This post will tell the story of Erminia Maria (Emily) Tanzillo nee Langellotti, my great aunt, sister to my grandmother Katherine Civitano nee Langellotti.
In my last few post I had concentrated on my great grandmother, Filomena Langellotti nee DeLellis and her husband, my great grandfather Joseph (Giuseppe Luigi) Langellotti both from San Gregorio, Caserta, Italy. I had outlined and given a brief history of each of their seven children, Emily, Vincent James, Margaret, Anthony, my grandmother Katherine, Rita Lucy and Arthur Frank. With much love for the memory of Emily I would like to spend some time and share the story of this great aunt and oldest daughter of Filomena and Joseph; Emily (Erminia Maria) Langellotti. Her life tells a tale of love, betrayal, murder, heart break as well as an error in time that has been often glamorized but is far from that. The scars left behind are real effecting the generations to come.
Emily was born on March 4, 1901 at 10:00am in San Gregorio, Italy. The street and house number is listed as 58 Via Matese. Google earth does not enter that road but I have asked my cousin Anne to try and get a photo for me on her up coming visit to Italy if she is able to get to San Gregorio.
Birth Certificate of Erminia Maria Langellotti
Emily’s brother, Vincent James was born next on May 12, 1903. By 1904 their father Joseph had left for America arriving in June. He set off on the task of working and securing a place for his family that would arrive 2 years later in 1906.
By 1917 five more children were added to the family, all born in New York. Emily was 15 when the last sibling, Arthur Frank was born. The 1915 New York census indicated that Emily was in school. On the January 1920 census she was working as a shirt operator in a factory.
On February 20, 1920 at the Bronx Borough Hall Emily Langellotti (19) wed Frank Tanzillo (24). Frank (Francesco) was the son of Bernardo Tanzillo and Angelina Coccera.
Three children followed with the oldest, Angelina Lucy (1921), Filomena known as Phyllis (1926) and Bernard (1930). In 1930 Frank Tanzillo was working as a brick layer, the same profession as his father. Their address was 1141 Croes Ave. Bronx, where they were living with Emily’s parents, along with sister Margaret who had married John Leone and my grandmother Katherine who had married Frank Civitano.
Emily with Angelina and Filomena, pregnant with Bernard
Also living on Croes at 1129 was Frank and Rose Civitano. This Frank Civitano (my 1st cousin 2x removed) was my grandfather Frank’s favorite cousin although more of an Uncle to him. He was also the sponsor of Frank and sister Julia on their return (1923) from Italy as teenagers. Living with Frank and Rose were all of their children along with daughter Lena who was now married to Salvatore Vizzo and daughter Mary married to Anthony Gentile. (I would like to make a special mention of their daughter Julia Bianca nee Civitano, who recently passed away – you are loved and remembered) The importance of this mention of this family branch is that these families were extremely close knit and bonded. They too must have been deeply affected by the impending event.
Tragedy was building and by 1932 the happiness of the family was shattered and forever altered.
Emily apparently had a fondest for gangsters. In all fairness I am not sure that is correct or if it should be she had a fondness for a man who was a gangster. In any event she was caught in the crossfire in the conflict between Mad Dog Coll, Dutch Schultz and Lucky Luciano.
When I had first heard about this story of Emily, I was compelled to get to the bottom of it. Very few details had remained as the story was a sad one and one that was not talked about or passed down with any detail. A good 10 years past now, I set out to learn what had happened to Emily. The following is the original newspaper article I located.
Daily News Thursday, February 2, 1932
A Bronx stronghold of Vincent Coll was turned into a shambles last night. Standing in the doorway of an apartment at 1216 Commonwealth Ave., four torpedo men ruthlessly shot down two woman and four men whom they found lingering over dinner. Three were killed outright – one woman and two men. All others were wounded one of the men probably fatally. It was apparently Dutch Schultz’s response to Coll’s recent “call to arms” a summons which resulted in the arrest of Coll, his bride and two of his ace trigger men on Jan 11th. For the apartment where the shooting occurred is a known rendezvous of Coll and his lieutenants, at least one of which died in last nights massacre. He was Pasquale Del Greco, 32, alias Patsy Dugan. The other dead was Emily Tarrizello, 32, of 1141 Ave., Bronx. (let me stop here and say that the family purposefully gave the incorrect last name at the time. Also note that the street name of Croes was left off the address too) Fiore Basile, 33, a known killer and burglar and brother of Michael Basile, one of Colls most trusted mobsters. Basile and Miss Tarrizello were said to have been sweethearts. The wounded are: Mrs Lena Vineiguerra who’s only address police reported as 15th St. shot in the arm. Joseph Parrone, 19, who lives in the rear of the apartment where the shooting occurred, who was shot in the arm. Luis Basile, brother of brother of Fiore who was shot in the heart and the right arm. Little hope was held for his recovery at Fordham hospital where he and Mrs Vineiguerra were held last night. (Children in next room) Parrone who who was taken to Bathgate Station after he had been treated at Fordham told police that his father, who is deaf, was asleep in an adjoining room when the fusillade was fired. In the same room were Parrone’s two younger brothers age 6 and 3. Neither they nor his father were hurt. although slugs from the murderer’s .45 caliber ? pockmarked the walls and splintered furniture in both the dining room and living room. The article goes on to say that the apartment belonged to Mrs Margaret Zaccardi, the sister of the Basile brothers. The article also goes on to say that One of the children in the apartment, unschooled in the ways of gangland, ran to the corner of Westchester Ave. informed a policeman that “men were shooting upstairs” That was the official knowledge of the affair although occupants of near by houses and heard the fusillade and screams. None could be found however who would say they saw the killers.
- an addition to this original posting, more articles have been downloaded to newspaper.com that have the name of Emily recorded correctly (Tanzillo)
Coll was expected to be present at the apartment and the main target of this hit. Unfortunately he had not arrived yet. From what I have read, the hit man had not actually known what Coll looked like and was unaware he was not among those gathered when he began firing. Coll was successfully killed a few days later on Feb 8th, 1932 (which is my birth day)
This was the original accounting of the event that took place. From the article, to me, it is unclear which of the Basile brothers Emily might have been seeing, was it Fiorie or Michael? What I do know is that the family knew about Emily and what she was doing and was upset over her ‘going out’. She would say she was going to play cards. I can not even begin to imagine the turmoil and heart ache that was felt in the home prior to and after this event that would alter their lives forever.
Death Certificate of Emily Tanzillo
notice spelling of first name which I have seen before
Frank Tanzillo and his children would remain with Emily’s parents, Filomena (63) and Joseph (64) into the 1940’s with a move to the home at 1114 Metcalfe Ave., Bronx on the 1940 census. My grandparents Frank (33) and Katherine (27) also had moved with them. My father Vincent (5) Coletta (9) were now born. On this 1940 census Frank Tanzillo (44) widowed, listed as son-in-law had no work listed. He had worked 10 weeks in 1939 with an income of $500, granddaughter Angelina (18) was working as a operator telephone company, and their was Phyllis (16) and Bernard (10). In addition, Frank Tanzillo’s brother Louis and wife Anna was also living in the house next door with their children Angela and Bernard.
Frank Tanzillo would go on to live another twenty four years with out Emily. This was a difficult post for me to write about. There is of course more to this story that needs not be shared or remembered. The important thing is to remember that she was a daughter, a sister, a wife and mother. She was loved and missed and remembered. It was important to me that this story not be lost as it is part of who we were and are.
Rest in Peace Emily and Frank Tanzillo
A simple google search for Mad Dog Coll will yield quite a few articles on him and the event that took place.