52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks #49: Craft ~ Vittoria Di Norscia and Vittoria Gambacorta of Penne ~

This week’s 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks theme is Craft.  Two ancestresses in my tree in Penne, Pescara, Abruzzo were spinners and lacemakers.   They both lived and died in the same Rione of Penne so they likely knew each other.  Perhaps they may have even been related.

Image via Pinterest

My 5th great grandmother Vittoria Gambacorta was born around 1770 in Penne to Massimo Gambacorta and a lady named Elisabetta.  She married Blasio Della Bricciosa and they had at least 6 children, as follows:

Lorenzo Giorgio

Sabatino Gennaro Stanislao

Domenico Antonio

Maria Domenica (my ancestress)



Vittoria passed away in 1832 in Rione San Giovanni, Penne.  Who is she to me?  She is the great grandmother of Cesidio Marcella’s mother Elisabetta Rossi.

My 6th great grandmother Vittoria Di Norscia was born around 1750 in Penne to Giuseppe Lorenzo Massimo Di Norscia and Angela Maria Di Costanzo.  She married Massimo Nicola Auriano/Uriano/Uriani.  He is the longest living ancestor I ever found – whom I will likely visit later this month before the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge ends.

Vittoria and Massimo Nicola had at least 3 children as follows:

Massimo Antonio Nicola

Anna Domenica (my ancestress)

Maria Anna Massimina

Vittoria Di Norscia passed away in 1829 in Rione San Giovanni, Penne.  Who is she to me?  She is the great great grandmother of Maria Luigia Massei’s mother Angela Maria Di Massimo.

Do you have any questions, comments, additions, or corrections?  Please email me – cinziarosagenealogy@comcast.net.


52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks #48: Thief ~ Paolo Carusi, Commander of the Urban Guard of Farindola ~

This week’s 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks theme is Thief.  My ancestor Paolo Carusi was in charge of catching brigands in his village in the early 1800s.

Merriam – Webster defines brigand as one who lives by plunder usually as a member of a band.  A brigand would be a thief then.

According to Wikipedia, brigandage has exited in Italy since ancient times.  Wikipedia also notes that bad administration and suitable land terrain encouraged the development of brigandage.  When the Bonapartists came to Abruzzo, the local brigands evolved into a form of a political resistance.  It was mentioned in the book I have previously posted about here, earlier this year, called Storia di Farindola, Dalle Origini ai Giorni Nostri by Antonio Procacci, that some of the known brigands in the Farindola area were former soldiers who had fought against the Bonapartists in the north of Italy in the 1790s.

During the occupation of Italy by the Bonapartists, the French authorities formed the Guardia Urbana in Farindola to counteract the brigandage prevalent there and in its environs.  They appointed my 6th great grandfather Paolo Carusi commander of the guards in Farindola.  He commanded 12 French soldiers sent there to root out the local brigands.

In a town the size of Farindola, Paolo was likely responsible for the capture of some of our relatives.

While I was researching for this post, I found mention of a brigand named Marco Sciarra from Abruzzo who was the bane of the Spanish Viceroy in Naples in the 1500s.  I thought that was humorous since my 4th great grandmother from Farindola, in Abruzzo was named Maria Domenica Sciarra.  She was the wife of Massimo Nicola Marcella and was a midwife.

If you would like to read more about Italy’s brigands and checkout some photos, you may find the webpage called Made in South Italy interesting.  You can click here to go to that website.

You really didn’t think I would name all of the thieves in my tree did you?  

Do you have any questions, comments, corrections, or additions, please email me – cinziarosagenealogy@comcast.net.

The aforementioned book is available @ http://www.gelsumino.it (L’Aria di Penne).  The gentleman that has the website is very helpful and I am so very thankful he has made all of the information therein available to other researchers. 





52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks #46: Poor Woman ~ My Great Grandmother ~

This week’s challenge is Poor Woman.  There are only 6 more themes left in this challenge!

People express forms of gratitude in November in the United States.  We give thanks to veterans during this month and to the harvest’s bounty with the holiday Thanksgiving.  It is also apropos to give thanks to our ancestors that made do for the good of their families. Their burdens obviously made it possible for future generations.

My immigrant great grandmother Serafina Merlenghi, who I have profiled in the past in several posts, lived in poverty in Farindola, Italy. When she was raising three young children, including my grandfather Biagio Filippo, my great grandfather Cesidio came to America, after World War I, to earn money to send home for food and clothing because there was no work in their village.

