The Murder of Vincenzo Civitano – 1909

Vincenzo Civitano 1868 – 1909

On October 12, 1909 a death certificate was issued for my great grandfather Vincenzo Civitano. Written with the name James Civilano, cause of death – stab wound to the chest – homicide. Two months later, on Dec. 8th his records arrived at the coroners office with his correct given name Vincenzo Civitano. (James is the common nickname for Vincenzo)

With the help of cousin Peter Marino along the way, I have been working for many years on trying to discover the name of his assailant. With so little details passed down, Vincenzo’s murder has been slow in piecing together. My Uncle Joseph, his grandson, has only a hazy memory of facts. The assailant was of Italian decent, the confrontation resulting in is death was possibly over ice/coal delivery routes, his wife, Nicoletta Marvulli remained in New York long enough to provide testimony in the trail which resulted in the assailant being convicted and being sentenced to prison. Nicoletta then returned to Grumo Appula, where they had immigrated from with her two children, Francesco (Frank) 2 years and Giuditta (Julia) abt 9 mths.

Back in 2016/17 Peter headed over to the Municipal Archives in Manhattan to comb through the records of criminal cases, with time restraints and a painstakingly long process, he had no luck. First let me explain that the records for criminal cases are listed under the assailants name. There is no data base with the victims name with the assailant listed. The records are listed alphabetically, all criminal case records grouped together, assault, larceny, homicide, abortion, theft, robbery etc… You can not just look at records for ‘homicide’. With no luck back then, we, I, pretty much put this avenue to rest.


Discovering who had murdered Vincenzo has become an obsession for me. One may ask, what will it really accomplish in learning who he was or even who really cares at this point? I can’t answer except to say this is part of Vincenzo’s story, my families story and it is not complete without this detail.

My great grandmother Nicoletta remained in New York to provide testimony in the trial. Why? What would have been her input? or has this detail morphed over the years. Had she simply remained to be present at the trial just to discover the outcome before returning to Italy to resume her life?

According to the 1910 census taken in April, at some point after Vincenzo’s death, Nicoletta 30, Frank 2, and Giuditta 9/10 moved from 250 W. 26th St and was living with her cousin Giuditta (Civitano) Simone. Giuditta was married to Vito Simone. With them was their children, daughter Mary 2, and Rocco 9/12. There are a few things interesting about this I may have or not noticed/remembered. Having thought she moved in with them, Nicoletta is listed as head of household with the Simone family listed as brother and sister in law with niece and nephew. (Giuditta was actually a 1st cousin to both Nicoletta and her late husband Vincenzo) Had they moved in with her? Nicoletta was working – listed retail merchant – coal wood – employee. Vito was listed – retail merchant – coal wood – owner. Clearly she was working for him. Nicoletta was also listed as Nicoletta Marvulli, her maiden name.

In late April (this year)I emailed the Municipal Archives inquiring on a direction in trying to find the assailant. They reinforced what I already knew and suggested sending me a file with all the criminal cases for the year 1909 to go through. Below is an example of what the down load looked like. And yes the email download records were as tiny as you see. It says: Anderson, Chester Arthur, under his name says deceased Edward Ray ‘offense’ and under that is says homicide.

example of record of cases

They files were listed A – K and L – Z, 900 plus pages with 16 entries per page, some pages blanks and you have a rough idea of the amount of files I had to comb through. It took me days and the need for a magnifying glass. I am so sad to report, I did not find Vincenzo listed. Writing back to the archives I decided to comb through 1910 records thinking perhaps the trial was later considering Nicoletta had remained in New York. I am now in the process of looking at dates – an arrest for assault possibly a few days prior to his death date of the 12th, thinking he may have been attacked and did not pass until the 12th.

I am pleased to say that I have had a wonderful response from the Archive staff. In fact ‘Cristina Stubbe’ has contacted me after I reported I have had no luck and am stumped, to let me know she is going through the 1909 and 1910 boxes of records for me to see if she can locate anything that way. Along with that she suggested writing to the Manhattan District Attorney (which I have done) to see if they have records from back then. I have written to the ‘records access officer’ under the FOIL heading, Freedom Of Information Law and hope to hear something positive back from them.

