It Pays To Look Twice: Emily Tanzillo Revisited

I my last post I told the tale of love, murder and heartbreak regarding my great Aunt Emily (Ermina) Langellotti who married Frank Tanzillo on Feb 19th, 1920 at the Bronx Borough Hall.



Evidently I had sent away for another marriage certificate which I just received. I was pleasantly surprised with this additional certificate. You can see the original certificate number was crossed off and rewritten with the first certificate’s number on it. The date of this new record was 4 months later on June 20th, 1920 at Our Lady of Pity Church in the Bronx.

Marriage Certificate - Frank

Marriage Certificate - Frank -2




The question: why? The first was a legal state marriage and the second a wedding sanctioned in the eyes of the church. Was this done because of parental pressure or did it hold a true religious meaning for the couple? I don’t think the questions can ever be answered.

A google search for Our Lady of Pity led me to learn that it was demolished. You can read the story at

As I was reading the article on the demolition I came across this mention

“In 1929, the current church was built to serve the fast-growing community of Ponzese living in the neighborhood. For decades, Our Lady of Pity Church and School served the Italian community even as the fires roared through the South Bronx. Even after the parish was merged with nearby Immaculate Conception in 2007, the faithful Ponzese congregated each June 20th on the feast day of Ponza’s patron saint, San Silverio.”

Emily and Frank were married in the church on the June 20th, 1920 on the feast day of Ponza’s patron saint, San Silverio.

For me all of this just adds to the sadness of Emily’s story. I know we must tear down to make way for the new but do we have too? Something stirs deeply in my soul for the loss of the past, whether with her stories, or the physical reminders of what once was. I hate to see these old houses of worship church/synagogue torn down instead of designated as landmarks and refurbished. Their beauty, the craftsmanship of these old buildings of worship can never be replaced. The stained glass, the mosaic tile work irreplaceable.



One one last note before closing, I wanted to also make mention of the witnesses on this June 20th wedding. Giovanni Dunnola and Lena Piacente. A conversation with my Uncle Joe and a quick look at the 1930c Bronx census answered a question and clarified  fading memories.

Lena Piacente was the sister of Edward Piancente. Edward, an undertaker, our families undertaker was also a very close and personal friend to the family. He was my grandfather’s best man at his wedding in 1929. Lena would go on to marry Michael Puglia in 1924. Connecting our family even more strongly is the fact that my Aunt Coletta later in her life time reconnected with her first love Joseph Puglia- Michael’s (an undertaker) brother. Joseph and Coletta would go on to live out their later years in each others arms and not even in death would they part.


Coletta and Joe