Tag Archives: Antonio di Lorenzo

Silvio Pellico and the Italian Risorgimento: An ancestral connection

Sepia Saturday 581. Seventh 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

Among the photos of my Italian ancestors from Gloversville, Fulton County, N.Y., I discovered a fascinating group photo of my maternal great-grandfather Peter Laurence (née Pietro di Lorenzo), his brother Antonio and other family members at a September 4, 1910 gathering of the Societa Silvio Pellico.

This got me wondering about the society. Who was Silvio Pellico, the namesake of their fraternal group? And what role did the organization play in my ancestors’ lives?

The fraternal society era

The Gloversville gathering of the Societa Silvio Pellico took place toward the end of a 50-year period when U.S. social life centered around such clubs — according to a 2015 Detroit News article titled “Clubbing in days past: When fraternal societies ruled.”

Societa Silvio Pellico gathering in Gloversville, Fulton County, N.Y. (4 Sep. 1910). Front row, at left in apron, Peter D. Laurence (nee Pietro di Lorenzo) and, center in vest, his brother Antonio di Lorenzo. Photo: Charboneau-Laurence Family Collection

The article sums up the sweep of these clubs from the 1870s-1920s.

In the 1870s men began founding and joining new clubs by the thousands from all levels of society. Immigrants organized clubs, as did African-Americans. Women would not be left out either and created auxiliaries of men’s clubs or founded major new sisterhoods. From 1870 to the end of the 1920s Americans’ social life centered on these clubs.

Silvio Pellico fraternal groups

A newspaper search did not turn up any stories about the Gloversville society — but a general online search returned a reference to a  Societa Silvio Pellico cemetery in Roslyn, Kittitas County, Washington, which shed some light on its namesake.

Named in honor of a northern Italian patriot. Pellico was a carbonari, a member of a secret revolutionary society that influenced the development of Italian nationalism and contributed to Italian Unification in 1861. Roslyn Italians founded this lodge, Societa’ Silvio Pellico and its cemetery in the early 1900s.”

A walking tour brochure places the Silvio Pellico Cemetery in a cluster of fraternal group cemeteries in Roslyn, Wash. — including one for the Ancient Order of Foresters, which my maternal great-grandaunt Rose Curcio (Peter’s sister-in-law) was affiliated with in Gloversville. Clearly my Italian ancestors embraced the social connections offered by the fraternal club movement.

The arrest of Silvio Pellico and Piero Maroncelli (by Carlo Felice Biscarra). The painting depicts their nighttime transfer, on 26 March 1822, to prison in Austria’s Spielberg fortress in Moravia. Source: Wikimedia/Museo Civico, Casa Cavassa, Saluzzo

Silvio Pellico and the Italian Risorgimento

As for the social club’s namesake, a full history of the life of poet, writer, dramatist and revolutionary Silvio Pellico, who fought for Italian unification (aka the Resorgimento) in the early 1800s, is beyond the scope of this blog.

Suffice to say that — at the end of the Napoleanic era in Europe, when what is now Italy was placed under Austrian rule — Pellico became a voice for Italian independence and unity, for which he was arrested in 1820 and served 10 years in Austria’s Spielberg fortress in Moravia.

Pellico’s chronicle of his life in prison Le mie prigioni (My Prisons), published in 1832, was translated and widely read — perhaps even by my Italian ancestors, since there are numerous references to it in historic U.S.newspapers. Pellico’s prison diary stands as his lasting contribution to Italy’s 1861 unification..

New country, new pride

Today’s Italy was only 12 years old when my great-grandfather Peter Laurence (nee Pietro di Lorenzo) was born in 1873. When he and his brother Antonio attended the 1910 Gloversville gathering of the Societa Silvio Pellico, Italy had not yet celebrated it’s 50th Anniversary.

As Italians like Peter and Antonio went abroad to seek a better life, they carried a sense of social and cultural unity with them — along with pride in the relatively new Italy that they left behind.

That pride is memorialized in the name of their Societa Silvio Pellico — and seems to glow in the members’ faces as they raise their beer steins in this remarkable photo.

Up next: Peter D. Laurence takes a bride. Meanwhile, please visit the blogs of this week’s other Sepia Saturday participants.

© 2021 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

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1910: The di Lorenzo brothers and the Societa Silvio Pellico

Sepia Saturday 580. 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.

© 2021 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

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1902: Antonio di Lorenzo arrives in New York Harbor

Sepia Saturday 579. Fifth 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

After finding a photo of my great- granduncle Antonio di Lorenzo in a family album, I wanted to learn more about the long-lost brother of my mom’s Italian grandfather Peter D. Laurence (nee Pietro di Lorenzo).

But where to look? According to family oral history, Antonio came briefly to the U.S. — likely traveling from their hometown of Limatola in Benevento, Campania, Italy. But he allegedly did not like it here and went back to Italy. So why not start there?

