Submitted by: Michael Fiorito
Ancestor / Family Name: The Fiorito Family
Ancestral Town: Sicily
I think of our family’s ancestral story is important. It is important because of the mystery surrounding it and the gap in information not passed down, or ever discussed. I don’t know how many other Sicilian families have had a similar experience. But if you ask me, this is worthy of further research, if only that the lack of information may uncover an underlying pattern among Sicilian immigrants.
My father-in-law, who is of German ancestry has asked me to provide details of my family’s Italian ancestry so he can add them to his genealogical charts. I’ve asked my mother, born in NYC in 1933, to provide documents so I can research details about her grandparents, who were born in Sicily. My mother’s mother, Carmela, was born in 1914 in Boston, MA. My mother’s father, Alberto, was born in NYC in 1912. For some reason, my mother is unable to produce any information beyond that. How does my mother not know what town in Sicily her grandparents on either side are from? How come Alberto and Carmela, who were both fluent in Sicilian, never spoke of, or know the names of their family’s ancestral towns? What makes this especially interesting is that Alberto’s sister, Genny, was born in Sicily. They immigrated when she was about two years old in about 1907.
While we may be able to backtrack using my mother’s birth certificate (if I could find it) to then examine the details of Alberto’s and Carmela’s birth certificate, what remains peculiar is why this is so enigmatic. I’m not suggesting that there is some conspiracy at the root of this. No one has ever talked about our family’s immigration in hushed tones or intimated anything untoward or criminal, so I don’t believe that they were fleeing something other than starvation and desperation.
But that’s exactly the point.
Would the memory of the nation they had fled be so terrible that there was simply no interest in maintaining basic facts of their ancestry? A city or town name? More importantly, is this gap in information of Sicilian immigrants at the turn of the century commonplace. And, if so, why?
Mike Fiorito, author of Call Me Guido