Sepia Saturday – From Sicily to New Orleans

Sepia Saturday provides bloggers with an opportunity to share their history through the medium of photographs.

I had such high hopes.

I knew just what I would do.

I would follow up on last week’s post about my husband’s family.

I’d locate the passenger lists showing the arrival of Frank Mamola and Angelina Siragusa to the United States. I’d find pictures of the ships that carried them. I’d even throw in what I could find about the other people mentioned in a 1953 newspaper article highlighting 5 living generations of their family.

That was the plan. It would be easy.

But here I sit on Saturday morning. Hardly a scrap of anything for all my looking about.

Where to begin to share my almost nothing? The chronological order of my search? Or take the newspaper article bit by bit?

I think I’ll go with the newspaper article as my guide.

Frank Mamola

A search of Frank Mamola in the passenger lists at and familysearch yielded nothing. Census records both confirm and disagree with the 1888 arrival date.

The 1900 U.S. Census for Denison, TX shows the OMamala family – an Irish take on the name! – with an 1883 arrival date for Frank and 1886 for Angelina. The birthdates for both seem right, but with that arrival date, Angelina would have been 10 when she arrived and married.

The 1910 census shows both of them arrived in 1888. Interestingly, Frank had been married for 17 years, while Angelina had been married for 18. How does that work?

1910 U.S Census

The 1920 Census has Frank arriving in 1887, Angelina in 1892, and indicates that Frank was naturalized in 1890 – before Angelina arrived, thus giving her citizenship with their marriage.

1920 U.S. Census

The 1930 census indicates that both were immigrants, but gives no arrival dates.

All I could find about Frank was after he settled in Denison, TX. No passenger lists. No marriage records. No naturalization records. It’s going to take a lot more work to find pre-Denison records for him.

My husband tells me that Frank Mamola was from Mezzojuso, Sicily, and was of Albanian descent. I’ll take his word for it. The families of 48 Albanian soldiers settled in the nearly vacated village in the early 15th century. Mezzojuso is home to two historic Catholic churches both dating to the 16th century: the Latin-rite parish Church of Maria Santissima Annunziata and the Byzantine Greek-rite parish Church of San Nicolò di Mira. Let’s pretend that Frank Mamola attended the Church of San Nicolo di Mira because he probably did. And imagine him running around the square with his friends as a boy.

My husband, daughter, and I traveled to Mezzojuso in May 2017. Below you can see the two churches that stand side-by-side. The Latin rite church on the left edge of the photo is more golden in coloring and the Greek rite church to the right with the cross visible.

Mezzojuso two churches

This view features the Latin rite church, the Greek rite church out of frame on the right.

Here we are with some of my husband’s relatives (not related to the Mamola’s, but also originally from Mezzojuso), in front of the church that Frank Mamola may have attended growing up in 1860s-70s. I’m the short one.

A cousin drove us up La Brigna – Mezzojuso sits on the slope of the mountain. It provided a lovely view of Mezzojuso. You can see the twin churches sitting together on the town square.

Mezzojuso, taken from La Brigna

Back to the newspaper article…

Angelina Siragusa

The Angelina in the story is Angelina Siragusa, who my husband tells me was from Campofelice di Fitlalia. I don’t know her brother’s name. Later in the article, a couple of other names are mentioned as fellow passengers on the ship with them.

Too bad about that big smudge! It would have helped me confirm if I located the correct passenger list for Angelina. This one looks promising – The S.S. Italia leaving port at Palermo, Sicily and arriving New Orleans, LA on November 9, 1891.

Just like the newspaper article, this document has lots of missing and unreadable parts, making my search more difficult. Here is an entry for a female passenger, age 16, named Angelo Siracusa.

Is this our Angelina Siragusa?

Now to find a brother … There is a male passenger with the surname Siracusa.

Angelina’s brother?

