Entries in Cervone (6)


Anna Quintilia D'Orazio Cervone

Anna Quintilia D'Orazio CervoneMy great grandmother Anna Quintilia D'Orazio Cervone (aka Condelia) was born in San Salvo on April 7, 1866 to Graziano Stanisloa Luigi D'Orazio and Maria Loreto

Condelia had three half siblings from her father's first marriage to Audrie Sorge. Graziano married Audrie in San Salvo on the 26th of January 1854, but was widowed eight years later (April 1862) when Audrie died at the age of 29. Audrie and Graziano had 3 children during their marriage, two of whom died in infancy:

  1. Anna D'Orazio, b. 1854, San Salvo, Chieti, Abruzzo, Italy; d. 03 Dec 1854, San Salvo, Chieti, Abruzzo, Italy
  2. Giacoma D'Orazio, b. Abt. 1857, San Salvo, Chieti, Abruzzo, Italy; d. 1886, San Salvo, Chieti, Abruzzo, Italy
  3. Michele D'Orazio, b. 29 Sep 1860, San Salvo, Chieti, Abruzzo, Italy; d. 01 Oct 1860, San Salvo, Chieti, Abruzzo, Italy

Graziano married Maria approximately one year later in San Salvo on March 26, 1863. The couple had seven children together, (at least) three of whom survived to adulthood:

  1. Gaetano D'Orazio, b. 20 May 1864, San Salvo, Chieti, Abruzzo, Italy; d. unknown
  2. Anna Quintilia D'Orazio, b. 07 Apr 1866, San Salvo, Chieti, Abruzzo, Italy; m. Vincenzo Cervone, 14 Sep 1884, San Salvo, Chieti, Abruzzo, Italy; d. 02 Apr 1946, Greenport, Suffolk, New York, USA
  3. Antonia D'Orazio, b. 01 Jan 1868, San Salvo, Chieti, Abruzzo, Italy; d. 25 Jul 1868, San Salvo, Chieti, Abruzzo, Italy
  4. Michele D'Orazio, b. 09 Feb 1870, San Salvo, Chieti, Abruzzo, Italy; d. 09 Jul 1871, San Salvo, Chieti, Abruzzo, Italy
  5. Anna Saveria D'Orazio, b. 21 Sep 1871, San Salvo, Chieti, Abruzzo, Italy; m. Luigi di Nizio 23 Nov 1889, San Salvo, Chieti, Abruzzo, Italy; d. unknown
  6. Michele D'Orazio, b. 07 Mar 1873, San Salvo, Chieti, Abruzzo, Italy; d. 02 Nov 1873, San Salvo, Chieti, Abruzzo, Italy
  7. Berinice D'Orazio, b. 26 Mar 1875, San Salvo, Chieti, Abruzzo, Italy; m. Giacinto Bracciale, 25 Aug 1895, San Salvo, Chieti, Abruzzo, Italy; d. unknown


Birth Certificate for Anna Quintilia D'Orazio

To the left is a photograph of Condelia's birth certificate from San Salvo. (Click on the image to enlarge)  It is in Italian (of course!), but please see below for a partial translation:

 L'anno mille ottocento sessantasei nel giorno nove del mese di Aprile =The year 1866, the nineth day of April

Giuseppe Ciavatta Sindaco ed uffiziale della Stata Civile del questa Comune di San Salvo, Circondario di Vasto, Provincia di Chieti e comparso = Giuseppe Ciavatta, Mayor, an official of the civil registration of the Comune of San Salvo, District of Vasto, Provence of Chieti presents

Graziano d'Orazio, di Giacoma, di anni trentasei, di professione calzolaio, domicilaiato in San Salvo strada del Vasto, il quale ci ha presentato una bambina = Graziano d'Orazio, son of Giacoma, age 36, shoemaker by profession, living in San Salvo on Vasto Street, who presented to us a female baby

ed ha dichiarato che lo stesso e nato nel giorno sette del volgente Aprile alle ore cinque = and he declared that same was born on the seventh day of April of the current year at the hour of five

moglie Maria Loreto di Raffaele, di professione filatrice =  (of) mother Maria Loreto, daughter of Raffaele, (who is a ) spinner by profession

dichiarato di dare il nome di Anna Quintilia = (The same) declared to give (his daughter) the name of Anna Quintilia

The presentation of the child was made in the presence of two witnesses:

