Stumbling and Bumbling Towards the Origin of our Ferraro Ancestry… perhaps Marcianise, Caserta?

For as long as any living Ferraro can remember there have been tales attached to the lineage of Great Grandfather Ferraro’s ancestors. Unfortunately proof is not available to accurately prove the tales. Nobody even knows where our Ferraro line comes from in Campania. No living Ferraro knew Angelo Ferraro. They knew his son, Great Grandfather Ferraro. What we do know that is that records repeatedly show Angelo Ferraro’s parents were contadini or farmers in Santo Prisco, Caserta. Specifically, when Angelo was born his father was actually a bracciale or hired farm hand.


Angelo left his birth place behind when he was 20 and became a soldier, his brothers were farmhands, and his sister was a spinner. After he left the military as a captain he became a merchant in Naples. For reasons unknown to us, his oldest son Antonio went to Brooklyn some time before 1903. He must have needed work. Angelo came to America in November 1903 when he was 61 to meet Antonio. We do not YET have Angelo’s passport to tell us the circumstances of his passage to America. The reason and record of detainment at Ellis Island cannot be located. In April 1904 Angelo’s wife and children followed. They too were detained. Great Grandfather Ferraro came as a Franciscan priest on the same ship as his mother and sisters.


Presumably, but not positively, Angelo brought his life savings with him. Not once while he was here in America did Angelo or wife Filomena Napolitano have to do a day of work. In 1912 they returned to Naples for almost a year and stayed in Montecalvario, Naples, the birthplace of our great grandfather. Angelo and Filomena passed away in Ohio, while living amongst large Italian immigrant populations.


The Antonio Ferraros and the Answers They Could Provide


Potentially, the Antonio Ferraros could solve the mystery of the tales of origins and lineage. Not only Angelo’s father Antonio Ferraro but also Angelo’s oldest son Antonio Ferraro. Both Antonios appear in civil records in both countries and then – poof – into thin air they go.


Angelo’s son Antonio Ferraro, brother to Great Grandfather Ferraro, abandoned his Brooklyn wife and never returned from a visit to Naples in the 1910s. Potentially we have could have 2nd cousins left in Naples today if he started a family there. There is a tale he died single in a monastery in Naples. I highly doubt that is true. There is also a tale there were no Ferraros left behind in Italy which, is also untrue.


Regardless, the most important lead in the stumbling and bumbling along for the origins of Great Grandfather Ferraro’s ancestry is our 3 x great grandfather Antonio Ferraro, his grandfather. We don’t know where he was born. Unfortunately we do not know where he was married. We most certainly don’t even know where or when he died. If we had his death record we would at least know where he was born which could lead to his marriage record.


In Italian civil records, set up when Napoleon rolled the country in the early 1880s, one’s marriage record contains a copy of the birth or baptismal record of the marring couple and parental consent. If parents of the bride or groom are deceased, those death records are also included in the civil marriage attachments. If the parents are deceased, and there are no living grandparents on the father’s side of the bride or groom, those death records are also attached. Potentially, if parents and grandparents are dead you are looking at 3 extra generations to attach your ancestry when you find the marriage documents. Also, those death records include the places of birth for everyone involved.


Filomena Napolitano’s ancestry is a prime example.   Because her parents married in their thirties, both of her grandmothers were already deceased, thereby providing her great grandparents’ names. The commonality of the Napolitano name in the search in Nola was meaningless in her case. To a researcher’s advantage, the record keeper in Nola wrote down the father of both of her grandfathers on the marital documents. Thanks to those fantastic records, Filomena’s Napolitano and Sabatino branches go back to the early to mid 1700s in Nola, Sirico, and a branch in the neighboring province of Salerno. She was easy. This also pertains to many of the Marcella branches in ease of searching and the glorious Italian run archival site Antenati.


Not so with the Ferraro – Della/e Cava/e, Angelo Ferraro’s parents. Disappointingly, the only Campanian records available on the Italian archival site Antenati are those from the pre-1865 City of Naples. The problem is that they are not the Province of CASERTA.   Right now 43 Italian provinces have been made available on Antenati and only half the records of 1 province of Campania is included.


