 2


This posting continues the story of the marriage of Peter Muro and Angie Carola through the story told in their photos and marriage license, plus memories Uncle Sammy and I shared about Angie’s siblings.

The Muro and Carola Families:  Paesani from Agropoli

With the details obtained from the Federal Census records and the Marriage License, Uncle Sammy and I noticed another recurring pattern of behavior at work between the first and second generation of Italian-Americans.  It was at work with the Serrapede family in Brooklyn and the Muro family in Wilmerding.

This pattern of behavior consisted of relatives and paesani from the first generation of immigrants from Agropoli living within very close proximity to each other after coming to America.  The Carola and Muro families in Wilmerding were one example.  The Coppola and Serrapede families of Brooklyn were another. The second generation of Italian-Americans continued this pattern after they got married.  The second generation may not always have lived on the same block but they were often within walking distance or a short drive or trolley car ride from their parent’s house.  And frequently the children of their parent’s paesani also lived close-by after they got married.  The influences of ties by blood or marriage persisted as they had in Agropoli.

From Josie’s collection:  Angie’s Wedding Photo

58a-angie muro wedding day
Studio portrait by Birch Studio.  Angie Carola Muro on her wedding day.

Angie’s wedding photo and the cardboard frame it is set in are still very clear and in what we consider good condition.  Like all of Josie’s photos they were kept in the original cardboard frames or else placed into photo albums by means of little tabs that fit on the corners of the photo.  These tabs were moistened and pressed onto the album page.  The framed photos and the albums were then stored in brown paper bags that were neatly stacked like files inside of cardboard boxes.  Since no mylar or plastic was ever used this might account for the good condition.  Also they were stored in an attic that was dry and not at all humid in the summer or damp in the winter.

Angie looks so lovely in this wedding gown that combines some style sense of the 1940s even though the sleek silhouette of the 1930s was still in vogue.

Continue reading “58a-Muro Family in Wilmerding-Peter and Angie’s Marriage License, 1937, Part 2”

Family Story: The Carola Hotel

Title:  The Carola Hotel

Location:  Agropoli, Salerno, Campania, Italy

Occasion:  Visit to Muro and Serrapede Families in Our Ancestral Hometown

Time:  Summer 1976

My Maternal Grandparents, Josie (nee Muro) and Sam (Sabato) Serrapede, took me on a three week trip to Italy in the Summer of 1976.  The main purpose was to celebrate my Grandmother’s retirement and to reconnect with the family in Agropoli.  Both my maternal Grandmother and Grandfather were born in that town which is near Salerno in Campania Province.

Grandma Josie was firm that we were going to stay at the hotel because she wanted the comfort of all the modern conveniences.  I did not understand her emphasis until after we arrived in Agropoli.

The Carola was situated at the foot of the Old Town, a slight distance from the high hill upon which the Old Town is located.  There was a view of the beach from our room.  It was especially beautiful at sunrise.  I remember how the water looked bronze and the side of the hill began to light up from the base to the top as the sun climbed higher in the sky.  At night we could see the night fisherman out in their rowboats carrying lanterns.  I was told the light would stun the fish and make them less likely to escape from the nets.

The weather was very hot and on some days slightly humid, on other days dry.  I ended up taking two showers a day, frequently washing my hair.  The hotel did not have air conditioning at that time.

My Grandmother and I shared a room while my Grandfather had a large room to himself on the floor above us.  We could hear him from the terrace right above ours as he talked to friends who passed by on the street below.  Our room was very simple by American standards.  There were no rugs or fancy drapes or slip covers.  I’m glad there weren’t because the room would have felt too closed in during the hot weather.  The walls were smooth and painted a neutral color, beige or sand.  The furniture was very simple, too.  Everything was very neat, well-ordered and very clean.  Given how bright the sunlight could be and how hot the long days were, I found that simplicity and order all I needed to be satisfied with the comfort the room offered.

I didn’t appreciate just how much the conveniences at The Carola Hotel meant to me until we visited Grandpa Sam’s sister Italia.  She lived in a very, very old Pre-WWII building right at the foot of the stairs leading up to The Old Town.  It was quite an accomplishment that Italia’s family had gotten running water up to her apartment.  The toilet, though, was still a shared facility.  It was situated in a little room in the hallway of the floor where she lived.  Other tenants on the floor also used that toilet.  There were times a bucket of water had to be thrown down to ensure everything got flushed away.

I wasn’t aware that the Carola Hotel was owned by the family from which Mary Angela (née Carola) Muro’s father was born into.

Mary Angela was my Grandma Josie’s sister-in-law.  We always called Mary Angela by her nickname of Angie.  Angie was married to Grandma Josie’s younger brother Peter Muro.

On February 13, 2014 Claudia Muro, daughter-in-law of Angie and Peter Muro, told me the Carola Hotel was closed some time ago.  Claudia is married to Angie and Peter’s son, Robert Muro.

Claudia told me that the Carola Family operated the hotel and its restaurant separately.  She knew one of the cooks who worked at the restaurant.  He wanted very much to work in America and he loved Wilmerding, the Muro’s home town in the U.S.A.  He was unable to complete the process, though and could not come here to live and work.

As much as I loved visiting all the relatives, I was thankful we had the hotel room to retreat into each night while we were in Agropoli.  I enjoyed the quiet company of my Grandma Josie and the view of the beach each morning and night.  I needed that quiet time after all the sightseeing and visiting each day.

EmilyAnn Frances May

May 14, 2014