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

45-Josie Muro circa 1928 internet

Josie Muro in 1929.


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


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

41-Letizia chart

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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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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36-Muro Family in America-Nick and Letizia’s children go to school


The Summer Break of 2016 is over and we’re resuming our family history postings.  In the last posting before our break we reviewed events in the news related to public school education and community activities in the state of Pennsylvania during the time Nick and Letizia’s children began their school years.  We continue on the topic of public school education, this time focusing on the information available about schools in Wilmerding in the same time period (circa 1915 through the 1920s).

The Muro family passed on to their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren a love of learning, reading and ongoing self-improvement through education. To better understand the roots of this influence we are continuing our readings and discussions of the public school education which the Muro children received in Wilmerding, Pennsylvania.

We have learned that “The Wilmerding Times” has not been digitized at the Library of Congress. We will continue, therefore, to research news articles of the period 1912-1920 in other Pennsylvania newspapers available at the Library of Congress. Our focus concerns changes that were made to public school system on a local and state wide basis in Pennsylvania. This will, in some ways, give us an overview of what forces were at work throughout the state and the influence on the Muro children.

We have also researched public domain images and found some wonderful vintage postcards that offer us a view of the parts of town where the early Public Schools were located. We also found a map that gives us an idea of where the Muro family lived in relation to the nearest school their children might have attended.

Meet Letizia and Nick’s children

Nick and Letizia Muro’s first child, Giuseppa, was born in Agropoli on November 1st, 1909. After coming to the United States everyone called Giuseppa Josie.

The next five children were born after Letizia and Josie joined Nick in Wilmerding in 1912. They are:

Peter James, born June 3, 1913
Louis, born July 4, 1914
Philomena, born November 21, 1916
Ernest, born February 17, 1919
Rosie (Rose, Rose Marie), born March 20, 1920

The children were not only close in age but also close in their relationships to each other throughout their lives. As they matured and married some moved to Brooklyn, NY (Josie, Philomena and Rosie) and others Ohio (Louis). Peter moved to Baltimore in the early years of his marriage during the 1930s but returned to Wilmerding around 1937. He remained close to his parents all his life. Ernest died as the result of an accident which we will cover in another posting.

The Neighborhood School in relation to where the Muros Lived 


1897 Planning Map of Wilmerding.

We located a very helpful planning map dated 1897 at the Library of Congress. At first it appeared more like a vintage postcard. In the center is the Westinghouse Air Brake Company. In the foreground are the many homes that were first built in the main part of town facing the front of the factory. Here many of the management and executive level employees lived.

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36g-Staycation 2016: Simple Abundance in Brooklyn, Part 2


My Simple Abundance Cliché Collage.  This was how I envisioned the perfect hostess to be as I became aware of all the work my Mom, Grandmothers and Aunties put into their home entertaining. These  perceptions were fed by television and advertisements of the mid 1950s through 1960s.

The weather here in Brooklyn continues to be hot and humid.  My mood is to continue, a little longer, with the easier and lighter readings suitable to a break.  Autumn with it’s cool, crisp, clear skies and breezes still has to arrive and awaken us from the sleepy, dreamy pace of summer.  For these reasons I’m continuing with the postings about my Staycation 2016 activities.  Many of them focus on the Serrapede family history and also bring in some memories about  Dad’s family, too.  I think one memory that we all share, across all cultures, is that of the family coming together at a holiday to enjoy a home cooked meal at the house of one of our matriarchs.  She could be our Mom, Grandmother, Auntie, Godmother, or even a beloved Cousin.  Whoever she is she has created a celebration that in turn sustains us in future times when we need to recall that memory and the values it affirms.

One of the Simple Abundance collages I started in the Spring and completed over my Staycation is called a Cliché Collage.  It is one of the first collages Sarah Ban Breathnach has the reader create.  The Cliché Collages help me clear my mind of ideas I acquired from outside sources.  After creating a Cliché Collage, it is easier for me to assemble the images I need that reflect more accurately my true feelings on the topic.  .  For this entertainment cliché collage I discovered one of the reasons why I found the idea of home entertainment so burdensome when I was a child and young adult.

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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.

14-Growing up Italian-American: Attitudes about dating

A busy street in Rome, summer of 1976.


This posting focuses on the culture shock I experienced during the first week in Rome in the summer of 1976. My maternal grandparents and I were in Italy to visit relatives in Rome and our ancestral hometown of Agropoli. I was not prepared for the flirtatious nature of the men in Rome. I was even less prepared for the conservative attitudes about women who wanted to be out and about on their own.

Rome 1976: A young woman needs to be accompanied when she goes out

Our first week in Rome brought me into contact with many good looking men of all ages. They flirted and winked when Grandma Josie, Italia and I went out sightseeing and shopping. “Bella, Bella!” they often said. Grandma Josie was amused. Italia was not.

I had expected Italians to be more liberal in their attitudes about dress and interactions on the street. In Dyker Heights many girls wore short-shorts and halter tops when going out on a hot summer day. An attractive girl would be rated by young men driving down the block. They’d honk the car horn a few times. Sometimes they’d open the windows and go “Hey, Hey, Hey!” This was followed by a thumbs-up as they drove past.

Italia spoke very animatedly to Grandma Josie. She explained that it would not be acceptable for the older generation to see me only in shorts once we got to Agropoli. If we were going to the beach they were acceptable. Otherwise it would be best if I wore lightweight cotton slacks or dresses with the longer hemlines that were becoming the rage in Europe.

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