While he worked in New York City as a bird of passage for low wages, like hundreds of other Italian laborers helping build the skyscrapers, he would often go a little hungry to be able to send more money home to Serafina and his children. I have lately heard from a cousin that Serafina had knowledge of folk remedies and that she thought Serafina may have earned a little money in Italy that way or as a midwife. Sadly she is no longer around for me to ask… Regardless, they had so little, there was not enough money to send the children to school for more than a few grades.

I remember when we would visit my great grandparents in the United States. They had a nice house and the food was always plentiful. Their hard work, and Serafina’s famous, stubborn perseverance paved the way for their oldest son and their descendants in the United States to have opportunity.

Thank you Serafina and Cesidio.

Do you have any questions, comments, additions, or corrections? Feel free to email me – cinziarosagenealogy@comcast.net.

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks #45: Rich Man ~ Jean Nicholas Scheidt, Owner – Moulin D’Eschviller ~

This week’s 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks theme is Rich Man.

My 5th and 6th great grandfathers of Farindola, Nicola Carusi, and Paolo Carusi, were wealthy men.  I have profiled them in the past.

This week I memorialize what I know about my 7th great grandfather Jean Nicholas Scheidt of Loutzviller, Moselle, France, who lived from 1655 to 1724 and wasn’t rich by today’s standards of living in a mansion with servants.  He was the town’s tailor and owned decent properties, one which included a business.  He also owned a fair amount of livestock, and had a large family.

LoutzvillerWho is he to me?  He is the direct ancestor of my immigrant second great grandmother Elisabetha Scheid Bold, who was born in Rodalben, Germany in 1822.

Jean Nicholas Scheidt was born in 1655 in Loutzviller to parents Hans Nicquel Scheidt and an unknown wife.  It is believed his father was a miller.  In 1679 he married Catherine Budel/Bittel of Loutzviller, daughter of miller Nicolas Budel/Bittel and Catherine Zeigler.

They had the following children:

Jean Michel

Jean Georges



Frederic – my ancestor

Jean Nicholas


Marie Elisabetha


and an unknown daughter

There are various summaries of transcribed and translated notarial deeds floating around on the internet from Archives 57 in France explaining transfers of properties involving Jean Nicholas.  Some of the terms describing land measure may not translate into today’s English terms.  A few are listed below.

  • After Catherine Budel/Bittel’s father passed away in 1699, Jean Nicholas bought all of the estates of his father-in-law in Loutzviller, Eschviller, Ormesviller and Schweyen, which include the mills – Moulin D’Eschviller.
  • A deed of  1704 specifies that he is a seller of half of the Moulin D’Eschviller on the Schwalb River.  Jean Nicholas sells this half to Jean Philippe Kneip for 300 Reichsthalers.
  • On August 6, 1704, Jean Nicholas intervened with Etienne Martini, mayor, Guillaume Kinder, Jean Nicolas Maus, and Dominique Muller de Loutzviller to sell to Philippe Buchheit a communal land to build at the price of one ecus?   The same day, he intervened under the same conditions to sell to Guillaume Kinder a communal place at the price of 5 Florins.
  • On June 14, 1707, Jean Nicholas, a tailor at Loutzviller, sold to the parish of Loutzviller, represented by Adam Scheffer, mayor of Schweyen, Mathias Drexler and Guillaume Kinder of Loutzviller, Nicolas Zimmermann and Jean Koch of Breidenbach, 10 feet? of Lorraine to serve as school at the price of 64 Reichsthalers.

Because his signature appears at the bottom of each document, his descendants can assume he was literate.

In 1708, during the census of the taxable homes of Loutzviller it is shown that –
– Jean Nicholas Scheidt is called laborer with 1 boy over 16 years, 1 boy under 16 years and 3 girls;
¤ In land he owns: 77 journals of cultivated land, 4 days of meadows and 4.5 days of wasteland
¤ In livestock he owns: 3 cows, 30 sheep, 15 pigs and 2 oxen
¤ In materials: 1 plow and 5 horses (to pull)
¤ House staff: 1 servant

The property on which the Moulin D’Eschviller of 1699 existed is now part of another mill containing a newer structure built in 1731.  Today it is also called Moulin D’Eschviller, and is an environmental museum.  Both mills were grain mills.

This is a link to Site Du Moulin D’Eschviller.

They also have a Facebook page where I learned they graduated a class of beekeepers earlier this year.

Do you have any questions on my sources, comments, corrections, or additions?  Feel free to email me – cinziarosagenealogy@comcast.net.

Happy Dia de Los Muertos!







