Tag Archives: Antonio Curcio

Aunt Rose Curcio: A life spanning three centuries

First in a series on my Italian-American great grandaunt Rose Curcio of Gloversville, Fulton County, New York, who died 15 years ago this month at the age of 105.

On Oct. 20, 2001, one of my Mom’s cousins wrote to tell her about the passing of Aunt Rose Curcio — a younger sister of my Italian-American great grandmother Mary “Mamie” (Curcio) Laurence.

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A birds eye view of Gloversville, Fulton County, N.Y.  My great grandaunt Rose Curcio lived here for all 105 years of her rich, full life — working in a glove company office until she was 75 and devoting herself to her siblings and their families. Photo: City of Gloversville Historic Photos

Dear Peggy, I didn’t know if anyone told you that Aunt Rose Curcio passed away on Oct. 4, 2001. She was 105 years old. Her death was more or less due to old age.

She had lived through 3 centuries and was the oldest resident at the Infirmary. Her mind was sill okay up until about a month before she died.

She had a picture of you with her on her bulletin board. Thought you might want it. Hope this letter finds you in good health.

A cherished family visit

Tucked in with the note was a photo I took of my mom with Aunt Rosie (then a spry 95) when we stopped to visit her during a 1992 family history trip to my mother’s hometown — Gloversville, Fulton County, N.Y.

We spent a couple of hours with Rosie that day — laughing and reminiscing as we interviewed her about the Italian-American branch of our family — and later mailed her the snapshot. She must have cherished the time spent with us, because she kept that photo in a place of pride until the end of her life.

The secret to a long, full life

Born at the end of the 19th Century, Aunt Rosie Curcio lived through the entire 20th Century and witnessed the dawn of the 21st Century. She was the longest living member of her family of origin –and of any of my relatives on either side.

During our visit, we talked a lot about Rosie’s parents; her large, extended family; and daily life in the lovely Mohawk Valley town situated south of New York’s Adirondack Mountains.

However, not until I read  her obituary did I learn more about Rosie herself. Carried in the Schenectady, N.Y., Sunday Gazette on 7 Oct. 2001, the obituary spoke eloquently of her life, her work and her social engagement.

What was the secret of Rosie’s longevity and upbeat spirit? That’s something I hope to explore in the next few posts.

© 2016 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

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Vincenzo Del Negro witnesses a wedding

Letter V: Twenty-second of twenty-six posts in the April 2016 Blogging From A to Z Challenge. Wish me luck and please join me on the journey!

Vincenzo Del Negro was one of two witnesses at the Manhattan wedding of my maternal Italian great, great grandparents Antonio and Antoinette (Del Negro) Curcio on 24 Aug. 1880 — probably a relative of the bride.

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The Little Church Around the Corner on Mott Street, New York, N.Y. Research points to this church as the likely location where  my Curcio great, great grandparents were married in 1880. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

I first learned about this wedding from Marie Somella (one of my mom’s Curcio cousins) and Aunt Rosie (a daughter of the Curcios) during a 1991 family history trip with Mom to her Gloversville, Fulton County, N.Y. home town. Their story went like this:

Antonio and Antoinette knew each other from back home, from Salerno in Italy. Antonio came over first, to New York City, and worked as a meat cutter. Once he was settled, he sent for Antoinette and they were married at the Little Church Around the Corner.

No documentation. Just the oral history — albeit from two pretty reliable sources — for me to try to prove or disprove. And thus began my Curcio research journey.

Little Church Around the Corner

In 1880, the Little Church Around the Corner was a Catholic parish located on Mott Street near the teeming Five Points area of lower Mahattan — the possible site of my ancestors’ church wedding.

The name eventually moved uptown with a protestant denomination, but the church structure remains. Today it houses the Church of the Transfiguration, a Catholic parish in Manhattan’s Chinese community. So that part of the oral history rings true.

Finding a marriage license

I contacted the current parish office,  but I was told they had “no record” of the Curcio’s wedding. I also struck out at the New York City Municipal Archives on my first research trip there years ago.

So I set the Curcio search aside for awhile and moved on to other branches of my family — intending to return to the wedding story when I had the time.

Taking a break turned out to be a good idea, because in the interim the digitization of records started to take off — opening up the possibility of searching online. And that’s where I found the crucial clue — an index of New York City brides and grooms on Footnote (now Fold 3) that included Antonio Curcio!

The next day, I was back at the NYC Municipal Archives ordering a copy of my great, great grandparents’ civil wedding certificate — which Vincenzo Del Negro signed as a witness.

The day after that, I was standing in Columbus Park at the Mulberry Bend home address that the Curcio’s gave in 1880.

And the little church where their religious wedding ceremony was probably performed? It was right around the corner from their first U.S. home.

Up next: Wolverines and Uncle Sid. Please stop back.

© 2016 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

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Heritage and identity

Letter H: Eighth of twenty-six posts in the April 2016 Blogging From A to Z Challenge. Wish me luck and please join me on the journey!

Heritage can be a powerful contributor to identity. Learning about a family’s history creates bonds with people and places, provides new perspectives, and nurtures a growing sense of self — as I have learned from exploring and writing about my ancestors’ lives.

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Mulberry Bend in lower Manhattan (1894). Heritage can be a powerful contributor to identity. Discovering that my Italian ancestors survived this rough neighborhood — before later raising their huge family in upstate New York — brought home their experience and their strength against adversity. Image: NYPL Digital Collections

Molly’s Canopy was launched during re-enactments of the U.S. Civil War’s battles of the Wilderness and Spotsylvania Court House, which my Union Army ancestor Arthur Bull fought in.

I knew details on paper about my paternal great, great grandfather’s life from his military pension file and other sources.

But standing in the clouds of gun smoke beside those battlefields — where Arthur risked his life in the struggle to end slavery and preserve the Union — made his legacy a proud and palpable part of my life.

A similar transformation happened when I learned that my maternal great, great grandparents Antonio and Antoinette (Del Negro) Curcio, from Italy, were married in New York City in 1880 and lived for a time at Mulberry Bend — then a crowded and dangerous spot in lower Manhattan’s notorious Five Points area.

I had seen the movie Gangs of New York, as well as the photos of back alleys taken by reformer Jacob Riis. But discovering that my Italian ancestors had survived in that rough neighborhood, before later raising their huge family in upstate New York, brought home their experience and their strength against adversity.

This process has repeated itself many times with other ancestors. Layer by layer, like a painting being coaxed to completion, their lives and stories have added to my sense of how I arrived here and who I am in the world. And this can happen for you, too.

Cast an eye over your family tree. Is there an ancestor who jumps out at you? One whose compelling story you want to learn more about? Spend some time researching and writing about that ancestor. You may be surprised by what you find — and by how your heritage adds dimension to your identity.

Tomorrow: Including and honoring childless relatives. Please stop back.

© 2016 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

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