The Children of Vito Luigi Civitano and Isabella Elisabetta D’Amico

It has been difficult for me to decide in what direction I wanted to continue. There is just so many and so much to write about with our Civitano family. I have decided to go back to Vito Luigi Civitano (1803 – 1836) and Isabella Elisabetta D’Amico (1804 – 1874) (my 3x great grandparents) They were the parents of Francesco Civitano (1834 – 1879) the stage coach robber who I have written about in great detail. I have not however written anything about the other children of Vito Luigi and Isabella.

Our Civitano family was a huge established family of Grumo Appula with so many surnames crisscrossing and firsts names repeating, that it is almost impossible to keep track or make sense of each family branch. With that said I’d like to introduce you to the siblings of my 2x great grandfather Francesco, thankfully there are only 4.

Vito Luigi and Isabella were the parents of Rosa, Rosa, Grazia and Francesco. Isabella would have 1 more child, a son named Rocco with her 2nd husband after the passing of Vito Luigi.

Vito Luigi and Isabella’s first born was Rosa Civitano, named after her father Vincenzo’s mother Rosa Spano. Rosa was born Feb 20, 1827. Her sweet little life was short lived.  She passed away 7 days later on Feb 27.

Birth Certificate Rosa Civitano

Birth Certificate - Rosa Civitano (1827) p.1

Birth Certificate - Rosa Civitano (1827) p.2

Birth Certificate - Rosa Civitano (1827) p.3

Death Certificate

Death Certificate - Rosa Civitano (1827) p.1

Death Certificate - Rosa Civitano (1827) p.2

A year later on March 9, 1828  Isabella and Vito welcomed Rosa #2.  She was baptized on the same day at the Parroco (parsonage) of the Church of MonteVerde.

Birth Certificate Rosa Civitano

Birth Certificate - Rosa Civitano (1828) p.1

Birth Certificate - Rosa Civitano (1828) p.2

Birth Certificate - Rosa Civitano (1828) p.3

Church of MonteVerde Grumo Appula, 97 Via MonteVerde


Side view of building with parsonage entrance behind tree.



Sister Grazia was next, born on January 20th, 1932 and was baptized 2 days later on January 22nd at the Parroco of Grumo. Grazia was named after Isabella’s mother Grazia Priore – D’Amico (1785 – 1848 of Grumo)

Birth Certificate Grazia Civitano

Birth Certificate - Grazia Civitano p.1

Birth Certificate - Grazia Civitano p.2

Birth Certificate - Grazia Civitano p.3


My 2x great grandfather Francesco was born next  on April 23, 1834.  (I have written extensively in previous a post on the life and family of Francesco)

Tragedy would strike again 2 years later in 1836 when Isabella’s (30) husband Vito Luigi passed away on April 24th at the age of 33. His death left Isabella a widow with 3 small children ages 10, 6, and 2.

On August 5, 1837, one year later, Isabella married Vincenzo Guaccero also from Grumo Apulla. He was the son of Rocco Guaccero and Carmela Cavalluzzi. I do not have information at this time to confirm where they were from specifically but, Vincenzo was born in Grumo.

Marriage Certificate for Isabella and Vincenzo Guaccero 




On July 6, 1838 son Rocco Guaccero, 1/2 brother to Rosa, Grazia and Francesco, was born. Rocco is the only known child of Isabella and Vincenzo.

Birth Certificate Rocco Guaccero

Birth Certificate - Rocco Guaccero p.1

Birth Certificate - Rocco Guaccero p.2

Birth Certificate - Rocco Guaccero p.3

Death Certificate Rocco Guaccero

Death Certificate - Rocco Guaccero p.1

Death Certificate - Rocco Guaccero p.2

Rocco’s life was short lived, passing at the age of 20. Thinking about the lose of child no matter the age I took a look at mother Isabella’s life in terms of lose.

Isabella married at age 18 and at 23 she lost her first baby Rosa. By age 32 she lost her husband Vito Luigi, followed by her father at age 41, then her mother at 44, her son Rocco at 54 years of age followed by daughter Grazia at 63. Isabella would live another 10 years passing away at age 70. Her 2nd husband Vincenzo would pass 3 years after her.

Isabella was the oldest child/daughter of 9 children born to her parents Pietro and Grazia, 3 children who did not survive to adulthood and the rest who all out lived her.

Francesco’s sister Rosa married Giuseppe Peragina April 16, 1849 in Grumo Appula. His occupation was a Contadino – peasant farmer, as with most of our relatives.

Marriage Certificate Rosa and Giuseppe Peragina 

Marriage Certificate - Giuseppe

Marriage Certificate - Giuseppe -2

Marriage Certificate - Giuseppe -3

Marriage Certificate - Giuseppe -4

Grazia married Erasmo L’Aratro Rella April 25, 1853, Grumo Appula also a peasant farmer.

Marriage Certificate Grazia and Erasmo L’Aratro Rella 

Marriage Certificate - Erasmo

Marriage Certificate - Erasmo -2

Marriage Certificate - Erasmo -3

Marriage Certificate - Erasmo -4

Marriage Certificate - Erasmo -5

In my next post I will try to complete the family histories of the siblings of my 2x great grandfather Francesco Civitano.


Always a huge thank you to my cousin Peter Marino for all his endless work in gathering documents of our family.


Italian Peasants by Gustave David (French, 1824 – 1891) medium: watercolor over graphite on slightly textured, moderately thick, cream wove paper


Italian Peasant Girls at Prayer by Alexandre – Marie Guillemin (French, 1817 -1880) medium: watercolor with graphite underdrawing, white heightening and gum heightening on moderately thick, heavily textured wove paper


Italian Peasant Kneeling with Child by William – Adolphe Bouguereau (French, 1825 – 1905) medium: watercolor and graphite underdrawing with gum heightening and shell gold on cream, moderately thick, heavily textured wove paper



The families of Vincenzo James Civitano and Giuseppe Joseph Civitano: the youngest of Vito Luigi and Angelina’s children

In my last post I wrote about Rosa Civitano, the daughter of Louis (Vito Luigi) Civitano and his wife Angelina Marvulli. I would like to continue with this family and focus on their two youngest sons, Vincenzo (James) and Giuseppe (Joseph). Vincenzo would later be known as James; as was my great grandfather Vincenzo; and Giuseppe was known as Joseph.

