10 July 2011

1861 Typhoid Deaths At The Montefusco Prison

The comune of Montefusco is located in the province of Avellino, Campania, Italy. The town is situated on the top of a hill overlooking the Sabato river valley. Cut into the northernmost face of rock, a quadrangular castle was built by the Lombards, originally as a defensive structure. Until recently on the eastern side, one could still see the base of a tower, while to the west, the wall supporting the road above recalls how it may have looked in antiquity. In this area, at the Largo S. Bartholomew, is a large stone inscribed with the date 1103.

The original fort saw a change in its intended use with the Aragonese, circa 1440, who transformed it into the Tribunale della Reggia Udienza Provinciale del Principato Ultra. (Royal Court of the Provincial Audience of Principato Ultra). In 1851 Ferdinand II of Bourbon transferred the former castle-court into a political prison for anti-Bourbon patriots.

The Bourbon prison in Montefusco was notorious for harsh treatment of inmates. It was often said, "Whoever goes in ... and gets out alive from Montefusco ... experiences being reborn." Reborn, that is, in an ironical sense, as survivors came out of horrendous conditions with physical health seriously undermined. Respiratory problems, chronic bronchitis, cholera and typhoid, along with seventeen documented cases of "relaxation of the inguinal ring" were recorded. Those who survived physically often went mad.

Still visible are cobblestone floors, heavy doors, and iron elements, including the "puntale," a large ring stuck in the wall or floor, by which the prisoner was restrained by a chain. Much of the year, there was wind and cold so severe those confined were forced to sleep clothed and huddled next to one another for warmth.

Upon entering the prison, you reach an area called the "Vaglio," where those not convicted of serious crimes enjoyed their daily allotted one hour of fresh air and exercise.

To the left, a square, stone ladder provides access to the upper floor and a row of cells, some faintly lit by sunlight passing through the railings, some very narrow and devoid of light. On the wooden shutters, you can still read names engraved by centuries of inmates.

Another ladder leads to the most remote part of the structure, the lower level, which includes a large room with windows high above the ground and enclosed by iron bars.

Although the tribunal court was transferred to Avellino in 1814, the prison continued to function, as the new capital of the province had yet to finish building its own courthouse.

The facility remained in use until 1877, becoming a district prison until 1923. Since 1928 the castle-prison has been a national monument.

Today, besides being home to municipal offices, the structure is used to host exhibitions, conferences and other cultural events.

Morti Nel Carcere Di Montefusco Per L'Epidemia di Tifo Dell'Anno 1861
(List of inmate deaths due to the 1861 epidemic of Typhoid)

Surname, Name, Age, Occupation, Residence, Date of Death

~Sacco, Pasquale, 33, contadino, Montemiletto, 7 marzo
~Russo, Felice, 57, proprietario, Torre le Nocelle, 10 marzo
~Musto, Gaetano, 55, contadino, Montemiletto, 11 marzo
~Silvitella (Selvitella), Nicola, 50, contadino, Torre le Nocelle, 14 marzo
~Minichiello, Nicola, 53, bracciale, Montemiletto, 15 marzo
~Palummo (Palumbo), Ciriaco, 50, campagnuolo, Torre le Nocelle, 15 marzo
~Fierimonte, Carmine, 42, proprietario, Montemiletto, 17 marzo
~Scioscia, Geremia, 44, contadino, Pietradefusi, 20 marzo
~Gallucci o Galucci, Crescenzo, 60, contadino, Montemiletto, 22 marzo
~Capobianco, Gaetano, 40, contadino, Montemiletto, 22 marzo
~Iarrobino, Lucido, 33, bracciale, Pietradefusi, 29 marzoDi Roma, Francesco, 60, contadino, Torre le Nocelle, 30 marzo
~Riccio, Crescenzo, 50, contadino, Montemiletto, 31 marzo
~Trofa, Francesco, 60, militare, Montefusco, 1 aprile
~Penna, Sebastiano, 45, contadino, Torre le Nocelle, 1 aprile
~Bevilacqua, Nicola, 50, contadino, Torre le Nocelle, 1 aprile
~Colucciello, Carmine, 33, contadino, Torre le Nocelle, 2 aprile
~Luongo, Domenico, 60, contadino, Torre le Nocelle, 4 aprile
~Sacco, Nicola, 60, contadino, Montemiletto, 6 aprile
~Fiorentino, Ciriaco, 50, contadino, Montemiletto, 6 aprile
~Lanzillo, Vincenzo, 55, contadino, Montemiletto, 11 aprile
~Barletta, Saverio, 60, possidente, Pietradefusi, 15 aprile
~Capone, Raffaele, 32, contadino, Montemiletto, 16 aprile
~Frongillo, Antonio, 38, contadino, Montemiletto, 19 aprile
~Luongo, Pasquale, 37, contadino, Montemiletto, 19 aprile
~Cefalo, Giovanni, 35, proprietario, Torre le Nocelle, 27 aprile
~Capone, Felice, 42, contadino, Montemiletto, 11 maggio
~Petrillo o Pitriello, Pasquale, 62, contadino, Torre le Nocelle, 15 maggio
~Oliviero, Francesco, 61, caporale invalido, Montefusco, 18 maggio
~Ambrosina, Andrea, 22, contadino, Pietradefusi, 18 maggio
~Fruncillo, Antonio, xx, contadino, Montemiletto, 20 maggio
~Giardiello, Vincenzo, 35, contadino, Torre le Nocelle, 26 maggio

A big thanks to Florindo for sharing this list with us.  Flo and I spent an afternoon in Montefusco in 2009. The prison wasn't open at that time, but I did manage to snap a few photos around town.

 On the way up to Montefusco we stopped at a little shop to watch the ladies working on tombolo.  I've never seen fingers fly so fast ...

Chiesa San Francesco - Montefusco

Il Municipio

Town Insignia

Side of the prison opposite the cliff.

Mountain view taken near the prison.

Graffiti on the outside of the prison.

... and this one just because I like pigeons.

Search Massachusetts Naturalization Records At Footnote

Find anything from any year back to 1759 in the World's Largest Newspaper Archive!


Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.