A thwarted birth and census search

Since I had already found an abstract [1]FamilySearch requires a free login to view records. of my great-grandfather Peter’s birth record online,[2]“Italia, Benevento, Stato Civile (Archivio di Stato), 1810-1942”, database with images, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:QGYD-GDYS : 12 May 2020), Pietro di … Continue reading I searched for his brother Antonio’s — plugging in their Limatola hometown, shown below, and their parents’ names, also trying some surname variants. Alas, no luck.

https://www.borghiautenticiditalia.it/borgo/limatola
Contemporary photo of Limatola, Benevento, Campania, Italy — ancestral home of Pietro and Antonio di Lorenzo. An ancient Norman castle rises above the town, which was anchored in farming when Pietro and Antonio emigrated to the U.S. in 1896-1902. Photo: Borghi Autentici d’Italia

Then I tried searching the 1905 New York State and 1910 U.S. censuses to see if Antonio was enumerated in either one during his Gloversille, N.Y., stay — but no luck there either.

Finally, I turned to digitized passenger records. I have tried unsuccessfully to find the passenger record for my great-grandfather Peter. Would I do any better finding Antonio on a ship manifest?

A passenger manifest discovery

The answer is, yes! I was thrilled to find  a manifest showing Antonio arriving in New York Harbor on 26 May 1902 aboard the S.S. Neckar to join his brother Pietro in Gloversville, N.Y. (excerpted below.)[3]Year: 1902; Arrival: New York, New York, USA; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Line: 5; Page Number: 159; Detail: Antonio di Lorenzo.

Antonio di Lorenzo – Passenger Manifest – SS Neckar – Arriving in NY Harbor on 26 May 1902 — Source: Ancestry.com[4]Ibid.
Name Age Marital Status
Job Read,  Write Natl.
di Lorenzo, Antonio 27 Marr Farmer Yes Italian
Last Residence US Port Going to Passage paid by Money in hand Joining
Limatola New York Gloversville Self $10 Brother Pietro

Unpacking a passenger manifest

There is a great deal of information here about my great-granduncle Antonio — so let’s take a column-by-column look.

At age 27 in 1902, Antonio would have been born in 1875 — making him two years younger than my great-grandfather Peter, who was born in 1873 and emigrated in 1896.

A surprise was Antonio’s marital status. On the manifest, the letter d. (for ditto) is given in his marital status column — referencing an entry above his that says “Marr.”

If the notation is correct, this could explain Antonio’s returned to Italy. He may have come to check out the U.S. so his wife could join him — a common scenario — but decided against staying and went back. It may also explain why Peter — the older, single brother — came to the U.S. first, with Antonio following.

Uncle Antonio could read and write. He was a farmer back in Limatola — with only $10 on his person when he arrived (worth about $316 today). And he was en route to visit his brother Pietro (Peter D. Laurence) in Gloversville, N.Y.

What a wealth of information about a once forgotten relative!

A look at the SS Neckar

Having perused the details of Antonio’s passenger manifest, I wondered if I could find a photo of his ship. And sure enough, there are a number of images online of the SS Neckar — a Rhine-class steamship.

https://ships-wiki.fandom.com/wiki/SS_Neckar?file=D995635F-C76D-4A72-9859-0D3EF346844E.jpg
SS Neckar, the ship that transported Antonio di Lorenzo to the U.S. in 1902. The Norwegian-built plied the Atlantic as a North German Lloyd passenger vessel on the Bremen-New York route from 1901 to 1917, when it was seized by the U.S. during WWI and turned into a troopship. Photo: Ships Wiki

A Norway Heritage site says the passenger capacity of the Norwegian-built ship was “arranged for 140 first class, 150 second class and, when the full space was utilized, 2600 steerage passengers.” With $10 in his pocket, I’m guessing Antonio traveled in steerage.

The SS Neckar plied the Atlantic for North German Lloyd as a passenger vessel on the Bremen-New York route from 1901 until 1917 — when it was seized by the U.S. during WWI and turned into the troopship USS Antigone.

Amazing what you can find when you start looking! In this case, many interesting details about my long-lost great granduncle Antonio — and about the ship he traveled on. So what else can I discover about my Italian great-grandfather Peter and his brother?

Up next: More on Peter D. Laurence and Antonio di Lorenzo. Meanwhile, please visit the blogs of this week’s other Sepia Saturday participants.

© 2021 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

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References

References
1 FamilySearch requires a free login to view records.
2 “Italia, Benevento, Stato Civile (Archivio di Stato), 1810-1942”, database with images, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:QGYD-GDYS : 12 May 2020), Pietro di Lorenzo, 1873 [2 Sep]. Parents: Giuseppe di Lorenzo and Maddalena Aragosa. Certificate No. 58.
3 Year: 1902; Arrival: New York, New York, USA; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Line: 5; Page Number: 159; Detail: Antonio di Lorenzo.
4 Ibid.