Once again, my fingers are crossed and I am hopeful that I will eventually be able to answer the question

Who killed my Great Grandfather Vincenzo Civitano

Domenica Caso and Vincenzo Locorriere

Preparing to write this first post of 2022, I did a quick look back at my posts for this past year. My first posting was on Feb 1. In that post I had been contacted by a 3rd cousin, Joseph Eckhardt, the grandson of Domenica (Caso) and Vincenzo Locorriere. Joseph had found the blog and wanted to share a few photo’s of his grandparents with me. I had researched and written about this branch before but in this posting of 2021, I was thrilled to share these two photo’s below and update about this family. Domenica Margharita, known as Margaret, was the daughter of Rita Edith Marvulli and Gaetano Caso. Rita was sister to my great grandmother Nicoletta (Marvulli) Civitano.

Shortly before Christmas, I heard from Guy Caso, who has graciously shared many family photo’s with me over the last few years. He had made a visit to Holy Cross Cemetery in North Arlington, New Jersey to pay his respects to his parents, Gaetano T. (Guy) Caso and his wife Elizabeth Panacciulli. While he was there he located the graves of Vincenzo and Domenica Locorriere and sent me this photo.

It is quite serendipitous to be starting the year 2022 again with a posting of Vincenzo and Domenica. May their memory be a blessing to their family and friends.

May we remember with reverence and admiration the courage, fortitude and sacrifice of those who came before us and honor their hopes and dreams with always remembering them and sharing their stories.

Maria Filomena Peragina and Rocco Tetro

Below are the photos of Maria Filomena Peragina and her husband Rocco Tetro. Recently I had received notification from MyHeritage for ‘discovery matches’. In the tree of I. Tetro, Italy, were the pictures of Maria and her husband.

And here is how they are connected to our family tree. (everyone was born in Grumo Appula, Bari, Italy

Vito Luigi Civitano (1803 – 1836) married Isabella Elisabetta D’ Amico (1806 – 1874) (they were my 3x great grandparents) they had daughter

Rosa Civitano ( 1828 – 1891) and she married Giuseppe Peragina ( 1825 – 1896) they had daughter

Maria Filomena who married Rocco Tetro making her my 1st cousin 3x removed and Rocco the husband of my 1c3xr.

According to one family researcher on Ancestry the birth and death years for Maria was 1866 – 1928 Rocco was 1863 and some time after 1829. (this is undocumented)

They were the parents of nine children

Giuseppe Luigi (Joseph) b. 1888 Grumo d. 1969, Westchester, N.Y.

Woodlawn Cemetery, Bronx Giuseppe and his wife Anna Signorile

Chiara (Grace) b. 1891 Grumo d. 1920 Bronx, N.Y.

Woodlawn Cemetery, Bronx. I do not know who this Rocco is.

Rosina b. 1893 Grumo d. unknown (Grumo)

Francesco b. 1895 Grumo d. 1927 Grumo

Vito Luigi b. 1897 Grumo d. 1919 N.Y.

Laura b. 1898 Grumo d. unknown

Pietro b. 1901 Grumo d. 1972 Grumo

Donato b. 1902 Grumo – 1990 Grumo

Giovanna Maria b. 1905 Grumo

Angela b. 1907 Grumo d. 1993 N.Y. She married Vito Cascione in Grumo and immigrated in 1960 and became a citizen in 1966.

Isabella Civitano and Michele Sollecito

Isabella Civitano was the daughter of Francesco Civitano (1834-1879) and Giuditta Maria Sportelli (1839-1908)

She was born 21 July 1865, Grumo Appula, Italy. Isabella was my great grandaunt. She was the sister of my great grandfather Vincenzo and his brother Vito Luigi Civitano. Both Vincenzo and Vito Luigi immigrated and began our our Civitano families here in New York. Isabella however, remained in Grumo Appula.

Isabella’s Birth Certificate

I have written briefly about Isabella before. I have had no luck in locating information on or connecting with any family members of her branch. It is my hope in keeping her current I may be able to discover more about her from readers.

Isabella married Michele Sollecito on 31 January 1891 in Grumo Appula, Italy.

