Sunday
Nov162008

Abruzzo »

As many of you probably know, I have been actively researching my father's family history for the past few years. When I started the project in 2004, I was particularly interested in learning more about my great grandfather, Vincenzo Cervone.  At that time, the only thing that was known about Vincenzo was his approximate year of death (based on the age of my grandfather when he died), and that he was survived by his wife, Condelia, and five children: Antonia, Gaetano, and Raphael, Casimero and Bonny. It was not known, however, how old he was at his death or where he was buried. More vexing yet, no one knew Vincenzo's place of birth.

Luckily for me, information about Vincenzo's children was easier to come by and provided valuable information about the family's history.  This was especially the case for Raphael, who immigrated to New York with his mother in 1906 at the age of eleven. Early in my research, I found a copy of Raphael' s WWI Draft Registration Card, which indicated that he was born in San Salvo, Italy on August 11, 1894.  Armed with this information, I eventaully located records at the (Morman) Family History Library in Salt Lake City, which confirmed that Condelia and Vincenzo where married in San Salvo in 1884.  The couple had six children while living there -- three of whom died in infancy.  The marriage and birth records also confirmed that Condelia was born in San Salvo and Vincent was born in a small town approximately 67 miles inland called Serramonacesca.

It turns out that San Salvo and Serramonacesca are both located in the Abruzzo Region of Italy, approximately 50 miles due east of Rome. I now know that between 1810 and 1871, my great great great grandfather, Dominico, and my great great grandfather, Gaetano, lived in Serramonacesca with their families. (If you look at the map above, you will see that Serramonacesca is located at the northern tip of the Majella National Park, just to the east of Mannopella.)  Some time between 1871 and 1875, Gaetano Cervone's family immigrated to San Salvo, on the Adriatic Coast just east of Vasto.  It was from here that three of his children (Vincenzo, Cesidia and Dominico) immigrated to New York with their families around the turn of the century. Approximately 25 miles to the south of Serramonacesca is the cityof Popoli. My great great grandparents, Pietro Caffarelli and Lucia Bucci, and their three married children (Lucia Carozzo, Prudenza Picozzi and Giuseppe Cafarelli) immigrated from here around the turn of the century. Approximately 12 miles to the south of Popoli is the city of Sulmona. My great grandfather Angelo Carrozzo was born here in 1871.

My entire family (with the exception of Dominico Cervone) eventually settled in the town of Greenport on Eastern Long Island. I will never really know what brought them east, but one thing is for sure:  Abruzzo was the starting point for many Italian Families who settled in Greenport. And if nothing else, the abundant farm land and the access to the sea must have made them feel oddly at home.

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