Michele Viedi (?) fu Nicola, di anni quarantasei, di professione contadino = Michele Viedi, son of the deceased Nicola, age 46, peasant by profession

e Giuseppe Torino fu Nicola, di anni ventiquattro, di professione contadino, domiciliati in questa comune = and Giuseppe Torino, son of the deceased Nicola, age 24, peasant by profession, (both of whom) live in this town


Marriage Certificate for Vincenzo Cervone and Anna Quintilia D'Orazio Condelia married Vincenzo in San Salvo on September 14, 1884. To the right is a copy of their marriage certificate. (Click on the imagine to enlarge).  Below is a partial translation of the document:

ATTI DI MATRIMONIO = Act of Marriage, or Marriage Document

L'anno milleottocentottanta quattro, addi quattordici di Settembre =  The year 1884, on the day fourteen, of the month September

nella Casa Comunale di San Salvo, aperta al pubblico = in the city hall of San Salvo, open to the public

Avanti di me Livino (?) Cavatta, Sindaco, Uffiziale dello Stato Civile, vestito in froma ufficiale, son personalmente comparsi= Before me Livino Cavatta, Mayor, an official of the civil registration, officially and personally appeared:

1. Vincenzo Cervone, di anni venticinque, contadino, nato in Serramonacesca, residente in San Salvo, figlio del fu Gaetano, residente in Serramonacesca e della fu Teresa Michitti, residente in San Salvo= Vincenzo Cervone, age 25, peasant by profession, born in Serramonacesca, living in San Salvo, son of the deceased Gaetano, who resided in Serramonacesca and the deceased Teresa Michitti, who resided in San Salvo

2. Anna Quintilia d'Orazio, di anni diciotto, contadina, nata in San Salvo, residente in San Salvo, figlia del fu Graziano, residente in San Salvo e di Maria Loreto, residente in San Salvo= Anna Quintilia d'Orazio, age 18, born in San Salvo, living in San Salvo, daughter of the deceased Graziano, who resided in San Salvo and Maria Loreto, who resides in San Salvo

i quali me hanno rechiesto di unirli in matrimonio = who made a request of me to unite them in marriage


Condelia and Vincenzo had six children in San Salvo (three of whom survived to adulthood) and two children in Greenport: 

  1. Teresa Cervone, b. 13 Jan 1885, San Salvo, Chieti, Abruzzo, Italy; d. 21 May 1885, San Salvo, Chieti, Abruzzo, Italy
  2. Gaetano Cervone, b. 08 Feb 1886, San Salvo, Chieti, Abruzzo, Italy; d. 02 Jan 1887, San Salvo, Chieti, Abruzzo, Italy
  3. Antonia Cervone, b. 19 Nov 1887, San Salvo, Chieti, Abruzzo, Italy; m. Antonio Nanni, San Salvo, Chieti, Abruzzo, Italy; d. 13 Jul 1982, Sag Harbor, Suffolk, New York, USA
  4. Gaetano Cervone (aka Harry Loreto), b. 02 Feb 1890, San Salvo, Chieti, Abruzzo, Italy; m. Ethel B, Sep 1926, place unknown; d. 01 May 1959, Sag Harbor, Suffolk, New York, USA
  5. Lucia Cervone, b. 17 Jan 1892, San Salvo, Chieti, Abruzzo, Italy; d. 13 Sep 1892, San Salvo, Chieti, Abruzzo, Italy
  6. Raphael Cervone, b. 11 Aug 1894, San Salvo, Chieti, Abruzzo, Italy; m. Felixa Binkowsky, 15 Feb 1920, Shelter Island, Suffolk, New York, USA; d. 29 Jun 1965, Suffolk, New York, USA
  7. Casmiro R Cervone, b. 04 Mar 1907, Greenport, Suffolk, New York, USA; m. Rose J Cervone 14 Nov 1926, Greenport, Suffolk, New York, USA; d. 14 Mar 1963, Greenport, Suffolk, New York, USA
  8. Frances Cervone, b. 04 Jul 1908; Greenport, Suffolk, New York, USA; m. Louis R Reiter 1 Nov 1924, Greenport, Suffolk, New York, USA; m. Otto Sinramm unknown date, Suffolk, New York, USA; d. 13 Oct 1990, Cedarhurst, Suffolk, New York, USA


Over a 15 year period, Condelia, Vincenzo, Antonia, Gaetano, and Raphael all immigrated to New York from San Salvo. Vincenzo was the first to immigrate, probably around 1894. (This appears to be the date of immigration listed on the 1910 census, which I found online. Unfortunately, the online copy is very poor quality, so I will need to go to the NY District Branch of the  National Archives to examine their copy on microfilm.)  Even without official documentation, it is reasonable to assume that Vincenzo immigrated around this time, as the couple had their last child in Italy in 1894. Condelia had my grandfather, Casimero, approximately 15 months after arriving in the US.