Marriage Certificate for Isabella and Michelle

Michelle Sollecito was born 11 March, 1864 in Grumo Appula. He was the son of Leonardo Sollecito (1836 -18730 and Francesca Filomena Capozzolo (1840 – 1916)

Birth Certificate of Michele

Backtracking just a bit, Isabella’s father Francesco had been convicted of robbing a stage coach and assault on August 30, 1873. He was 39 years old at the time. He was sentenced to 18 years of forced labor at the Bagno Penal Facility in Civitavecchia. He would only serve 6 years, passing away at age 45, in prison.

Isabella was only 8 years old when her father was convicted. Mother Giuditta was left with her daughter and her two sons, Vito Luigi (13) and Vincenzo (5) to raise. A great deal of responsibility must have been placed on Vito Luigi being the oldest child.

When Isabella married Michele in 1891, brother Vito Luigi was already married (1882) to Angelina Marvulli and brother Vincenzo was still single and would not marry Nicoletta Marvulli until 1900.

Isabella and Michele’s first son was Leonardo Sollecito born 25 Feb., 1893. He too remained in Grumo Appula, passing away on 5 March 1954, Grumo.

Their next three children, all named Francesco did not live to adulthood, all passing within a 2 years of being born.

A daughter Francesca was born on May 15, 1902. I have no other information on her. She was followed by Giuditta born 25 Feb. 1905. She would live for 15 years before passing away on March 6, 1920.

Isabella and Michele last child was Donata born on November 14, 1908. She went on to marry Pasquale D’Erasmo. Pasquale was the son of Vito D’Erasmo and Rosa Burdi. It appears they made their home in Grumo where Donata died on 26 July, 1973. I have no other information on Pasquale.

Brother Vincenzo was the first to immigrate to New York, arriving on June 19, 1903, Vito Luigi followed on May 8, 1907.

Their mother, Giuditta passed away on February 21, 1908 leaving Isabella, her only child in Grumo Appula to bury her. Actually she was not alone her sister in law, Vito Luigi’s wife, Angelina, was still there. She would not join her husband until 1910. Vincenzo’s wife Nicoletta (Angelina’s sister) was already in New York, having traveled in 1906 to join him.

While the details of Isabella and Michele Sollecito and family remain limited I am hopeful more information will eventually surface.

Wedding Bells for Guy T. Caso and Elizabeth Panacciulli

In my posting of March 12, 2021, I shared engagement party photos for Gaetano (Guy) T. Caso and his soon to be bride Elizabeth Panacciulli. Guy was my 2nd C 1x removed. Below are a few of those photos.

I am very grateful to their son, also Guy, for recently sharing these wonderful wedding photo’s with me.

Arriving to wed, Elizabeth is accompanied by her father Antonio
Mr. & Mrs. Guy T. Caso
Identified: bridesmaid front is Vita Caso Andreoli, sister of the groom. Groomsmen : 2nd from front Frank Panacciulli, Joseph Panacciulli, brothers of the bride.
Any family members who may recognize some one in the photo’s, I would love to hear from you.
Smiles to light up the world

Guy and Elizabeth were married for 57 years.

Caso Family Photo’s

Continuing to record and preserve the story of the Marvulli and Caso Family branch, the son of Guy T. Caso (also Guy) has been sharing some more family photos. Our connection goes back to the marriage of Rita Marvulli (my great grandmothers sister) and Gaetano Caso. They were married December 6, 1890, Grumo Appula, Italy and from their humble beginnings there to here, in New York, this branch on our tree was established.

I’m dating the photo below in the late 1920’s, around 1928. Guy T. Caso is with his grandfather Michele Caso (son of Gaetano) Guy T. was born in 1923 and he looks about 5 years old to me, which led me to this date.

In the photo below Guy T. is with his sister Rita and their God-parents Angelo D’Attoma and his wife Vera (Marvulli) D’Attoma. Possibly a first communion photo (?)