It looks like his first name might be Salvatore? And his age? 34? That would make him a much older brother to 16-year-old Angelina. And look at the name two above his – a Parrino! Although it is Giuseppe, not Sebastian. Are there other Parrinos? Yes, there are! Could passenger #338 be Sebastian?

Sebastian Parrino?

The article also mentioned someone with the surname Gattuso as a fellow passenger. I did not find that name. Some of the names are simply missing from the document. Or maybe I got tired.

And there was an interesting, but puzzling entry. Passenger 792.

A 7-year-old girl named G ???? Siragusa. Is she related? Another mystery.

I’m not absolutely positively sure that this is the passenger list for our Angelina Siragusa, but it could be. I couldn’t find a picture of the ship either. There were three S.S. Italias and I couldn’t find a picture of the one in service in 1891.

As I stated previously, Angelina is said to have been from Campofelice di Fitalia, a village near Mezzojuso. In fact, for many years – until 1951- it was under the administration of Mezzojuso. Google maps tells me it is a 10 minute drive from Mezzojuso to Campofelice. You would think we would have gone there since we were so close. But we didn’t. The main road was out because of a rock slide a couple years earlier and was still under construction, making the trip much longer and, I assume, on unpaved roads. Our host is not related to that side of the family and we had just a short time there anyway, so no visit to Campofelice.

When I was looking back at pictures from our trip for this post, I found one I took from up on La Brigna that I hoped was looking down on Campofelice.

I asked our guide/cousin from our trip. Unfortunately it is not. It is the road Contrada Lacca and the larger group of buildings is a cemetery. I wonder if there are Mamolas and Siragusas there? Salvo also sent me this satellite view to help me get my bearings. It took me the longest time to figure out that his google satellite view was upside down from the one I got when I searched. No wonder I was so confused! The blue X marks the spot where we were standing when I took the photo and the road we looked down on is circled.

And here is the road (now open) to Campofelice, 6.7 km from Mezzojuso.

Here is the real Campofelice di Fitalia.

I’ll highlight one more paragraph from the newspaper article.

So here we have a 16-year-old girl from a tiny village in Sicily. She had probably never ventured much farther from home than Mezzojuso before traveling to the big city of Palermo to get on a ship to America. She lived in farming country, in a place where everyone knew everyone else and their complete family history. Superstition and the evil eye were real. But why would Angelina think one of the Parrinos had the ability to change a person’s skin color? Had her brother and Sebastian been teasing the gullible younger sister? Did the Parrinos have a reputation for casting curses?

I’ve tried to imagine what that voyage was like for Angelina. She traveled in steerage, so not a luxurious cruise by any means. I’d think she would have liked to clean up a bit before meeting her husband-to-be and being rushed to the altar (or wherever) in less than an hour! How overwhelming all of this must have been.

Perhaps this was her first view of her new country.

New Orleans from the harbor c. 1900

New country.
New husband.
New language.
New everything.

Yet, it appears she weathered it well.

Frank Mamola, Angelina Siragusa, and their adult children

P.S. We think my husband favors his great-great-grandfather Frank Mamola. A few years ago a family-run Italian restaurant opened near our home. When we walked in the first time, everyone in the family made over us because my husband looked just like Uncle Somebody – and they are Albanian. Every time we went in, they would give us a free sample of something.

Sail on over to Sepia Saturday and see what tales others have to tell.

Sepia Saturday – Baby in the Middle

Sepia Saturday provides bloggers with an opportunity to share their history through the medium of photographs.

A photograph from my husband’s family features a woman wearing a dark hat with feathers and a white suit with vertical stripes. There is a baby in the middle, but without a hat.

Louis Parlati, Tenna Mamola, Angela Parlati

The photo is of my husband’s great-grandparents and his grandmother – Luigi (Louis) Parlati, his wife Gaetana (Tenna) Mamola, and baby Angela Parlati. Louis immigrated from Italy. Tenna is said to have been the first baby of Italian descent born in the Denison, Texas area. Angela was born in April of 1911 in Houston, Texas, which gives us an approximate date and location. As an adult, Angela worked in the millinery department of a store, yet I don’t recall any photographs of her wearing a hat. Well … probably in wedding photos, but nothing like the above.