Gaetano immigrated to New York from Naples on June 10, 1903, aboard the SS Nord America. He was accompanied by his paternal aunt, Cesidia Cervone Loreto. Gaetano and Cesidia arrived at Ellis Island on June 24, 1903 and were detained until June 25th at 10 AM, when Cesidia's husband (Casimero Loreto) came to collect them. (About 20 percent of immigrants were detained at Ellis Island, mostly due to health and legal reasons.  In addition, unescorted women and children were detained until their safety was assured through the arrival of a telegram, letter, or a pre-paid ticket from a waiting relative. Most were not kept more than five days, and were housed in a dormitory on site. Woman were only released to a male relative.)  On the manifest, it indicated that Gaetano was going to his father, Vincenzo Cervone -- 78 Mulberry Street. Casimero was living in Greenport at that point, but it is unclear if Vincenzo was still living in Little Italy or if he too had moved to Eastern Long Island (in other words, they had an old address).

Condelia and Raphael left Naples on December 31, 1906 aboard the SS Brasile  --  103 years ago today. On the ship's manifest, it indicated that their passages where paid for by Vincenzo. Condelia and Raphael arrived at the Port of New York (Ellis Island) on January 14, 1906. They were detained until 4:30 PM on January 15, 1906, when Gaetano came to get them. At this point, both Gaetano and Vincenzo were living in Greenport.

Interestingly, Condelia indicated at departure that she was in possession of $10.  This sum was subsequently crossed out when she arrived at Ellis Island, and simply replaced with a zero.   Basically, Condelia arrived in New York with the clothes on her back and a little boy in toe.

Antonia, her husband (Antonio Nanni) and her three year old son (Vitale Nanni) were the last family members to immigrate to New York. They left Naples on February 12, 1909 aboard the SS Prinzess Irene.  They indicated that their passage was paid for by Antonia's uncle, Casimero Loreto, and that they were in possession of $20. The family arrived in Ellis Island on February 27, 1909 and interestingly, they were also detained.  The reason for detension was listed as "too late". They were "released to destination" the following morning at 10 AM. Their final destination was "Uncle Casimero Loreto, Greenport NY".

As I noted above, Condelia had my grandfather Casimero on March 4, 1907 in Greenport, approximately 15 months after she arrived in the US.  Frances was born exactly sixteen months later on July 4, 1907. According to the census, Vincenzo, Condelia, Raphael, Casimero and Fanny were living on Fifth Street in Greenport in 1910. Vincenzo was not working at that point, most likely due to failing health (see below). Condelia's occupation was listed as a "laundress", who worked in the home. Rapheal was working as a laborer at the (Sage's) Brick Yard.

On November 5, 1911, Condelia became a widow when Vincenzo died at the age of fifty from Emphysema.  She was fourty five years old. 

I was told by more than one relative that Vincenzo was buried in a "pauper's cemetary".  I took this at face value initially.  But after I received a copy of his death certificate from New York State, I realized that this was actually family lore.  Vincenzo was (in fact) buried in St. Agnes Cemetery in Greenport on November 6, 1911.  The undertaker was S B Horton.  I am not sure how she did it, but Condelia scraped together enough money to give her husband a proper burial.

According to the census, Condelia was living in the "rear" of 516 Fifth Street with Raphael (25 years), Casimero (12 years) and Philnino (11 years) in 1920. Her occupation was still listed as a "laundress" in the home; Raphael was working as an "oyster opener" in a shop.  Harry Loreto (aka Gaetano Cervone) was living a few doors down at 449 Fifth Street with Nan Johnson, a single Black woman who was listed as a "servant" (more on this at another time).  Harry's occupation was listed as a "laborer on oyster boat".

In 1930, Condelia was living at 451 Sixth Street.  Her rented home was between Wiggins Street and Flint Street, just before the railroad tracks heading south. By than, she was technically retired; Raphael was working as a "oyster opener" at the Oyster House. On the other side of the tracks (no pun intended), Angelo Corazzo, Louisa, Angelo B were living at 414 Sixth Street.  Casimero Cervone, Rose and Cecila were also living at this address. Tony Nanni and Antionet were living at 428 Sixth Street.

