29 April 2010

The Albino (Alberto) Todesca Family, by Andrea Todesca

The Todesca Family Circa 1938

About a month ago we were contacted by Andrea Todesca regarding information on her great-grandparents -  Gennaro Antonio Todesca and Maria Petriello.  You'll find the previous post here.  Andrea's grandfather, Albino (Albert) Todesca, is the brother of our vaudeville entertainer, Raffaele Todesca.  Andrea was kind enough to share some of Albino's personal history with us ... as well as this great family photo!

I've numbered everyone to make identification a bit easier.  Don't you just love little Joe Todesca's suit and tie! 

1.  Margaret Mildred Todesca-Broderick (daughter of Giuseppe "Joe" Todesca)
2. Eva Todesca (wife of Joe Todesca Jr.)
3. Joseph Todesca Jr. (son of Giuseppe)
4. Marie Broderick (daughter of Fred and Margaret Todesca-Broderick)
5. Harry Todesca  (son of Giuseppe)
6. Agnese Todesca (wife of Giuseppe)
7. Giuseppe "Joe" Todesca
8. Ralph Todesca (designer; son of Joe Todesca Jr.)
9. Betty Todesca (daughter of Frank Todesca, granddaughter of Giuseppe)
10 & 11: Daughters of Louise Todesca and Jack King (names are either Phyllis, Shirley or Jacqueline)
12.  Louise "Butsie" Todesca (daughter of Giuseppe)
13. Margaret Todesca (sister of Betty, daughter of Frank, granddaughter of Giuseppe)
14. Fred Broderick (husband of Margaret Todesca)
15. Pat Todesca (sister of Betty and Margaret, daughter of Frank, granddaughter of Gisueppe)
16. Edith Todesca (wife of Harry Todesca)
17. Unknown King girl
18. Frederick Broderick Jr. (son of Fred and Margaret Todesca-Broderick)
19. Joe Todesca (son of Frank, grandson of Giuseppe)
20. Harry Broderick (son of Fred and Margaret Todesca-Broderick)
21. Jack King (husband of Louise "Butsie" Todesca)
- Carm

The Albino Todesca Family, by Andrea Todesca

I never knew any of the Torre le Nocelle Todescas but heard about them from my parents and Aunt Mary. I also spent about ten years researching who they were and can now make some sense of their story and put it into words. My father and aunt both visited Torre; my sister Virginia and I have also been there, and feel a real connection to the people who gave us one quarter of our DNA.

My interest in Torre Le Nocelle started with my father's oldest sister Mary Genevieve Todesca Tingos Dellorfano. She was keeper of the family history and started the family tree for our branch of the Todesca family. In the late 1980s she passed the task to me, having provided much of the information set forth in this account. She died in 1996. I hope she knows how far her original project has come.

This is the story of my paternal grandfather's family assembled from my aunt's research, stories I remember from my parents, my own research and the confirmation and support of this terrific website.

My great grandparents Gennaro Todesca and Carmella Petriello have traceable roots in Torre Le Nocelle back to mid-1500. Gennaro was one of the eight children of Ciriaco Todesca and Maria Raffaela Anastasia D'Arena. They were, in order, Gennaro, Carmine, Michelango, Angelamaria, Giovanni, Maria Carmela, Maria Grazia and Agostino.

Gennaro and Carmella Petriello had eight children- Joseph, Florindo, Albert (my grandfather), Ralph, Carlo, Salvatore, Margaret, and Rosa Clorinda.

The oldest brother Giuseppe (Joseph) was born in Torre on 12 Jan 1870. Giuseppe immigrated to the States in March of 1877 just after Albert was born. There is a "legend" reported by Roger Todesca (son of Ralph) that when each boy left Torre, Gennaro gave him a gold coin.

Joseph settled in the Roslindale area of Boston, MA where he was a construction contractor and built several houses. Roslindale became the center for the new family in a new country. I was born in Boston in 1945 and lived in Roslindale in a house the Todesca brothers built.

Joseph appeared to be the contact for his other brothers who came to the USA and also settled in Roslindale. He was naturalized on 29 July 1897. In about 1898 he married Maria Agnes Neidhold, born 1879 in Germany. They had six children -Louise, Ralph, Joseph, Harry, Frank and Margaret.

