Revisiting Giuditta Sportelli wife of Francesco (our stage coach robber)

I had intended to continue the story of my great grandfather Vincenzo Civitano, born in 1868, his death in 1909 New York, a family murder mystery,  but I felt compelled to go back to his mother’s parents/grandparents for a moment and add to their story. The questions in my mind was how did this family survive, how did Giuditta make ends meet, provide for her 3 young children; my great grandfather Vincenzo, brother Vitobino Luigi and sister Isabella after her husband was imprisoned and then died 6 years later into a 18 year sentence.

Cousin Peter Marino posted a comment that intrigued and enlightened me on something I had no idea about. For those who may not have seen his comment I felt it was important and I needed to readdress this. Peter wrote “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.” 

I decided to do a little more digging into this so I posted a page from the wedding document of Francesco Racano and Maria Barbieri, the grandparents of Giuditta, parents of her mother Maria Constantina Michele Racano to the genealogy FB group ItalianGenealogy for some help in translating the page.

Marriage Certificate - Francesco -3

With the help of Wilma DiVincenzo, member of the group, this is what she shared with me.

Marriage #38 – Notation: married at the Mother Church of Acquaviva, 21 December.

The year 1817, the 21st day of December at the hour of 21, before Giulio Iacobelli, Mayor of Acquaviva, appeared Signor Francesco Racano, age 39, an apothecary chemist living in the town at Strada Pier Gentile, adult son of the deceased Ludovico Racano, who died in this town 15 November 1815 and the deceased Beatrice Mofetti, who died in this town 20 January of this year; the grandparents are dead also; AND equally appeared Signora Maria Barbieri, age 19, a gentlewoman, living at Strada l’Ostero, minor daughter of Signor Michele Barbieri, age 45, a Civile and Signora Angela Pepe, age 46, a gentlewoman, lady of the house, here present and consenting.

Marriage Banns were dated 17 December and 14 December.

A Civile is a landowner and I just love the term that Signora Angela Pepe was a ‘gentlewoman, a lady of the house’. Most certainly they held a place of high esteem within the community and I think more research into this time period and position would be fun. For now I may have found the answer on how this ancestral family of mine had survived or had she been shunned for perhaps marring beneath her station and no help was given? Was that perhaps the reason both her son’s left Grumo for the streets of gold of America? Oh how I love genealogy and each door that opens for research.







14 thoughts on “Revisiting Giuditta Sportelli wife of Francesco (our stage coach robber)

  1. The connection at this point Carol is Francesco Civitano the man who robbed the stage coach and went and died in prison was the grandfather of Dominic. That would make him your great grandfather Carol. I hope that helps you a bit for now ~ Sharon


  2. Thank you my beautiful (new) niece for enlightening me on my roots…things I never thought of and couldn’t imagine …… I regret not having quizzed my dad, Frank Civitano who I know would have been helped fill some gaps…

    Liked by 1 person

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