39a-Muro Family in America: Letizia Scotti Muro-The Florence Nightingale of Wilmerding

Introduction

As a little girl my mother, the late Emily Leatrice Serrapede, told me I had two Great-Grandmothers. One was named Letizia. She went to live in Heaven long, long ago. The second was Rose who lived in Wilmerding, PA near Great Uncle Peter. I loved my Grandma Josie as much as I loved my Mom. I want to know about Letizia becase she was Grandma Josie’s mother.

Mom would only tell me that Letizia had a very difficult time with her pregnancies and died at a young age. She left behind five small children who needed a mother and a young husband who needed love and companionship. For this reason, Great Grandfather Nick went back to Italy to propose to Rosina Marasco. Rosina’s husband died in battle during WWI. She had one son. Great Grandmother Rosina took on a great responsibility when she married Great Grandfather Nick. Mom always stressed that point.

When Uncle Sammy and I began our research and discussion sessions for the family history project this was the extent of what we knew about Letizia. As we researched and networked through Ancestry some memories of Letizia were shared with us. They add to the scant information we previously had. 

Grandma Josie shared only one memory of Letizia with me that I have held on to all these years. When I prepared this posting I realized it fits the sketch that has emerged about Letizia based on the memories of others have shared.

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32b-Father’s Day, June 19th, 2016

“The Emigration Scheme” by James Collinson

In honor of the patriarchs of all our direct lines.  In memory and thanksgiving for those who bore the past hardships in Italy.  In memory and thanksgiving for those who had the foresight to bring their families to America so they and their descendants would have a better life.  We dedicate this posting to you all on Father’s Day 2016.

Our Patriarchs

Muro Family
Giuseppe di Giaimo
Francesco di Giaimo
Aniello Scotti
Francesco Scotti
Carmine Scotti
Luigi Serrapede (b. 1800)
Gaetano Ruocco
Nicola Ruocco
Nunziante Muro
Pietro Muro
Nicola “Nick” Muro

Serrapede Family
Alessandro Patella
Antonio Pappalardo
Nicola Pappalardo
Vincenzo Ruocco
Luigi Serrapede (b. bef. 1815)
Sabato Serrapede (1834-1893)
Gennaro Serrapede (b. 1867)
Sabato “Sam” Serrapede (1900-2002)

———–

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30b-Muro Family in Agropoli-The house where Josie was born

Left to right:  Cousin Italia, Grandpa Sam and Grandma Josie in front of the house in Agropoli, July 1976.  The man in the back might be Grandpa Sam’s younger brother Luigi.

Old Town of Agropoli, July 1976

When I was in Agropoli with Grandma Josie and Grandpa Sam, I let my mind wander whenever the conversations changed from English and went back into the dialect they knew so well.  Even though I had 3 years of Italian language classes in Junior High School I could never make out what my Grandparents were saying.  Pronunciation between their dialect and the Italian I learned in school differed greatly.  In class I learned to pronounce “the school” as “la scuola” (la skwola).  Grandpa Sam pronounced it  differently so that it sounded like “la schkwolla”.  When I tried out that kind of pronunciation in class my Junior High School teacher was quick to say, “Stop speaking that dialect.”  It was that kind of an attitude that discouraged me from taking the Italian language classes seriously when I was in High School even though the teachers were much better.  By the time I got to Italy I depended on my Grandmother to translate everything.

View from the home where Nicola, Letizia and Josie lived in the Old Town of Agropoli.

When we went to visit the house where Grandma Josie was born I took note that my Great Grandmother Letizia loved living there.  I was showed the room with her favorite view.  It was stunning.  Below was the view of a castle tower and outwards stretched the sea.

