Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Tombstone Tuesday

I have been totally renovating my website for my Early American family so I have been going through my pictures from my genealogy trip in May. So today I have decided to combine Tombstone Tuesday and Wordless Wednesday. I will offer no commentary, I will be posting just captions of the location and names of the cemeteries tombstone pictures . The pictures will tell all I want to say. There really are no words that can describe what I want to say better than the pictures can.

Riverside Cemetery, Middletown, Middlesex County, Connecticut

Resting Place of some of the founders of Middletown and Hartford, Connecticut

Old Center Cemetery, Suffield, Hartford County, Connecticut

Detail of the same grave to show the several broken headstones lying flat around the base of the Remington monument.

In this picture: Many crushed headstones line the side of the church.

Old North Burying Grounds, Middlefield, Middlesex County, Connecticut

Notice the other broken stones surrounding these fallen, broken stones.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Surname Saturday - Scrugli

The mother of my grandmother was Natalina Scrugli. Not a common surname either here or in Italy. This week I had a major breakthrough with her family that got me 3 more generations of her family. This made me think about her...her life, her struggles and what an amazing woman she was. I am so proud of her. So today I would like to share her story. Natalina Scrugli was born about 1866 probably in Tropea, Italy. I still have not found her birth act, however, her other siblings were born there. Her father was a lawyer around the time of her birth and she grew up in a life of privilege. She was very close with her sisters Carmela and Maria and her brother Gaetano. According to the family story her family moved from Tropea to Cortale when her father was assigned a political post by the Italian government there. They lived in "Upper Cortale" in an area known as "Donnafiore" and had servants and dress makers on staff to attend to their needs. Her older sister Carmela was the first to marry and she married the Italian Ambassador to Egypt. Natalina married Giuseppe Maiuolo and had 4 children with him. Natalina's second child, a daughter named Caterina was outside the house playing on summer day when she was 4 years old. When Natalina went to check on her she found the lifeless body of her daughter. Caterina ate some poisonous berries according to the family story. Her older sister Maria told us the screams of Natalina when she found her daughter could be heard throughout the town. When my grandmother was born, she was named after this sister. It is unknown when Natalina's husband died, however, Giuseppe Maiuolo died leaving Natalina with 4 children to care for alone. Around the same time her sister Carmela became a widow after her husband contracted malaria on one of his trips to Egypt. Her younger sister Maria also became widowed around the same time. Natalina's brother who was living in Chicago arranged a marriage between his youngest sister Maria and a friend in Chicago who was also from Cortale. In April, 1904 Natalina had to say goodbye to her sisters Carmela and Maria and her niece Francesca as they left Cortale permanently for Chicago. This must have broke Natalina's heart. On the 8th of September 1905 an huge earthquake rocked Cortale. It's epicenter was in the nearby town of Nicastro (now Lamezia Terme) which buried the town and a large portion of it's population. This must have been the last straw for Natalina because in November of the same year she packed a steamer trunk and brought her 3 children to Chicago. Natalina bought a 3 flat on Loomis Street in the heart of Chicago's "Little Italy". Today that building is gone and in it's place is a statue of Christopher Columbus. Soon after, she joined the organization Societa Italiano. She opened a butcher shop in the lower level of the building and she began sponsoring Italians to come to Chicago from Italy.
She used the upper floors of her apartment building as a boarding house for recent Italian immigrants, many of whom she sponsored to come here. She would rent space for them to live until they could find jobs and homes of their own. She helped so many families come to Chicago and begin their new lives. Unfortunately her ledgers of the boarders names was destroyed in a local flood. To honor Natalina and all the work she did for Societa Italiano, they purchased her headstone which identifies her as a member. I am proud of my great grandmother and her choices which led her to more difficult journey in life to help others. Her ancestry is:
Antonino Scrugli and Caterina Cipollini
Antonino Scrugli and Caterina Morano
Antonino Scrugli and Natalina Merotta
Girolamo Scrugli and Carmela LaTorre