Joseph applied for a passport in 1919 to go back to Italy to visit his ailing father Gennaro, who died in Torre 4 July 1924. All of Joseph's children, except Frank, eventually moved to California. Frank remained to raise his family in Massachusetts; my family is still in touch with them today.

The 1920 census shows Frank Todesca as a young widower living in Winchester, Massachusetts with Todesca cousins Mary and Ralph Vozella.

The California and east coast cousins stayed in touch. My aunt and my parents visited them, and they visited in return. Several members of the family were creative and worked in early television management. Harry was a designer and we are trying to verify the story that he made some items for the Nixon California White House.

Joseph died in Los Angeles on 16 Oct 1946; Agnes died in 1965. We have details on all of his children and grandchildren. A picture from about 1938, received recently from Ralph Todesca's granddaughter, shows Joe and Agnes with their children, in-laws and grandchildren, probably during a visit from California. I believe that this was taken in the yard of the house on Walworth Street in Roslindale where my sister Virginia and I lived until about 1953.

Florindo Todesca was born 29 Dec 1872 in Torre. He married Antonia dello Iacono (also of Torre) on 15 May 1897. He came to the USA. In 1904 Antonia came to the USA on the Konig Albert. The manifest lists Florindo's address as 59 Bellvue Ave. (later renamed Walworth St.), Roslindale, MA. He died in 1910 of pneumonia in Roslindale at 76 Orange Street. I don't yet know where Antonia went after his death.

My grandfather Albino (Albert) Todesca was born 24 Feb 1877 in Torre. He immigrated to the States on 10 Dec 1892 and was naturalized on 9 Oct 1903 in West Roxbury, MA. He married Mary McGee from Leitrim, Ireland on January 27 1910. It was not his first marriage; the marriage certificate indicated he was divorced. We do not, however, know anything about his first wife. Albert and Mary lived at 94 Bellvue Ave. (later named Walworth St.) in Roslindale.

Albert in 1918 was a bottle labeler for the Jacob Wirth Co. a restaurant in Charlestown that still exists in Boston today, and in 1920, was a machinist for an auto parts store. He died of cancer February 5,1928, leaving four young children - Charles, Mary, Edward and my father Albert, the latter only 8 years old. They all remained in the Boston/Roslindale area all their lives. I have detailed information about all of their children and grandchildren.

Raffaele (Ralph Albert) Todesca was born 4 May 1879 in Torre. Ralph immigrated to the States on 5 April 1897 and settled in the Roslindale, MA area with his brothers. He was naturalized on 22 June 1931. He married Mary de Luca of Palermo, Sicily Sept 8 1901. They had two children, Roger and Gladys.

Ralph was a self-employed vaudeville entertainer and his specialty was trick cycling. He worked in New York and around the country as Todesca & Todesca and later as the Keating Trio.

Four of Gennaro and Carmella Todesca's children remained in Italy but I have some information about them and their children:

Rosa Clorinda Todesca was born 21 May 1875 in Torre and died 1 April 1876.

Margherita Todesca was born 30 July 1882 in Torre. She was still alive in 1893.

Carlo Todesca was born 6 Dec 1884 in Torre. He married Alfonsina de Cristofaro circa 1908 and died 1977 in Torre. Carlo and Alfonsina had four children: Rudolpho (1908), Carmela (1910), Clara and Ines. My father Albert and my sister Virginia met Carlo and his son Rudolpho and daughter Clara. My sister also met his granddaughter Amelia on a recent visit to Italy.

Salvatore Todesca was born 5 April 1888 in Torre. He married Carolina Buono circa 1913 and they had one son, Ernesto (1915) and a daughter Concetta.

Most of the grandchildren of Gennaro and Carmella have died but a few from Frank Todesca's family are still living in the Boston area. I hope to interview them in the next few months.

Gennaro's nieces and nephews also made it to the USA and were part of my father and aunt's life. Maria Grazia Todesca married Carmine Cefalo. They had six children - Andrew, Joseph, Louis, Ermino, Regina and Olimpia. I have seen a wonderful picture of Maria and her two daughters on this website. I am certain that at least Joseph, Andrew and Louis came to the USA because they figure in stories that my mother, Marian Cole Todesca, told me when I went digging for more family information after my aunt and father had died. It was not her direct family, but she had clear memories of these people even when current memories were fading. I am still not clear on all the details but I do know that my parents spent part of their honeymoon in 1943 at York Beach, Maine in property that they owned. My father and Aunt Mary also kept in touch with Joseph's daughter Andrea Cefalo Merrill.

