|Here's my story..... The search for Angelo Corrieri my long lost great
grandfather begins ..... January 2001
tale began one winter's night in
Barga in Italy, sitting with my
grandmother Lalita. The topic of discussion turned to our family tree. Staying
up until the early hours we had managed to fill out a large A2 sheet of paper
with 187 names and their various relation to us detailed on it. Incidentally my
grandmother recounted 185 names off the top of her head, and the next morning
after a good nights sleep filled in the other two names!
However it was the details of one of the main characters, her
father Angelo Corrieri that were most vague.
My grandmothers' father Angelo emigrated from
Albiano (near Barga,
Tuscany) to Boston, USA in the early 1920's to search for a better life for him
and his family. Many from the Barga area did the same, some like the Pieroni
family achieving astounding success in the hotel and catering business.
Sadly, Angelo Corrieri died abruptly at 31 years of age in
1925 - just weeks before his family was due to go out and join him.
At the time my great grandmother Marriuccia was looking after their only child Lalita
(my grandmother, nonna as we called her). As you can imagine they were devastated by the news.
Contact and communication at that time was very difficult and in the years
following Angelo's death news from the US petered out completely. It was said
that he may even have had property out there but alas we'll never know.
Time they say is a healer and eventually my great
grandmother remarried Buonamore and had another three children, Ivano, Argentina
and Gian Luigi. Marriuccia had the incomprehensible misfortune of being widowed
for a second time at the tail end of WWII. Much of the area they lived in was in
and around the contested Gothic Line. Out for a walk one day, Buonamore and
Mariuccia had unwittingly stepped on a live landmine hidden in the undergrowth.
It exploded, leaving Buonamore fatally wound and Mariuccia critically ill. She
eventually lost an eye and a leg to the ravages of gangrene.
Determined not to give up with what life had thrown at her,
this remarkable woman managed to run a a household and looked after four
children, all from her simple wooden chair (she insisted on never having a
wheelchair and always cared for herself).
My grandmother Lalita took the reins in the now busy
household, she married Tofano and their own children came on the scene,
Lauretta (my mother) and Enio.
At the back of Lalita's mind though was that she always wanted
to know a little bit more of her own father. She was very young when he died, some
might say you don't miss what you never had. Still she wondered, what had he
worked as, how he had died or indeed what he looked like. Not only did she never
recall the man but had no photograph of him either.
These questions remained unanswered over distance and time.
That was until I came across Jim Brunini, but I'll come to
I myself spent many enjoyable summers in Italy in the company
of my grandparents and indeed of my great grandmother Marriuccia, (who died at
the ripe old age of 90).
I thought I'd owe it to my Nonna Lalita at least to try and see
if I could figure out what exactly had happened to her dad.
Using the internet I accessed many genealogical sites (some of which I've detailed in
the USEFUL LINKS section of this site), but alas on
this occasion to no avail.
it was only after a posting to the
guestbook that things began to take shape.
This was in the most part down to the afore mentioned Jim
Brunini an American Italian from whom I'd gotten a response.
Jim's family was also originally from
Albiano and he lived not too
far from Boston.
Luckily for me Jim was also a bit of a hot shot genealogist and knew
where to start looking for Angelo, accessing local parish and council records.
In the space of three short weeks Jim had obtained Angelo
Corrieri's death certificate. In this was detailed that my great grandfather
had died aged 31 at Boston City Hospital, had been a cook during his working
life, lived in 138
Main Street, and was buried at Mt. Benedict Cemetery in West Roxbury, Boston. Jim kindly took the time
to take photographs of where Angelo had resided (which are now law offices
incidentally) and of the
and sent these along with a copy
of the death certificate to me in Scotland.
As you can imagine, it then gave me great pleasure to go back
the following year to my grandmother Lalita and fill in the blanks.
Update December 2005
So I made it to Boston eventually, visiting this beautiful city with my girlfriend
Dorothea and we did go to the site of Angelo's grave. Unfortunately deep snow cover
prevented me from finding the exact spot as there is no longer a marker there. It was quite emotional nonetheless.
Jim had given me a note (not unlike a treasure map) detailing
which section, row and plot Angelo was buried in, with x marking the spot of
course.This trip was also an opportunity to meet Jim and his
family, Mark and Cheryl for the first time rather than across a keyboard and a most enjoyable
evening was had by all.
Here are some photographs of my visit (click
My grandmother Lalita passed away a year or so after discovering
where her father was buried. It took nearly 80 years but my grandmother did eventually find
out what had happened to her father in no small part thanks to Jim and to
As is often the case in this situation, the house Lalita had
lived in was sold off shortly after her death. The curious twist is that the house had not only been the
same one my grandmother had been living in since the age of 7, but was also the
same house that Angelo had built all those years ago.