We acknowledge and thank genealogist Anthony Vermandois for the work he has done researching the families of Agropoli and other towns in Campania, Italy. The information he has gathered is presented through charts of descent at Imagines Maiorum. To access the particular charts for the families featured in posting 46c parts 1-3, click on the surnames that follow. A new screen will open and navigate to the page for that surname at Anthony’s site.
Filomena Serrapede was the eldest sister of Sabato Serrapede who was Sammy’s father and EmilyAnn’s maternal Grandfather. She married Giuseppe D’Agosto in 1923.
This made Filomena and Giuseppe D’Agosto:
–Sammy’s paternal Aunt and Uncle
–EmilyAnn’s Great Aunt and Uncle along her maternal line.
During our initial research about Giuseppe D’Agosto, we learned that his mother was Raffaela Carnicelli. Uncle Sammy mentioned that as he was growing up the Carnicelli family who lived on 65th Street were paesanos of our family. Since many first generation families from Agropoli settled close to each other in Brooklyn, he wondered if they were our relatives. In particular, Uncle Sammy remembered a Julia Carnicelli who he thought lived in a multi-family dwelling where the other Carnicelli paesanos lived.
This set me on a search for Julia that was almost like following a fairy as she flew here and there leading me through the garden as I gathered flowers. Only I was actually gathering data that came together to tell a story not only about Julia, but her husband, brother-in-law and Giuseppe D’Agosto. The story is in the details and there are many. To avoid overwhelming the reader we have broken the posting into three parts. Part 1 will focus on Giuseppe D’Agosto and how he was related to Joseph and Anthony Carnicelli. We will also learn about Giuseppe’s life after his marriage in 1923 to Filomena Serrapede.
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.
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.
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
Greetings to all readers and subscribers of “Through the Byzantine Gate”. After a long, hot summer it’s good that Autumn is here. We’ve resumed our weekly research and discussion sessions. There will be many, many more chapters to the Muro and Serrapede family history forthcoming.
To accommodate our work and travel schedules the frequency of posting will change. We’re moving to a twice monthly posting rather than a weekly posting. This provides more time to proofread and tweak the drafts created in the past. My Uncle and I are roughly 6 months ahead in our progress.
As we near the 1940s, the availability of Federal Census records ends. With the end of available census records a change in our approach is needed. The question under consideration is how to move the narrative forward and keep our readers engaged. We intend to continue looking at the story from the family perspective as well as the bigger picture. It is our purpose to always provide a take-away for the reader.
“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.
Giuseppe di Giaimo
Francesco di Giaimo
Luigi Serrapede (b. 1800)
Nicola “Nick” Muro
Luigi Serrapede (b. bef. 1815)
Sabato Serrapede (1834-1893)
Gennaro Serrapede (b. 1867)
Sabato “Sam” Serrapede (1900-2002)
Route from Gaeta to Rome.
Our Vacation in Italy 1976: Remembering our last day in Rome
It was a hot day when we left Gaeta for the two hour drive back to Rome. At night we enjoyed the coolness of Italia and Antonio’s apartment, sleeping very well. The next morning it felt as if New York City had already rung the doorbell and entered the room, ready to claim her residents and bring them back home. Breakfast was a hurried affair as was getting dressed and doing our last minute packing.
I looked out the window and considered the bird bath in the garden of the apartment building where Italia and Antonio lived in Rome. There weren’t any birds playing in the water. The scene was so still in the bright summer sun.
I thought about Dyker Heights back in Brooklyn. In eight weeks Autumn would begin. The oak trees would change color as the season progressed. The sparrows would still be twittering each morning and I’d awaken to hear the leaves rustle if the wind was blowing. Thoughts of home began to tug at my heart again. I felt the desire for a donut and cup of coffee from Chock Full o’Nuts on Fifth Avenue in Bay Ridge. I wanted to kick-off my new wedgies and put my flats on and walk up to Woolworths’s on 86th Street. As I packed my clothes and souvenirs for the family I started going over all the memories of the past three weeks. During the years I took care of my Mom as the Parkinsonism she suffered with advanced, I often remembered these days in Italy. In quiet times from 2002 through 2007, I looked at the photos so I could touch these places in spirit. I never thought that they would help me connect our ancestral past and the present. That has happened now that Uncle Sammy and I are working on our project for the Muro and Serrapede Family History.
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.