Remembering Maria Forese and asking Why?

Maria Forese #2 was born on August 23rd, 1919 in the Bronx, New York. She was the daughter of Michele (Michael) Forese and Rose DiSantis both from Grumo Appula, Italy.

Maria Forese 2

Maria Forese.jpg

On May 9th, 1911 Rose, traveling under her maiden name of DiSanits left Grumo Appula and arrived in New York joining her husband Michael who had come ahead of her. Traveling with her was daughter Maria 1 b. 1898, son Nicholas 1 (Nicola) b. 1902 and son Nicholas 2 (Nicola) b. 1909. I am labeling them with a #1 and #2 to make it easier. There had been another son b. 1900 also named Nicholas (Nicola) but he passed away in the same year, 1900, in Italy.

Maria 2 was born on the 23rd of May 1912 in the Bronx, New York. When she was 4 years old she and her siblings welcomed a baby sister name Angelina (Angela) born on June 8, 1916, Bronx. Their happiness was short-lived when baby Angela passed away on the 22nd of June, 1917 of bronchial pneumonia.

In my last post, I wrote about Julia Forese nee Civitano, the sister of my grandfather Frank Civitano who married Nicholas Forese 1. It is her husband that this story attaches too. Nicholas Forese was the husband of my great aunt.

Beautiful little Maria 2 was the sister to the two Nicholas’s and sister Maria 1 born in 1898.

The interweaving of the Civitano, Forese, Simone, D’Armiento families of Grumo Appula is a tapestry of families all intermarried and connected. It is almost impossible to unravel and make sense of, but I will try. While Nicholas 1 married a Civitano member so also had Nicholas 2.

Nicholas 2 married a woman named Angelina Simone and if that name sounds familiar to followers of this blog and our family, this Angelina is the daughter of Vito Simone and Giuditta Civitano, the God-parents of Julia Forese nee Civitano the wife of Nicholas Forese 1 that I am writing about.

Tragically, little Maria died on May 31, 1919, when she was only 6 years old, 9 months and 8 days. It was her cause of death that made her passing even more horrifying. According to the death certificate, the cause of death was shock: 2nd-degree burns of back and (?) ‘the contributing causes were’: clothes set fire by match – homicide. Had she been playing with matches? The word homicide indicates a deliberate act, murder, killing of another by another and the word was used. But who? I could find no record of this using

Death Certificate of Maria Forese

Death Certificate - Maria Forese.jpg

The question is now, who, how, why had this happened. I don’t have an answer and most likely we will never know.

Tragedy strikes again

Eight months later on January 1, 1920, Rose Forese, mother of Maria and Angelina deceased, died from ‘hydatid cysts of lungs, liver and other scleroderma visceral’. Hydatid cysts are caused by a tapeworm infection, caused by contaminated animal feces.

Death Certificate of Rose Forese

Death Certificate - Rosa Forese p.1

Rose Forese nee DiSantis left behind her husband Michele/Michael Forese (47) and her two sons Nicholas 1 (18) and Nicholas 2 (12) and Maria 1 (22)

Rose is buried at St. Raymonds Cemetery along with sweet Maria and her infant daughter Angelina  (Section 12, Range 16, Grave 62)

Maria Forese-2.jpg
Source: Find A Grave

Sweet Precious Maria 

Maria Forese

7 thoughts on “Remembering Maria Forese and asking Why?

  1. What horrifying deaths. I wonder if you can find a coroner’s report on Maria’s death. There should be some record of her homicide. It might not have been intentional since it didn’t say murder. Perhaps someone recklessly or deliberately set the fire, and her death was collateral to that.

    And why were there siblings with the same names? Why two named Maria and two named Nicholas??


    • I am laughing about the double names. It did get me a bit confused at first. I have heard that it was a custom to trick the ‘angel of death’ after the death of a child but to double name like that – I don’t know. My thoughts on Maria’s death too and will try and follow up with locating a coroners report on this. Just as with my ggrandfather Vincenzo, if this was truly a homicide, intentional or not, my understanding is the records are under the assailant name and not the victim, but I’ll be following this up for sure.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you for this fascinating yet heartbreaking post. Agree with Amy about pursuing additional research into Maria’s death. On the double-naming, my maternal Italian great-grandparents lost a child named Peter (after their father), so they named their next son Peter. Alas, he also died in infancy. After that, they abandoned tradition and named their other sons Anthony and Joseph — at last successfully “tricking the angel of death.”


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