My mother also remembered that an early family event in her new marriage was a big Vozzella wedding. The Vozella cousins were the grandchildren of Gennaro's brother Carmine who married Carmela Mary Petriello on November 24, 1847 in Torre. I need to check further to see if Carmela Mary and Carmella were sisters; I bet they were. Carmine and Carmella Mary's daughter Pasqualina married Charles Vozella on February 13,1902 in Torre and they sailed for America together on April 4,1911 aboard the Canopic. They settled in Winchester, Ma. I have detailed information on their children and grandchildren.

 Pedigree Chart of Albino Todesca

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27 April 2010

Tombstone Tuesday: Angelo Iarrobino

Cemetery - Torre le Nocelle, Italy

Angelo Iarrobino was born 24 May 1869 to Vincenzo Iarrobino and Carmina Cardillo in the family home on Strada Grotticelle, Torre le Nocelle.  He was one of at least three children to Vincenzo and Carmina. Older brother Domenico was born on 2 April 1865 and died on 10 March 1880.  Younger sister Lauretta was born on 19 January 1876 and married Angelantonio Puzo (also of Torre) on 22 November 1900.

Below is Angelo's birth record. (click to enlarge)  The majority of Torre's civil records were written in pre-printed, "fill in the blank" books, however for reasons known only to God and our Torresi, civil acts filed between 1867 and 1874 are all handwritten.  Although they're kind of a pain to read, I've noticed that usually you'll find more detailed information in the handwritten records.  Here are the highlights of this one:

#21 Filed 25 Maggio 1869
Name: Angelo Iarrobino
Birth: 24 Maggio 1869 ad ore due; nella casa posta in strada Grotticelle
Father: Vincenzo Iarrobino, age 38, contadino, son of the deceased Ippolito Iarrobino
Mother: Carmina Cardillo, sua legittima moglie,  daughter of the deceased Carmine Cardillo
Witness: Ciriaco Colucciello, 60, contadino, son of the deceased Biaggio Colucciello
Witness: Carmine Cardillo, 41, contadino, son of the deceased Domenico Cardillo
Sindaco: Giovanni de Dominicis

Angelo Iarrobino birth - page one

Angelo Iarrobino birth - page two

A close-up of the photo from Angelo's grave.  Handsome gent, isn't he?

On 24 November 1888, Angelo married Maria Concetta Petriello.  Maria Concetta was born in Torre on 29 September 1865 to Michelangelo Petriello and Carmina Cardillo. (Not to be confused with Angelo's mother of the same name, however the two Carmina's were half-first cousins.)  Below are pedigree charts of Angelo and Maria Concetta.

Pedigree Chart - Angelo Iarrobino

Pedigree Chart - Maria Concetta Petriello

Angelo and Maria Concetta had at least four children between 1890 and 1897.  It's likely they had a few more after 1900, but since we don't have access to those records ... we'll just have to wonder.

Daughter Alfonsina was the first born, and presented herself at 6:30 AM on the morning of  9 January 1890. Apparently Alfonsina was a healthy child, as her birth record also makes note of a 2 March 1913 marriage to Alberico Luongo of Torre.

Next up was Vincenza Iarrobino, who tumbled into Torre during the evening of 13 November 1891.  She made her appearance at 8:00 PM - just in time for dinner.

Son Giuseppe Domenico Iarrobino was born at 2:20 AM on 22 February 1894.  The note on Giuseppe's birth record says he married Alfonsina Luongo on 5 February 1922 in Torre. Alfonsina was the sister of Alberico Luongo, who married Giuseppe Domenico's older sister, Alfonsina Iarrobino. Still with me ;-)

Giuseppe Domenico was a studious child - or I should say we can probably assume he was. Below is his elementary school certificate ... which says he passed with (what appear to be) flying colors.  We need to thank Florindo for sharing this little tidbit with us. 

1906 Report Card of Giuseppe Iarrobino.

The fourth child born to Angelo and Maria Concetta was Maria Carmina on 20 November 1897.

