Wordless Wednesday: Wedding Bells

LangelottiJimweddingJames Langellotti and Elizabeth Festa ~ 1940 


Hunt for a killer part 4: The Queen of Fences Found Instead

Update on locating anything on the Vincenzo Civitano murder 1909: I have been checking back with the Lloyd Sealy Library site at John Jay College of Criminal Justice Criminal Trial Transcripts of New York County Collection (1883 – 1927) Sadly the site is still down for maintenance. I am continuing to use the alternative temporary site but it is slow going and I miss quite a bit.

While working on a side genealogy project for a friend I came across the name of Anthony Stabile – bells went off, a quick flip of notes and I found one of the first cases I had looked at with the defendant named Vincent Stabile. Wondering if there was a possible connection, I hit the rabbit trail at full speed and slid down into one of the most interesting finds I thought totally blog worthy.

Checking back at newspapers.com, New-York Tribune (New York, New York) . 12 Mar 1910, Sat . Page 16  just below an article for Vincent Stabile the heading read:


Taught Shoplifting Years Ago and Practices it at Seventy

I just had to read it:


ok, so “back in the old days in 1885”, she was a teacher in Mme. Mandelbaum’s school for shoplifters, thats all I needed to continue with this story.

The year of the article is 1910 and Mary Wilson was 70, which made her about 25 when she was a ‘shoplifter’ teacher. Mme is the french abbreviation for madam which led to a deeper dive into the hole ~ Madam Mandelbaum, who was she? It wasn’t long before I had a good picture of just who she was. I found articles mentioning her from New York to Chicago, Illinois, Missouri and Kansas and even Ohio. She crossed the border and was known and sheltered in Canada and continued to run her enterprises there and in the states. I read countless articles from the late 1800’s into early 1900’s detailing arrests and stories behind the ‘fences’ of Mandelbaum caught and sentenced.

According to The Leavenworth Times (Leavenworth, Kansas) . 24 Jan 1895, Thu . page 3        “Mme. Mandlebaum probably the most famous purveyor of stolen goods in the United States at that time. This woman became the recognized leader and queen of Gotham shoplifters and thieves and in fact purchased stolen goods form all over the east. 

I read about Sophie Lyons “Queen of Female Criminals” from the St. Louis Globe-Democrate (St. Louis, Missouri) 22 Jun 1896, Mon . Page 4


Isn’t that wonderful  “somber in widow’s weeds, her still handsome face hidden by and impenetrable black veil”

The article goes on to give credit Mme, Mandelbaum, The Queen of Fences, for this Queen of Criminals being a protege of Mandelbaum.

The most complete historical look into the life of Mme. Mandlebaum came from The San Francisco Examiner (San Francisco, California) . 03 Aug 1884, Sun . Page 8 


The article went on to read



Fredericka Mandelbaum was born in 1818, Kassel, Germany and died Feb. 1894 Toronto, Canada

There are countless numbers of books, articles and photo’s of Mandelbaum if you care to read further about this woman. A simple google search is all that’s needed. I think what I loved most about my trip down the hole was the colorful writing of the reporters of this time frame. This won’t be my last trip down the rabbit hole, that is for sure.




Hunt For A Killer Part 3

In my hunt for the killer of Vincenzo Civitano, last week I spotted a post on the Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/groups/tracingthetribe/
This is a group that is always a fabulous resource for Jewish genealogy that I have used often for my maternal side. 
The post was sponsored by MyHeritage with a chance to have help with solving a family mystery. Yes, I entered and Yes, please pick me 🙂


Solve your genealogy mystery!

About this website
Do you have a mystery in your family that you are itching to solve? Maybe you’ve found a war medal tucked away in an old box and you don’t know whose it was, or perhaps you found a mysterious locket with initials you don’t recognize. There can be a number of different mysteries that you have ….

Hunt For a Killer Part 2 – ICE DEALER is Slain On Street After Meeting

Who would have thought while continuing my research into the identity of the killer of my great grandfather Vincenzo Civitano (an ice delivery man) on Oct 12, 1909, I would discover a 2nd murder of another Civitano ice man on Jan 25, 1923 in Bayonne, New Jersey.

Using genealogybank ( https://www.genealogybank.com ) this morning I put in a general search for civitano looking for anything in the early 1900’s – anything that might warrant a second look and with over 200 hits I went to work.

The Headline that grabbed me read:


Jersey Journal/Thursday, Jan 25, 1923/Jersey City, NJ/Page:1

My inital thought in seeing this headline was: could this be related, possibly a follow up article for the release of the assailant back in 1909? It was not. It was for the murder of another Civitano in the ice business.