James (Vincenzo) was born July 3, 1897 in Grumo Appula, Italy.

Birth Certificate - Vincenzo Civitano p.1

Birth Certificate - Vincenzo Civitano p.2

On Dec 30, 1909, James (13) under the name of Vincenzo boarded the ship the SS America with his mother Angelina; (traveling under her maiden name of Marvulli) along with his younger brother Joseph (10) for New York. They arrived on the 12 of January 1910. On the ship manifest under ‘family left behind’ it states – ‘nobody’. What an incredible feeling for father Louis to know the last of his family was finally arriving.



I have been unable to find any records for Louis and family in the 1910 or 1915 census records. A clue to where they were living was found in the 1918 census record for James, his home address is listed as 421 W. 26th St. Under nearest relative was his father Louis (Vito Luigi) at the same address.


One year after registering for the WWI draft James married Anna Plavcsan. His best man was Vincenzo Simone and the maid of honor was Maggie Caso. Anna (1899 – 1963) was the daughter of Thomas Plavcsan and Julianna Marva. Anna was born in Litany, Sabinov, Presovsky, Slovakia. On census records Austria or Hungry was listed. This country is wrapped up in the  Austrio-Hungarian Comprimise of 1867, Czechoslovakia, to independent Slovakia. (A quick search for the history of Slovakia will uncover its rich history)


The beautiful St Clare’s Church – Chiesa di Santa Chaira, 436 West 36th St. N.Y.C., where so many of our family married. In the last post I shared that sadly this beauty was destroyed to make way for the Lincoln Tunnel.

Marriage Certificate - VincenzoMarriage certificate of James Civitano and Anna Plavcsan

When I first saw the name of Vincenzo Simone as best man I immediately thought of Jame’s sister Rosa (from my last post) who married Domenico Simone, and his sister Julia who married Vito Simone (2 brothers, 2 sisters) I quickly assumed Vincenzo was another Simone brother. However a quick scan of cousin Peter Marino’s meticulous research on his site, I found that there was no mention of this brother with the parents. I could have very easily gone down the rabbit hole at this point, but I decided to move forward and leave this for another day. So the question remains, who is Vincenzo Simone and how is he connected to the Simone family? As for Maggie Caso as maid of honor, this was easier to identify. I believe this was Domenica know as Margaret Caso (1903, Grumo Appula) daughter of Gaetano Caso and Margaret Rita Marvulli- Caso. Rita was the sister of Angelina Marvulli James’s mother. Maggie (maid of honor was 1st cousin to James) Marriage not only ties these families of Simone, Civitano, Caso but their ancestral home town of Grumo Appula, Italy as well.


James and Anna began their married life living with Jame’s parents Louis and Angelina at 434 W. 25th St. NYC. James was a laborer in the ice business and Anna was a seamstress in a shop.  First child to arrive was son Louis (1921) and then Angelina/Antonetta (1923) and Julia (1926).

By 1930 James (32) had moved his family to 640 Thieriot Ave, Bronx. He owned the home, value listed was $8,000. He was still in the ice business. The language spoken was Italian by James and German by Anna, that must have been fun! Below is a view from google earth of where they lived. Their home was where the vacant lot is now. The small home set back on the photo is  house # 638. Across the street from them, the second photo is 641 Thieriot Ave.



Conversation’s with my Uncle Joe and my 3rd cousin Monica Gray (granddaughter of Anna and James) confirms that Anna was known as an excellent cook and is well remembered for her delicious cooking. I wonder if any recipe books have been saved by any family members. That would be fun to find.

The family remained at the 640 Thieriot Ave. home into the 1940’s. Son Thomas was born in July, 1930 shortly after the census was taken. Frank Thomas in 1935. James was still working as an ice man on his own account and son Louis’s (18) occupation was carpenter and the industry was ship building. Daughter Julia was a new worker, having worked 6 weeks in 1939. Below is Julia’s high school year book picture from

Julia Civitano 1943 Julia, 1943 Monroe High School, Bronx

Both the 1930 and 1940 census says that James naturalized but I was unable to find a record for this. I did however find a record for wife Anna *street address number should read 640


Anna CivitanoAnna Plavcsan – Civitano

Colettasweet16labeledNext to Anna are her two daughters, Julia and Lena @ Coletta Civitano’s sweet 16 party 

In the years that followed James and Anna had the opportunity to see their children marry. James had the honor seeing both of his 2 daughters marry before passing away in 1954. Angelina married Ely Corbi (1946) Julia married Thomas Eberhart (1949) Anna would see all but 1 of her children marry before she passed away. Thomas married Rose Migliaccio (1956), Louis married Anne Halloran (1957) and Frank married Geraldine Zardo (1967)


Brother Joseph (Giuseppe) arrived with his mother Anna and with brother James (Vincenzo). Joseph was the youngest of the children. He was 10 when he arrived in 1910. (Immigration above in post)

Joseph (Giuseppe) was born November 11, 1899, Grumo Appula, ItalyBirth Certificate - Giuseppe Civitano p.1

Birth Certificate - Giuseppe Civitano p.2

He too would register for the WWI draft in 1918. Listed was the W. 26th St address.


Below, Joseph  Petition For Naturalize  22nd Of April 1925. He declared his intention to naturalize on Sept. 4,  1918.


On Sept. 9, 1926 Joseph married Nancy (Annunciate) Traini, daughter of Nicola Traini and Rosa D’Aprile. Nancy was born on Sept 4, 1903, Toritto, Bari, Italy. Toritto is in the vicinity of Grumo. They were married at the Bronx Borough Hall.

