Castellammare di Stabia
Part 3 - Brooklyn
Frank & Elizabeth
Lanzara Ancestral Chart
Causes of Death
LANZARA-LANZARO-LAMURA FAMILY WEBPAGE
Part 2 - Castellamare di StabiaLast update 1/2/2018
Sometime around 1795, in the ship-building town of Castellammare di Stabia, located on the eastern coast of the Bay of Naples, two men named Vincenzo were born. The first, Vincenzo Salvato, grew up to marry Carmina Criscuolo., while the other, Vincenzo Bonifacio, married Maddalena Buono. Vincent and Carmina had a daughter named Anna Maria Salvato. She was born March 30, 1818. Vincenzo and Maddalena had a son named Catello Bonifacio, born July 2, 1820.
I recently discovered additional data on the Bonifacio ancestry that takes us back further than the ones described above. To see this data, click on "Bonifacio Ancestral Chart" in the panel on the left.
On March 20, 1840, Catello Bonifacio married Anna Maria Salvato. They had 5 children: Daniele Bonifacio, born February 22, 1841; Petronilla Bonifacio, February 6, 1844; Francesco Bonifacio, February 20, 1846; Pasquale Bonifacio, January 6, 1849; and Elisabetta Bonifacio, February 26, 1851. Catello and Anna Maria seemed to have established a consistent method for creating children since all of them were born between January 6 and February 26. A Nineteenth Century version of Spring Break, perhaps? It's possible that Catello was away each winter on a work detail or military service, coming home each Spring to plant the crops, in more ways than one.
Castellammare di Stabia is 10 miles from Nocera Inferiore, home of the Lanzara brothers, Giuseppe and Francesco. I don't know how, why or when, but the brothers eventually made their way from Nocera Inferiore to Castellammare di Stabia and married the Bonifacio sisters, Petronilla and Elisabetta. Giuseppe arrives first, marrying Petronilla on August 23, 1868. He was 32 years old; she was 24. Thirteen years later, 37-year-old Francesco marries 30-year-old Elisabetta. I guess the brothers gave up trying to find someone to marry in their hometown and had to go down to the shore to find wives. Of course, they could have been married earlier, but I've found no evidence of that.
Giuseppe and Francesco were barbers by profession. According to the stories passed down by Petronilla to my father, Giuseppe also played the guitar and mandolin, working as a serenader. He would go around serenading young women for prospective suitors. One disgruntled suitor shot him in the eye following a dispute, leaving him blind in the one eye. Petronilla said he was a large (over 300 pounds) but gentle man.
Petronilla owned a cafe in Italy and in Brooklyn. My father said she spoke very little English. I know from some documents I have that she was also illiterate, placing her “mark”, an “X”, where her signature was required.
Giuseppe and Petronilla had 6 children, all born in Italy: Maria Carmela Lanzara, born June 21, 1869; Rosa Luisa Lanzara, born exactly two years after Maria, on June 21, 1871. Little Rosa lived only one day, dying on June 22, 1871; Salvatore Lanzara, born February 2, 1875; Marianna Lanzara, born October 29, 1876. She died two years later, on December 2, 1878; Ciro Lanzara, born sometime in 1879. But, he also died at the age of two, on May 11, 1881. At the time of little Ciro's death, Petronilla was pregnant with what would be their last child, my grandfather, Ciro Antonio Catello Lanzara, born November 22, 1881. Years later, Ciro would adopt the name Eugene.
After my grandfather's birth, Giuseppe and Petronilla seemed unable to produce any more children. Perhaps fearing they were no longer able to have children, they turned to adoption. They went to a convent in Italy and, as was the custom, went up to the convent wall, rang a bell, and the nuns placed a baby in a cradle attached to a revolving door in the wall, and turned it so that Giuseppe and Petronilla could take it from the outside. The baby was named Francesco (Frank) Crosetti. Crosetti was the name of the mother who offered the baby for adoption. It was customary for the adopting parents to also adopt the last name of the mother.
Frank also came to the U.S. though I have no idea when. Dad remembers that they called him by a name that is pronounced “chi-CHEEL”, but doesn’t know why. I found some notes that suggest his name may have been Cicero which was pronounced "chi-CHEER-oh". He worked on the docks and married a woman named Pennella. They had 3 boys and 1 girl. One of the boys was Toto (pronounced TAH-toe), who at one time was in the navy. Dad said he and one of the other boys were "no good dope addicts". There may have been another son named Joe. Dad lost track of the family many years ago.
Salvatore served in the 2nd Infantry Regiment in Italy. On the morning his outfit was shipped out to Liberia for a battle, he was too ill to accompany them and was left behind. The entire outfit was killed. He was discharged from the army as a corporal and worked in Naples as a blacksmith before emigrating to the U.S. in 1897.