52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks #44 ~ An Update on the Mysterious Antonio Ferraro ~

This week’s 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks theme is Trick or Treat. For me that means – trick or treat – there are only 8 more weeks left in this challenge!

This week I am providing an update on my great grandfather Carmen Ferraro’s brother Antonio Ferraro, who was one of the first immigrants I profiled back in 2017. That post can be found by clicking here (The Disappearing Antonio Ferraro).

It all started when I was contacted on Ancestry a few weeks ago by someone researching a man with the same name. I couldn’t believe the details she was telling me. Antonio had two sons and it turns out she is our cousin! I am so glad she found me and told me these new details.

She knew when Antonio Ferraro got to the United States! Finally! Antonio arrived in New York on November 3, 1899 with his wife Amelia Limoncelli on the Chateau Yquem. They left the Port of Naples on November 18, 1899. On the ship manifest, Antonio was listed as a laborer, being able to read and write, and was bringing $100.00 with him. He stated he was never in the United States before and was going to New York and would not be meeting any relatives. His health condition and that of Amelia were listed as good.

In 1901, Antonio and Amelia had a son named Angelo and another son named Giovanni Antonio in October, 1903. At the time of Giovanni Antonio’s birth, Antonio’s occupation in New York City, while he was residing at 156 Navy Street, was listed as stableman. Approximately a month and a half later, Antonio’s father, my second great grandfather Angelo Ferraro, came to America and gave his destination as that same Navy Street address to meet his son Antonio. At that time, the Italians living on Navy Street in Brooklyn were predominantly Neapolitans.

Shortly thereafter, it is believed Antonio went back to Italy, and Amelia when to look for him. On October 12, 1905, she returned with her sons and according to that ship manifest, without Antonio. Was he in Italy? If so, when did he come back?

Meanwhile, on November 12, 1906, Antonio married Elisa Peluso in New York City. Amelia was still alive, and as of right now, a divorce has not been found.

Antonio’s first wife, and the mother of his children, Amelia passed away on December 9, 1908. Eventually their sons were placed in an orphanage. Elisa went and took them with her into her home and raised them. We know Elisa received an Enoch Arden divorce from Antonio in 1920 on grounds of abandonment.

These are some of the mysteries surrounding Antonio that may or may never be solved:

  • Did he go to Italy again before he married Elisa?
  • Was his marriage to Amelia dissolved?
  • If the first marriage wasn’t dissolved, what was it like for Amelia to have Antonio living in the same town married to another woman?
  • Is there a possibility of more than two wives?  Do I have cousins from Antonio Ferraro alive in Italy today?

Do you find it fantastical too that he was later a professor in a monastery in Aversa, Italy? 

It was great to be relayed this information by a cousin.  Really great!  My great grandfather was not the only one in the family that makes their descendants scratch their heads.  Maybe some day we will find out more about Carmen’s and Antonio’s sister Giovannina.

Do you have any corrections, additions, or questions about my sources?  Please email me – cinziarosagenealogy@comcast.net.


52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks #43: Transportation

This week’s theme Transportation is wide open!

My third great grandfather Johann Schuttler came to America during the 1849 Gold Rush to live with his Schuttler relatives in Chicago and work at Peter Schuttler Wagons.   Peter Schuttler Wagons are classified in wagon lore as “Wheels that Won the West.”  The company steadily grew and enriched Peter Schuttler when they were awarded a government contract during the Civil War to build artillery and commissary wagons.  Johann became the company’s foreman.  During the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, Johann used his Schuttler wagon, filled with mattresses and blankets, to drive his family out of Chicago where they watched the fire from the prairie.  They returned a few days later on that wagon to discover that their house miraculously did not burn while those surrounding it were in ashes.

Steamships transported my immigrant ancestors to America, with the exception of the last one that used an airplane to cross the Atlantic.

The SS Anna Catharina, sailing under a Prussian flag, conveyed the Gerbings from Hamburg to Quebec City in 1852.  The voyage likely took around 90 days.

The SS Jenny, also sailing under the Prussian flag, conveyed the Eckebrechts from Bremen to New York in 1866.  I tried to locate history on this ship and kept on finding links to stories about a haunted ship of the same name, sailing under St. George’s cross for England.  This is clearly not the ship from Germany.

The SS Scheidam, of the Netherlands-American Steamship Line, sailing from Rotterdam to Castle Garden, New York conveyed Elisabeth Scheid Bold and her daughter Rosa Bold in 1880.