Angelo D’Attoma, Vera D’Attoma seated: Rita Caso, Guy T. Caso

Guy T. Caso – School Graduation

Guy was 16 in June of 1939, the time of this photo. He would be turning 17 in September. I was assuming this was his high school graduation although in the group photo many of the boys do not look high school age. So perhaps this is a joint Jr and Sr high class photo. But looking at the 1940 census gave me a clue to this photo. In 1940 the family of Michele Caso and his wife Rose was living at 438 25th St, just a few doors down from the Church/School. Rita (18) was listed as H.S. 3rd year and Guy (16) was listed H.S. 1st year. That would make the group photo below a Jr. High School graduation photo or even some other religious graduation photo. Their sister Vita (7) listed in 1st grade.

St. Columba 1939 Graduating Class ~ Guy T. Caso ~ top row left end standing

From Guy’s autograph book we have the exact graduation date June 21st, 1939 and what his sisters had written. Very precious!

St. Columba today (source: From Abyssinian to Zion (4th ed.) ) 343 W. 25th St. St. Columba was built in 1845 and is one of the oldest Catholic Churches in N.Y.C.

Cousins: Robert G. Caso and Guy T. Caso

On May 23, 2020 I wrote about Robert G. Caso my 2nd cousin 1 X removed. You can access that post at the link below. I never knew Robert, but in researching him I learned I’ve lived within 150 miles of him for the past 20 years. Robert, known as Bob was born in 1924, New York and passed away in 2018 in Port Angeles, WA.

https://wordpress.com/post/civitanofamilyblog.wordpress.com/5685

I have also highlighted Gaetano (Guy) T. in a number of postings over this past year. (also a 2 C 1X R) He was born in 1923, New York and also passed away in 2018 in New Jersey.

Robert and Guy share their grandparents, Gaetano Caso (1864) married to Rita Marvulli (1862). Gaetano and Rita had sons Michele (Michael) Caso (1892) and Domenico (Dominick) Caso (1900). Both born in Grumo Appula, Italy. Dominick arrived in September of 1905 at 5 years old. He was traveling with his mother Rita Caso, under her maiden name of Marvulli, along with his sister Domenica. Michael arrived three years later in November 1908 (Boston arrival) at the age of 16.

Michael married Rosa DiGirolamo and had son Gaetano T. Caso and Dominick married Rose Haughey and had son Robert G. Caso.

Below is a photo of these two 1st cousins together.

Courtesy of Linda Caso-Conte, daughter of Guy T. Caso

While working on this posting I was reminded of another photo I was gifted. Below are the cousins once again together. Lt to Rt : Robert, his brother Arthur Caso and Guy Caso.

Courtesy of Guy Caso, son of Guy Caso

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Guy T Caso and Elizabeth Panacciulli

It was March of 2020 that I wrote a number of posts highlighting the family of Michael Caso and his wife Rosa DiGirolamo. Michael was the son of Rita Marvulli (sister of my great grandmother Nicoletta Marvulli) and her husband Gaetano Caso. Gaetano and Rita immigrated from Grumo Appula, Italy with their three children (all born in Grumo) to begin their new lives here.

Michael and Rosa’s children were, Rita, Guy T. (Gaetano) and Vita. In this posting I am highlighting Guy T. (Gaetano) with a few photo’s shared with me courtesy of his son. Below are engagement party highlights of Guy T. and Elizabeth Panacciulli. They applied for their wedding license on 23 Aug, 1947 and were married on the 14th of September.

1947 – Standing left-right: Michael Caso, Antonio Panacciulli Seated left-right: Rosa (DiGirolamo), Guy T. Caso, Elizabeth Panacciulli, Antoinette (Albanese) Panacciulli, Angelo D’Attoma and a hint of Giuseppe Marvulli
left-right: Mary Lingo, Lena Mancini, Elizabeth, Guy T., Giuseppe Marvulli

I am adding three additional photo’s to the original posting that Guy sent to me. These are unlabeled photo’s although a few people are recognizable. I love seeing everyone celebrating and enjoying.