Marriage Certificate - Joseph

Bronx Borough Hall


First found in the 1930 census Joseph (30) and Nancy (26) were living at 3337 Fish Ave, Bronx. They have bought this home (on the left with black fencing) valued at $12,500. Joe joins many other family members in the ice delivery business. Daughters Lillian (1927) and Rose (Rose Ann) (1930) have joined the family. * I want to make note that daughter Lillian may be a census error as Lillian was Angelina (Lena). I do not have a birth record for Lena. Another clerical error on this census has father Joseph born in N.Y. as well as both his parents, which we know for certain is not true.


The family remained in this home and by 1940 Joseph and Nancy added 2 more daughters, Judith (1931) and Louise (1937). Daughter Anne would join the family 9in 1942.  In this 1940 census Joseph’s occupation was listed timber man working on highway/unable to read the rest.


Joe Cook.jpgPhoto courtesy of Peter Marino ~ Joseph (Giuseppe) Civitano aka Joe Cook 

Nancy CivitanoPhoto courtesy of Peter Marino

Marriages that I am aware of are Angelina to Louis Grabowski (1947), Rose to  Jack Ferro (1962), Judith to Earl Michelin.

familypic6Photo Courtesy Peter Marino 

Left to Right: RoseAnn, Judy, Mom Nancy, Ann (standing) Angelina & Louise

So much of the story of Joseph (Giuseppe) and Nancy is unknown to me but is remembered and carried on in the stories passed down by their immediate families.

Today I remember the 2 sons of Louis (Vito Luigi) and Angelina Marvulli – Civitano and their wives,

Vincenzo James Civitano and Anna Plavcsan 

Civitano, VincenzoSt Raymond’s Cemetery, St John Section

Giuseppe Joseph Civitano and Annuziata Nancy Traini 

Civitano, JosephSt. Raymond’s Cemetery, S.t Peter Section


Rosa Civitano Marries Domenico Simone

My last post was in memory of my Aunt Coletta on the 7 year anniversary of her passing. I am always excited about posting because I never know what door, what lead on an ancestor might be shared or found, who might comment, what friendship might be made, what new cousin might emerge and that is exactly what happened.

Through my cousin Peter Marino, I was connected to a 3rd cousin for the first time. Her name is Rose Nappi Naef and Rose helped with identifying a picture that had her grandmother Angelina Marvulli- Civitano in the photo. We were so lucky to have this confirmation along with Peter’s grandmother Julia (also her grandmother). Rose is the daughter of Mary Simone and Carmine Nappi. It’s been a real treat for me to begin sharing and getting to know her. Prior to the new year, I had been spending some time researching and writing about the children of Vito Luigi Civitano, brother to my great grandfather Vincenzo (who was murdered in 1909). This family line has so many branches of which Rose descends. So with this new year in full swing I would like to pick up with the family of ~

Vito Luigi (Louis) (1860 – 1945) and Angelina (1859 – 1958) Louis and Angelina were the parents of 7 children: Francesco (1884) Domenico (1885) Giuditta (1888) Rosa (1890-1892) Rosa (1893) Vincenzo (1897) Giuseppe (1899) All but one child would live to adulthood and along with the whole family, would eventually immigrate to the United States. Today I would like to concentrate on their daughter Rosa, grandmother of Rose Nappi Naef.

Rosa Civitano, was born on the 27th of August, 1893, Largo San Lorenzo 1, Grumo Appula, Italy.


View of Largo San Lorenzo, Grumo Appula, where Rosa was born according to her birth certificate. I just love google earth. It truly can take you just about anywhere you want to go. I believe the corner building is where Rosa Civitano – Simone was born. Also a very big thank you goes out to Peter Marino who meticulously has waded through many records to point out the fine points for us. LargoSanLorenzo1


At the age of 15, December 8, 1908, Rosa boarded the ship The S.S. Luisiana leaving out of Naples and headed for New York to her father Vito Luigi. Traveling along with her was 21 other residents of Grumo so she was certainly not alone. Under ‘relative left behind’ was listed her mother Angelina. Rosa arrived on Dec, 24th, 1908.

SS Luisiana


NYT715_1181-0246.jpgSource InformationTitleNew York Passenger Lists,

Two years later in 1910, her mother Angelina, traveling under her maiden name of Marvulli with 2 of Rosa’s siblings arrived in time for Rosa’s marriage to Domenico Simone.

Marriage Certificate - Domenico -3

They were married at St Clare – Chiesa di Santa Chaira, New York City



St Clare – Chiesa di Santa Chaira, 436 West 36th St, held it’s first Mass in 1903, the church was later dedicated in 1907. Sadly this beauty was destroyed to make way for the Lincoln Tunnel.

Domenico Simone was born Apr 1, 1893, Via Gelso 6, Grumo Appula to Vito Rocco Simone ( 1851 -1911) and Maria Fanelli (1852 – 1914)




Via Gelso 6, Grumo Appula, Grumo Appula, where Domenico was born according to his birth certificate. The pink building is number 4, the second door was unmarked but is most likely 6, 3 was across the street. ViaGelso6

Domenico also arrived in 1908, traveling aboard the SS Nord America, leaving behind his father Vito Rocco and mother Maria. He was traveling to his brother Vito Simone, already here, living at 456 W. 29th St, NYC, married to Rosa’s sister Giuditta/Julia.


SS Nord America


NYT715_1123-0483.jpgSource InformationTitleNew York Passenger Lists,

My first hint into the family of Domenico and Rosa Simone was the WWI June, 1917 draft registration record for Domenico. Listed as Domenico Simon they are living at 432 1/2 W. 25th St. He is working as a driver helper for the Knickerbocker Ice Co. located at W. 26th St. between 10th & 11th St.