The SS St. Laurent, owned by Compagnie Generale Transantlantique, sailing under the French flag, conveyed Anne Marie Aloisia Heinzen from Le Havre, France to Castle Garden, New York in 1885.  The St. Laurent was built in a shipyard in Saint-Nazaire and operated up until 1902 when she was scrapped in Italy.


The SS Lombardia, sailing under the flag of the Kingdom of Italy, conveyed Angelo Ferraro, Carmen Ferraro, his three oldest sisters, and Filomena Napolitano in 1903 and 1904 from Naples to Ellis Island, New York in a voyage that took approximately 2 weeks.

The SS Giulio Cesare, also sailing under the flag of the Kingdom of Italy, conveyed Cesidio Marcella from Naples to Ellis Island in 1923.  It was commissioned by the Italian Societa Anonima di Navigazione and built by a British Company.  In 1936 it was transferred to Lloyd Triestino.  In 1942 she was chartered to the International Red Cross in Geneva.  In 1944, while off the coast near Trieste, it was sunk in an allied air attack.

The MS Vulcania, an historical Italian luxury ocean liner, sailing under the Italian flag, conveyed Serafina Merlenghi and her youngest son from Naples to Ellis Island in 1948.  The liner is known for being the first liner offering private balconies for tourists.  It was used to transport troops in the 1930s for Italy and re-patriated Italians from Africa.  She conveyed Italian immigrants to South America in 1940, including Italian statesmen, nobility, and opera singers to Argentina and Brazil.  The liner also was used by the Italian government to transport troops to North Africa in 1941 and transported American troops at the end of WWII.

When the Vulcania was returned to the Italia Line, she made numerous voyages from Genoa-Naples-New York.  It was on one of those that Serafina traveled to the United States to live with Cesidio in Philadelphia.  The MS Vulcania hit a rock off France in 1972 and sank on her way to be scrapped by a Taiwanese company.   You can read more about this liner here at Wikipedia.

The photo on the right is a brochure photo used to advertise the MS Vulcania.

Coincidentally, Serafina’s and Cesidio’s son was a passenger on the doomed SS Andrea Doria in December 1955 before she was hit by the MS Stockholm and sank near Nantucket.

Do you have any questions, comments, or corrections?  Please feel free to email me – cinziarosagenealogy@comcast.net.


52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks #42: Adventure ~ The Multi-Faceted Life of Fritz Eckebrecht ~

A few years before my Great Uncle John passed away, he memorialized the life and times of his grandfather Fritz Eckebrecht who was born in Germany, crossed the ocean in his teens, traversed the Post-War South picking crops, and spent time living among the Comanches in Texas before he settled in Chicago after the Great Fire of 1871.  He is the one true adventurer of the family.

In honor of his adventures, and what is likely near the anniversary of the date Fritz rode a train north to make his way to Chicago to work as a carpenter after the Great Fire, I am re-blogging a previous post containing the story written by my Great Uncle Father John G. Leies.

I hope you enjoy reading about Fritz as much I did.


52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks #41: Context ~ Early 19th Century Slaveholders of Cumberland County, Pennsylvania and the Search for the Enslavers of the Dedford Family ~

This week’s 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks theme is Context. If I had researched outside of what I thought was the logical context for the time period in Pennsylvania, maybe I would have found the enslavers of the Dedford Family sooner. This post is a quick follow-up to my post #39 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: Mapping It Out ~ Finding the Possible Slaveholders of David Dedford’s Parents Near Newville, Cumberland County, Pennsylvania.

I thought very wrong about the time period and researched incorrectly. What was I thinking? I thought the Dedfords were freed slaves from a larger Pennsylvania city that moved out to the rural Township of Mifflin in the early 1800s to work as laborers on farms for the Scotch-Irish descendants that had settled in that area. I envisioned them living in a small hut type structure with not much money, trying to keep to themselves, and working the only trade they knew. Locals I discussed them with told me they were likely runaway slaves. Because after all, the early 1800s were well past the 1780 abolition of slavery in Pennsylvania. Boy did I have all of that out of context. I was VERY WRONG.

Looking at the 1820 Census again from a different viewpoint, I had a feeling that the fact there was no older female (mother/wife) living with Pom Dedford was because she was the older female Person of Color residing with David Sterrett (1767-1825; who laid some of the first stones for the historic First Presbyterian Church of Newville) and she was the wife of Pom Dedford, and mother of the children living with Pom. Another clue crept in – David Sterrett died in 1825 and that is when the Dedfords went to Harrisburg. I decided to start with him to see if he was the enslaver of the family.

Then after years of using the card catalog on Ancestry and Family Search with no luck, the 1810 Mifflin Township Census I had been hunting for every few months appeared on Ancestry! Ancestry Card Catalog – I can’t stand you!