Standing center: Joseph Panacciulli arm around Antoinette, Pauline directly in front of Jospeh is his wife, to Paulines left is Nicoli Panacciulli, his wife, Antoinette is to Paulines right. Next to Nicoli, Gennaro Panacciulli (another brother) and an adorable Gennaro Panacciulli son of Joseph and Pauline. (ID courtesy Louis Panacciulli)

28th Street, Long Island City home of Michael Caso where the reception took place

Guy T. Caso and Elizabeth (Panacciulli) Caso

Photo Courtesy of the Guy Caso Family

Maria Forese and Michael Sinisi Family

I have written about the Forese Family before. Specifically covering the story of little Maria 2 (7 years old) who died tragically in a fire in 1919, the passing of Maria’s 2 younger sister Angelina in 1917 and the passing of their mother, Rosa (DeSantis) in 1920, as well as touching briefly on the remaining family.

This week I received an email from Dr. John Sherry. Researching his family, he discovered the blog and contacted me. I am always so thankful to hear from family and so grateful for their willingness to add to our shared family story. John and I connect through the marriage of his grandmother Maria 1(Mary) Forese and my grandfather’s sister Julia Civitano. Julia married Nicholas Forese, Mary’s brother. With Johns help and information it is time for me to revisit his family.

Michele Forese b. 21 Sept. 1873 and Rosa De Santis, b. 1 July 1876 both from Grumo Appula, Bari, Italy married on January 9, 1897, in Grumo.

They had four children born in Italy. First was daughter Maria 1 b.1898, followed by Nicola b.1900 who did not survive past infancy and died in 1900. On the 12 July 1902 son Nicholas 1 (Nicola) was born followed by another Nicholas 2 (Nicola) in 1908. (for the sake of repeating names I have added 1, 2 and 3 to make it less confusing – hopefully)

Father Michele Forese left for New York arriving on April 2nd aboard the S.S. Weimar. He was traveling to his cousin Giovanni Forese living at 240 E. 79th St. N.Y.C.. Rosa, under her maiden name, De Santis, along with her three children Maria 1 (11) under Nicola 1(Nicholas)(8) Nicola 2 (Nicolas) (2) left behind father-in-law Nicola Forese, traveling aboard the S.S. Florida to join her husband. They arrived at Ellis Island, New York on May 9, 1911.

Rosa and Michele added two more daughters to their family once she arrived. Maria 2 was born on Aug 23, 1912 followed by Angelina in 1916. (the daughters who passed away very young)

Their oldest daughter Maria 1, married Michele (Michael) Sinisi. Michael was the son of Nicola Sinisi (abt.1855) and Rosa Rella (abt.1861) both of Grumo Appula, Italy.

Maria 1 (Forese) and Michael Sinisi had 9 children.

Nicholas (Nick) b. 1918, Rose Louise b. 1919, Rose (Dolly) 1924, twins Sam and Michael b. 1925, Elizabeth (Bibit) b. 1926, Joseph b. 1928, Maria 3 b. 1931 and Anthony b. 1938

Below is the wonderful family photo of Maria and Michael Sinisi with all their children courtesy of Dr. John Sherry.

Michael Sinisi Family 1938/39

Back row Lt to Rt: Rose Laura, Rose Louise, Nicholas, Mom Maria holding Anthony, father Michael Front Lt to Rt: Maria 3, ,Joseph, Elizabeth, and twins Sam and Michael

This is such a precious photo. Maria 3 (Mary) in the front row on the end is John’s mother. I love the boys in the front…so much personality.

Michael Sinisi passed away on October 14, 1951, his wife Maria 1 lived another 17 years before passing away on January 10, 1978, New Jersey. They are together at rest at Holy Sepulcher Cemetery, East Orange, New Jersey

Of their nine children, three are still living together. twin Michael Jr., Elizabeth (Bibit) and Anthony. God Bless them!

Nicholas 3 (Nick) was born September 29, 1917 New York. Nicholas 3 served our country in the Army. He enlisted on June 4, 1941, Trenton, N.J.. He was married to Carmella (Mildred) Santucci in April of 1952. Nicholas passed away on February 17, 1995 in Florida. He was buried at Southern Memorial Park in N. Miami, Florida.

WWII Draft registration (ancestry.com)

Rose Louise born October 10, 1919 New Jersey. She passed away at 93 years old on Jan. 20, 2013, Brick, N.J. She had married Salvatore Strafaci.