In all, Condelia lived in Greenport for 40 years. During this time, she married off four children and lived to see the birth of 8 healthy Italian American Grandchildren (Cecilia Cervone 1927, Theresa Cervone 1930, Robert Loreto 1931, Vincent Cervone 1934, Ralph Cervone 1936, David Cervone 1942, Otto Sinramm 1942 and his older sister; Vitale Nanni was born in San Salvo in 1906).  She died on April 2, 1946, 5 days before her 80th birthday.

I have not gotten around to ordering Condelia's death certificate from New York State (Cervone, Cornelia A; Greenport; 84 y; Certificate # 25716), so I am not clear what her official cause of death was.  According to my Aunt Ceil, she died in her home of a stroke.  She was also laid out at home "in a room full of gardenias". She is buried in St. Agnes Cemetery.  It is extremely difficult to find her plot in the cemetery, as she does not have a proper headstone. She has a marker, which is flush to the ground, that says "Cornelia Cervone 1861-1946".





78 Mulberry Street 

My great grandfather, Vincenzo Cervone, came to the US in 1896, leaving my great grandmother and 3 small children behind in Italy.  His eldest son, Gaetano, came to New York in 1903 accompanied by Cesidia Cervone Loreto, my great grandfather's sister.  In his pocket, Gaetano had the only address I have found for Vincenzo prior to 1906: 78 Mulberry Street

If you put 78 Mulbery Street into Google Maps, you are directed to a location on Mulberry Street between Canal and Bayard in lower Manhatten.  If you then switch to the street view, you will see a tenement in Chinatown which corresponds to this address. But in 1903, 78 Mulberry Street was located in Little Italy, just steps away from the infamous Mulberry Bend.

Jacob RiisGoogle Maps and street view were obviously not around in 1903, but luckily, the area was methodically photographed by Jacob Riis.

For those of you unfamiliar with Riis, he was a police reporter (turned photographer, turned social reformer) who worked for the New York Tribune and the Associated Press Bureau starting in 1877.  During his tenure as a police reporter, he worked out of a police precinct located on Mulberry Street. As a result, his portfolio contains many photographs of Little Italy taken around the turn of the last century.  His book, How the other Half Lives, rounds out the picture with (often disturbing and racially tinged) descriptions of life in and around Mulberry Bend.



How the Other Half Lived was orignally published in 1890. It contained an entire chapter on The Bend, which included the picture above.  Riis opened the chapter by saying:

"WHERE Mulberry Street crooks like an elbow within hail of the old depravity of the Five Points, is “the Bend,” foul core of New York’s slums. Long years ago the cows coming home from the pasture trod a path over this hill. Echoes of tinkling bells linger there still, but they do not call up memories of green meadows and summer fields; they proclaim the home-coming of the rag-picker’s cart. In the memory of man the old cow-path has never been other than a vast human pig-sty. There is but one “Bend” in the world, and it is enough. The city authorities, moved by the angry protests of ten years of sanitary reform effort, have decided that it is too much and must come down. Another Paradise Park will take its place and let in sunlight and air to work such transformation as at the Five Points, around the corner of the next block. Never was change more urgently needed. Around “the Bend” cluster the bulk of the tenements that are stamped as altogether bad, even by the optimists of the Health Department."

He goes on to the describe The Bend by saying:

