Nicoletta Civitano

In my post ‘Who Killed Vincenzo Civitano? Continued’ I shared the below picture of Nicoletta. This photo is from the time of her 2nd marriage to Nicholas Gisondi in Grumo Appula, Italy after the death of her first husband, my great grandfather Vincenzo.


Just recently I shared an unidentified photo that had also been given to me, along with this one, by my cousin Ann Elmendorf, with cousin Peter Marino asking if he knew who it could possibly be. Actually I had been leaning towards the photo possibly being that of Nicoletta much younger or possibly her sister Angelina married to Vincenzo’s brother Vito Luigi Civitano. Ann and I had had quite a lively discussion on whether they were the same woman or sisters. That’s when I decided to ask Peter his thoughts. He immediately had his grandmother Julia take a look at it. What do you think she said?


Most definitely this is a young Nicoletta Marvulli nee Civitano wife of Vincenzo. 


I couldn’t be more thrilled to have this gorgeous photo of a young Nicoletta, my great grandmother. You know when I started this journey of self discovery I couldn’t in all my wildest dreams anticipated that I could come so close to learning and experiencing all that I have about my family.

The hunt however continues and our next and most prized photo would be one of Vito Luigi Civitano and Angelina Marvulli nee Civitano. So cousins reading this from that branch of our family, please dig deep into your photo archives and take a look….for ever grateful!


Vincenzo’s Brother Vito Luigi Civitano

Born in the village of Grumo Apulla in the year 1860, Vito Luigi was the oldest of 4 children born to Francesco Civitano and Guiditta Maria Sportelli (3 surviving into adulthood) As with Italian naming customs Vito Luigi was named for his grandfather Vito Luigi (b.1803)


Ariel view of Grumo from the net 

Before I move on with the life of Vito Luigi (who I will refer to as Vito from now on) I want to make mention just briefly about the early ages of deaths within this family. Vito’s Aunt Grazia, his father’s sister passed away at the age of 35, Vito was 7. He never knew his grandfather Vito Luigi, his namesake, he passed in the year 1836 at the age of 33.

Vito was born on the Strada Piscina della Terra. 


Vito’s Birth Certificate 

Birth Certificate - Vito Luigi Civitano p.1

Birth Certificate - Vito Luigi Civitano p.2

We can only imagine those early years for Vito and his siblings. The culture and way of life was changing and times were desperate. Vito was about 12 years old when his father was caught and convicted of assault and stage coach robbery then sentenced to 18 years in prison. Being the oldest I am sure he had to step up and help even more now. With the responsibilities of the farm and home along with his sister Isabella and my grandfather, Vincenzo their life was not easy. In my last post I asked the question if it was possible that Vito or Vincenzo could have followed in their fathers footsteps and participated in some sort of ‘highway robbery’. I had heard from a 2nd cousin, Carol, that her father had indicated that the family ‘back home’ were stage coach robbers. Who was her father referring to? His father Domenico born in Grumo to Vito? Or his grandfather VitoLuigi ? Vito did not immigrate to America until 1907 when he was about 47. That’s a lot of years in Grumo in troubled and unsettled hard times. It is possible he could have been involved in something he shouldn’t have.

Three years after his fathers death, in 1880, at the age of 22, Vito married Angelina (Angela) Marvulli. She was born January 1859 to Domenico Marvulli and Rosa Di’Armiento of Grumo.

Marriage Certificate of Vito Luigi Civitano and Angelina Marvulli 

Marriage Certificate - Vito LuigiMarriage Certificate - Vito Luigi -2

In the years between 1884 ~ 1899 Vito and Angelina would have 8 children, 7 of which survived to adulthood and all of them would immigrate to America. Their children were Francesco b. 1884, Domenico b. 1885, Angelina b. 1887, Giuditta b. 1888, Rosa b. 1890       d. 1892, Rosa b. 1893, Vincenzo b. 1897 and Giuseppe b. 1899.

Seven years after the birth of his last child Giuseppe, Vito made the decision to leave for America. According to the passenger record he was traveling to one of his son’s living at 456 W. 29th St between 9th and 10th Ave. I am unable to make out the name of this son on the document. It most likely was his oldest, Francesco or possibly Domenico. Census and records and passenger lists indicate they made more than one trip before settling here.

Vito’s passenger record aboard the SS Campania May 8th 1907 



A year after arriving Vito’s mother Giuditta Maria passed agway at the age of 68 on Feb 21, 1908 in Grumo.

Death Certificate - Giuditta Sportelli

I could not find Vito in either the 1910 or the 1915 census however I actually found 2 1920 census records for him and his wife Angelina who arrived in Jan 1910 aboard the SS America. She was traveling under her maiden name of Marvulli with 2 children, I believe Giuseppe and Vincenzo. Notice that this is a list of detained aliens. It could simply mean no one was there to meet them or they were being held due to illness either way they were discharged to her husband Vito Civitano at 12 – no indication if am or pm. The address listed for Vito was 152 52nd St. This solves the mystery of where he was living in 1910.