005263042_04158Source InformationTitleWorld War I Draft Registration Cards,

I was unable to find the family in the 1915 census but it is safe to assume that the family was close by to this address. In the 1920 census, listed as Dominic Semoni, they were  living at 351 W. 25th St., NYC. Next door were Rosa’s parents Vito Luigi, now Louis (60) and Angelina (60) with there son Giuseppe/Joseph (19)

Dominic (26) was still working in the ice industry, as many of our family members were at the time. Rosie (26) was at home with daughter Mary (1914), son Rocco had joined the family in 1918, and baby Louis was 1/12 (1919).

4313912-01132.jpgSource InformationTitle1920 United States Federal

By 1930 the family had relocated to the Bronx putting down roots. Dominic must have been doing very well; they had bought a home located at 538 Beach Ave. This is the home (middle home) built in 1920, (possibly with a facelift – the 539 address is across the street) The home value was $7,500. It is the area known as Clason Point. (census actually recorded the home price as $2,500 but that is most likely a recording error as all other homes on the street are in the $7000 to $10,000 range)



4661145_00622Source InformationTitle1930 United States Federal

1930 seems to be the turning point for the family. Dominick Simone (39) was working on his own as an ice dealer with his own route. His first papers had been submitted to become a citizen. This census tells us as well that he had not attended school and could neither read or write and the language spoken was Italian. Rosa (34) had not attended school either but she could read and write, language too was Italian but I suspect they both could speak English. Mary (16), Rocco (12), Louis (10), were joined by sister Angelina (7, born 1923) Vito (1/12, born 1930), nothing was listed for school or work for the children. We do know that Rosa had also given birth to a daughter, also named Angelina (1920 – 1921)

Their happiness was shattered in 1933 with the death of Rosa at age 39. Rosa passed away on Feb 7th, 1933.

Death Certificate - Rosa Civitano (1893) p.1.jpg

Death Certificate - Rosa Civitano (1893) p.2.jpg

Simone, Rose - St. Raymond's Cemetery

Rosa was put to rest at St Raymond’s Cemetery, Bronx, New York

Along with her are her children Rosa #1, Louis and Rocco

This families story does not end here. Domenico went on to marry widow Teresa Colavito – Gierdano (unsure of the spelling of this last name. Colavito is a common surname and repeated many times in our family history)


The marriage took place September 1, 1934, at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church, Bronx.


By 1940, the family was still living at the 538 Beach Ave, Bronx address. Domenico was no longer in the ice business. His occupation was listed as laborer, W.P.A. projects. The W.P.A. was the Works Projects Administration, the largest of the ‘New Deal’ agency. This was created under Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1935 to put the unemployed to work. I was so happy to learn that, possibly unemployed at some point he was working and they had not lost their home. m-t0627-02486-00524.jpgSource InformationTitle1940 United States Federal

Teresa preceded Domenico in death passing in 1959 and Dominick in 1963.

Simone, Dominick




In Memory of Nicoletta Marie Civitano

Today, January 7 marks the 7 year anniversary of the passing of

Nicoletta Marie Civitano

November 27, 1930 ~ January 7, 2011

In honor and memory I would like to dedicate this first post of 2018 to her  

Nicoletta, known more affectionately as Coletta, was the first child of Frank Civitano and Catherine Langelotti. Born in the Bronx, she was sister to Vincent and Joseph, sister-in-law to MaryAnn, mother to Karen Oliveri, aunt to Frank, Vincent (may he rest in peace), Joseph and myself. My memories are brief as I only knew her for a short time but those memories are like brilliant primary colors, intense and vibrant. To me she will always be red velvet draped in gold lame’. Cut crystals by a window streaming rainbow’s around a room. Coletta is fun wrapped in laughter. She is determined and driven, fiercely protective, spontaneous, creative, crafty and opinionated. She ‘is’ because she ‘was’ and will always be a part of my life. On occasion a situation will present itself during my day and automatically my mind then mouth will whisper ‘in honor of Aunt Coletta’ as her imprint on my life is ever present. Over the course of the few years prior to her passing, then onward, I have been so blessed to have family who graciously opened their hearts and shared their stories, my story our story.  Today in her honor  I would like to share Coletta Marie Civitano with you


All of the photo’s posted are courtesy of her daughter Karen Oliveri, my brother Frank Civitano, who opened their photo albums to provide this intimate  glimpse into her life. To my Uncle Joseph who has spent countless hours going over photo’s and sharing story after story with me and to Peter Marino and his grandmother Julia Bianca for help in identifying people for me ~ I say thank you, this post could not have been done with out you.

Frank&Catherine2Frank, Catherine, Coletta and baby doll.


Coletta&Vincent2Abt. 1935 Coletta with my dad Vincent


Colettaconfirmation3May 1938 ~ Confirmation ~ Blessed Sacrament Church





1940 Easter Wedding of Arthur Langellotti and Teresa Venrose. Coletta (10) was the adorable flower girl for her Uncle. Maid of Honor was Arthur’s sister Rita Langellotti and best man my grandfather Frank.



Abt. 1943 Grammar/Middle School Graduation Party

ColettapartyfamilyIn front row: father Frank Civitano, Coletta, unknown woman in dark dress                                                Back row: *Angelina Civitano, partial woman unknown, Catherine Civitano, Sonia, behind her standing is her husband Edward Piacente & their daughter Anne.

*I need to stop here and mention the image of Angelina Marvulli Civitano, wife of Vito Luigi Civitano. This is the first and only picture that has surfaced with her image so far. It was identified by Julia Civitano Bianca (Angelina’s granddaughter), my Uncle Joe, along with the help of a granddaughter of Rosa Civitano Simone, Rose Nappi, contacted by  Peter Marino.


1946 Sweet 16 Birthday Party  

Colettasweet16Front row: Frank C., Coletta, Catherine C.                                                                                          Back row: James (Vincent) Langellotti (Catherine’s brother), my father Vincent C., Rita Langellotti (Catherine and Jim’s sister) Julia (Frank’s sister) and husband Nick Forese

Sweet 16 Party Guests 

Colettasweet16labeledThis wonderful photo was highlighted with the names by Peter Marino. Do you recognize a family member?



