On Abruzzese Foundlings and an Ancestress, the Receiver of the Foundlings – Tomassina Carusi

For an update on this post, please go here: Tomassina Carusi

Everyone that thinks they have experience doing Italian genealogy told me that I would get to a wall when I got a few generations back and discovered a foundling. Really. Going back to at least the mid 1700s in all lines in the Farindola genealogy and all our Italian genealogy on both sides of the family (and in the case of the Ferraros, to the 1600s) I can now safely say we do not descend from any foundlings. None. Zero. Nessuna. Nihil. Absolutely zero have been found going back to those centuries!   I suppose it doesn’t mean I won’t find one. But, as I stated, to the mid 1700s and earlier in Abruzzo and one 8 x great grandfather named Candeloro Sacchitti, and because I recently traced to the mid 1600s on the Ferraro side to a few sets of 7 x great grandparents and one 8 x great grandfather born in the early 1600s named Matteo Gammella, there are NONE.

However, there was an interesting female in the tree that took in the newborns left at Farindola’s foundling wheel.  I also discovered three foundlings that began the surnames of Zenone, Generosi, and Baccanale that married into the Farindola tree and begat our cousins.



The Three Foundlings That Became Part of Our Family Tree

All of the foundlings that married into our family tree were born outside of Farindola.

The first one I discovered was Panfilo Zenone. He was born in Penne and he married Maria Giustina Marcella, sister of great great grandfather Filippo Marcella. They had 8 children, one of which was Giuseppe. Four of their children were males and the name multiplied. It is such a prolific name in Pescara now that it has become to be cited on Cognomi Italiani and is believed to be derived from the Greek philosopher Xenon.

Zenone birth
Birth Record of Foundling Panfilo Zenone


According to the incredibly hard to read attached birth record of Panfilo Zenone, #237 Nati Penne 1843, Panfilo was found by Antonia Nobilio, the Ricevitrice de Proietti, after he was esposito alla ruota at 6 of the previous night. He was found wrapped in swaddling clothes without marks or identifying clothing. He appeared to be newly born. The Deputato of the Casa de Proietti was Antonio Quartangeli. On September 5, 1843 the record of his birth was made and he was baptized the same day. Antonia likely found a balia or wet nurse for Panfilo. The balia she found would have received payment from the municipal office for helping Panfilo. I believe the Deputato, a well-read man, was choosing the last names in Penne.  On February 4, 1869 Panfilo married Maria Giustina Marcella in Farindola and they raised their children in Case Bruciate.

The second one I found that become a part of the tree was Giuseppe Generosi, grandfather to a cousin and great grandfather to second cousins. He married Maria DiGregorio. His son was the Generosi that married the sister of nonno.

Birth Extract of Giuseppe Generosi


According to 1905 Allegati #23 above, Giuseppe Generosi was left at a civil hospital in Teramo, Teramo, Abruzzo, called Sant’ Antonio Abate, 15 Via Larga dei Melatini in 1882. He was left at a special place the foundlings were left in diapers. Sant’ Antonio Abate received over 100 foundlings in 1881.  Giuseppe was given a beautiful last name. Unfortunately, the original birth allegati for 1882 in Sant’ Antonio Abate is not online. What was found was the extract attached to his marriage documents in Farindola when he married Maria Di Gregorio on September 21, 1905. She was the daughter of Nicola and Angeladea Mergiotti. Their wedding record is below. Sant’ Antonio Abate, where Giuseppe was found, is still a hospital today and is so large it has a  Wikipedia entry.

Atti di Matrimonio of Generosi – DiGregorio


The last I found was Leandro Baccanale. Leandro Baccanale was born in Penne and married Rosa Merlenghi, sister of our ancestor Angelo Merlenghi, our 3 x great grandfather. Bacca means berry and baccanale was a festival held in Rome each year I am sure you have all heard about. They had male children and the name multiplied. Baccanale from Farindola have emigrated to Pennsylvania and settled in the western part of the state.  Click here for his birth extract on the Italian archival site Antenati.

*Mention – Giuseppe Belgrado was placed on the foundling wheel in Penne on December 12, 1853. He is the ancestor to some of the Zenone cousins.


Ancestress Tomassina Carusi, Unwed Mother, Receiver of the Foundlings

Tomassina Carusi was the oldest daughter of the Cancelliere of Farindola and sister to our ancestor Francesca Carusi. Unlike her sisters and land owning brothers, she never married. She became a midwife and had two children to an un-named man in her late 30s. While her nephew was Deputato della Casa de Proietti (Deputy of the House of Foundlings) she was the Ricevitrice at the Casa de Proietti at the village church, San Nicola di Bari. When you picture a kind woman wishing to help abandoned babies, one may picture a pious type. Was she this type of woman do you think?

As the town’s Ricevitrice she may have lived near the church. A bell was usually rung when a baby was placed on the foundling wheel. She took in 4 foundlings in a three year period. All three were “involto con panni laceri, e senza alcun segno visibile” or “wrapped in swaddling clothes, without any visible marks.” Usually the midwife that found the baby named them. If they had a mark or were left with a specific piece of cloth or jewelry a mother could change her mind and claim her baby if she showed identifying proof left with the baby.

The first baby Tomassina found she named Vitale. She may have also given him his last name which was Longo. He was placed on the wheel at 4 in the morning on September 6, 1852. Tomassina took him to her brother’s son Nicola Carusi, the Deputato at the time, and he arranged for Vitale to be baptized the same day.

The second male baby she named Fortunato Bisanti. Either she or the Deputato named him Bisanti. He was placed on the wheel at the Casa de Proietti at 3 in the morning on September 20, 1852. She showed him to her nephew. He was baptized the same day at San Nicola di Bari.