Back to the 1920’s census. The first was a January census (had to look back a page to get the month, confirmed moving forward a page) The address is 351 West 25th St. Vito is 60, alien status, working as a mechanic -iron. Neither Vito or Angelina could read or write. They are living with their son Joseph 19, also working as a mechanic – iron, census indicates no school for Joseph but he could read and write. Living next door to them is daughter Rosa married to Domenic Semoni with their children Mary, Rocco and Louis. Domenic’s occupation is listed as ice.


The second census record I found was recorded as Feb 9th. The address listed is now 434 W. 25th St. Vito is listed as Vito Louis, 61, and the occupation is laborer in a shop. He is still holding alien status. Living with them is son Vincent 22, working as a laborer – ice, and his wife Anna (Plaveson) 21, working as a seamstress. It appears to me that Vito and Angelina had no permanent home at this time and were being shuffled between children.


Some time between 1920 and 1925 the family made the move to the country – The Bronx – living at 1542 Bryant Ave. Along with Vito (now using Louis) and Angelina, son Joseph was again with them. He was 26 with his occupation listed as laborer. Both ages are off for Louis and Angelina as well as the incorrect spelling of their last name.


I lose track of Louis and Angelina in 1930 but in 1933 tragedy strikes and their daughter Rosa Civitano married to Domenico Simone passes away at age 39 of gastric carcinoma.

Death Certificate - Rosa Civitano (1893) p.1


Such sadness for this family. Not only did Angelina and Louis lose a daughter very young but they had lost their 1st grandchild Angelina at 1 years old and then grandson Louis at age 13 in 1932.

Six years later tragedy struck again and 1939 Louis and Angelina lost their daughter Julia (Giuditta) Simone. She was 50 years old. Julia was married to Vito Simone, brother to Domenico her sister Rosa’s husband. Vito had died 2 years earlier in 1937.

Death Certificate - Giuditta Civitano p.1


At this point in my research I am not sure what exactly happened to Louis and Angelina. I did find a 1940 census record that I believe is for them. This census states they were living at this same residence in 1935. The address was 632 Taylor Ave, Bronx. Both are listed as 85 years old and believe it or not Louis lists his occupation as road construction.



Not always positive with google maps but the house set back is most likely the house, or location of original house. Perhaps someone can let me know?

At 85 or close to that age Louis also known as Vito Luigi lost his life on June 19, 1945. Angelina would go on to live another 13 years almost making it 100 years old. With ages off so often back then perhaps she actually did. Louis’s death certificate indicates that that he was 68. That seems to be clearly in error with the gravestone and other documents confirming his age at closer to 85 – 87 years old.

Death Certificate - Vito Luigi Civitano.jpg

Reporting his death is his son Vincent. His address at the time is 514 Leland Ave which is also the address recorded for Louis. I am wondering if perhaps both parents were living with Vincent at this time.

Civitano - The Woodlawn Cemetery

Woodlawn Cemetery, Bronx New York 

Death Certificate - Angelina Marvulli.jpg

Angelina was living with her son Giuseppi/Joseph and his family at the time of her death. Line 12, maiden name of mother is incorrect.


Home at 3337 Fish Ave, Bronx (on left with faded red awning)

Vito Luigi and Angelina’s  family was large with 7 children that all immigrated here. Their children went on to establish a very large presence with many descendants of Civitano’s. My branch, Vito’s brother Vincenzo had only 2 children with much smaller families. During the immigration years and on into the 50’s the families functioned as 1 branch all intertwined recreating and honoring their Italian heritage from Grumo Appula. As time and years marched on their/our lives and families branched out moving with the tides of progress and assimilation. We are many branches from one wonderful tree. There are so many wonderful photo’s to share as I continue to blog but I just love this picture. To me it captures the epitome of family, our family.


Vito’s son Francesco in front, Sam Vizzo next to him, Mary Gentile (Franks daughter) in button down dress, Lena (Franks daughter, Sam’s wife) flower dress in back, and Julia (Franks daughter) with elbow obscuring her face and I don’t know who the others are.

I have come to the end of the story of Vito Luigi Civitano brother of my great grandfather Vincenzo Civitano.  We are still working on solving who killed Vincenzo but in the mean time I feel like I really got to know Vito Luigi and his wife Angelina sister to Nicoletta wife of Vincenzo 🙂 Two brothers two sisters!


Francesco Civitano and his daughter Isabella Sollecito nee Civitano

We know very little about the life of Isabella daughter of Francesco Civitano and Giuditta Sportelli. She was their 2nd daughter. Rosabetta Isabella, their first daughter died as an infant. Isabella was 7 years old at the time her father was sent to Bagno Penale facility, Civitavecchia which left Giuditta on her own with the children. She joined her brothers Vitobino and Vincenzo with the daily living chores and responsibilities. Isabella was 13 when he passed away (in the prison) on 20 April 1879.