Colettapartyfriends2Maybe a school dance? Coletta is on far right 



Coletta attended Jane Addam’s Vocational High School along with cousin and friend Julia Civitano Bianca. She graduated in 1948.


ColettaCarPinup2I just love this picture shared with me by her daughter Karen.




In 1950 Coletta married Joseph Palladino, it was a brief marriage that was soon annulled. However this photo below with Joseph P. and Coletta’s youngest brother, my Uncle Joe, was just to precious not to post.



In 1956 Coletta entered a new and exciting period in her life. She married Jack Oliveri and would welcome their daughter, Karen Oliveri in 1963






Coletta, Jack & Karen


But Coletta’s story can not stop there nor would it be complete if I did not fast forward to  early 2000’s when I first met my Aunt. I had just begun doing genealogy. After years of searching for my birth family research had become ingrained in my being. Here we are below looking at the first draft I had done of our family tree. I was welcomed into her home and the family with a massive ‘Italian’ buffet spread, a very intimate and exciting glimpse into the Italian culture overflowing in food, drink and family.



Life had moved forward and on for Coletta. She had reconnected with the love of her life Joseph A. Puglia, who would precede her in death. I will end this post with love overflowing in the smiles that follow.
















Good Bye to 2017


Soon we will say good bye to 2017. I am in the process of organizing and wrapping up some loose ends before welcoming 2018. This has been an exciting year for me as I dug my feet deeper into the rich Italian soil of my ancestors. 2017 saw the beginning of this blog after getting my feet wet with another blog on my maternal side in 2016. I was hooked!

At times it was hard to know what direction I wanted to go in, how deep to dig, how expansive on a family should I get. But in the end, I just let the spirit of those before us lead me forward. I fell in love with the Marvulli family, the family of my great grandmother Nicoletta. We solved a mystery of a picture shared with me by my cousin Ann Elmendorf grand daughter of Julia Civitano – Forese, sister of my grandfather Frank Civitano. We had so much fun this year going back and forth with photo’s trying to identify them. It could not have been done without the help of our cousin Peter Marino and his absolutely fantastic grandmother, another Julia Civitano – Bianca (my 2 cousin 1x removed) who id’d quite a few photo’s for us. Below is one of the wonderful photo’s shared with me, that mystery photo of Nicolette Marvulli – Civitano. Her picture had once graced an oval frame. My imagination of course pictured one of those beautiful ornate bubble glass frame. I had the photo enlarged to 11×14 and then went on the hunt for the perfect frame. I hit up my favorite antique store with picture in hand. The owner and I tried to find another bubble glass frame just the right size but there didn’t seem to be one that would fit properly. From there she, also a Sharon, let me into her back storage room and allowed me to look through all the frames she had collected over the years. I think I found the perfect one. (It’s nice to have a favorite place you frequent often) She let me have it for $7. Frame and picture in hand, I took it to one of the quality framing shops in town. “This is a great frame, very well done and very old” the framer commented “really”   “about how old?” “oh I’d say about 100 to 110 years old, you can tell by the workmanship and the way it was put together” What can I say other than ~ perfezionare!


We almost cracked the mystery of who murdered my great grandfather Vincenzo, Nicoletta’s husband, in Oct of 1909. We came this close, close enough to think we would finally have the assailants name.  A big thank you goes out to Peter for his leg work at the archives in NYC. Peter, I know we will solve this mystery eventually. One thing I know for sure, we will have fun trying.

I learned quite a lot about Italian history, the hard life and poverty that prevailed in so many areas of our ancestors lives. At times while researching I felt as if I was there walking along side them. I especially was moved by the story of Francesco, my 2x great grandfather, the stage coach robber and his imprisonment and death in “the criminal bath” of Civitavecchia. Once I understood the times and history, I understood the what and why he robbed that stage and some how that softened my thoughts towards him however it deepened my sadness regarding his death and the impact and imprint on his family. But that is what this blog, blogging our ancestors journey is all about, the impact and imprint it has on our lives.

We explored the many sons and daughters of Vito Luigi, brother of my great grandfather and the patriarch of so many of Civitano families here today.

I made wonderful cousin connections with so many branches in our tree. I am especially thankful to my Uncle Joe, for all the time he spent with me on the phone sharing memories, sharing his life. To all of you who have followed this blog this past year, I say thank you for each and every comment on and off the blog and privately. It has been so much fun and such a blessing to connect with each one of you. I am looking forward to the direction the spirits of the past will lead me in 2018 but if you have any ideas or family you would like me to look into, please let me know too. To each and every one of you, a happy, healthy coming new year.



Sampling the Presepe-Nativity from Italy

Staying true to an Italian tradition, it would not be Christmas with out a ‘Presepe’ the nativity scene, also known as a crèche or a crib. The name comes from the Latin word praesaepe, which means manger. Saint Francis is said to have built the first one in the 13th century in Greccio, in Lazio.

st_francisSt. Francis of Assisi in the Desert Night by Jane Cassidy

The first presepe’s had people representing the different characters, reenacting the birth of Jesus. This type of depiction is still very popular today. Some believe the origin has its roots in the Etruscan and Latin cult of lares familiares, spirits of dead ancestors who were watching over families. The ancestors were represented by little statuettes called sigillum that were placed in the homes. This was celebrated on December 20th with a holiday called Sigillaria by the Romans. In the days leading up to Sigillaria, children polished the small figures and created miniature pastorial scenes with them. The night before Sigillaria families gathered, feasted and prayed for their ancestors. In the morning the food and drink left for their ancestors the night before was replaced with gifts and toys for the children. Christianity kept the dates and changed the meaning once Saint Francis introduced the presepe as symbolism for the birth of Jesus up until the Wise Men arrived, a new tradition took hold as a way to celebrate Christmas in Italy.