Rose Laura (aka Dolly) was born in 1924. She went on to marry Nicholas Spano. I was able to locate their wedding announcement using newspaper.com. appearing in The Courier News 16 Jan. 1947 . page 14

If the name Spano rings a bell, it should as Spano is a familiar name in our tree. I tried briefly to see if I could locate a cousin connection for this marriage. I found another researcher with unproven information which showed parents for this Nicholas (aka Rocco/Rocky) who were from Bari, Puglia, Italy.

Next born were twins Samuel and Michael Sinisi. I was able to locate their WWI draft registration, which gave me their birthdate.

WWII Draft Registration (ancestry.com)

Samuel married Florence DeStefano. Samuel passed away on Jan. 19, 2012, New Jersey. He is entombed at St Joseph Cemetery in Toms River, New Jersey.

*after posting I heard from John that Samuel and twin brother Michael had married sisters but he was not sure of her name. I was able to confirm this fact, Michael married Geraldine DeStefano, Florences sister. Their parents were Salvatore and Rose DeStefano.

Elizabeth was affectionately known as Bibit. John shared this photo of Bibit holding him on his Christening day. Also in the photo, his father John Sherry and Godfather George Vainer.

John Sherry, Elizabeth, George Vanner

Joseph Sinisi was born on 25 May, 1927 in East Orange New Jersey. Joseph served his country in the Army during WWII. From ancestry.com his draft registration.

Joseph passed on 24 Mar 2004 in Brielle, New Jersey. He is also entombed at St. Joseph Cemetery, Toms River, New Jersey.

Mary Rose Sinisi was John’s mother. She was born on May 9, 1930 East Orange, New Jersey. Mary was the niece of the husband of my grandaunt. John connects to me as the grandnephew of the husband of my grandaunt. I am so thankful for Ancestry easy quick explanations of connection. Mary is the sweet little girl on the left, front row in the family photo above. She married John Sherry in 1957. Mary Rose passed away on March 27, 2007, Dover, New Jersey.

John shared with me that his love for his family history was a shared love with his cousin Lynore Sinisi, daughter of Anthony and Marian Sinisi. Sadly, Lynore passed away on May 24, 2020 due to COVID. John wrote “I have been keeping this going, something we shared together.” Because of Lynore’s passion for her family history not only have John and I connected but I was able to put him touch with a direct line Forese cousin – Ann, his 1c1xr. Thank you Lynore for your love of preserving our family story.

This post is dedicated to the memory of Lynore M. Sinisi

Coney Island Beauties – 1943

In my last posting I shared my recent cousin connection with Joseph Eckhardt and some of his wonderful family photos. That posting opened up a dialog and communication between us which later included another cousin, Guy Caso, which led to their connection. Guy has graciously shared some of his family favorites before. He is at it again and a big thank you for these two additional photo’s.

Coney Island, July 18th 1943

Left to Right: Rita Caso, Elizabeth Panacciulli, Antoinette D’Attoma Bellini , Antoinette D’Attoma Piacenza, Lena LNU

Rita Caso was born in 1922 and was the daughter of Michael Caso and Rosa DiGirolamo. Rita married Anthony Fraticelli on 18 Dec., 1943. Our shared common ancestor was Domenico Marvulli and Rosa DiArmiento, my 2x great grandparents.

Elizabeth Panacciulli was born in 1927 and was the daughter of Antonio Panacciulli and Antonia Albanese. Elizabeth married Gaetano (Guy) Caso, brother of Rita, on 23 Aug., 1947.

Antoinette D’Attoma was born in 1928. She was the daughter of Angelo D’Attoma and Vera (Vita) Marvulli. Antoinette married Andrew Bellini on 31 Mar., 1948. The 2nd Antoinette D’Attoma was born in 1927. She was the daughter of John D’Attoma and Rosa Marvulli. Antoinette married Sabino Piacenza. Vera and Rosa Marvulli, sisters, married brothers John and Angelo D’Attoma. My shared ancestors with the Antoinettes is also Domenico Marvulli and Rosa DiArmineto.

Lena (last name unknown) is not related but a friend.

Coney Island July 18, 1943

Back left to right: Lena, Rita Caso, front: Antoinette D’Attoma Piacenza, Antoinette D’Attoma Bellini, Elizabeth Panacciulli