There was a story as to why there were no stairs going up to the white door with the little window but I never asked my Grandmother to repeat it to me.  It was one of the many details I thought I’d ask about later but then I forgot.  WhatI can remember is that after we came out of the cool interior of the house, the day was even brighter and hotter than before.  We spent some time with Grandpa Sam’s niece-by-marriage Carmela Serrapede.  She lived in the house nearby, to the right of where Grandma Josie is standing in the photo.  There was a lemon tree in the yard there.  The lemons were as large and juicy as oranges.  Carmela generously sprinkled sugar on some cold lemons from her refrigerator and to my surprise they were very tasty.

I wondered what Letizia thought of the smoke stacks, railroad tracks and green mountains of Wilmerding after coming to the United States.  None of those views would equal the beauty of the view from her house in Agropoli.  I think the security of Nick having steady employment, good food, health care and an 8 year public school education for the children  may have been the better part of Letizia’s new life in America.

 

30b-Muro Family-Letizia and Giuseppa leave for America

Acknowledgement

We have used the charts of descent for the Muro and Comite families as the basis of this week’s posting. This data is available at Imagines Maiorum-Ancestors from Campania, a site where genealogist Anthony Vermandois presents vital statistics and marriage banns for families in Agropoli and other nearby towns.

We have also used the passenger list of the SS Canada for Letizia Muro’s voyage to New York. Please see the Resources section for link.

Muro family link: http://www.imaginesmaiorum.net/surname.cfm?id=368

Comite family link: http://www.imaginesmaiorum.net/surname.cfm?id=559

Relationship Notes

Letizia Scotti Muro was:

  • Sammy’s Maternal Grandmother
  • EmilyAnn’s Great-Grandmother along her maternal line.

Giuseppa grew up to become:

  • Sammy’s Mom
  • EmilyAnn’s maternal Grandmother

Nicola and Letizia Marriage

Nicola and Letizia were married on January 9, 1909 in Agropoli. Anthony Vermandois lists a voyage that Nicola made to America in 1909 but so far we cannot locate such documentation.

Birth of Giuseppa (Josie)

Nicola and Letizia’s first child, a girl, was born on November 1, 1909. They named her Giuseppa, in honor of Nicola’s mother, Giuseppa Ruocco Muro.  In America Giuseppa was known as Josie.  Only her younger sister Philomena called her Giuseppina.

Departing Agropoli, Arriving in America

Letizia arrived in New York City with Giuseppa (Josie) on August 13, 1912. They left Naples on July 30th, 1912.

The page on which Letizia and Giuseppa are listed contains only one other passenger who was also from Agropoli. His name was Giuseppe Comite.  At first it was easy to think he had no connection with Letizia.  The Comite surname was not familiar and had not come up in previous research sessions.  We then had to recall the customs and attitudes the first generation of immigrants had concerning women and the code of honor they lived by in matters of women and family.  With this in mind we think that Giuseppe was a travel companion to Letizia since at that time a woman with a 3 year old child would not be permitted to travel so far on her own.  It was a matter of honor that a woman be chaperoned, if not by her parents, then by a brother or a male relative to protect her.

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28a-Nicola Muro-From Agropoli to Wilmerding PA 1906

Acknowledgements

The genealogical charts of descent for the Muro family created by Anthony Vermandois were used at the beginning  of our search for immigration data on Nicola Muro. The Muro, Scotti and Rizzo  family charts are available for viewing at Anthony’s website ImaginesMaiorum-Ancestors from Campania.  Please click on the links below each surname to go to the respective charts.

Muro

http://www.imaginesmaiorum.net/surname.cfm?id=368

Scotti

http://www.imaginesmaiorum.net/surname.cfm?id=229

Rizzo Part A

http://www.imaginesmaiorum.net/surname.cfm?id=425

Rizzo Part B

http://www.imaginesmaiorum.net/surname.cfm?id=426

The other material used for this posting is credited in the Resources section.

Relationship Notes

Pedigree chart for Nicola Muro.

In this posting we examine the nature of the relationships between Nicola and his travelling companion when he came to America in 1906. Nicola was the son of Pietro and Giuseppa (nee Ruocco) di Muro.

