This week’s 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks challenge is At the Library. I have been lucky enough to find a treasure of a book on the history of one of my main Italian ancestral villages in Abruzzo online at the website: www.gelsumino.it. The book is called Storia di Farindola, Dalle Origini ai Giorni Nostri by Antonio Procacci. Since my family has lived in Farindola for centuries and my immediate family left Farindola less than 100 years ago, I was ecstatic.
There is a chapter in the book called “Il Brigantaggio/The Brigandage”. I found quite a few ancestors and relatives mentioned in this chapter, specifically in the time period the author referred to as being the most violent in Farindola – the years 1805 to 1810. The author clearly pointed out that this is during the time of French dominion over Italy, under Giuseppe Napoleone and Gioacchino Marat, and that some of the brigands were veterans of the fight to keep the French out of Abruzzo.
Please note, my translations of what I read are to the best of my ability, and that I am mentioning which page I took the information from as I write this post, and that I hope to provide accurate information to you.
In 1799 when the French left Teramo, these 100 or so soldiers returned home. It is believed that these returning soldiers became “political brigands,” who in turn, joined the factions of the “common brigands” already active in the country-side of Farindola for over a century. (page 36)
Two of these veterans, I believe are either cousins or a degree of uncles to me: Massimantonio Marcella and Nicola Pompili. (page 35)
Massimantonio Marcella was well-known friend to bandit leaders, his house was a meeting place for them, and he was believed by authorities to have been the go-between that engaged in bribes for protection from the Guardia Urbana di Farindola (Urban Guards of Farindola), of whom the Comandata (Commander) was my 6th great grandfather Paolo Carusi. (page 40, page 42)
This previous post relates some data I have collected on Paolo: Paolo Carusi, Writer and Landowner, Brother to a Conte. Because this current post is an update to that previous post, there is a link in that post to this one.
Massimantonio was also presumed to be the man one would seek out to gain protection from authorities in Penne and the other small villages surrounding it. The author noted, Massimantonio Marcella was said to be close to the infamous brigand leader from Penne named Mascierelle and the brigand leader from Farindola Giovanni Sergiacomo dei Colli. Testimony referred their relationships as compare. (page 42-43)
Based on the naming patterns in my tree, and because some shootouts between French authorities and the brigands in Farindola took place at Contrada Trosciano, where Massimantonio lived, and was also the home of my early 19th century ancestors, I am taking a wild guess that there is a possibility that Massimantonio Marcella was the uncle of my 3rd great grandfather Massimonicola Marcella. This is just a guess, however, I am sure there is a blood connection.
Paolo Carusi, my 6th great grandfather and
Nicola Carusi, my 5th great grandfather
More on the Guardia Urbana ~ This force were formed in 1808 by French authorities because of il brigantaggio in the Farindola environs. The French appointed my 6th great grandfather Paolo Carusi the commander of the Farindola forces. According to the Storia di Farindola, and if my translation is correct, he commanded the other urban guards – 12 French soldiers. (page 40)
The book tells me that on May 11, 1807, a group of brigands got into a firefight with the Guardia Urbana in Farindola. Because the villagers feared looting, they gave up the brigands and under the order of the son of Paolo Carusi, the French soldiers followed the brigands to their hideouts. In fear for his life and that of his family’s, the son of Paolo fled with them to nearby Penne, leaving behind his business and property. Paolo Carusi wrote to the French General Chavardes who then sent his son 15 days of rations while they hid out. (page 41)
Based on my research in the Farindola civil records on Antenati, that son of Paolo, and the only son married with children in 1807, was my 5th great grandfather, the future Cancelliere of the Comune di Farindola, Nicola Carusi. Interestingly, Nicola died young! At age 40 in 1817. The civil records do not give a cause of death. 1817 was a year of famine in Abruzzo but he was a wealthy man. It was also the year of a typhoid epidemic. Is that why he died?