"Bayard Street is the high road to Jewtown across the Bowery, picketed from end to end with the outposts of Israel. Hebrew faces, Hebrew signs, and incessant chatter in the queer lingo that passes for Hebrew on the East Side attend the curious wanderer to the very corner of Mulberry Street. But the moment he turns the corner the scene changes abruptly. Before him lies spread out what might better be the market-place in some town in Southern Italy than a street in New York—all but the houses; they are still the same old tenements of the unromantic type. But for once they do not make the foreground in a slum picture from the American metropolis. The interest centres not in them, but in the crowd they shelter only when the street is not preferable, and that with the Italian is only when it rains or he is sick. When the sun shines the entire population seeks the street, carrying on its household work, its bargaining, its love-making on street or sidewalk, or idling there when it has nothing better to do, with the reverse of the impulse that makes the Polish Jew coop himself up in his den with the thermometer at stewing heat. Along the curb women sit in rows, young and old alike with the odd head-covering, pad or turban, that is their badge of servitude—her’s to bear the burden as long as she lives—haggling over baskets of frowsy weeds, some sort of salad probably, stale tomatoes, and oranges not above suspicion. Ashbarrels serve them as counters, and not infrequently does the arrival of the official cart en route for the dump cause a temporary suspension of trade until the barrels have been emptied and restored. Hucksters and pedlars’ carts make two rows of booths in the street itself, and along the houses is still another—a perpetual market doing a very lively trade in its own queer staples, found nowhere on American ground save in “the Bend.” Two old hags, camping on the pavement, are dispensing stale bread, baked not in loaves, but in the shape of big wreaths like exaggerated crullers, out of bags of dirty bed-tick. There is no use disguising the fact: they look like and they probably are old mattresses mustered into service under the pressure of a rush of trade. Stale bread was the one article the health officers, after a raid on the market, once reported as “not unwholesome.” It was only disgusting. Here is a brawny butcher, sleeves rolled up above the elbows and clay pipe in mouth, skinning a kid that hangs from his hook. They will tell you with a laugh at the Elizabeth Street police station that only a few days ago when a dead goat had been reported lying in Pell Street it was mysteriously missing by the time the offal-cart came to take it away. It turned out that an Italian had carried it off in his sack to a wake or feast of some sort in one of the back alleys." 

Lodgers in a crowded Bayard Street tenement -- "five cents a spot"

I am unclear how long my great grandfather lived at 78 Mulberry Street, and under what conditions he lived.  It is clear, however, that overcrowding and unsanitary conditions were the norm. 

The photgraph, shown above, was taken by Riis in a crowded Bayard Street tenement. In the accompanying text, he wrote:

"In a room not thirteen feet either way slept twelve men and women, two or three in bunks set in a sort of alcove, the rest on the floor."

He went on to say:

"Most of the men were lodgers, who slept there for five cents a spot"


Aunt Ceil, Cousin Nic from the Bronx and Uncle Harry

As most of you know, my Aunt Ceil passed away on February 28th after a long battle with cancer.

Ceil was my father's oldest sister. She was born on September 2, 1930 in Greenport, Long Island and spent her entire life on the "East End". Ceil married Henry Stepnoski on June 14, 1949 in St Agnes Roman Catholic Church in Greenport and they subsequently had four children together: Corinne, Josephine, John and Angelo. Ceil did an amazing job raising her kids and her kids, in turn, did an amazing job caring for her at the end of her life.

After her funeral, I went to Ceil's apartment for the very last time. (From the time I was a child, Ceil and Henry lived in that apartment.) While there, my cousins generously let me go through her old photos, which are now part of my genealogy treasure chest.  But truth be told, my most enduring memory of my aunt will be our long talks about our family.  Ceil was, and will always be, my genealogy buddy.  

Ceil taught me alot about my family, and in the course of our conversations, I learned alot about her. At times she could be grumbly and inpatient, but under the chutzpah was a real mensch.

Ceil had vivid memories of my great grandmother, Condelia, and always talked about her with great affection. Ceil shared with me that my great grandmother's favorite flower was a gardenia.  She also told me that Condelia came to my grandfather on the day of her death, and he sent her away impatiently.  (They found her dead later that day from a stroke.)  Ceil remembered how bad her father felt, and over 60 years later, she still felt bad for him.

Ceil could also be colorful and witty -- and some of our converations were like a Laurel and Harry skit. For example, one of our more memorable conversations went like this:

Michelle: "Hi Aunt Ceil. How are you feeling?"

Ceil: "Lousy."

Michelle: "Sorry to hear that."

Ceil: "Grumble, grumble, grumble......."

Michelle: Yap, Yap, Yap.........."I still can't find grandpa's (Vincenzo's) brother, Dominico.  I wish I could figure out what happened to him."

Ceil: "Don't know. Never met the guy. Yap, yap, yap.......(something about) Cousin Nic from the Bronx. He use to visit grandma (Condelia)."

Michelle: "What did you just say? Cousin who?"

Ceil: "Cousin Nic from the Bronx.  He worked for a big bank in the city."

Michelle: "What are you talking about?  You never mentioned a 'Cousin Nic from the Bronx' before. How was he related to us?"

Ceil: "Don't know. He was a relative, yap, yap, yap........."

It turned out that "Cousin Nic from the Bronx" was Dominico Cervone's oldest living son. Ceil helped me find Dominico, without even knowing it.

