My Great Grandfather Vincenzo Civitano

In my last post I talked about my 2 x great grandfather Francesco Civitano who was born the 23rd of Sept., 1834 in Grumo Appula. He died on the 20th Apr., 1879 in Civitavecchia at Bagno Penal Facility. Francesco was just 44 years old. He had been convicted of stage coach robbery and battery and was sentenced to 18 years of hard labor. Considering the fate of Francesco perhaps it was a blessing that he fell ill and died after only serving 6 years.

As I began to prepare for this post I could not help but see a correlation between Francesco and his father Vitobino Luigi. Both were men who died early in life leaving their wives with young children to raise and care for. Vitobino was 33 and Francesco 44. As I looked at their ages, I thought Vitobino was quite young and wondered if perhaps something out of the ordinary had happened to him. I posted his death certificate to the FB page Italian Genealogy to see if I could get some help in interpreting his certificate. First of all, FB genealogy groups are fabulous ~ I always find a warm welcome to these groups as well as a wealth of knowledge, information and lots of help. I had quite a few responses to my document post and all who responded were in consensus that he had died at home and nothing out of the ordinary was stated about his death.

Continuing to look at the correlation between father and son, something else jumped out at me that I hadn’t seen before. That was the direct correlation between father, son,  grandson and great grandson.  Let me try to explain.

Vitobino Luigi 1803 – 1836, son Francesco 1834 – 1879, son Vincenzo 1868 – 1909,            son Francesco 1907 -1987 (my grandfather)

Francesco was 2 when his father Vitobino Luigi passed away, Vincenzo was 11 when his father Francesco passed away and then Francesco is 2 when his father Vincenzo passes. Both these Francesco’s will lose their father at the age of 2.

When I began this post I wanted to concentrate on the two sons of Francesco but I have re thought and re written this post now for a number of days and in light of some recent research developments I have decided to concentrate on Vincenzo, my great grandfather.


Vincenzo Civitano 

Vincenzo the younger of the 2 sons of Francsco and Giudetta Sportelli, was born the 1st of May 1868. Attending Vincenzo’s birth was a levatrice – a midwife, named Antonina Tortorella who reported his birth on the 5th of May to Mayor Raffaele Patruno. Witnesses at his birth were Domenico Cascione and Rocco Colasuonmo. (see document at end of post – I am amending this post after a change with WP style)  



By the time Vincenzo was 5 years old his father was sent to prison in Civitavecchia. I do not think at this time Vincenzo truly understood what had happened to his father or to his family but by the age of 11 when his father died in prison I have no doubt that he fully understood every aspect of what had happened in his families life.

I want to stop here and write just little more about my 2x great grandfather Francesco the stage coach robber. As I was preparing for this post I wanted to try and find out the conditions in Italy at the time my great grandfather would be traveling to America. Why would so many leave their homeland for New York and beyond. That led me to an interesting discovery from

“After 1861[edit]

The southern economy greatly suffered after the Italian unification and the process of industrialisation was interrupted. Poverty and organised crime were long-standing issues in Southern Italy as well and it got worse after unification. Cavour stated the basic problem was poor government, and believed the solution lied in the strict application of the Piedmonese legal system. The main result was an upsurge in brigandage.[28] Because of this, the South experienced great economic difficulties resulting in massive emigration leading to a worldwide Italian diaspora, especially to the United States and South America. Many natives also relocated to the industrial cities in northern Italy, such as Genoa, Milan and Turin.”

According to Wikipedia; “Brigandage refers to the life and practice of brigands: highway robbery and plunder.[1] A brigand is a person who usually lives in a gang and lives by pillage and robbery.” So in this part of my research it becomes apparent well most likely that that my 2x great grandfather Francesco was a brigand.

Life was most certainly not easy for Vincenzo and at the age of 32 on Oct 7, 1900 he married Nicoletta Marvulli. The Marvulli family was another established Grumo Appula family. In fact Vincenzo’s brother Vitobino had married Nicoletta’s older sister Angelina in 1882, some 7 years earlier. (see marriage document below) 

Attending Nicoletta’s birth was also a levatrice – midwife by the name of Laura Tetro. Witnesses were Nicola Forese and Gaetano Colavito. * Please note a few of these last names, Tetro, Forese, Colavito as they will continue to be repeated and shared within our family. In fact Vincenzo will go on to have 1 daughter, Giuditta Julia who will marry a Forese.

On March 1, 1902 Nicoletta and Vincenzo welcomed their first daughter Giuditta but their happiness was short lived when she passed away at 9 months old on the 20th of Dec 1902. With Nicoletta pregnant for a second time and married for just 3 years, Vincenzo set sail for America along with fellow Appulian’s and family members cousin Francesco Mitorotonto, Angelo D’Armiento, Francesco Tetro, Leonardo Searola, Jacobelli (?) Tommasco, (another) Francesco Civitano. They arrived in New York on 19th June 1903.

While Vincenzo was Nicoletta gave birth to another baby girl, also named Giuditta on Oct 8th, 1903. Their happiness once again was overshadowed in sadness when Giuditta #2 passed away on Nov. 7th 1904. I do not know if Nicoletta was with Vincenzo in New York at the time because I can not locate an immigration documents for her. However I believe she endured the sadness and grief of losing her second daughter with out Vincnezo by her side. In a future census record I was given the fact (which can be wrong) that Nicoletta arrived in 1906.

According to the passenger manifest Vincenzo was traveling to a cousin, Luigi Mitorotonto  as was Francesco Tetro, Leonardo Searola and Francesco Civitano. Francesco Mitorotonto was going to Luigi as well but he was his brother in law.


I could not locate Vincenzo in the 1905c. But  what we do know is that by 1907 Nicoletta had arrived  because my grandfather Francesco was born 8 Nov. 1907 in New York City and this would be consistent with the future census record I did find.

In my next post I will continue the story of Vincenzo, his growing family here in America and his murder mystery.



Vincenzo and Nicoletta’s marriage certificate 

Vincenzo’s birth certificate page 3,2,1

8 thoughts on “My Great Grandfather Vincenzo Civitano

  1. Remember years ago asking my dad what our family history was he said they were stagecoach robbers, I thought it was a joke but I don’t see any mention of his father or his family do you have anything on a Dominic Civitano who married Jenny I don’t know her last name for this family over from the Bronx in the oil and gas business started with I believe the ice business ahead and let a property in a lot of people hating pretty much what I remember


    • Hi Carol~ That’s very interesting, I do not have any other knowledge of other family members who were stagecoach robbers but your memory opens a whole other avenue for research… fun! Domenico’s wife was Giovanna (Jenny) Maggio. There are some ‘rumors’ of a family split over property bought. Sharon


  2. The most intriguing part of the Francesco the Stage Coach Robber equation for me is that all indications point to his wife Giuditta Sportelli was born into a family of some prominence and (likely) wealth. Giuditta’s mother Beatrice Racano and her parents are in multiple places referred to as “Don”/”Donna” or “Il Signor”/”Signora”, a mark of esteem and deference for a person of prominence in the community — someone with great wealth, education or political position. In the case of the Racano family, the male members were “farmaciste” (pharmacists); in Italy around this time, pharmacists were relied upon to give medical care to the members of the community.


    • That certainly is most intriguing Peter – my thoughts run to Giuditta’s family perhaps stepping in and carrying the weight/burden for their daughter and granddaughter. I will be sharing this information on the Racano family. Your insight and research in to the family history is always appreciated and you know how I feel about you….your the best!


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