I believe my love or fascination with Presepe’s has to have come from the holiday window displays of the Macy’s Department store in N.Y.C.. We never missed a year when I was a child growing up in the 50’s and 60’s. It was a truly magical and a fascinating adventure standing in the long lines, moving ever so slowly until finally, the first window display appeared. Having been raised in a Jewish home, with a sprinkling of Christmas thrown in with our holiday menorah for Chanukah, I have always felt the duo pull of both celebrations. From my ancestors home town of Grumo Appula here is their 2017 invitation to come learn about Presepe.

Risultati immagini per stemma grumo appula




Si invitano i cittadini e tutti gli appassionati ad un 7° incontro, che si terrà presso il Palazzo Municipale
lunedì 24 aprile – ore 18,00

per continuare nello reciproco scambio di ulteriori conoscenze e informazioni costruttive per elevare tecnicamente ed artisticamente la costruzione del Presepio ed esplicitare le fasi operative per realizzare accessori ed altro. Saranno distribuite alcune nuove fotocopie di modelli di presepi da poter realizzare ed esporre in una seconda mostra per le festività natalizie 2017, con proiezione di foto relative a idee presepistiche. Saranno approfondite le procedure per la costruzione di presepi con tecnica mista utilizzando polistirene e legno: murature, porte, finestre, sedie, tavoli, ecc.

to continue the reciprocal exchange of further knowledge and constructive information to technically and artistically raise the construction of the Crib and explain the operational steps to make accessories and more. Will be distributed some new photocopies of nativity models to be able to realize and exhibit in a second exhibition for the Christmas holidays 2017, with projection of photos related to ideas cribs. The procedures for the construction of cribs with mixed technique will be deepened using polystyrene and wood: walls, doors, windows, chairs, tables, etc.
Photo posted with the invitation


Below is the Presepe I constructed this year. How did I do?







The photo above is from  “The Neapolitan Creche – The Art of the Presepio” by Bonnie Alberts. A wonderful read I think you would enjoy.

ChristnativityPresepio.jpgPhoto from Wikipedia

christnativity2Photo from

ChristItalianways.comPhoto from

christpresepeNapoliPresepe from Naples

Below 2 Christmas market scenes from Trento, Italy



Christmas Market in Sorrento








Frank (Francesco) Civitano Nov. 8, 1907 – Nov. 23, 1982

As we enter the holiday season and offer up a prayer on this 2017 Thanksgiving Day…I wanted to take a few moments to remember and honor my grandfather – Frank Civitano. Life truly is so short and memories so precious… memories are within the smiles and photo’s of the past…with out them I would not know him. I never met my grandfather since he passed before I found my birth family. However as I said, through the wonderful photo’s and stories that have been shared with me, as my research reveals and uncovers so many stories and other wonderful information…I have come to a place of really feeling like he truly touched my life in a very real and personal way. Today, the anniversary of his passing, falls on Thanksgiving. I am so thankful for Frank and all my Civitano family that have entered my life with thankfulness that I am a part of their lives.

Frank with his father Vincenzo 


Passport photo returning to New York from Italy 


Frank with his sister Julia 


Frank’s wedding day with his beautiful bride Catherine Langellotti                                          14 Sept. 1929 


With their first child my Aunt Coletta 


My father Vincent has joined the family 


The Iceman ~ Frank Civitano 


I am really not sure of the occasion – their 25th wedding anniversary possibly


The whole family: Coletta, Frank, Joe, Catherine & Vincent 


Frank with his sister Julia 


Frank is played to rest at Ferncliff Cemetery and Mausoleum, Shrine of Memories, Westchester, New York.



In loving memory of my grandfather Francesco Civitano


The life and times and Giovanni Marvulli continued….

Continuing the story of Giovanni Marvulli, I had left off with the death of his beautiful wife Grazia Scarola in 1916. She was the mother of 5 of his children of which 1 had passed in infancy. Their 4 living children were all under the age of 10. From 1916 until 1922 Giovanni was a single father.

Graziella Marvulli

By August 1922 Giovanni met or had reacquainted with widow Maria Fazio – Tomanelli. Maria (1887, Grumo Appula) was the daughter of Pietro Fazio (1842 G.A.- 1923 G.A.) and Laura Tetro (1854 G.A.) (the Tetro name is one that has repeated in our family history) Maria Fazio had married Domenico Tomanelli of Grumo Appula on Sept. 3, 1910.

Marriage Certificate - Domenico

Marriage Certificate - Domenico -2

Together they had 3 children. Giuseppe (1911), Pietro  (1913 ) and Teresa (1914).

So much of their personal story is lost, but like so many others, it is not hard to imagine what their lives were like. All born in our family town of Grumo, this was most likely a family introduction or arrangement, Maria in Grumo with 3 children and Giovanni (John) with 4 children in New York were paired up out of convenience and necessity. Maria traveled alone to New York and on August 20, 1922 Giovanni and Maria said I do. They were married in the ‘family’ church St. Clare’s in New York City.

Marriage Certificate - Giovanni .jpg

St. Clare's Church

Giovanni and Maria went on to have 3 children together, although 1 passed away in infancy. Recapping the children: Giovanni at the time of their marriage had son Dominick (20), Rocco (16) Rose (14) and Joseph (13). Maria had children Joseph (11) and Teresa (8) from her marriage to Domenico Tomanelli. Joseph and Teresa were left behind in Grumo and did not join their mother until 1933, arriving together. A year after marrying Giovanni, Maria had son Pietro ( Peter) born in 1923, followed by Grace in 1924 and Thomas in 1926.

1925 New York Census



Little Grace did not survive and passed away on Dec 30, 1925.

Death Certificate - Grace Marvilli p.1

I was unable to find Giovanni in the 1905, 1915 and 1920 census records. I was able to pick up his path in the 1925 census and then in the city directory index’s on Ancestry. I can see by these last two records that by the 1920’s Giovanni was now using the name of John. His last name has been written Marvulli, Marvilli, and a form of Marvullo. Maria has also been using the name Mary.