In a photograph featuring five generations, the baby above is grandmother to the baby below.

Angela Parlati, Tenna Mamola, Martin, Angelina Siragusa, Joan Loverde (back)

All of the women are looking adoringly at the baby – my husband.

This photograph accompanied an article in a newspaper. Unfortunately, all we have is a photocopy of the article that does not include the photograph; it is undated; and the newspaper is not identified. It was written in 1953, but I can’t find an online copy of the article in full. I wish I could because parts of the copy are unreadable.

The Mamola Family Saga
Tale of Texas Pioneers

 Dallas – The story of the Frank Mamola family of Denison, Dallas and Houston is the story of pioneering, both as immigrants and as Texans.

Frank Mamola came to this country from Italy when he was 18 years of age – back in 1888. He worked a little while in New York and Chicago, in the latter city at a restaurant for 50 cents a day and board, then traveled to the South.

One day when he was in New Orleans, about 3 years after he came to America, he met a ship from Italy and on it were a pretty young 16-year-old girl and her brother, both fresh from Italy. The brother he had known in the old country – the sister he had seen in a photograph supplied by that same brother – so he was introduced to Angelina and in about 3? minutes they were married! Of course, the wedding had family blessings before hand on both sides.

So the Mamola family came to Denison – the first Italians ever to move into that city. When their daughter Tenna was born, she was the first Italian child born in that part of the state.

Mr. Mamola ran a little fruit stand and some of his constant customers were the Indians from across the line of “Indian Territory” as Oklahoma was then called. There were no sidewalks and there wasn’t even a floor in the little shop, the tables sitting on the ground. There were streetcars though, dawn by oxen!

Mrs. Magnolia remembers when P??? Tobin, railroad engineer, drove the first Katy engine out of Denison, making railroad history. She remembers when Carrie Nation visited the town – a wide-open, raw, boom town – and smashed saloon windows up and down the street, her method of direct action again Demon Rum.

She remembers Dr. Acheson of Denison, first mayor and the owner of the first automobile – Model T Ford, of course.

And with all that remembering, Mrs. Magnolia is still well under 60 years of age.

[I interrupt this news article to explain who Mrs. Magnolia is and to add a photograph. Mrs. Magnolia is Lena Mamola Magnolia – sister of Tenna and daughter of Frank Mamola and Angelina Siragusa (the 16-year-old bride). Lena was obviously interviewed for this article and provides much of the detail. Here is a photograph of her wedding to Frank Magnolia. Lena is not wearing a hat. Tenna is seated on the right. Louis is standing right behind his wife Tenna.]

Wedding of Frank Magnolia and Lena Mamola

Mrs. Mamola, who has lived with Mr. and Mrs. Magnolia for more than 20 years – her husband died 20 years ago – also remembers that when she landed in New Orleans, a girl of 16, she saw a Negro for the first time in her life and was panicky for fear Dallas Parrinos, well known in the city, turning people black!

On the ship with Mrs. Mamola – which, by the way took 60 days to make the crossing, while that of Mr. Mamola’s journey took 120 days – were Mr. Sebastian Parrino, father of the Dallas Parrinos well known in the music, restaurant, and ????ing work today. Also on the ???? was Gattuso and F????? ???? – all of whom long ago established families in  Dallas.

The second Italian family to arrive in Denison were the Pasteres and after them Frank Mazzi and his family. Then, Mrs. Magnolia said, they really started coming and she lost count. Denison was growing, ??? building brick stores, sidewalks and paved streets – it was becoming a city.

Nevertheless, when she met Frank Magnolia, she refused to live in Dallas. Her reason?