Nicola was:

  • Sammy’s maternal Grandfather
  • EmilyAnn’s Great Grandfather

Pedigree chart for Mariano Scotti.

Mariano Scotti was:

  • Sammy’s Great Uncle
  • EmilyAnn’s Second Great Uncle

by his marriage to Rosa di Muro. The marriage record lists Rosa’s surname as di Muro instead of Muro.  Rosa was Nicola’s sister.

Mariano and Nicola became brother-in-laws by marrying each other’s sisters as follows:

  • Nicola Muro married Letizia Scotti on January 9, 1909.
  • Mariano Scotti married Rosa di Muro on April 1, 1911.

What’s with the name: Muro or di Muro?

As of June 6, 2015 further review of Anthony’s charts of descent reveal that the family name appeared as either Muro or di Muro on documents in Agropoli.

Nicola’s surname appears as Muro on the passenger lists and vital records here in the U.S. Anthony Vermandois has entered the surname as di Muro in Agropoli depending on which documents he is using.  The surname Muro also appears in Agropoli.  We have decided to keep the names as they appear on the existing records available to us.  This means that since Rosa appears only as Rosa di Muro, daughter of Nicola and Giuseppa di Muro,  we shall leave her name this way.

Travelling Companions: Future family members and paesanos

Among the data Anthony Vermandois has compiled on Nicola, he includes immigration information for a trip to the United States that Nicola made in 1909. Nicola immigrated on September 17, 1909 aboard the Cretic, a White Star Line ship.  He sailed from Naples and arrived in New York.  I searched many times at Ancestry but was unable to retrieve the passenger list for this voyage.

A passenger list for an earlier trip came back in the results so we will begin our review with the trip Nicola made in 1906. This trip was also made on the Cretic.  Nicola left Naples on June 2nd and arrived in New York on June 15, 1906.

Nicola was passenger number 22. He was travelling with his future brother-in-law Mariano Scotti who is entered as passenger number 23

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21a-Scotti Family in Agropoli: Carmine and Maria Giovanna, Years of Hardship, Years of Good-byes

Acknowledgement

Anthony Vermandois’ research on the families of Agropoli provides the basis of this exploration into our ancestors. He has compiled vital statistics of many families from Agropoli and the nearby towns which are available at his site, Imagines Maiorum-Ancestors from Campania.

Readings from other sources were also used in the preparation of this posting. A list of the titles and URLs is provided at the end.

Relationship Notes

This posting highlights events during the lifetimes of:

Maria Giovanna di Giaimo
-born in Agropoli, 1845
-died Jan. 7, 1915 Agropoli

and

Carmine Scotti
-born in Agropoli, 1846
-no date of death available yet

Carmine and Maria Giovanna (nee di Giamo) Scotti were:
–Sammy’s maternal Great Grandparents
–EmilyAnn’s maternal 2nd Great Grandparents

 

The Fisherman and his family: A Bittersweet Life

“A Neopolitan Fisherman” by Dominique-Louis-Fereol Papety.

Today we often see the phrase “Bella Italia” describing the natural and cultural beauties of the country. Artists of the past such as Dominique-Louis-Fereol Papety were inspired to leave their home countries to live in Italy.  Papety’s painting “A Neopolitan Fisherman” depicts a muscular, barefoot man dressed in the attire of a Neopolitan fisherman playing his mandolin on the beach while a woman with gold earrings and colorful headscarf looks on.  When I first saw this painting I thought it was too romantic to convey any truth about what life was like during the time Carmine and Maria Giovanna lived.  Having looked at the painting each day for the past two weeks I can now say it conveys a message.