In another conversation, she talked about her"Uncle Harry". You might want to check the Cervone Family Tree at this point.  No "Harry" Cervone there.

Michelle: "Uncle Harry?  Who are you talking about?"

Ceil: "Grampa's brother. He lived behind Grandma, with 'a half Indian half Black woman'.  He called her his 'squaw'."

        Michelle: "His what?"

        Ceil: "His squaw."

Oh my, this one took some unraveling.  It turned out that my grandfather's brother, Gaetano Cervone, was raised by his Aunt Cesidia (and her husband Casimero Loreto). Ceil later told me that "grandma couldn't raise him, so they adopted him".  "Uncle Harry" Loreto was born Gaetano Cervone in San Salvo, Italy. He married a woman of color. No one but Ceil knew a thing about him. I am still trying searching for information about Harry's kids.

The last time I spoke to Ceil was in November 2009, just before Thanksgiving.  She had just come home from radiation therapy, and things were clearly not good.  She had no patience for my questions, and it was very difficult to engage her.  I knew, at that moment, it was the beginning of the end. Ceil always had time for me.

I will miss her dearly.


Dino Cervone

It is hard to believe, but exactly one year ago today, I was in Abruzzo with my parents.  Some of you might have seen the pictures from the trip, which I posted earlier in the year.  But to date, I have not written about the trip.  Given my enthusiasm for genealogy, I realize that this is a bit strange. But in some strange way, it makes sense to me: I still have not fully digested the enormity of the trip. For that matter, I am not sure that I will ever fully digest the enormity day. 

Our trip to Abruzzo had 3 legs, including a stop in Popoli, Serramonacesca and San Salvo. Our tour of Popoli was brief and and a bit disappointing.  We spent most of our time walking through the old part of town, where my relatives lived before immigrating to the US.  This section of the town was in a state of disrepair and felt very inaccessible (the churches were encased in scaffolding and locked; people looked at us with suspicion). The newer part of town felt generic.

After leaving Popoli, we drove to Serramonacesca hoping for (at least) a snap shot of life, as it use to be.  What we got, however, was full frontal exposure. Or putting it another way: when modernity was passing out tickets, Serramonacesca was not in line.

The village was, and remains very small (approximately 600 residents, mostly elderly). The town is anchored by the Catholic Church of Santa Maria Assunta.  My great grandfather was baptised in this church, and his parents were married there. The town has one municipal building, but there is no school, grocery, restaurant, or hospital.  If there is a fire department, I didn't see it.

On the day we were there, there was a funeral being held in the church.  Mrs. D'Orazio was being laid to rest.  The entire town was at her funeral; the church is small, so many people spilled out into the street.  At the end of services, her casket was put onto a cart and the priest and all the parishioners walked with the body to the cemetery. It was a very touching scene, straight out the Seventeenth Century.

After the funeral procession left, we were able to go into the church. I do not know exactly when the church was built, but I do know that the parish was part of the papal properties at the time of Pope Gregory XIII (1572-1585).  I suspect that the church is much older than that, however, as the Abbey of San Liberatore a Maiella (located a little further up the mountain) dates back to the 781 AD.

When my father and I walked into the church, there was an elderly custodian cleaning up inside.  It turned out that he spoke English, after many years of living in Canada.  After my father struck up a conversation with him, he verified what I already knew: there are no Cervones left in Serramonacesca. He also volunteered to drive up the mountain, and open the church of San Liberatore a Maiella for us. "You can't leave without seeing it."

Our driver was flabbergasted that this old man volunteered to do this for us. "Things like this just don't happen in Italy."  On one hand, I totally understood where he was coming from.  Who has unfettered access to one of the oldest Medieval Churches in Italy? But on the other hand, he was thinking in modern terms, and we were in an ancient place with a old man.  Our driver also failed to understand that despite outward appearances, my parents are quite provincial.  In Rome (and in Manhattan), you don't talk to strangers. On the East End of Long Island, you talk to everyone.  Hence my father had no reservations about speaking to this old man in the church. I realize, in hindsight, that it was actually my father who opened the door to the church.

After leaving Serramonacesca, we traveled 90 minutes (due west) to San Salvo. My great grandfather, and (at least) two of his siblings immigrated from here around the turn of the Century.  His youngest brother, Vitale, was still unaccounted for.

