48a-Muro Family Get-together, February 25, 2017 & Thoughts on Memorial Day

Introduction

Michael Muro and I have been in touch since early this year thanks to another cousin and the family history project.  After many emails, we moved on to contact by phone and text messages.  We both have very involved schedules so the logistics for the meet-up took a while to work out.

We decided to meet for lunch on Saturday, February 25th at the Fraunces Tavern, a historic landmark in Lower Manhattan.  The building dates back to the American Revolutionary War and was a meeting place for many of our Founding Fathers.  Today the Tavern offers a delicious pub-style menu along with a diverse selection of brews (beers and stouts) and coffees.  There is also a museum of American Revolutionary War artifacts on the second floor.

It had been a busy week at work and I forgot to take my 35mm camera so I could be guaranteed some clear, memorable photos.  It was then that I also recalled I now had a new Android phone by LG.  I decided to take the photos with the cell phone camera and then work them up in PaintShopPro to create something memorable.

I had not seen Michael in many years.  He attended the wake for Grandma Josie in 1995 but since I was in such shock at the loss of my beloved Gran, nothing from that time is easy to recall.  Michael had such a laugh when I told him that I can recall, as clear as if it was just a few years ago, how we sat together at Grandma Josie and Grandpa Sam’s 50th Wedding Anniversary dinner.  The guy I had been dating at the time had already left and the dinner was not through yet.  My boyfriend-at-the-time had a long drive back home and his departure was understandable.  So there was Michael and I with my Mom and Dad enjoying the atmosphere of Romano’s,  an old school Italian restaurant that was located on 13th Avenue near the corner of 70th Street.

I hope you will enjoy the story these photos tell.  That I have finally gotten around to posting them on Memorial Day Weekend seems just right.  This is more than just a weekend to kick off the start of Summer.  It is a weekend to honor the memory of all who have given themselves in service to our country.  This does not mean we have a blind patriotism nor a hateful scorn of our past.  Instead it means learning from history by taking the events as they actually happened and extracting a meaning from the positive and negative.  History teaches us much if we listen to what she tells us and do so with an open mind.

From Brooklyn, I took the R Local train to Rector Street in Manhattan.  I thought a long walk from that station down to Pearl Street, where Fraunces Tavern is located, would be good.  I worked in the Wall Street area for many years.  I wanted to revisit Trinity Church and Federal Hall before I met Michael and Peter.  As I recall the afternoon, these first two stops added to the meaning the second part of the afternoon had.  This is because as Michael, his cousin Peter and I had enjoyed our time together we celebrated our shared bonds of ancestors from Agropoli and celebrated our heritage as Americans.

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43-Muro Family in America-Nick, Rose and Family 1922-1930

Relationship Notes

Josie Muro was the daughter of Nick and Letizia (nee Scotti)  Muro.  She was:

–Sammy’s Mother
–EmilyAnn’s maternal Grandmother

Elissa Scotti Errico was:

–Letizia’s youngest sister
–Wife of Vincenzo Errico
–Josie’s maternal Aunt

Rosina Aiello Marasco was known as Rose by the family after her immigration to America.  We will use that name in this and future postings.  Nick Muro married Rose about late 1921-early 1922 after the death of his first wife Letizia.

Introduction 

Josie Muro is not recorded as a member of the Muro household in the 1930 Federal Census.  In the late 1920s she went to live in Dyker Heights, Brooklyn, New York and got a full-time job.  Uncle Sammy and I were never sure who Josie stayed with during this time.  We reviewed the earliest photos we have of Josie, as well as the 1930 Federal Census entries for our relatives in Brooklyn.  Through our discussions we were able to create a timeline that helps us narrow in on who Josie stayed with and an estimation of what year she came up to Brooklyn. 

The timeline provides the backdrop which validates two family stories about Josie which I have been told.  The version my Mom told me differs only slightly from the one my Uncle shared with me.  Postings number 43, 44 and 45 will present the story as we go through the timeline.  Preparing this series has helped me finally make sense of both versions of the story.  I’ll wait until posting number 45 to let you know which one I now believe is the correct version. 

The Muro Household 1922-1930:  A growing family 

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Close-up of the 1930 Federal Census entries for the Muro household.

