1910: The di Lorenzo brothers and the Societa Silvio Pellico

Sepia Saturday 580 and 6th Annual Genealogy Blog Party Picnic. Sixth in a photo blog series on my maternal Italian ancestors from Gloversville, Fulton Co., N.Y.

A blog series featuring photos of my maternal Italian ancestors from the Laurence-di Lorenzo-Curcio family album. Photo: Molly Charboneau

On Sept. 4, 1910, a unique gathering of Italian immigrants and Italian Americans took place in Gloversville, Fulton Co., N.Y. — featuring two generations of my maternal ancestors and collateral relatives.

The event was an outdoor get-together of the Societa Silvio Pellico — likely an Italian fraternal organization, given the absence of women.

For the special occasion, the society apparently hired a professional photographer — who thankfully captured an image that holds pride of place in my family photo collection.

A unique family-community portrait

The original photo was fading when I received it, so I had it professionally copied and enhanced — asking that the identifying markings be retained.

Below is the conserved image — a unique portrait that places my Laurence-di Lorenzo ancestors in their vibrant Italian community in Gloversville, N.Y., in 1910.

Societa Silvo Pellico in Gloversville, N.Y. (Sept. 4, 1910). My maternal great-grandfather Peter, his brother Antonio, my grandfather Tony and other family members attended this unique gathering. Photo: Charboneau-Laurence Family Collection

Who’s Who in the Silvio Pellico Society

There is much to say about this remarkable photo — so let’s begin with a “Who’s Who” of the various relatives appearing in it.

In the front row, seated at left, is my maternal Italian great-grandfather Peter D. Laurence (nee Pietro di Lorenzo) — looking jaunty with his bushy mustache and wearing a white apron. He appears to be serving something out of the basin in front of him. Is it wine? Is it beer? Is it what some of the men are drinking from their little glass mugs?

Also in front, kneeling and looking handsome in a white shirt, black vest and bow tie, is Peter’s brother — my great-granduncle Antonio di Lorenzo, who came to the U.S. in 1902 but eventually went back to Italy. His appearance in this 1910 photo indicates he stayed for at least eight years.

Sitting behind Uncle Antonio, wearing a bowler hat, is Antimo Ferrara — an Italian immigrant and one of Peter’s brothers-in-law. Antimo married Julia Curcio (sister of Peter’s wife Mary Curcio), which brought him into our family orbit. They moved to nearby Amsterdam, N.Y., and had two children — Carl and Marie/Mary (as noted on the frame below his image).

Societa Silvio Pellico of Gloversville, N.Y. (Sept. 4,, 1910). From the original photo, a closer view of my great grandfather Peter (left with apron), his brother Antonio (center with vest) and Antimo Ferrara (in bowlser hat behind Antonio.) What is the significance of the tag or ribbon worn by Uncle Antonio and some of the others, including the man at right? Photo: Charboneau-Laurence Family Collection

On the edge of the building roof

At the back of the group is a row of men and boys sitting on the edge of a building roof — among them more family members.

Seated third from the right on the roof, wearing a white apron and toasting with a little glass mug, is Frank Somella — also from Italy and another of Peter’s brothers-in-law. Frank joined the family when he married Millie Curcio (another sister of Peter’s wife Mary Curcio). They had two children, Anthony and Marie — and for a time the Somella family lived with my great grandparents.

Next to Frank is a little boy with “Tony” penned over his image. That’s Peter’s older son — and my maternal grandfather — Antonio W. Laurence (aka Gramps to me and my siblings).

Societa Silvio Pellico of Gloversville, N.Y. (Sept. 4,, 1910). From the original photo, a more focused view of family members seated on the building ledge. Frank Somella (seated fourth from right, wearing an apron), my grandfather Antonio Laurence (fifth from right, the boy seated in front of Frank) and my grandfather’s brother Joe Laurence (the boy dressed in light clothes, seated eighth from left). Photo: Charboneau-Laurence Family Collection

Rounding out the family group is the little boy seated eighth from the left on the roof with “Joe” penned over his image. That’s Peter’s younger son Joseph B. Laurence — Gramps’s brother, known to us as Uncle Joe.

May questions about the photo

Having found and restored the photo, and identified family members in it, I had to wonder about the context of this gathering and the Italian society that convened it — and even arranged to have it photographed.

Was it a special celebration? An annual warm-weather event? Peter, Antonio, Frank and Antimo were all from Italy — did they know one another from back home? Were all the adults in the photo immigrants, too?

Who was Silvio Pellico, for whom their society was named? And what is the significance of the tags or ribbons worn by some of the men, including Uncle Antonio? Lots of questions — and some interesting answers — starting with the next post.

Up next: Silvio Pellico and the Italian Risorgimento. Meanwhile, please visit the blogs of this week’s other Sepia Saturday participants. Then pop over and visit the participants in the the 6th Annual Genealogy Potluck Picnic: Blogger’s Choice.

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14 thoughts on “1910: The di Lorenzo brothers and the Societa Silvio Pellico”

    1. Thanks, Janice. I am just happy to have identified so many of my relatives in this group. Perhaps a cousin will emerge who knows some of the others.

  1. This is an amazing photo. It does bring up so many questions but that’s great. I’d love to know the story behind the occasion #geneabloggers

  2. Perhaps there was a reunion at that time–or perhaps this event was mentioned in a local newspaper? My husband’s family tended to have reunions in summer or early fall, and the reunions were mentioned in the local newspaper. Enjoyed your post and the fashions in the photos too!

    1. Good suggestion. I tried the newspapers, but to date have not found a reference to the event or the Gloversville society. Yes, those fashions are fun, aren’t they?

  3. Wow, what a supper photograph! Of course I didn’t get beyond your opening paragraphs and the first image when I jumped over to Wikipedia looking up Silvio Pellico and Italian Societies. But after finishing your post, I laughed to read that my questions are your questions too, so I’ll just wait for the answers.

    It’s interesting that this picnic event seemed to have been an all-male affair. Perhaps that is why Peter and a few other men are wearing aprons. I don’t think Peter is serving wine as I think the men are drinking beer which would come out of a keg. The improved image makes the kitchen implement he is holding look flattish with holes, so I think he is serving pasta .

    1. You may have a point about the pasta. A few of the other men are wearing aprons, or holding large napkins — and one fellow in an apron standing behind Peter seems to be balancing a plate on his head. So it may be that they ate first — perhaps at picnic tables not shown — then posed for the photo once the meal was over.

  4. What a great photograph! So much to look at – and wonder about. I’m looking forward to finding out more.

    1. So true, Kathy. Every time I look, I find something more. Especially in the conserved photo that brings out more detail.

  5. What a great picture to have in your family with so many relatives included in it – and with them identified!!! A real treasure for sure. 🙂

    1. Yes, I thank my maternal grandmother for jotting the names in and wanted to be sure to save her markings when I had the photo professionally copied.

  6. I wish we had more groups and clubs. I think they support society well. It’s a shame they’re so rare now.

    1. There were so many in the late 1800s and early 1900s — many of them doing charitable work and providing life insurance schemes before government support programs existed. And as seen here, they played an important social role and sense of community as well.

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