San Salvo is a very large city (17,000 people), situated on the Adriatic Coast. Unlike Popoli and Serramonacesca, it is a very modern place which boasts both a marina and amble light industry.  The condos hugging the coast line also suggested a degree of affluence that we did not see in Popoli or Serramonacesca.

It took our driver quite a while to find parking, but he finally settled for a spot directly across from a cafe that sold gelato.  It turned out that the cafe was out of gelato, so I walked outside to stretch my feet and get some air. Before I knew it, my mother was yelling from inside the cafe, "Michelle, come in here.  There is someone in here that knows a Cervone." Dino Cervone, to be exact.

It turned out that Dino's family was originally from Serramonacesca.  They immigrated to San Salvo around 1870. He also said that his grandfather's name was Vitale, and most of his family had immigrated to the New York.  His grandfather visited the family several times in New York.  At this point, all I could think was, "no, this just can't be.....".  But Dino extinguished all of my doubt when he told me that his grandmother's maiden name was Angela Cieri.  My great grandfather's brother, Vitale Antonio, married Angel Cieri in San Salvo on the 19th of November 1891. I had a copy of their marriage certificate with me.

It turned out that the man who recognized our name was married to Dino's niece, Vitalia.  Vitalia and her husband asked us back to their home, and we visited with them for about one hour before returning to Rome. 

When we got back into the car, the enormity of the moment was palpable. We found Vitale's grandson. Even our driver was crying. "Things like this just don't happen in Italy." 


The Fascinating Story of Harry Loreto

It turned out that my grandfather's brother, Gaetano Cervone, was raised by his Aunt Cesidia (and her husband Casimero Loreto). My Aunt Ceil told me that "grandma couldn't raise him, so they adopted him".  "Uncle Harry" Loreto was born Gaetano Cervone in San Salvo, Italy. He married an Indian woman. No one but Ceil knew a thing about him. I am still trying searching for information about Harry's kids.

My great uncle, Gaetano Cervone, was born in San Salvo, Italy on February 2nd, 1890.  Gaetano was approximately six years old when his father immigrated to the US in 1896. Based on oral history (see above, and here), he was raised by Cesidia and Casmiro Loreto, his aunt and uncle, who had no children of their own. 

Casmiro immigrated to the US in 1901; Gaetano and Cesidia followed suit two years later in 1903. Based upon the ship's manifest (click on image to enlarge), Cesidia and Gaetano arrived at Ellis Island on June 24th aboard the SS Nord America. They were subsequently detained until the following day when Casmiro came to get them.

Like his father before him, Gaetano disappeared into thin air after arriving in New York, and did not surface again (genealogically speaking) until 1917 -- when he was drafted into the US Army as "Harry Loretto". According to his WWI Draft Registration Card, Harry was living at 444 Fifth Street in Greenport at that time, and was working as an Oysterman at the the Ellsworth Oyster Company in Greenport. Harry listed his marital status as "married" on the draft registration card, but did not list his wife's name.

As you will read below, this is not the last time that Harry indicated that he was married on an official document.  However, I have yet to find a single document that confirms he was ever married -- and I know for a fact that he was never married anywhere in New York State between 1901 and 1959 (which was the year that he died.) 

Harry enlisted in the US Army on September 1917 (103rd Infantry Division) and was honorably discharged on April 28, 1919. (His Aunt Cesidia died on May 6th, 1918, while Harry was enlisted.)According to the 1920 US Census, Harry returned to 444 Fifth Avenue (Greenport) after his discharge. He was 29 years old at the time, and he continued to list his marital status as "married". However, the only person living with Harry at the time (January 1920) was a 28 year old 'Black' woman named Nan Johnson.  He indicated to the Census agent that she was a "servant". 

I am still unclear who Nan was, but I find it highly unlikely that Harry had the means to have a servant. Rather, it seems more likely to me that Harry was living with Fran, and told the census taker that they were married.

Sometime between 1920 and 1926, Harry moved to Easthampton and left Greenport (and presumably Fran) behind.

Harry became a US citizen on May 6, 1931.  According to his naturalization papers, he was living on Springs Road in East Hampton at the time. He indicated that he married a woman named "Ethel B" (in East Hampton, NY) in September 1926 and that they had 2 children:

Madeline Loreto, born 15 August 1927 in East Hampton, NY

Robert Loreto, born 30 August 1931 in East Hampton, NY

A review of the NY State Vital Records Index (at the National Archives), however, turned up no evidence that Harry married a woman named Ethel in East Hampton (or anywhere in NY State) in 1926.  Once more, I could find no record of a child named 'Madeline Loreto', who was born in East Hampton in 1927. 