So there we have the story of Angelo Iarrobino and his children.  May he rest in peace, and know that he has the love of  many of his descendants ... even though he didn't live long enough to meet some of them.

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24 April 2010

Ship Manifest: SS Neckar - 1 June 1907 - Napoli to New York

SS Neckar

Above is the S.S. Neckar in all her glory ... and below are two pages of manifests from the 1 June 1907 crossing.  Click to enlarge.  Is anyone familiar with the streets of Winchester and Roslindale, MA?  I'm having a heck of a time trying to decipher them.

Neckar Manifest - List Three - 1 June 1907

Highlights from list three: (names in blue will link to their pedigree charts)

Line 21: Struzziero, Maria Giustina, 21, single, farm laborer, from Torre le Nocelle,  going to brother Generoso at 130 (illegible) St. Roslindale, MA, $12, no previous travel

Line 22: Frongillo, Filippo, age 16, from Montemiletto, going to father Liberatore at 54 Fleet St. Boston, MA, no previous travel, 5'4", scar on forehead

Line 23: Struzziero, Maria Carmina, age 27, married, from Torre le Nocelle, farm laborer, passage paid by husband Luigi Pizzano at 130 (illegible) St. Roslindale, MA, $20, no previous travel
Line 24: Pizzano, Raffaele, age 7, son of Maria Carmina Struzziero
Line 25: Pizzano, Margherita, age 2, daughter of Maria Carmina Struzziero

Line 26: La Torella, Filiberto, age 18, single, farm laborer, from Torre le Nocelle, going to uncle Gennaro Cirignano at 92 Swanton St. Winchester, MA, $12, no previous travel

Line 27: Fausto, Francesco, age 48, married, porter, from Torre le Nocelle, going to brother-in-law Carmine de Minico at 57 (illegible) St. Roslindale, MA, $60, previously in the States between 1899-1906
Line 28: Fausto, Carlo, age 16, porter, son of Francesco Fausto

Line 29: De Santis, Basilio, age 29, porter, U.S. citizen from Montemiletto, going to brother Alfonso at 148 Prince St. Boston, MA, $17, previously in the States from 1895-1906, scar on right cheek
Line 30: De Santis, Tommaso, age 41, porter, from Montemiletto, going to brother Alfonso at 148 Prince St. Boston, MA, $12, previously in the States from 1897-1906

Neckar Manifest - List Four - 1 June 1907 

Highlights from list four:

Line 1: Capone, Pasquale, age 36, married, porter, from Montemiletto, going to brother Antonio at Box 124 W. Hoboken, NJ, $13, no previous travel

Line 2: Frongillo, Flaminio, age 27, married, farm laborer, from Torre le Nocelle, going to brother Giovanni at 88 Swanton St. Winchester, MA, $11, previously in the States from 1900-1905

Line 3: Pizzano, Giovanni, age 23, married, farm laborer, from Taurasi, going to brother Luigi in Roslindale, $12, no previous travel

Line 4: Colletti, Giuseppe, age 23, married, porter, from Montemiletto, going to brother Carlo in Somerville, MA, $10, no previous travel

Line 5: Altavilla, Sabino, age 39, married, farm laborer, from Torre le Nocelle, going to wife Giovannina at 138 E. Milton St. Dedham, MA, $16, previously in the States from 1898-1907

Line 6: Garofano, Fioravanti, age 32, married, stone cutter, from Torre le Nocelle, going to cugino Mariano di Minico at 28 Cedar St. Milford, MA, $16, no previous travel

Line 7: Rotondi, Alfredo, age 17, single, farm laborer, from Torre le Nocelle, going to brother Domenico at 88 Swanton St. Winchester, MA, $12, no previous travel

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23 April 2010

Circolo Operaio Torrese: By Jeff DeSantis

Jeff DeSantis has graciously offered to do a guest post for us.  He recently discovered an old family film from 1950 that depicts the annual Circolo O Torrese picnic.  He's done a great job editing it, adding background music and isolating some stills to help identify some of the guests.  I'll let him tell you all about it ... thanks, Jeff!

-  Carm

There's our Florindo in the doorway.