Isabella was born on the 21st of July 1865 and died the 9th of Sept 1947. Her whole life was spent in Grumo Appula. She married, raised her family and was buried there. I have yet to make a connection with any cousin who follows her line. A death of 1947 seems pretty current to me and I am hoping to learn more about Isabella.

Isabella was baptized 2 days after her birth on 23rd of July 1865 at the Parish Church of Grumo. Witnesses of birth were Giuseppe Ancona and Domenico Capursi.

On the 31 January 1891 at the age of 25 Isabella married Michele Sollecito son of Leonard Sollecito and Francesca

The marriage certificate indicates that Isabella was a filatrice. A filatrice is often interpreted as a seamstress however it can also be interpreted as a person who works with a spinning wheel. I was so delighted to find out that definition since I actually spin and spent quite a few years spinning as a hobby, using a drop spindle and a wheel. At one time I had 3 wheels and my daughter Marissa is now the owner of my walking wheel or great wheel. I am going with this definition.

Interestingly the term spinster comes from a woman passed the age of marriage who spent her time spinning.

Isabella and Michele Sollecito, a peasant farmer, went on to have 7 children of which only 2 that I know of would go on to see adulthood. 1 with an unknown death, 1 died at 15 years the other 3 all died at 1 years of age.

Leonardo Sollecito b. 25 Feb. 1893 d. 5 Mar. 1954 This is all the information on Leonardo.

1) Francesco b. 1895 d. 1896, 2) Francesco b. 1897 d. 1898,  3) Francesco b. 1899 d. 1901 It seems being named repeatedly Francesco might have been a curse. Whether it was or wasn’t I am sure it brought great sadness for this family.

Francesca b. 15 May 1902. What happened to Francesca our Francesco’s female namesake goes unanswered at this time. We have no idea how old she lived to.

Giuditta b. 25 Feb 1905 and d. 6 March 1920 at 15 years old. Nothing is indicated on her death certificate as to the cause of death however I am feeling that a good guess could be the 1918 Flu Pandemic that swept the world until Dec 1920. This was H1N1 deadly influenza virus that claimed 500 million lives around the world.

Donata is the last of the children of Isabella and Michele. Born the 14 Nov. 1908 she was 15 years the junior to her brother Leonardo who lived until 1954. Donata married on the 27th April 1930 in Grumo to Pasquale D’Erasmo. My research is incomplete at this time but there could be a distant cousin connection between them as the D’Erasmo family is off the line of Giuseppe Civitano married to Maria Rella. Their son Francesco married Anna Catrina D’Erasmo with children to follow Pasquale may be from this line. Donata died at the age 65 in 1973 in Grumo. My assumption at this time is that their life was spent in Grumo but we do not know. We have little to no information on birth and death for Pasquale other than his father was Vito D’Erasmo and his mother was Rosa Burdi. There is so much to discover about this entire Sollecito branch of the family. I most certainly have my work cut out for me.

My beautiful 2x great Aunt Isabella, mother of 7 children of which only 2 would survive to see her buried, I hope found some happiness despite the lose of so many children and the loss of her husband Michele 10 years prior to her passing in 1947.

I would just like to make a short note here regarding the fact that this family was living during the time of the rise and fall of Hitler. Because my mother was a Jewish woman, I not only celebrate and honor my Italian roots but I also honor and celebrate my Jewish roots as well. What I did discover, which I wasn’t aware of until now is that Bari was a site for Displaced Person Camps and Centers and I thought it would be interesting to include that with this post considering Grumo is a town/commune in the Province of Bari.

Bari area

DP camps located near the Adriatic sea port of Bari were an important stage in illegal emigration to Palestine. ORT conducted extended activities in a number of camps in the area- including the Bari Transit Camp, Barletta, Palese and Andria. 

Bari Transit Camp in Southern Italy opened in 1946. It was a large DP centre with up to 1,500 inhabitants. The camp was known for its bad living conditions with definite shortages of food and living space. Resulting from a lack of appropriate premises, the first ORT classes established in Bari in January 1948 were held in wooden sheds and buildings. In 1948 they were attended by over 100 students.  Courses included cutting out of men’s and women’s clothes, shirt making, leather work and locksmiths training.

 A very important ORT school was established in 1947 in a large DP camp located by the city of Barletta. In 1948 eight training courses with 276 students were in operation in the camp. The trades taught included cutting, shirt making, mechanical knitting, auto-mechanics, cutting of shoe-uppers and leather goods. There was also a school for mechanical agriculture which by mid-1948 trained 187 agricultural mechanics. In children’s workshop a group for thirty-seven children from the local Jewish school was preparing for agriculture education by learning basic gardening, poultry rearing and rabbit breeding. From 1949 Barletta remained the last camp for Jewish DPs and the centre of ORTs work with displaced persons.

An important part of ORT activities in southern Italy was played by  agricultural training. In the large DP centre of Palese, near Bari, ORT ran courses in agriculture, preparing young kibbtuzniks for immigration to Palestine. Similar training was conducted for thirty-six young people in the building of the local government in Andria.