The third baby she named was Placida Rubiconda left on the foundling wheel at 4 in the morning on October 7, 1852. Rubiconda means ruddy or reddish. It is possible that Placida had reddish hair or skin. Tomassina took him to her brother’s son again and her name was recorded. She was baptized the same day at San Nicola di Bari.

The last baby Tomassina took in she named Elena. Either Tomassina or the Deputato gave her the beautiful surname Fenice. Fenice means phoenix. She was left at the wheel at 5 in the morning on January 15, 1854. Tomassina showed him to her brother’s son and she was also baptized the same day at San Nicola di Bari.

Below is the growing list of foundlings that I have found in Farindola in my research:

Bisonti, Fortunato            19 September 1852

Rubiconda, Placida          8 Ottobre 1852

Longo, Vitale                      5 Settembre 1852

Baccanale, Leandro         born in Penne

Zenone, Panfilo               born in Penne

Gentile, Racchele             born in Penne, died at 5 months on July 4, 1854, Farindola

Fenice, Elena                     born January 15, 1854, Farindola

Generosi, Giuseppe       born in Teramo

Frontino, Emidio               born in Penne, married January 1856

Incogniti Proietti, Anna Paolo, born in Farindola, married May 1856

Bruschetto, Antonio       born in Penne, died June 16, 1856

Garofalo, Filippo               born in Penne, died Sept 13, 1856

Bellone, Francesco          born in Penne, died Sept 24, 1856

Bellicoso, Giacinto           born in Penne, died April 30, 1856

Lepore, Girolamo             born in Penne, died November 26, 1856

Fiera, Maria Giovanna    born in Penne, died May 18, 1856

Bologna, Silvestre            born in Penne, died November 14, 1856

Aprile, Serafina                 born in Penne, died December 25, 1856

Fornara, Francesco          born in Penne, died Jan 17, 1857

Regina, Michela               born in Loreto, died Oct 2, 1857

Vulcano, Pietro                 born in Penne, died Jan 31, 1857

Pesce, Elia                           born 3:30 am May 19, 1858, ricevitrice Elisabetta Lepore

Placido, Massimo             married Dec 2, 1858, born in Penne

Nobile, Sofia                      born April 25, 1858 in Farindola

Pesce, Elia                           born May 19, 1858 in Farindola, Elisabetta Lepore found

Cardinale, Santa               died Jan 31, 1835 in Farindola

Novella, Colombo            died Jan 17, 1858 b. Penne

Fratarolla, Carmine Antonio died Jan 28, 1858 b. Penne

Belmonte, Ciriaca             died June 27, 1858 b Penne

Sciarra, Candida                died Aug 19, 1858 b. Farindola

Molignani, Serafina         married Giovanni Antonio Cirone March 1, 1859, born in Penne

Serena, Geltrude             married Massimonicola Tauro on June 18, 1859, born in Penne

Fiorita, Celeste                  married Domenico Massei on November 24, 1859, born in Penne

Croce, Filippo                     died February 2, 1859, born in Cellino

Fallto, Massimo                died Oct 24, 1859, born in Penne

Filardo, Agostino              died Nov 12, 1859, born in Penne

Macchia, Filomena          died Dec 22, 1859, born in Farindola

Frigida, Anatolia                died August 22, 1860, born in Farindola

Moretti, Antonio              died November 22, 1860, born in Loreto

Grillante, Gabriele           died January 19, 1861, born in Teramo

Bavaro, Vincenzo             died May 15, 1861, born in Penne

Rosaria, 10                          died Sept 4, 1861, born in Penne

Serpentina, Serafina       died October 4, 1863, born in Penne

Fuine, Oreste                    died May 21, 1864, b. Farindola

Scorpione, Fortunato     died August 12, 1864, b. Farindola

Di Scotto, Maria Giovanna died August 24, 1864, b. Penne, moglie di Matteo Federico

Aquaria, Aurelia                died November 20, 1865, b. Penne, balia Annantonia Dinosante

Alabianca, Teodoro         died November 29, 1865, b. Castiglione Messer Raimondo, age 23, single

Projetto, Francescantonio   married March 24, 1819 to Paratta Di Martino in Farindola, #29 Matrimoni 1819 – he was possibly born on March 15, 1777 in Teramo and was given to Girolamo D’Amico on September 1, 1777 and then to Pasquale Di Salvatore in Castiglione Messer Raimondo

Beltrante, Giuliana         19, born in Farindola, died January 14, 1872, filatrice, nubile, balia Annantonia Andreoli moglie di Vincenzo Nostriani

Alliana, Amalia                   14 months, born in Penne, died March 30, 1872, balia Maria Domenica Ammazalorsco moglie di Teodoro Marcelli

Farnese, Felicita               2 months 11 days, died April 12, 1872, born in Teramo, balia Maria Carmina di Giaccobe moglie di Giovanni Di Massimo

….and the list continues to grow.









3 thoughts on “On Abruzzese Foundlings and an Ancestress, the Receiver of the Foundlings – Tomassina Carusi

  1. Tony July 23, 2018 / 7:40 pm

    I just recently found out that my great grandfather was an Abruzzo foundling. Found with only 2 strips of cloth by the 72 yearl old church custodian at San Leonardo in 1842 Teramo. How I wish I could find out more. Is there a way to find out who took him in and raised him?


    • AC July 23, 2018 / 11:03 pm

      Hi! Thanks for visiting. I wish there was! I don’t know much more but sometimes the Diversi records contain adoptions. I wish you much luck in your search!


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