1920, Mavilli, – ice – (W 37th St)


1922, Marvulll, Grocer, (W 37th St)



With the stamped date of June 8, 1925 on the second page I was sad to see that his Petition For Naturalization had been denied for ‘lack of knowledge’



By 1930 the family was still living on W 37th St., John (54) Mary (44) have son Rocco (24), Joseph (21), Peter (17), Thomas (3) living with them. John’s occupation was listed as fruit store dealer. Mary and Joseph were both working as clerks in the store. Son Rocco was a press feeder in a print shop.


On June 19, 1933, Teresa (19)  and Giuseppe (22) finally arrived from Italy to join their mother and step father and siblings aboard the Conte Grande.


I paused here to consider their arrival. Joseph (Giuseppe) had been 10/11 when his mother left and Tessie (Teresa) had only been 8 years old. Who had they lived with? What had they thought about all this, their mother leaving? What had they been told? Joseph’s occupation on the passenger list was carpenter and Tessie was housewife, which I believe was a generic catch all for single woman at the time. I took another look at the records and discovered another passenger list for the year 1921, a Boston, Mass arrival on into N.Y.. Quite a few researchers have picked up this record as our Giuseppe (Joseph) but on very close inspection I do not believe this is our Joseph. Below is the record and my explanation.


There were 17 people traveling from Grumo, with last names like Peragine, D’Armiento, Spano, ….on this ship. I do believe these are many of our extended family members. The age of this Giuseppe/Joseph is off, which led me to look very closely. He was traveling with Maria Baccellieri – Tomanelli going to her husband Rocco Tomanelli. She had along with her Carlo 12, (Giuseppe/Joseph 9) and Raffaele 4. It was noted on page 2 that this Giuseppe was traveling to his father the same as with Carlo and Raffaele. This passenger list is a great resource for tracking our extended family branches but I believe this is not our guy. I have to tell you too that I had to resist the rabbit hole and continue on with our story.

By 1940 the census for John (65) and wife Maria (52) had an address of them living at 340 Stockton St., Brooklyn. The census record indicated that they had also been living there in 1935 as well. John had listed coal and ice dealer for his occupation and not grocer. Their 2 son’s Peter (16) and Thomas (13) were living at home but no indication was given that they were in school or working. A quick glance at the WW11 enlistment records for Thomas revealed that he had only a grammar school education. Perhaps he was working with his father. Son Peter I had written about in my previous post honoring him on Veteran’s Day. He was killed in action in 1944. HIs enlistment record also indicated only a grammar school education.


Now an empty lot, I imagine that 340 Stockton looked very much like the building still standing that was next to their address. (The 354 address is for across the street 🙂


Meet John and Mary Marvilli

Mary and John Marvulli

Thank you to Deborah Hansen who originally shared this on Ancestry July 11, 2017

Photo-2Thank you to Elisabeth Villarroel who originally shared this on Ancestry Jan. 24, 2016

*I have tried connecting with both Deborah and Elisabeth but unfortunately have had no reply from either of them.

With out starting to go into the marriages and lives of the children of John and Mary, I have not found much more about their lives after 1940. I have not been able to confirm the death date of Mary however most researchers have March 15 or the 30, 1955 for a date. From the New York, New York, Death Index, 1949 – 1965 I did find this listing.

Name Maria Marvilli
Age 69
Birth Date abt 1886
Death Date 15 Mar 1955
Death Place Brooklyn, New York, New York, USA
Certificate Number 6449
Household Members
Name Age
Maria Marvilli

I will need to do some more research on her . The death certificate for Giuseppe/ John Marvilli does shed some additional insight into John’s life. He retired from the Grocery business and had owned his own store. His last years were spent at the Holliswood Nursing Home in Queens, New York where he was seen by the attending physician from August of 1957 till he passed in Jan. 1959 at the age of 84. The certificate does indicate that he was a widower. His son Rocco Marvilli, living at 608 Evergreen Ave., Brooklyn was the informant. Rocco was about 53 at the time of his father’s death. John is buried at Calvary Cemetery, in L.I.City.

Death Certificate - John Marvilli.jpg

Preceding John in death had been his sister Rita Edith Caso in 1950 along with his  brother Giuseppe in the same year. His sister Angelina had passed the year prior in 1958 leaving my great grandmother Nicoletta still living until 1962. In my next post I will finish with the children of Domenico Marvulli and his wife and mother of his children Rosa D’Armiento.

In Honor of Pvt. Peter Marvilli

With Veteran’s Day less than 24 hours behind us, and as I began to research for continuing the story of the family of Giovanni and his second wife Maria Fazio, I had to stop, reflect and honor their son Peter Marvilli

Peter Marvilli 

Marvulli, Peter - Cypress Hills National Cemetery


The Brooklyn Daily Eagle – 30 Aug 1944 – Page 13

The Brooklyn Daily Eagle - 30 Aug 1944 - Page 13

The Brooklyn Daily Eagle – 7 July 1948 – Page 7 

Brooklyn Daily Eagle - 7 Jul 1948 - Page7

I was unable to get a clear legible copy of this article so I have quoted the beginning. It goes on to state the names of the others addressing the crowd as well as stating the “the names of the Brooklynites who’s bodies were aboard the ship and their next of kin, follow: Pvt Peter Marvilli, army: John Marvilli 340 Stockton St.” 