Circolo O Torrese

If you walk along the Via Generale Beniamino Rotondi in Torre le Nocelle toward the Piazza Vittoria you may notice a sign in raised gold lettering above a doorway on the right side of the street, Circolo Operaio Torrese.

A literal translation of Circolo Operaio Torrese would be Torrese Working-class Circle. Perhaps the Society of Torrese Workers would be a more apt translation.

Anyway, according to Cousin Flo, the Circolo Operaio Torrese (or Circolo O Torrese) was a group of immigrants from Torre le Nocelle who settled in the Boston area.

As you will see below, the Circolo O Torrese was active in the Boston area for at least forty-seven years (1903-1950). Whether or not they were operating before or after that date range is unknown at this time. But, there is still that building in Torre with the gold lettering above the door.

Funeral procession in Piazza Vittoria, Torre le Nocelle

A Funeral in Torre

The Circolo O Torrese probably functioned as a support group for Torrese in the U.S. as illustrated by this photograph of a funeral in the Piazza Vittorio in Torre le Nocelle. The photo is estimated to have been taken between 1933 and 1944.

The participation of Circolo O Torrese in the funeral procession is noted by the presence of their flag carried by their president who is wearing a sash.

The left front pall bearer is Nicolangelo Cefalo ( brother to Amorso, Ardita, and Sylvia (see below)). Also present in the photo is Florindo Cirignano. Mr. Cirignano’s grandson and namesake is a man of some note in Torre today. (Our Flo!)

1947 Circolo O Torrese Picnic

The Outings

For forty-seven years the Circolo O Torrese had an annual outing. The forty-fourth outing took place on August 10, 1947. Clockwise from the left  (photo above) are Ardita Lauretania Cefalo, Elvira Ardolino, Alfonsina Ardolino, Palmino DeSantis, Domenico Ardolino, Giuseppe DeMinico, Elizabeth Ricci, Unknown, Amoroso Cefalo, Unknown, Frank Magno, and Sylvia Cefalo. Mr. DeSantis and Mr. Magno were born in Taurasi. Everyone else was born in Torre le Nocelle.

On August 13, 1950 the Circolo O Torrese had their forty-seventh annual outing. Approximately eight minutes of the 1950 outing were filmed by Carmen DeSantis  (video above) on Kodachrome daylight type double 8 mm movie film using his Revere camera.

As you view the film, consider these comments:
It’s a picnic but a lot of the men are wearing suits, or at least jackets and ties. Some even have fedoras on their heads. And the women all seem to be wearing dresses. I guess that’s why they’re also wearing aprons too. It also seems that the more formally dressed folks are the old-timers, that is, those who immigrated to the U.S. from Torre. The younger generation seems to be dressed more casually.

Too bad there’s no sound, because I’m wondering whether this guy on the left is saying “saporito” or “mangia”.

I Torresi  


Domenico Ardolino (above left)  was a stonecutter. He worked on several projects across the U.S. with his cousins Raffaele and Eduardo Ardolino. By the 1920’s he had returned to Boston where he worked on the Parker House and also opened his own business with his brother Clamanzio, Ardolino Bros. Monuments in Roslindale. A number of the mausoleums and grave stones in St. Michael’s Cemetery in Boston will have an Ardolino Bros tag on them. Domenico was married to Elizabeth Ricci.

 Amoroso Cefalo (left), a life long bachelor, was a cobbler who worked at the French, Shriner, and Urner shoe factory in Boston for many years. He lived on Sheafe Street in Boston’s North End. He was a brother to Ardita Lauretania Cefalo and Sylvia Flaminia Emanuele Cefalo.

Ardita Lauretania Cefalo  was married to Giuseppe DeMinico. A beautiful woman, she was once considered to be the Belle of Torre. Shortly after marrying, she and Giuseppe moved to Maine where Giuseppe worked as a stonecutter. Having few cooking skills and even less English, Ardita was serving her husband pasta patate every night for dinner. The newlywed husband abided the repetitive menu for awhile, but eventually introduced his new bride to others who could help her broaden her culinary horizons.

Sylvia Flaminia Emanuele Cefalo (left) was married to Frank Magno. She was very ill during the Atlantic crossing and this as well as other illnesses led many family members to believe she would have a short life. Sylvia had a pacemaker implanted for almost half of her life before passing on at the age of 99.