I did find a birth certificate number for a child named Harry Eugene Loreto, who was born in East Hampton on August 30th, 1931.  I subsequently ordered the birth certificate from the New York State Department of Health and was able to verifiy that Harry Eugene, AKA Robert, was Harry's son.

According to his birth certificate, Harry Eugene was born in Suffolk County, in the Town of East Hampton.  He was a 'legitamate' child and he was born full term.  His father was 40 years old at the time of his birth.  His race was listed as 'Italian' and his occupation was a gardener.  The certificate also indicated that Harry Sr had lived in the USA for 20 years.

Harry Eugene's mother was named Ethel Butler.  Ethel was 39 years old at the time of her son's birth.  Her race is listed as  'Indian' and her occupation was a housewife. According to the certificate, Ethel had 3 children who were "born alive and now living" and 2 children "born alive and now dead".

It is always exhilarating when oral history can be verified, and I was especially happy to realize that my Aunt Ceil's story was correct.  Harry's partner was an Indian woman.  But who in the world was Ethel Butler, and why was I unable to find a record of Madeline's birth?

I found Ethel and her extended family in the 1900 US Census.  At that time, she was 8 years old and was living with her father (Samuel), her mother (Ollie), and 9 siblings.  The family's home was on Three Mile Harbor Road, in a section of East Hampton called "Freetown" - where freed slaves and displaced Montauk Indians lived. A review of earlier census record later confirmed that Ethel's family had lived on Eastern LI for hundreds of years. (Much more on this fascinating story, at a later date.)

When my efforts to find Harry's marriage certificate and Madeline's birth certificate hit a wall, I turned to an unlikely source: Fred Overton, the East Hampton Town Clerk.  I realized that contacting him was a long shot, but in the end, he turned out to be an enormous help. I have included excerpts from our correspondence below:

Dear Sir:

I am currently researching members of my family who resided in East Hampton in the 1930's, and need to obtain copies of birth/marriage certificates.  Is it possible to obtain these records through your office?  If so, how does one request the records........

Michelle Cervone  


Dr. Cervone,

In my free time I have been working on your request. You may know the summer can get and does get a little crazy in this office. I have found this much so far:

Courtland Madison Butler was born to Ethel M. Butler February 17, 1911 (father unknown)

Madelene Elaine Butler was born to Ethel Butler August 15, 1927 (father unknown)

Harry Eugene Lorets (not Loreto-I will check further on the spelling) was born August 30, 1931 to Harry Lorets and Ethel Butler

James Arnold Butler was born November 14, 1932 to Harry Loreto and Ethel Butler

I will be sending information on Samuel and Olive M. soon.



Dr. Cervone,

Samuel Cortland Butler

Born about 1845 died June 30, 1905 at age 60

Father: unknown

Mother: Harriet ?

Olive M. Butler

Born April 1, 1852 in Montauk, NY died January 10, 1921

Father: William Fowler from Montauk, NY

Mother: Mary Cuffee from Montauk, NY

Harry Eugene Loreto. His name was spelled Loreto in the record

Father: Harry Loreto- Italian-Occupation Laborer

Mother: Ethel Butler- Indian-Occupation Housewife

There is no marriage record for Harry and Ethel. 

Based on this information, Harry also distorted his family status to the naturalization officer -- i.e he was not married to Ethel, and Madeline was not his daughter.  From what I can piece together, Ethel had 4 children before she met Harry (two of whom died) and at least 2 children with him. Robert lived to adulthood (see below), but James Arnold died on December 10, 1932 in Southampton (NYS Death Certificate #75750).  He was 26 days old.

Harry died on May 1, 1959. He was 69 years old.  He was laid to rest on May 5th at the Long Island National Cemetery in Farmingdale, NY. (Section V, site 3959)

The 1940 Census will be released in 2012.  I hope at that time to better understand the next chapter of Harry's life. But until then,  I will end Harry's story on this fascinating note:  I found multiple pictures of Ethel, Madeline and Robert on the Montauk Tribe Website.  (See Historic Pictures, Gallery 2, #22)

Although I take issue with the racist tone of the accompanying text in the first picture, it did confirm that Ethel never married Harry, and that Courtland, Robert and Madeline lived to adulthood.  It is also uncanny to me how much Robert resembles his cousin (my Uncle) Ralph, when they were about the same age.