Thursday, June 14, 2012

The Story of Lucia Maria Angelo-Cola, My Maternal Great-Grandmother

In the small village of Carlantino, in the province of Foggia, Italy, lived Angelo Angelo-Cola and his wife Philomena. They were the parents of 5 daughters and one son: Sarah, Mary Domenica, Lucia, Rose, Michael, and Antoinette.

They lived on a farm where they raised vegetables, fruit, and several types of farm animals. Lucia remembered how in springtime she would ride the farm horse bareback with her father and sisters as they took their cows to graze on the hillside, “a la campagna”, she called it. She recalled eating fresh figs, oranges and grapes and how beautiful the countryside was.

At the time, the economy in Italy was in a depressed state and many people were emigrating to America. They heard news about great opportunities for work and a better life, and believed the stories that the streets in America were paved with gold (actually, the streets were not paved at all and and the immigrants were expected to pave them).

Conditions on Angelo’s farm were not good because of bad weather and poor crops. Some of his neighbors had emigrated to South America, so Angelo decided to visit there to see what conditions were like. He returned home to Italy unimpressed with Argentina and after many family discussions, it was decided that Angelo and several of the older girls would go to America to look for work. Since Michael was the only son, he would stay behind to look after Philomena and Antoinette, the youngest daughter. Sarah, Mary Domenica, and Rose were eager to go to America, but Lucia was very reluctant to leave home. It was only on the day before they were to leave that she agreed to go also, after much coaxing and pleading by her father and 3 sisters.

They set sail from Naples, Italy, to New York, NY on June 15th, 1907 on the SS Cretic, a large ship filled with fellow immigrants, all anxious to build a new life in America. Some of the passengers brought along musical instruments, such as accordions and mandolins, so there was music and singing of familiar Italian songs each day. Sister Mary Domenica even met a very nice gentleman on the ship and they danced all the way over to America.

The Cretic docked at Ellis Island where their papers were checked and they were given physicals to ensure all were in good health. They were also required to have sponsors who would help them get settled and find work. Luckily, all the requirements were met and they were allowed to enter the country. After several days of sightseeing in New York City, the family settled in Waterbury, Connecticut, where they knew some friends who had emigrated a few years earlier. These friends were very helpful in getting Angelo and the 4 girls established.

Jobs were easy to find, and even though they spoke no English, they were all soon working (although it was the typical menial type of work that immigrants were expected to do). Lucia recalled working in a factory where they made kerosene lamps and also at a garment factory.

Soon, the girls began to marry and settle down. Mary Domenica married the nice gentleman she had danced with on the trip over, and they had a long, happy marriage, and raised a large family together. Sarah and Rose also married and had families of their own. Unfortunately, the girls were never able to return home to visit their mother and siblings, but Angelo did make several trips back and forth to see the family. Eventually, after all the girls in America were settled, he returned home to Italy for good to be with Philomena, Antionette, and Michael, who became the mayor of Carlantino, the tiny village they had emigrated from. They all kept in touch through letters over the years.

And what about Lucia? She met a nice man named Eduardo D'Amarino...

Philomena and Antoinette Angelo-Cola

Angelo and Michael Angelo-Cola


  1. Danne,
    Hello my name is Lucia AngelaMarie D'Amarino I am named after Lucia Maria Angelo-Cola. My fater is Edward D'Amarino, my grandfater is Louis D'Amarino. I came across your blog about the family history and couldnt stop reading! It was amazing to learn so much about our family history! I want to thank you for writing about the family. It was nice to see the pictures of my papa and his siblings and all the family photo's.

  2. Hi Lucia!

    I did I double take when I saw a comment come in from "Lucia D'Amarino"—so cool to find a long lost relative! I'm glad you wrote, and that you found my stories about the family history. I sat with my grandma Helen, your grandpa Louie's sister, over the summer and wrote down everything she could remember, which I'm putting into a book for her for Christmas. It was such a great experience and I'm so glad to have our family's history recorded.

    Thanks for writing though and keep in touch!