As a young girl, one of my most prized possessions was a little novel entitled Grain of Sand, by the virtually unknown Marie DeVenezia, my great-grandmother. She wrote the memoir primarily for her family, detailing her journey from an orphaned teenager in Avellino, Italy to a married woman of 10 kids in the tenements of New Jersey.
I've always been quite proud of my Italian heritage, one of many (ask me my family background and I'll tell you I'm ten types of white and Native American,) and fascinated by the story of my great-grandmother. Her mother died when she was a little girl and her stepfather remarried, not to the evil stepmother of fairytales, but to a kind woman who planned to continue to care for her when great-grandmother's father also died. However, her brother contested the arrangement and so her stepmother lost custody.
Because of Marie's orphan status, I've especially been interested in learning more of my family's genealogy. Her older brother Giuseppe had previously moved to America, allowing Marie to come live with him. Both of their names are printed on the wall as tribute at Ellis Island. But with both her parents dead at a young age, it's been difficult to track down her family's genealogy - until now.
Thanks to a man in Italy who did quite an extensive bit of research himself (with a website that is currently down due to improvements,) I've now been able to piece exactly where Marie, and in turn myself, comes from.
The daughter of Carminantonio "Antonio" Saporito (1858-1909) and Lucia Venezia (1855-1907,) Marie (born Maria) was one of six siblings: Giuseppe, who immigrated to America after serving in the Italian Army; Luigi, Emilia, and Marco, as well as two children that didn't survive infancy: Luigi and Pellegrino. The Venezias had a history in Atripalda stretching all the way back to at least the 1720's.
Born December 12, 1855 to Pellegrino Venezia and Domenica Capriolo, Lucia was one of seven siblings: Antonia, Maria, Francesco, Antonio, Rosaria, Pasquale and Sabino, who lived and died in Atripalda. (The siblings' births, deaths and marriages are available upon request.)
Pellegrino, born Peregrino di Venezia to Rinaldo Venezia and Nicoletta Mammuccio on April 24, 1824, married Domenica Capriolo on October 10, 1850. He later married Teresa Bianco in 1885. He was one of six children: Saverio Pasquale, Mariarosa, Maria Concetta, Maria Rosa and Saverio. Pellegrino was a Colono and bracciale (tenant farmer and laborer.)
Domenica Capriolo's family originated in Piedmont in northwest Italy, bordering France and Switzerland. The distinguished Capriolo name was first found in the year 1100.
Rinaldo (Leonardo) di Venezia was born in 1789 to Saverio di Venezia and Antonia di Gisi. He was one of four children: Rosa, Vincenzo and Maria. Like his father and grandfather before him, he was a Contadino (farmer.)
Saverio was born in 1757 to Agostino di Venezia and Orsola di Gisi. He was the youngest of three children, with older siblings named Pietro and Crenscenzo, who were both farmers themselves.
Agostino, a Bracciale like his great-grandson, was born in 1720. Unlike his descendants, Agostino lived in Fellitto, a town and commune in Salerno, Italy, which today is nearly two hours away from Atripalda.
Here ends the research on the Venezia line.
In contrast to the extensive history for Lucia's family, little could be found on Carminantonio's.
He was born in 1857 to Giuseppe Saporito and Carmena della Sala. He was one of three children: Angela and Giovanni and he, too, was a Contadino. Carminantonio "Antonio" married Lucia Venezia on April 20, 1879.
Giuseppe was born prior to 1835. No further research could be found on him or his ancestors.