Emma Gioconda Ida DeDominici was married to Enos Brown from Nova Scotia. She had one child, a daughter, Evelyn, and one grandchild, a grandson, Hank Levine.

 Giuseppe DeMinico was a stone cutter who worked on several naval projects across the United States before settling in Everett, Washington. At the end of the Second World War, he moved his family back to Boston where he worked at the Old John Hancock Building until his retirement.

Theodoro "Teddy" Vozzella was a blacksmith and operated a forge in the Roslindale section of Boston.

Mariti e Mogli di Torresi
(Husbands and Wives of Our Torresi)

Ciriaco Francesco “Frank” Magno was born in Taurasi. Frank worked as a custodian at the Lemuel Shattuck Hospital in Jamaica Plain. Frank liked his wine and would go to the club in the North End, have a drink or two and fall asleep. Whereupon his “friends” would play tricks on him such as giving him a hot foot. This would drive his brother-in-law, Amoroso, nuts as Amoroso felt that his sister’s husband should be better respected.

Elizabeth Ricci was born in Washington D.C.

Figli e Figlie di Torresi
(Sons and Daughters of Our Torresi)

Carmen Ardolino is the son of Domenico Ardolino and Elizabeth Ricci.

Adalgisa “Caesar” Carmela DeMinico was daughter of  Giuseppe DeMinico and Ardita Cefalo and the husband of Carmen DeSantis.

George DeSantis was the son of Elvira Ardolino, a Torrese, and Benigno Palmino DeSantis, who was born in Taurasi. Carmen is the primary cameraman and director for film of the Outing.

This little old guy has yet to be identified.  Who wants to claim him??

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Helpful Italian Genealogy Research Links

Helpful Tools for Italian Genealogy
A great site on the basics of doing your own Italian research. Links on where to find the records, how to write for them, including form letters in Italian, and also addresses of Catholic churches and state archives.

The Campania Municipalities
This site lists every comune in the region of Campania and also provides links to official page of each comune, surname statistics, hotels, resorts, photos, etc.

Italian Records Extraction Guide
Includes an overview of Italian records, civil and parish record examples, surnames, glossary of Italian phrases and occupations and handwriting samples.

Latin Genealogical Word List
From the LDS Family History site - very helpful.

Abbreviations in Latin Inscriptions
Sorted alpabetically - a great help for parish and notary records.

Footnote is one of the better subscription sites. They offer yearly accounts from $79, or monthly accounts for $11.95.  They have an amazing amount of original documents and I find I use this site as much, if not more than Ancestry.com.

Another subscription site, but well worth the investment. They have a 14-day free trial period and after that the U.S. Deluxe Membership is $12.95 per month.

Archivio di Stato di Avellino
Contact info for the archives in Avellino, as well as some online documents.

Civil Records of Selected Italian Comunes
A link list of transcribed vital records from various comuni in Italy. Covers mainland Italy and Sicily.

Fantastic links to records that have been transcribed for other comunes in Italy.

Greci Cousins
An amazing site on the genealogy of Greci, Avellino. Photos, transcribed civil acts, online family trees ... you name it.

Italian Genealogy Group
Databases for naturalization and vital records from the Northeast.

Massachusetts State Archives
Online vital records search.

The National Archives and Records Administration site.

The Ellis Island Foundation
Free search of all the Ellis Island ship manifests.

Ellis Island Manifest Extractions
A link to my running database of ship manifests of immigrants from Torre le Nocelle, Pietradefusi and Montemiletto.

North End Boston
Links to Boston's Little Italy

Winchester MA Street Directory
An alphabetical listing of all the streets in Winchester, Massachusetts

Digital History
Great immigrant and early American stories.
The Life Stories of Undistinguished Americans: As Told by Themselves
Hamilton Holt, ed. (New York: J. Pott & Co., 1906)

One Step Web Pages by Stephen Morse
Fantastic links to search almost any genealogical database on the internet.

Google's Online  Language Translator
Free ... and I've found it to be one of the most accurate.

Lower East Side NY Tenement Museum
Great photos depicting life in the tenements!