According to the 1930 Federal Census, Nick now owned the building where the family lived.  This was the property Nick received as a settlement after the death of his son Ernest.  The building, which had a store on the ground floor and an apartment above it, was located at 298 State Street.  In 1930 it was valued at $4,000. 

We don’t know what caused the Census Enumerator to list Nick’s wife as Lucy instead of Rose but we’ve entered a correction at Ancestry.  Another error which made it hard to find this record was an error in the data entry to Ancestry’s database.  The surname Muro was misspelled Mino.  Thanks to the help of Ancestry forum participants we finally found the record. 

Between 1923 through 1925, Rose had three children by Nick.  They were: 

Raymond (Raymie), born October 14, 1923
America (Igo), born October 20, 1924
Albino (Beno), born November 26, 1925 

With three children so close in age, Rose needed the help of the oldest daughter in the household.  This is where Josie’s assistance with housework and babysitting were necessary.  By 1930 the family totaled 11 people.  Josie is not one of the household members listed since she was already in Brooklyn by this time.  In addition to Nick and Rose the household in 1930 consisted of: 

Peter 17 yo
Louis 15 yo
Philomena 13 yo
Rosa (Rosie) 10 yo
John 14 yo
Raymond 6 yo
Americo 5 yo
Albino 4 yo

Philip Gimelko, a 31 year old tinsmith, living with the family as a boarder.  

Nick worked as a machinist for Westinghouse Air Brake Company.  Since he was employed full-time we are not sure who was minding his grocery store during the day.  Rose would not have time since there were too many children to care for. 

Josie Muro:  The earliest photos we have

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Josie Muro circa mid-1920s.

Josie wrote the date and location where a photo was taken on the back of many later photos.  She did not do this for the earliest photos which made it hard for me to figure out where they were taken.  I had never seen these photos until my Mom told me about them shortly before she passed away.  At first I did not recognize my Grandmother in many of the earliest photos.  This showed me how narrow my outlook was when it came to the older generations of our family.  I didn’t think about my Grandmother’s life as a young woman.  Yet here she was, smiling and looking at me in what I believe were her late teenage years.  Uncle Sammy and I think this photo was taken while Josie still lived with her parents in Wilmerding.  When we looked at the houses in the background and compared them to photos of Dyker Heights, Brooklyn in the early 1930s most of the homes in Brooklyn were brick and of uniform shape and height.  

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Josie Muro, circa mid-1920s.

We also date this photo to the mid-1920s and think the location looks more like Wilmerding than Dyker Heights.  In the section of Brooklyn where the Muro sisters came to live and settle, each one or two family home had a stoop that was level with the sidewalk.  The steps leading to the front door were usually straight up from the stoop.

Another indication of the time is how understated Josie’s appearance is.  There is no indication of the fashionable woman Josie would be when she posed for a studio portrait in 1929 and also took photos at a location we can identify in Brooklyn.

Josie had an appreciation for fashionable clothes and accessories.  Her favorite designer was Coco Chanel.  She loved perfumes and pearl necklaces.  As I view the photos of 1929 I understand why she did not want to stay in Wilmerding and continue helping Rose with the younger children.  All these things are communicated in the studio portrait which is part of a future discussion and posting.

The next thing we had to clarify was who Josie stayed with when she came to Brooklyn.  This is where her Auntie Elisa Scotti Errico plays an important role.  In our next posting we’ll focus on Elisa and her husband Vincenzo.  They moved from Wilmerding to Brooklyn shortly after Letizia passed away. 

Discussion with Uncle Sammy on Sunday, November 1, 2015

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The corner building became the site of Grandpa Nick’s grocery store and home in the mid-late 1920s, after he fixed up the property.  The store was on the ground floor.  The family lived upstairs.  Photo courtesy Fran Marasco. 

Uncle Sammy and I do not know how Nick got the grocery store up and running during the early years of his marriage to Rose.  He worked full-time in a machine shop at Westinghouse Air Brake Company according to the 1920 and 1930 Federal Census entries.  The reason we ask this question is that we want to create a time-line of developments within the family history.  Since official records cannot always offer all the details we need it becomes necessary to mine the information available through family stories and memories.  While this is not always a sure and certain method, at least we collect what is available and have a starting point for further research and reflection. 