Anthony ‘Tony’ Civitano 

murdered at the age of 22

68 W. Twenty Second St., Bayonne, N.J.

I had seen the name of the assailant before while combing the list of trial transcripts on the Lloyd Sealy Library site a few days prior. After learning the murder was 1923 and a gun had been used and it was not a stabbing; I had put it on my to do list to research which had now grown to 7 homicides, with 3 I have since been able to eliminate. (https://www.lib.jjay.cuny.edu/content/list-all-trial-transcripts )

The fact that I learned he was another ‘ice delivery man’ had my interest more than peeked.

I quickly found more articles in the Jersey Journal and went about reading them all.



“A strong police net has been spread across the entire Atlantic coast every railroad station is being guarded and all the alleged murderer’s friends is being kept under constant surrveilance by the Bayonne police in an effort to capture Mario Sforza, 34 years old of 86 W. Twenty-second St. who is charged yesterday with shot and killed Tony Civitano, 22, of 68 W. Twenty-second St. during an argument regarding the merits of a new ice company to be formed to furnish the local peddlers with this commodity. The police are absolutely with out any clues as to Sforza’s whereabouts.”

The article goes on to give more details as to what led up to this event. In additiona number of other articles helped fill out the details of this crime. A meeting of ice men was held at the law offices of Harry Scala at 501 Ave C. It seems ‘Tony’ along with one or two other men objected to this new accompany and did not agree with Sforza’s who was strongly in favor of it. Further articles allege that after the meeting, ending at midnight, and after drinking at a friends home, the 2 men along with a man named Pietro Mariano stood outside arguing. Pietro got tired of this and began for home when he heard 4 shots fired, turned and saw Civitano collapse and Sforza running away. 3 shots struck Civitano, 1 into his spine, another went through the window of a nearby bakery. The police arrived and found Mariano leaning over Civitano’s body.  Initially a suspect, Civitano was able to finger Sforza as his assailant before he died. The only lead seemed to be for finding Sforza was a young wife and baby who they hoped he would try and contact.

The full headline of the Jersey Journal/Saturday, Feb 10, 1923/Jersey City, NJ/Page:8  



I also found a follow up article which appeared almost a year to the day of the murder of Anthony Civitnao which made headlines in the Jersey Journal on Feb 21, 1924. His mother, Rose Civtano was awarded a judgement of $5000 in this case. The article states that civil damages against a slayer is very rare and that this is a first of its kind. It appears that Mario Sforza owned property which might be levied to satisfy the judgement.


But who was Anthony ‘Tony’ Civitano?  What if any was his relationship in and to our Civitano family branches. The only other bit of information from the articles found was that Rose, his mother was widowed and that she lived in West New York. Anthony’s birth year would be about 1900/1901,  with his age being reported as 22 and 23.

I have been unable using Ancestry and familysearch, to locate or identify who his family could be. The only lead I have is a 1910c for the family of Vincenzo b. 1857, Civitano/Civilano/Cirilano wife Rosalia b. 1862, sons Salvatore b. 1894, John b. 1896, Agusto b. 1899, James b. 1900, Drato b. 1903 and daughter Maria b. 1906

In this census below from ancestry.com I see son John – distinctive, below him Agusto and below him indexed as James, I am wondering if this could be our “Tony”. The J is not the same as in John. I am seeing a T – with the stretch of my imagination am I seeing Tonie? – the age would be right. Thoughts on this are welcome and would be appreciated 🙂 This census is the only record I could find for this family. I could use some help. I was trying to locate a death record as well for Vincenzo to see if Rosalia was a widow by 1923.


**Below I have edited the original post and added two additional census page showing the letter T written by this enumerator.

Mario was sentenced to 20 years but by 1940 he had been released. I was able to find him in the 1930c as a prisoner in the New Jersey State Prison. In 1940 he was living as a lodger with a Carmen Del Russo at 1291 Newkirk St., East Orange, N.J.. Mario was working as a laborer with the water company and he was listed as still married. Exactly how long he served is hard to tell. Below is Mario’s WW1 registration card (ancestry.com) I was interested in his birth location. Altamura is about 18 miles from our home village of Grumo Appula, Italy. This along with the ice and coal business leads me to wondering if there could be a connection between all this.


While I could not find any burial information for Anthony Civitano, I did locate Mario’s records. He died November 21, 1959 and is buried at the Beverly National Cemetery.



I am left with still wondering the connection between Anthony Civitano’s family and ours.  Who was his family and where and what happened to them? But more importantly, while we have a trail to his assailant we are left with out one for him at this time. We remember and say to him and his family ~ you are not forgotten and are remembered.

May you rest in peace

Anthony Civitano