Atti di Stato Civile: Montemiletto

Montemiletto Coat of Arms

Civil Acts from the comune of Montemiletto, Avellino, Campania, Italy

Marriage Banns

1810 * 1811



Atti di Stato Civile: Pietradefusi

 Pietradefusi Coat of Arms

Civil acts from the comune of Pietradefusi, Avellino, Campania, Italy.

Marriage Banns:

1810 * 1812 * 1813 * 1814 * 1815 * 1824 * 1825 * 1829


Atti di Stato Civile: Torre le Nocelle

Torre le Nocelle, Italy

The civil acts of the town of Torre le Nocelle, Avellino, Campania, Italy. Births, deaths, marriages and banns are all grouped together by year. Those without links are still waiting to be transcribed.

1809 * 1810 * 1811 * 1812 * 1813 * 1814 * 1815 * 1816 * 1817
1818 * 1819 * 1820 * 1821 * 1822 * 1823 * 1824 * 1825 * 1826
1854 * 1855 * 1856 * 1857 * 1858 * 1859 * 1860 * 1861 * 1862
1863 * 1864 * 1865 * 1866 * 1867 * 1868 * 1869 * 1870 * 1871
1872 * 1873 * 1874 * 1875 * 1876 * 1877 * 1878 * 1879 * 1880
1881 * 1882 * 1883 * 1884 * 1885 * 1886 * 1887 * 1888 *1889
1890 * 1891 * 1892 * 1893 * 1894 * 1895 * 1896 * 1897 * 1898

21 April 2010

Raffaele Todesca - Vaudeville Trick Cyclist

Ralph Todesca circa 1920.
It's still unclear whether the woman in the chair was his wife Mary, or his daughter Mary Gladys.

Last month we had an inquiry from the Todesca branch of our Torre family.  You'll find the previous post here.  Go ahead and check it out .... I'll wait.

I was excited to find we had a vaudeville entertainer in our midst, and even more delighted  to find that a photograph of Ralph (while performing) was still in existence.  Thank you, Andrea and Fawn for sharing this treasure!

Raffaele (aka Ralph Albert) Todesca was born in Torre le Nocelle on 4 May 1879 to Gennaro Antonio Todesca and Carmela Petriello.  He emigrated to the States on 5 April 1897 on board the Furst Bismark and settled in the Roslindale, MA area.  He married Mary de Luca of Palermo, Sicily circa 1900.

SS F├╝rst Bismarck (1890)

Ralph and Mary worked the vaudeville circuit in the early 1900's.  For the most part up until 1911 or so the act was billed as the "Todesca - Keating Trio", however after 1913 it seems to have been known only as "Todesca and Todesca."

I have yet to discover who Keating was, but I suspect he may have somehow been involved with the Keating Wheel Co. - a bicycle manufacturing company that was started in 1893 in Holyoke, Mass. by Robert M. Keating - who was not only a baseball player, but also an accomplished inventor.

Below are a few newspaper articles and advertisements I've come across that describe this talented act.

From the Indianapolis Star, 30 Sept 1921

 Fitchburg (MA) Daily Sentinel Review, 15 April 1909

 The Cummings Theatre, Fitchburg, Mass.

Fitchburg Daily Sentinel 16 April 1909

14 Jan 1922 Advertisement in the Olean Evening Herald (NY)

The Olean Evening Times, 10 Jan 1913 

The Washington Post, 22 Jan 1911.  Check out the matinee prices:-)

The Eau Claire Leader (Wisconsin) 18 Nov 1923
Inflation - admission is now 30 cents a ticket!

Ralph and Mary had two children - Mary Gladys Todesca, born 1903 and Roger Rudolf, born in 1909.  Roger traveled with his parents and remembers growing up in hotels all over America.  His favorite pastime was sliding down the hotel banisters and as an infant he was put to sleep in the dresser drawers, causing him to be claustrophobic later in life. 

Roger Rudolph Todesca circa 1917

Ralph's 1921 Petition for Naturalization states that wife Mary was in the Mattapan State Hospital in Massachusetts.  On 25 Dec 1924 she died of tuberculosis, in the arms of her son Roger.  Ralph eventually moved to Los Angeles and became a theater usher.  In 1956 he purchased a home in Camarillo, California where he remained active growing olives for the neighbors, and doing his own home repair work well into his eighties.  He died in Camarillo on 27 Feb 1967.

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