What We Do Know

This is what we know about Angelo’s parents Antonio and Angela Maria Della/e Cava/e:


-They did not marry in Santo Prisco.


-1 child born in Marcianise, Caserta: 1824ish – Filippo – married 3 times, moved to Grazzanise in 1872, had at least one male child


-3 children in Santo Prisco, Caserta:


1828ish – Luigi Ferraro married once, had at least one male child and two female children


1833- Maria Giuseppa Ferraro – married twice, had three daughters of which, only one survived to adulthood


1842-Angelo Ferraro (our ancestor), possibly the youngest child


-Ferraro is not a common surname in Santo Prisco until Antonio and Angela Maria have children. There are no Della Cava in Santo Prisco.


Filippo married three times and had at least one son in Santo Prisco. His father Antonio was alive when he moved to Grazzanise in 1872. Angelo’s older brother Filippo did not die in Grazzanise, Caserta according to records available through the Latter Day Saints. Where did he go? Maybe he moved to Montecalvario to live near his younger brother.


Maria Giuseppa’s first husband was a Stefano Ferraro of nearby Casagiove, Caserta. You are reading that correctly.  A Ferraro married another Ferraro. They had at least 3 daughters. Stefano died in 1874. Maria Giuseppa remarried to Vincenzo Vitale in 1878. Both of her parents were still alive and residing in Santo Prisco.


-Next, Angela Maria Delle/a Cave/a died in 1881 in Santo Prisco. Her name is spelled Della Cava on all Santo Prisco records. Antonio Ferraro was still alive at the time of her death. Her death record stated she was born in Arienzo, Caserta and her father was Luca. She was a filatrice or spinner. Her mother’s name was: Signora la madre. Her age is listed as 81. Meaning she was born about 1800. This age runs true to the age stated on the birth records of Maria Giuseppa and Angelo.


Search of 1780-1840 baptismal records in Arienzo made available on microfilm through the Latter Days Saints show only one Delle Cave family having children are Silvestro Delle Cave and Rosa D’Iglio. The name is written Delle Cave. They are a terrible, destroyed mess eaten by water stains and smearing. Some pages are illegible. A search of 1809-1828 marriages in Arienzo show the children of that Delle Cave family marrying. The records show that both Rosa and Silvestro are deceased. Their names are all spelled Delle Cave in Arienzo. If you fast forward to Angela Maria’s death record, having deceased parents at the time of her and her siblings’ marriages could be an explanation for the lack of knowing her mother’s name. Stretching that further, it could also explain the wrong name for her father.


Is Luca really Silvestro? I would go with 50/50 chance.


What about Italian naming traditions? If, and only if, Filippo is the oldest son in Angelo Ferraro’s family, does that mean Antonio Ferraro’s father was named Filippo? After all, Angelo named his oldest son after his father Antonio.


Finally, where did Antonio Ferraro, the 3x great grandfather die? Records to 1900 in death records of Santo Prisco show he probably didn’t die there. There is a picture of Great Grandfather Ferraro taken in Caserta in 1900 in his military uniform. Was he visiting for the funeral of his aunt Maria Giuseppa? Was he visiting his uncles or cousins?


Don’t forget that Ferraro is an incredibly common Campanian surname, except in Arienzo and Santo Prisco! So, where is the marriage of Angela Maria Delle Cave and Antonio Ferraro? Italian brides usually marry in their birthplace!


Filippo Ferraro 1872 Cittadanza, Santo Prisco, Caserta*


*But there is the tiny clue left behind on the marriage records and residency record of Filippo Ferraro just discovered the other day, who may be the oldest child of Antonio Ferraro and Angela Maria Della Cava. They all state the same on his Cittadanza record: “Filippo Ferraro di Antonio d’ anni quarantasei, contadino, nato in Marcianise e qui domiciliato dall’infanzia”, He was “born in Marcianise, and lived here (in Santo Prisco) since infancy.” Could Marcianise be the origin of Great Grandfather Ferraro’s Ferraro ancestry? Maybe…and those marriage records are not online…*


The research continues to bumble along.

What tale did you hear?




2 thoughts on “Stumbling and Bumbling Towards the Origin of our Ferraro Ancestry… perhaps Marcianise, Caserta?

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