Entries by Michelle Cervone (10)



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.


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".





An Amazing Discovery

Yesterday morning,  I stumbed upon a website called Abruzzo Heritage, which I had never seen before. (I still can not get over the fact that I missed this!).  On the site, they have some general content that is available to the public. But if you join the site, you have access to a "reserved area" which has various geneology indexes from the Abruzzo region -- many dating back to the 1700's. (The civil records which are available through the Morman Church typically start at 1810.) 

I was particularly interested in the records from the Provence of Chieti (where Serramonacesca and San Salvo are located) and the Provence of Pescara (where Popoli is located).  There is an index called Status Animarum San Salvo 1839-1846, which indexes the head of each family in the town.  Among the names I found were:

  1. Raffaele di Loreto (di Carunchio = from Carunchio), who is my Great Great Great Great  Grandfather. He married Sabia Manacelli in San Salvo in 1834. (I need to look up the marriage certificate to get the exact date.) Anna Quintilia D'Orazio Cervone's mother was a Loreto.
  2. Fedele di Loreto (di Carunchio = from Carunchio), who I am presuming is his brother.
  3. Giacomo D'Orazio (di Serramonacesca = from Serramonacesca), who is my Great Great Great Great Granfather.  He married Maria Saveria Lattanzia. (I do not have the date or place of their marriage as of yet, but I am assuming they that were married around 1820.) He was Anna Quintilia D'Orazio Cervone's paternal Grandfather.



A Sad Realization

After a weekend of amazing discoveries, I had a sad realization this morning.  The main headquarters of Abruzzo Heritage is located in L'Aquila, the epicenter of the last night's earthquake.

L'Aquila is the capital of the Abruzzo Region and is also the capital of the Provence of L'Aquila. It is a university town, and is well known for it's Medieval Architecture and churches. Like Serramonacesca, it is a fortress town nestled in the mountains. It is located very close to Popoli and Sulmona, where my maternal great grandparents were born.

The human, historical and cultural impact of this disaster is incomprehensible.  I can not stop thinking about it.


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"