Monday, January 16, 2012

Relatives of the Day - Gaetano and Antonio Cipollini

The mother of my grandmother was Natalina Scrugli. She was the daughter if Antonino Scrugli and Caterina Cipollini. On 18 March 1850 at Santa Caterina Church in Tropea, Antonino and Caterina were married in a double wedding ceremony. Also married that day in the same church at the same time was Antonino's sister Natalina Scrugli and Caterina's brother Ferdinando Cipollini. This story is about the son's of Ferdinando and Natalina. The first child of Ferdinando and Natalina they named Gaetano in honor of his paternal grandfather as was Italian tradition. He was born on 18 February 1851 in Tropea. Sometime before February, 1857 Ferdinando and Natalina moved to Monteleone Calabro (today this town is the City of Vibo Valentia) because on 15 February 1857 a second son named Antonio was born. These two children would go forth to write beautiful music which included an opera that takes place in Monteleone Calabro.
Gaetano showed an amazing aptitude for music at an early age and was sent to a music conservatory in Napoli for further training and instruction. In the late 1800's in Italy, if you wanted to see your opera performed, Milano was the place to be. Gaetano left for Milano to pursue his dream. While in Milano he wrote an opera and called it Simeta. The story called for very opulent sets and costumes. Although this ambitious opera was well received by the press when the libretto was printed, and even compared to Puccini's La Scala, poor business transactions, the costs to produce expensive costumes and sets and long negotiations lasting over 7 years prevented this work from premiering onstage. This failure would haunt Gaetano to the end of his life. He wrote many others both with and without his brother Antonio, including "La Calabria". At the age of 80 Gaetano entered a home that was set up in Milano for aging musicians called Casa Verdi named for Giuseppe Verdi. Gaetano died at Casa Verdi, on 2 October 1935.
Antonio began his career as a teacher of Latin and Greek languages which he taught for a time in Monteleone Calabro schools. Antonio possessed a gift with words and began writing poetry, novels and short stories. He also translated and published works from Latin and Greek and became an esteemed critic of literature. In 1884 he collaborated with Pietro Mascagni and together they wrote the romantic opera "Alla Luna" (The Moon). He joined his brother Gaetano in Milano and wrote several opera with his brother Gaetano including Il Piccolo Haydn, Simeta, Gennarello, and Ninon De Lenclos. Antonio Cipollini died in 1920 in Milano. When I think of Calabrian culture, I think of the 2 brothers who spent their lives doing what they loved and promoting the Calabrese culture in the process.

Monday, January 2, 2012

San Francesco Di Paola Statue Missing

San (Saint) Francesco di Paola, is well known to the Calabrese people.  San Francesco is the patron saint of the Calabrese people.  Saint Francesco is also the patron saint of boatmen, naval officers, mariners, sailors, against plagues, epidemics, against fire, travelers and sterility. He was born Francesco Martolilla on 27 March 1416 in Paola, Cosenza, Calabria to Giacomo Martolilla and Vienna d'Alessio (who was born in Fuscaldo, Cosenza) and died April 2, 1507 in Plessis, France.  His parents were devout Catholics.  Paola is located in Cosenza Province between mountains and the Tyrrhenian Sea.  The other side of the Mountains in Paola is San Vincenzo La Costa and my grandfather's birthplace Montalto Uffugo.  My grandfather was devoted to this saint and one of the few family stories regarding his life in the area involves a miracle attributed to this saint.  He is very popular in Calabria, particularly to the Cosentina (people in Cosenza).  Most towns have a church named after him in his home province.
In November, 2007, for the occasion of the 500th anniversary of San Francesco's death, a bronze statue of the saint was immersed in the Tyrrhenian Sea about 23 meters deep off the shores of Paola.  The statue provides protection to fishermen and recreational boaters in the area for whom he is the Patron Saint and is often viewed by divers in the area.  Local octopus made the base of the statue it's home as well.  The eight foot tall bronze statue, crafted by Zappino recently turned up missing.  Divers have searched the area in the event the statue was dragged in error by boats or t rollers, but their searches turned up nothing.  It is unknown if the statue was stolen from the sea and searches continue.  I certainly wish them well in their searches and hope they find it soon.  With or without the statue, I am sure San Francesco continues his protection of the Calabrese people as well as the "gente di mare" (people of the sea) and all seafarers.