In the late 1940s and through the 1950s, Uncle Sammy spent 4-6 weeks every summer in Wilmerding, Pennsylvania.  He stayed with his Uncle Peter and Aunt Angie.  Peter was his mother’s younger brother.  Uncle Peter and Aunt Angie had three boys:  Nicky, Robert and Petey.  He was closest to Robert and Petey.  Since Nicky was older he had his own friends and went to different places.  Uncle Sammy, Petey and Robert loved to go to the playground up the hill from Nick’s store on State Street. 

Uncle Sammy said that in some years Nick was not working at Westinghouse Air Brake Company.  He’d be at the store full-time.  When Nick and Rose’s daughters Sylvia and Susie were old enough they sometimes helped in the store, too. 

Uncle Peter had his own shoe repair shop downstairs from the home he owned.  He worked there after coming home once his shift at Westinghouse Airbrake Company was completed.  Uncle Peter worked at his shoe repair shop from 3-7 p.m. Monday through Friday.  We think that Nick may have run the grocery store along the same lines.  If so, the store assured Nick of a livelihood during the Great Depression since there were many lay-offs or slowdowns at the plant during those years. 

Resources 

1930 Federal Census for the Muro Family

42c-Muro Family in Wilmerding-Memories of Rose Muro

Introduction

 Uncle Sammy and I thought that we would collect memories and anecdotes about Rose, Nick and their family. We first mined our own memories and then reached out to our relatives. The portraits that emerge sometimes diverge and at other times intersect. Although this posting consists of small, simple details we think it tells us who Rose was, how she handled the responsibility of raising 11 children, and why she was a beloved Grandmother and Great Grandmother to all the Grandchildren and Great Grandchildren. We also see a glimpse into how strong Nick and Rose’s desire was to improve their language skills, knowledge about current events and encouraging their children to get a good education.This posting was finalized in November of 2015.

 

Relationship Notes

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Pedigree chart of Rosina Aiello Marasco Muro.

Rosina Aiello was born on April 24, 1896 in Martirano, Italy to Caterina and Angelo Aiello. She married Ricciotti Marasco in the mid-1910s. Ricciotti and Rosina had one son, John, born in 1916. Ricciotti served in the military for Italy during WWI and died in battle on September 5, 1917. Rosina remained a widow until Nicola Muro went to Italy to propose marriage sometime in early to mid-1921. Nicola’s first wife, Letizia, passed away February of that year leaving behind 5 small children. Rosina and her son John arrived in Wilmerding Pennsylvania in November of 1921. Shortly after that she and Nicola married.

Rosina was called Rose after her arrival in America.

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38a-Muro Family in America: Horses, trolleys, trains and automobiles

Introduction

As the Industrial Revolution progressed, the populations in urban areas swelled leading to congestion. With the increase in people, came an increase in the use and demand for horses. They were needed for personal and business related transportation. At the turn of the 20th century, the horse could no longer serve as the chief method of transportation.

There were many reasons why urban planners in major cities around the world sought for ways to bring order into the streets. First, horses were unpredictable. Even a good rider on horseback or a skilled coachman might not be able to rein in a frightened horse in time. Horses are skittish and any shock can send them out of control. Second, the streets were used by horses and pedestrians at the same time. There was no thought of where children should play or where people should walk. Pedestrians, horse drawn carts and people on horseback all moved around at the same time in the streets. Third, the increase in the amount of horse manure and urine on the city streets had exceeded the ability of cities to clean up fast enough. The results were large open lots where the waste matter was disposed of. This brought flies and disease in its wake. Fourth, horses were expensive to maintain. Business owners who used them for transportation worked them as hard as possible and put them down when they got sick or collapsed.

As the automobile came into usage, people at first considered it a very risky form of transportation. As improvements were made people began to consider it as a preferred alternative to the horse. Unlike the way we view cars as a major source of pollution today, the automobile was considered a cleaner form of transportation than the horse. By 1920 America had begun what is now called “the love affair with the automobile.” Changes in pedestrian behavior were affected by public awareness campaigns and motorist safety courses offered by such automobile clubs as AAA in the early 1920s. People learned that it was better to walk on the pavement and leave the streets to the cars and trolleys that were now dominant forms of transportation in the big cities and medium sized towns.

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37-The Towns of Turtle Creek Valley: Pitcairn

Introduction

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

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Pitcairn Street Scene, circa 1910.
Public Domain. Image courtesy of Monroeville Historical Society.

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 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

Introduction

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 

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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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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.

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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.

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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.