“They say Dallas is such a big city you could die and your next door neighbor wouldn’t know it. I’m a small town girl.” Frank, who was very much in earnest about marrying his Lena, thereupon went to Denison to live for a time. But having married the gal, he then laid down the law and back to Dallas they came, bringing the whole family with them.

Mrs. Mamola celebrated her ??th birthday recently.

She has three children – Mrs. Magnolia of Dallas and Joe Mamola, also of Dallas, a buyer for 26 years at Sanger Brothers.

Although Mrs. Mamola is now a great-grandmother, her family is not large. The Joe Mamolas have no children, the Magnolias one, Mrs. Ralph Nicosia, Dallas; and Mrs. Parlati has two daughters, Mrs. Joe Loverde and Mrs. Harry Bowles, both of Houston. Between them they have ???? children and Martin Morals (sic) III. This boy begins the 5th generation of the living Mamolas.

Her great-great grandson, is the great-grandson of Mrs. Parlati, the grandson of her daughter, Mrs. Joe Loverde.

A heritage of which anyone can be proud is that of families like this one. From great-great grandfather Frank Mamola, who did not have time to go to school in Italy, but who learned English at night school, to little Martin Morales, III, who some day, who knows, might be President of the United States – or at the very least, a leading Texan, rich in material wealth and in civic service.

Of such is Texas made.

The photo below appears to have been taken on the same day.

Angelina Siragusa Mamola and Mart

Someone wrote on the top left corner of the photo:
Mama Mamola
Mart Morales
Generation in

I’ll end with a photograph of the Frank and Angelina Mamola family with their adult children. No one is wearing a hat.

Seated: Frank Mamola and Angelina Siragusa Mamola
Standing: Tenna, Joe, Lena, and John Mamola

This newspaper article provides so many leads for research and back stories! I’m anticipating adding to this story with next week’s prompt.

Whether hot or cold, sunny or raining, it is always hat weather. Put on your traveling hat and visit other participants at Sepia Saturday.

Our Family Stories: JFK – Memories from the Steps and In-laws

I asked all branches of the family to send me their memories of JFK. My memories are here. Memories from the Webber branch of the family are here. Today’s edition are those I received from the Hockensmith family (my steps) and the Morales family (my in-laws).

Frances Hockensmith:

My memory of the JFK assassination is more about me than the “big picture”. I was pregnant, had gone for my doctor appointment in Junction City, KS. for what I hoped was my last appointment before Alice was born. The receptionist (a Mrs. Eisenhower who was the widow of President Eisenhower’s brother Roy, a pharmacist in Junction City), was quite upset and told me as I was leaving that President Kennedy had been shot. We were Lee_Harvey_Oswald_being_shot_by_Jack_Ruby_as_Oswald_is_being_moved_by_police,_1963glued to our little black and white TV for days.

On the following Sunday, after Church and Sunday dinner, I had taken a nap. When I wakened, Bill told me that Jack Ruby had shot and killed Lee Harvey Oswald. I just remember the news showing the two shootings over and over. AND—I waited two more weeks for the birth of our daughter, Alice.

I guess the uniqueness of my story is my “connection” with 2 presidents that day.

Morales/Loverde Family:

I’ve pieced together the following from talking to my husband, calling my mother-in-law, emails from my husband’s siblings and a little internet research….

As a Catholic Italian-American family, my husband’s family was very happy about the election of John F. Kennedy as President. The women especially – my husband’s great-grandmother, grandmother, and mother – were quite taken with him.

Kennedy model 2Rick (my husband’s brother) and I remember that Nana (their ggrandmother Tenna Mamola Parlati) had a picture of JFK displayed in her home. My husband, Martin, assembled and painted many a plastic model (mostly airplanes) as a child and made a model of JFK sitting in a rocking chair for Nana. There a few for sale on ebay today – with quite a wide range of prices!