“The bodies of 116 Brooklynites were among the 4,842 World War 11 dead returned from temporary military cemeteries in Italy aboard the Army transport Carroll Victory, which docked yesterday at the Brooklyn Army Base.” The article goes on to say “Aaron L. Jacoby, chief clerk of the Surrogate’s Court, who delivered the principal address, told the more than 400 relatives of the deceased servicemen present at the memorial services on Pier 3 that America “must be strong and prepared in order to preserve the freedom for which these soldiers fought and died.” “


Today I remember and honor my 1st cousin 2x removed Peter Marvilli, son of Giovanni (John) Marvulli and his mother Maria Fazio Marvulli, brother Thomas Marvilli, 1/2 siblings Rosa Marvulli – Alessi, Dominck, Rocco and Joseph Marvulli; nephew of Giuseppe, Rita Edith, Gaetano, Angelina and Nicoletta, all who mourned his passing along with extended family and his country.

Peter Marvilli

The life of Giovanni Marvulli and wife Grazia Scarola

The next son of Domenico Marvulli  and Rosa D’Armiento that I took a closer look at was Giovanni (John) Marvulli. Born 18 May 1875 in Grumo Appula, he lived to be 84 years old before passing away in Brooklyn, New York on Jan. 22, 1959. Before I continue in my research I wanted to comment on the spelling of this last name. I have seen it many ways now on records; Marvulli, Marvilli, Marvullo…perhaps starting as spelling errors but morphing and changed by families for what ever the reason.

Birth certificate of Giovanni Marvulli 

Birth Certificate - Giovanni Marvulli p.1Birth Certificate - Giovanni Marvulli p.2

On November 30, 1901 Giovanni (26)  married Grazia Scarola (1879).

Marriage certificate of Giovanni & Grazia 

Marriage Certificate - Giovanni -2

Grazia was the daughter of Rocco Santo Scarola (1836) and Anna Lucia Panzarino (1841) both of Grumo Appula. Looking back at records on this family something exciting jumped out. The mother of Anna Lucia was Grazia Donata Gisonda. This is the family name of the 2nd husband of my great grandmother Nicoletta (Marvulli) Civitano who married Nick Gisonda/Gisondi after the death of Vincenzo. I could so go down the rabbit hole of research at this point 🙂


But back to Giovanni and Grazia. They went on to have 5 children together. Domenico (1902 – 1981), was their first son born in Grumo and would go on to immigrate to the U.S. with his parents. All 4 other of their children were born in N.Y.  Rocco ( 1907 – 1979), Giuseppe (1907 – 1909), Rosa (1908 – 1996) and Giuseppe (1909 – 1985).

Father, Giovanni arrived first on Nov. 18th, 1903. He was traveling on the ship the           SS Hesperia.

SS Hesperia


On this record under occupation it lists ‘peasant’ however above that it does say mason. Giovanni indicated that he was traveling to the home of his nephew Vito Simone. This would be the husband of Giuditta (Julia), daughter of Giovanni’s sister Angelina (Marvulli) Civitano –

Following in 1905,  wife Grazia and 2 year old son Domenico (recorded as Giovanni on the passenger record – I have no idea why Domenico was listed with this name as I have found no other documents to indicate this as his proper first or middle name) arrived on the May 23, 1905 on the ship the Republic. Grazia’s occupation was listed as farm laborer, going to her husband Giovanni at 103 16th St, NYC.


From arrival I was unable to locate the family in the 1905, 1910, or 1915 census. I decided to follow this family by the birth certificates of their children. Once Grazia had arrived with 1st son Domenico in 1905, Giovanni and Grazia had 2nd son Rocco Marvulli born March 30th, 1906. They were living at 136 W. 19th St., Rocco’s occupation was coal man.

Birth Certificate - Rocco Marvulli

Follow Rocco’s birth in 1906 was baby Giuseppe born March 17th, 1907. The family has moved and was living now at 211 W. 16th St., #7. Notice also on this and Rocco’s birth certificate the ‘levatrice – midwife’ was Antoinette Mitarotonda – this family name repeats continually in our family. (cousins)

Birth Certificate - Giuseppe Marvulli (1907)

Giuseppe lived a short 2 years passing away from diphtheria in March of 1909. Notice the spelling of the last name – Marvullo.

Death Certificate - Giuseppe Marvullo p.1

I am sure Grazia had little time to grieve the loss of young Giuseppe as baby Rosa had entered the family on Sept. 28, 1908. The ‘O’ has been added to her document as well. Still working as a coal man, the family has changed address’s to 223 W. 16th St.

Birth Certificate - Rosa Marvullo

Giuseppe #2 was born November 13, 1909. Giovanni has had steady employment and was still working as a coal man but has moved his family again now to 310 W. 25th St.

Birth Certificate - Giuseppe Marvullo (1909)

This wonderful photo of Rosa and Joseph (Giuseppe) was originally shared                        by Elisabeth Villarroel Jan 2016 (Ancestry) It looks like Elisabeth descends off of Joseph’s branch. She has not been back on since posting in Jan. In addition the family spelling has become Marvilli. I will try and reach out to her. In the mean time a big thank you for this fantastic picture and this glimpse into the life of Giovanni’s family.


Not to long after this photo, beautiful Grazia Scarola Marvulli  passed away leaving Giovanni a widower with four young children all under the age of 10. From the document below she was in Hahnemann Hospital from Aug. 25th till she passed on Sept. 1, 1916. I am unable to read the reason for her death however the best I can make out is ‘acute dilation? deterioration? of stomach following … appendectomy?….’                            (Her place of residence was 318 W. 37th St. so it appears they had moved again)

Hahnemann Hospital

You may enjoy reading this wonderful article on the Hahnemann Hospital

Hahnemann Hospital

Rosa Marvulli was buried at Calvary Cemetery Woodside, Queens, new York.

Marvulli - Calvary Cemetery.jpg

It is not hard to imagine Giovanni’s grief with this stone. ‘Erected by Giovanni Marvulli in memory of his wife Graziella Marvulli’….the stone also continues to mark the passing of his second and ‘dear wife’ Maria along with his infant daughter Grace in 1925 and then with his own remembrance. This gravestone tell’s quite a story.

Graziella Marvulli

In my next post I will continue the story of Giovanni and his family after the death of Grazia when he goes on to marry Maria Fazio 6 years later in 1922.