Candeloro Salvitti, my 5th great grand uncle
The chapter also mentioned that a man was murdered on June 30, 1807. He was my 34 year old, 5th great grand uncle Candeloro Salvitti. (page 42)
According to my tree, Candeloro was also the brother of the father of the future mayor of Farindola, Donato Salvitti.
Domenico Damiani, my 5th great grandfather
I was nearing the end of this very informative chapter when the author was mentioning that the Brigantaggio was winding down towards 1809 and 1810 and how the old leaders in hiding were still carrying out vendettas against those in Farindola that had betrayed them, and that such happened the night of January 9, 1810 when three men of the same family were murdered. They were Domenico, Nicola, and Donato Damiani. (page 44-45)
This rang a bell with me because I remembered seeing three death records in a row for three men of the same last name and I had figured it was an illness! HA! The name Domenico Damiani also rang a bell. So I went to my tree and sure enough, I had an ancestor with that name and oh boy, yes, he died January 9, 1810 and by the way, Domenico Damiani, was my 5th great grandfather.
Donato and Nicola Damiani were brothers and were Domenico’s uncles. My 5th great grandfather Domenico was married to Laura Rosa. Besides leaving behind my 5th great grandmother, he also left behind three young children, and a teenager. (More on Laura Rosa and Domenico Damiani at a later date!) According to the death records I found in the civil records Antenati, all three men lived in the countryside at Contrada Della Valchiera. Does that translate to Valkyrie?
I want to mention that my 5th great grandfather’s signature, Nicola Carusi (the same man mentioned above), is at the bottom of those three records as the Cancelliere, and that the same two men, Domenico Rosa and Tommaso Basile were informants on all three death records.
Other Potential Relations
Finally, these are some other names in this chapter that are likely some form of relation to me:
- Tommaso Iannascoli, Cesidio Colella, and Giovanni Frattarola were among 20 accused brigands in the Penne area in December 1806 and were from Farindola. Tommaso Iannascoli was hung at contrada della Piano della Fonte on January 15, 1808. (page 40)
- 4 murdered on the night of June 4, 1807 were brothers Antonio and Nicola Pompili, and Francesco Di Francesco and his wife Anna Saveria (Basilicati). (page 41)
- 4 were murdered during the month of July, 1807, including Jacopantonio De Rizio. (page 42)
- Murdered on September 20, 1807 was Giovanni Battista Pompili, brother of the men killed on June 4, 1807. (page 42)
- Vincenzantonio Lepore was hung at contrada della Piano della Fonte on January 15, 1808. (page 42)
- On February 27, 1808 Domenicantonio Frattarola sopranome Cipranne and Orazio Cervo were shot and killed. (page 42)
- On March 23, 1808, brigand Ambrosio Frattarola was arrested. (page 43)
- In April 1808, a small band of brigands got into a firefight with French soldiers in Trosciano (an area where my ancestors lived.) Killed were Filippo di Simone and Giovanni Colangeli. (page 43)
- In May 1809, Giuseppe Frattarola was arrested for murder. (page 43)
- On August 1, 1809, an award was launched for the information and capture of famous robbers Sabatino Marcella, Saverio Marcucci, and brothers Sabatino and Gesualdo De Juliis. (page 44)
- I also read that in 1809, the local occupying French Major Cochet was murdered at age 40 as an act of revenge, and buried without sacraments, according to Storia di Farindola. It is believed the murder was carried out by those avenging the arrest and hanging of the leader of the Dell’Orso family from Farindola. I have several known Dell’Orso ancestors. How does the hung man connect to me? I don’t know right now and they are only referenced as a family in this chapter and not by their first names like in my tree. (page 40-41)
- Lastly, on March 5, 1815, the L’Intendente della Provincia di Teramo sent a message to the mayor of Farindola that only one brigand was still on the run. He was, the aforementioned, Sabatino Marcella. (page 45) Note – 1815 was the last year of the French occupation.
WHAT AN INFORMATIVE BOOK!
Storia di Farindola, Dalle Origini ai Giorni Nostri by Antonio Procacci ,via http://www.gelsumino.it. This blog post mentions data contained in pages 33-50.