I found these two pictures clipped from the newspaper and glued to cardboard (probably for display purposes) among some of the family memorabilia.
Kennedy newspaperKennedys newspaper

Martin thinks they belonged to his grandmother, Angela Parlati Loverde, or Nana. They were clipped from The Houston Post published Friday, November 22, 1963 – the day of Kennedy’s death. The photos were taken during Kennedy’s visit to Houston on Thursday, Nov. 21st, 1963. Of course, the paper was printed and delivered hours before the shooting in Dallas.

Martin's 4th Grade Class 1963-64

Martin’s 4th Grade Class 1962-63

Both Martin and his sister, Janet, remember walking from the house where Nana and their grandmother and grandfather Loverde lived to Rice University to see President Kennedy. It was September 22, 1962 and JFK was about to give his famous speech to get the country behind him in supporting the space program. Martin was 9 and Janet was 7, so their memories of the day are a little vague. Their mother was with them and possibly his great-aunt Rosie and a couple of other women in the family.

They all remember watching the car driving down Main Street close to Herman Park and into the parking lot at Rice Stadium and watching JFK and LBJ sitting up on the back of the convertible. My husband took a home movie with their 8mm camera, but we unfortunately don’t have access to it right now. (We think it is in storage while brother Rick is building a new house.)

Rice stadium is quite large so the stands were not filled, although newspaper accounts report that 40,000 people were in attendance. The President was scheduled to speak at 10:00 a.m. and it was apparently a hot and steamy day. Classes had not yet started at Rice University, but incoming freshman were on campus for orientation. Reports say that the stands were mostly filled with young people – the incoming Rice students as well as bus loads of high school and elementary school children.

Martin and Janet don’t remember much except for being in the large stadium, far away from the President, and the crowd of people. Their mother said that the president’s complexion look reddish/ruddy to her – something she said you wouldn’t notice in the mostly black and white photographs of the time. The following video contains snippets of the speech, the context of the speech, and photos from the day.

Martin’s mother said she heard that the president had been shot while shopping with her mother at Craig’s Department Store in the Village –  a retail area also known as Rice Village because of the proximity to Rice University. She doesn’t know if there was a radio on or if people were talking about it and they overheard. They left and went home and started watching the coverage on TV.

Martin and Janet learned about the President’s death at school. Janet said:  My memory is of watching the funeral on TV and Mom crying. The other thing that has always stuck in my mind was that I was sitting in my 4th grade class at Holy Ghost (Mrs. Agnes class) and they announced it over the intercom.  One of the boys in my class – Larry Corti turned red in the face and ran out of the classroom crying.

Nana, Janet and Martin 1955

Nana, Janet and Martin 1955

Like nearly everyone else in the country, the family was glued to the television set until the funeral was over. Martin’s mom especially remembers how they all saw Jack Ruby shoot Lee Harvey Oswald live on TV.

And there were a lot of tears. Martin’s youngest sister, Marilyn, was not born at the time, but had heard that her mom and Nana had cried about it for weeks. When I talked to my MIL today, I asked if she had been watching all of the 50th anniversary specials that have been on this week. Of course, she had, and had been brought to tears again. Long after President Kennedy died, my husband painted a plaster bust for his mother and it is still displayed in her home.

I also found a publication from Holy Ghost School devoted to student writing after the death of President Kennedy. Neither Martin nor Janet have a contribution included, but it provides a look into the thoughts of these young people attending a Catholic school in Houston, TX as they reflected on the death of their president.

2013.11W.11I’m linking this to Sepia Saturday, so I’ll include today’s prompt picture and encourage you to visit the other participants.

Below is the Holy Ghost Clarion, Vol. 5 No. 3


Holy Ghost Kennedy 1Holy Ghost Kennedy 2Holy Ghost Kennedy 3Holy Ghost Kennedy 4Holy Ghost Kennedy 5Holy Ghost Kennedy 6Holy Ghost Kennedy 7Holy Ghost Kennedy 8Holy Ghost Kennedy 9