There were 13 slaves in the township that year according to the census and this graphic:


David Sterrett was the only slaveholder in the township with more than 2 slaves. He had 6. I knew I had the smoking gun.

The latest clue I have is the 1825 will of David Sterrett. He states in it:

It is my will and I do order and direct that Charlotte Denford is to be supported and provided for out of my Estate during her natural life, provided she lives steady in the family and behaves herself well she is to live with any of my family she chooses and they support her.

Pom Dedford’s son David named one of his daughters Charlotte. Denford is too close to Dedford to discount too. I suspect David Sterrett’s heir or heirs FINALLY freed her!

Looking backwards, on the 1800 Census, David Sterrett has a Free Person of Color living with him. I speculate that is Nead who was willed to him by his father in 1790 but am not positive.

The Sterretts are well-known in Cumberland County. Sterretts Gap is named for other members of the family. David Sterrett’s house was on the National Register of Historic Places before it burned down. Photos of the structure exist. That property is where the Dedfords lived/worked/were enslaved. David Sterrett’s father was an original settler of this Western area of Cumberland County and was one of the bigger slaveholders and property owners. Those facts should aid in the hunt for slave transfers/sales, etc. I am also hunting for the marriage record of Charlotte and Pom and plan to take a fourth look at the Cumberland County slave records.

Unfortunately I was looking at the area’s history in the most favorable context.

Do you have any corrections, additions, or comments? Please feel free to email me – cinziarosagenealogy@comcast.net.

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks #40: Harvest ~ The Tithe Records of My Ferraro Ancestors in Arienzo, Italy from the Early 1700s ~

This week’s 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks theme is Harvest.  A few years ago I came across the tithe records for my ancestors from San Leonardo Abbate in Arienzo, Caserta.

Tithe records, or decime in Italian, were collected once a year, during harvesting time in August, and were supposed to be one tenth of a parishioner’s annual production.  I was excited to see anything to have to do with my ancestors besides the church’s usual birth, marriage, and death records.

In the parish decime I found surnames from my tree such as Barbarino, Porrino, Bernardo, Dragone, Delle Cave, Zingariello, Ferraro, Affenita, Bionillo, Carfora, Cioffi, etc. These tithe records start in 1710 and continue through 1742.  Either the tithes weren’t recorded or they were lost for a few years between 1728 and 1742.

The largest measurement of the harvest yield they used was tomolo, then mezzo, and then quarto.  In 1714 my 7th great grandfather Silvestro Ferraro had a good year and was the biggest decima contributor to the parish.  The parish priest Giuseppe Lettiero, who transcribed the records, wrote that Silvestro gave:

un tomolo di grano buono;

un tomolo e mezzo d’orgio;

un tomolo e quarto di fave; and

un tomolo di grano d’india.


In 1717 my 8th great grandfather Marzio Porrino, who was likely in his eighties at this point, gave mezzo cinque di grano buono, and mezzo quarto di grano d’india.  I had no idea he was still alive!  That is very valuable.  That same year my 7th great grandfather Domenico Zingariello contributed tre mezzo di grano buono and cinque mezzo di grano d’india.  I was not sure he was still living in Arienzo or that he was even alive.  His surname means Little Gypsy.  In 1724 I still found Marzio Porrino donating tithes to the church.  He was likely near 90 at that point!  Or it could be a man with the same name!

It is not just the men listed in these records.  Female heads of family like Elisabetta Porrino, Carmina Delle Cave and parishioners like Catarina Dragone, who provided significant decime, were also listed.  I assume that the smaller-portioned harvests in my tree belonged to the Zingariello, Delle Cave, and Porrino families based on the amounts of their decime.  However, one could guess the Zingariello harvests increased, because their decime rose through the years.  The largest decime in my tree belonged to the Barbarino, Dragone, and Ferraro families.

If you would like to view the decime records I am discussing, they start here on Family Search.  The first years are hard to decipher but get easier to read as you progress to the 1720s.  If you would like to read more about the tomolo, and are willing to translate from Italian, you can go here.  From that link, note that Arienzo is in Caserta and the measurement of the tomolo in meters is not listed there.  Benevento and Avellino are close provinces geographically.  If you average those together, maybe a tomolo is a little less than an American acre.

Do you have any questions, corrections, or comments?  Please feel free to email me: cinziarosagenealogy@comcast.net.

Next week:  An update on my hunt for the slaveholders of David Dedford’s family in Cumberland County, Pennsylvania.