Most of the following information about the LaMura ancestry is taken from a letter Frank LaMura (1902-1983) wrote to his niece Carmela (Mel) LaMura Pulcrano (1918-2006) in the 1970's. To view a copy of the actual letter, click here.
In 2013, Linda LaMura McFadden published a book titled "Dawn In A Timid Sky." Linda is the daughter of Frank LaMura. She used the information in his letter to create a wonderful novel that weaves a partially-historic saga about life in 19th-Century Italy. Linda was 79 years old when the book was published.
Maria Carmela Lanzara, born June 21, 1869, married Catello LaMura when she was 17 and he was 19. Catello was born in Castellammare di Stabia on October 14, 1867. They were wed in Castellammare di Stabia at La Chiesa della Madonna di Pozzo (Church of the Madonna of the Well) on January 8, 1887. Saint Catello is the patron saint of the city. Catello served in the Italian Navy and following his discharge, found work as a ship’s mechanic in the shipyards. He worked on the first ships made of steel hulls. Maria Carmela eventually dropped the Maria from her name and was known by her middle name of Carmela.
Carmela and Catello had 2 children in Italy: Giuseppe LaMura, born January 2, 1888, and Concetta LaMura, born November 29, 1891.
Catello’s father, Michele LaMura, was an army officer (some sources say he was a General), serving as a lancer in King Ferdinand’s special guard. This was around 1859 when King Ferdinand ruled the Kingdom of Naples, just prior to the unification of the Italian states into what we know today as the nation of Italy. Michele's parents were Simone LaMura, a professor at the University of Naples, and Louisa Wagner, the daughter of a German math professor at the same university.
Michele married Rosina Minozzi, the daughter of one of the architects of the King’s summer palace at Caserta, located north of Naples. Rosina's father, the architect, was Antonio Minozzi. He married Palma Gioia and in 1831 Rosina was born. Michele and Rosina's wedding took place at the newly-completed Palace. All of this occurred around the chaotic conditions involving the rebellions that eventually led to the fall of the Kingdom of Naples and Sicily, and the unification of Italy.
During one battle, all the King's officers were taken prisoner, including Michele. They were brought into the prison yard and were told they could have amnesty if they would agree to serve in the new King's army at lower grades. If they refused they would be shot. Hoping King Ferdinand would soon retake the Kingdom, they refused the offer. All of them were executed by firing squad, but by some miracle, two survived. One of the survivors was Michele.
It was the custom in those days that if a man was not killed by a firing squad he should be freed because it was God's will for him not to die. Michele and Rosina lost every possession, their home, furniture, etc., but were allowed to keep a mattress!! They were able to escape starvation by fleeing to a town called Gragnano, about 15 miles east of Castellammare di Stabia where Michele’s brother Giuseppe LaMura was the pastor of the church. Among his many talents, Michele was also a good musician and through his brother's help he was able to return to Castellammare and get a job playing in the municipal orchestra, eventually becoming the conductor. Note: There is another source that says Michele's brother was Antonio LaMura and he was a priest in Gragnano.
Besides Catello, Michele and Rosina had two more sons and a daughter, Francesco LaMura, Salvatore LaMura, and Rosa LaMura.
While I have never been able to locate any documentation to support the existence of Francesco, Salvatore and Rosa, I have found birth and death records of four other children born to Michele and Rosina. The first was a daughter, Vincenza LaMura, born before Catello, around 1865. Catello was born October 14, 1867. Two months later, little Vincenza died, the day after Christmas on December 26, 1867. Three years later, another son was born, Vincenzo LaMura. In 1872, another son, Giovanni LaMura, arrived. One can only imagine the tragic sadness that came upon Michele and Rosina when both of these boys died within three months of each other, Vincenzo on March 5, 1873, and Giovanni on June 3, 1873. By this time, Catello was almost six years of age. On December 1, 1874, another child, a daughter named Concetta Immacolata LaMura, was born. I have no record to show if she survived into adulthood. All of these births (and deaths) occurred in Castellammare di Stabia.
As I said above, Francesco Lanzara was also a barber in Castellammare di Stabia. He and Elisabetta had 2 children there: Giovanni Lanzara, born August 29, 1882, and Grace Lanzara, whose birth I have not documented.
We now come to the next chapter in our family history, the migration of the Lanzara and LaMura families to America, where they settled in Brooklyn, New York. I have separated the story into several categories based on family groups established by Francesco and Elisabetta Lanzara (Frank & Elizabeth), Giuseppe and Petronilla Lanzara, Carmela and Catello LaMura, Salvatore and Maria Lanzaro, and Ciro and Louisa Lanzaro. Francesco and Elisabetta Lanzara were the first. For that story and the others, proceed to PART 3.