The year was 1923, June 7th, when Francesco Civitano (my grandfather at age 15) returned from Italy to New York. Two years following on May 2nd, 1925 Giuditta/Julia (15), his sister, returned to New York also. Both had been born here. Francesco on November 8th, 1907 and Julia on the 18th of July, 1909.
Julia’s birth certificate
Their parents were Vincenzo Civitano and Nicoletta Marvulli both of Grumo Appula, Bari, Puglia, Italy. At the time of Julia’s birth, the family was living at 337 W. 26th St.
On August 15th, 1909 Julia was baptized at St. Clare Church. Her God-parents were Vito Simone and Giuditta Civitano.
Julia’s Baptismal record
Tragically, Vincenzo was murdered on October 12, 1909, shortly after Julia had been born leaving his wife Nicoletta with the 2 small children.
Family lore says that Nicoletta remained in New York to testify in the trial that was to follow. She and her children Frank (2) and Julia (9/12), moved in with Vincenzo’s 1st cousin, Giuditta Civitano (daughter of Francesco and Angelina Civitano) and her husband Vito Simone (the God-parents) They also had 2 children, Mary (2) and Vito Rocco (9/12), the same ages as Nicoletta’s children.
I found them in all in the 1910 c living at 250 W. 29th St., and I can’t imagine that the small tenement apartment was large enough to support this group of seven comfortably. It had to have been a very tight squeeze. Nicoletta was using her maiden name of Marvulli, and the children were listed with the Marvulli name as well. I found that curious and am not sure why that would have been. Nicoletta was working as a retail merchant in the coal and wood industry. Vito was also working in the coal and wood industry. I imagine both out of the same shop. Giuditta was at home with the four children.
Whether still waiting for the trial or it had already happened, the heartache that encompassed Nicoletta must have been insurmountable. She spoke only Italian and had been in the U.S. for just three years. She had left her mother Rose D’Armiento back in Italy, herself a widow. The census indicates Nicoletta had 6 children born and only the 2 were living, and now she had to work to help support them along with coping with the death of her husband. Her decision on what to do next, remain or return to her home in Grumo Appula must have been difficult as so many of the family had now arrived and made their home here in New York. Return she did, with Frank and Julia in tow. I have no records for when they returned exactly but we know that once she was back home she went on to marry a man named Nicholas Gisondi.
Nicoletta and Nicholas
Photo courtesy of Ann Elmindorf
We know from my grandfather Frank that one of the motivating factors for returning to New York was to avenge his father’s death. Word had gotten back to the family in Italy that the murderer of Vincenzo had served his required sentence and had been released.
* I have been working on identifying the assailant/murder of Vincenzo for some time now. It is believed again from information gleaned from the family that an argument leading up to Vincenzo’s death was business-related, possibly due to an infringement on ice delivery routes. My thought alone: because so many of our family members were in this business, and because Nicoletta had to remain to testify, and because they were aware of his release from prison, is it possible the assailant could have been a family member?
Luckily Franks Uncle, his namesake, and benefactor, Francesco (Frank) Civitano, married to Rose D’Armiento, had talked him out of the vendetta that motivated his return. It was this Uncle that sponsored Frank and Julia’s return to the states and who they lived with. *In an attempt to clarify another duplicate name (this can get very confusing) Rose D’Armiento married to the benefactor Frank was the niece of Rose D’Armiento who was Nicoletta’s mother.
Julia’s passport for her return
In 1925 at the home of Frank and Rose Civitano, 160 19th Ave., the house was full. Frank 42, was the owner/store (not indicated of what) Rose 36, tended house filled with their children Anna 16, Mary 15, Louis 13, Helen 10, Dominick 5, John 4, my grandfather Frank 18, working as a factory porter and sister Julia 16. With the exception of Dominick and John still at home, the others were listed as in school. Not yet born was their daughter Julia who would be born in 1929.
Julia (middle) at the beach ~ date unknown ~ I just love this photo, the pearls ’round Julia’s neck, the heels on her friend on the left but the girl on the right intrigues me as she and Julia seem to resemble each other to me.
On March 30, 1930, at St. Dominic Church, Julia Civitano married Nicholas Forese, son of Michele Forese and Maria DeSantis both of Grumo Appula, Italy.
Julia Civitano and Nicholas Forese
It was not long after they were married that their first daughter, Rose Mary, 1931 was born. Second child, son Micheal John joined the family, 1933 followed by Nicolette Rose in 1938. By 1940 the family was living at 1819 Wallace Ave., Bronx. Nicholas (37) was working as a laborer in the building trade and Julia (30) was home caring for her children. The census reports that both of them only had up to a 4th-grade education. Rose was 9, Michael 6 and Nicoletta 2. I think it is interesting to note that while this census reports only a 4th-grade education we did see that in 1925 at the age of 16 Julia was attending school.
This August, I had the delightful pleasure of a visit from my brother Frank (from New York). Joining us were our two 2nd cousins, granddaughters of Julia Forese nee Civitano, sister to our grandfather Frank Civitano, Ann and Isabella. It was my first time meeting them. Frank and Ann had met years ago before her parents moved the family to California in 1972. Isabella had never met either of us. Ann is the daughter of Rose and Isabella the daughter of Nicoletta.
Frank, myself, Isabella, Ann
We had great fun and lively discussions going over our family history. The connection we all felt was amazing.
In the photo below, Julia, her mother (our shared great grandmother) Nicoletta, and Julia’s two daughters Rose and Nicoletta
Julia passed away on the 14th of October 2004 and is buried alongside her husband Nicholas at Holy Cross Cemetery in Los Angeles, California. Buried along with her parents is their daughter Nicoletta.
Nicholas and Julia’s son Micheal John passed away on October 7, 2003, in Grapevine, Texas and most recently we said goodbye to their daughter Rose Mary on November 21, 2018, Los Angeles, California.
May their memories bring many blessings