The message speaks of a bittersweet life. It is a life filled with the rough beauty of nature.  The lives of those living amidst this nature are held captive by its unpredictability.  The fisherman and the peasant woman have a look of care and concern on their faces even though the moment when they hear the music gives them a chance to pause from their labors.  The rocks that dominate the foreground of the painting speak of a hard life.  No soft meadows or flowers adorn the landscape.  The sky is filled with many clouds.  The sun might or might not break through.

As a fisherman, Carmine depended on good weather and favorable conditions to yield the bounties of the sea when he spread the nets to make a catch. The families of Agropoli could also grow figs, olives or other fruits and vegetables if they had a even a small patch of land or a garden as a means to supplement their diet.  Even then nature held the upper hand and could provide abundance or devastation depending on forces that were out of a person’s control.

Maria and Carmine came of age during a period of great change as Italy united into one kingdom. Despite the natural beauty of their environment and the unification of the country the impression we have received is that very little change came into the lives of the poor in Southern Italy to make life better, easier or more hopeful for the future.

After the unification of Italy in 1861, Southern Italians now paid higher taxes to the northern part of the country rather than to local overlords. The new parliament located in Turin, in Northern Italy, had no interest or connection to the hardships of the Southern Italians.  Equally distant, the Southern Italians did not grasp the concept of a unified country having only the understanding of loyalty to their townsmen and locality.

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20-Scotti Family in Agropoli: Carmine and Maria Giovanna

Acknowledgement

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.

For this week’s posting we’ve used the charts of descent for the Scotti and di Giaimo families.

Relationship Notes

Carmine Scotti was the son of Francesco and Rosolia (nee Patella) Scotti.

He was:
–Uncle Sammy’s Great Grandfather
–EmilyAnn’s 2nd Great Grandfather

Introduction

Carmine’s Grandfather, Aniello Scotti and his Uncle Giuseppe Scotti, cousin Fillipo Scotti, and father Francesco Scotti are described as “possidente” when their occupation is listed in the records Anthony Vermandois has researched.  “Possidente” in the 19th century Italy could have meant the owner of land, owner of a building or buildings or both.

Some development changed the family situation so that Carmine and his brother did not continue in the profession of their father.  He and his brother became fishermen.  Uncle Sammy and I considered various scenarios in a previous posting that might have led to this change.

On May 27th, 1869 Carmine married Maria Giovanna di Giaimo of Agropoli.  The di Giaimo family appears only once in relation to the other families in our bloodline.  The di Giaimo family members do not appear as travelling companions of our ancestors when we review ship passenger lists.  They also did not marry into the extended families of our bloodline.  Nor were there any friendships between the di Giaimo family and the Muro, Serrapede or Scotti family members in the U.S. that we know of.  In an effort to get to know Maria Giovanna better, my Uncle and I reviewed her entire pedigree chart based on Anthony Vermandois’ research.  The following exercise we did made the family more familiar to us.

The di Giaimo Family Line

We are numbering the generations to make identifying them easier in the pedigree chart.

1.  The earliest ancestor Anthony has located is Giuseppe di Giaimo, born before 1790.  He married Maddalena Montone.  Their children were:

—Francesco b.1806
—-Antonia b.1807
—-Costabile b.1813

Maddalena does not appear as a daughter amongst the Montone families Anthony has researched so far so at this point her lineage is not known to us.

Giuseppe’s profession was “bracciante” which translates as laborer.

2.  Giuseppe and Maddalena’s oldest son Francesco is our direct line ancestor.  Francesco’s profession is listed as “colono” which translates as “settler” or “tenant”.  At Dictionary Reverso, this word is given as a synonym for “contadino” which means tenant farmer. Francesco married Irene Guzzi and became the father of:

—-Giuseppe b.1830,
—-Maddalena b.1840
—-Giovanna b.1845 (a/k/a Maria Giovanna)

At this time, there is no information available about Irene and the Guzzi family.

3. Francesco and Irene’s daughter Giovanna became the wife of Carmine Scotti.  In Anthony’s entry for the marriage her name was now known as Maria Giovanna.

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