and Events - February 2015
The Crachesi Come to Canada
Crachese immigration to North America almost
entirely focused on settling in New York City
however by 1916 the first Cracotan arrived in Canada
albeit by way of New Jersey.
Vincenzo Domenico Marrese (b. 1874, Craco) emigrated
to New York with his parents Pasquale Marrese and
Maria Ferrante (see June 2013, December 2013
Newsletters) in 1885. He worked in the family’s
tailoring shop at 53 Spring Street while living just
around the corner with the family at 221 Mulberry
In 1891 Vincenzo married Maria Donatella Calitri (b.
1875, Banzi, Potenza) who was a seamstress at the
Marrese family’s business. It was during that year
that tragedy struck the Marrese family when in
November, Vincenzo's brotherinlaw was murdered in
New York City (see June 2013 Newsletter).
In 1895 Vincenzo went back to Italy, perhaps for
military service, returning to New York City in
March 1898. He was also in the US Army during the
Spanish American War. His tailoring skills may have
served him well in the military services as he was
reported to be an expert in making uniforms.
By 1899 the Marrese family moved their home from
Mulberry St. to Jersey City, NJ and commuted by
ferry across the Hudson River to their tailoring
business in New York City.
There is little doubt that Vincenzo had a hand in
the fabrication of the clothing for the San Vincenzo
statue in New York and in sewing the banner for the
Societá San Vincenzo Martire di Craco in 1900. The
handiwork and needle skills on these pieces show the
kind of embroidery work with metallic threads, which
are common to insignia on uniforms,
In 1908 Vincenzo married Ida Braun in Jersey City,
NJ. By this time he had become a very skilled tailor
and clothing designer with a specialty for uniforms.
In 1916 at age 41, he relocated to Winnipeg Manitoba
where he was employed as a tailor. He died Oct 22,
1942 in Winnipeg. His children that were raised in
Canada, Samuel, Lillian, Joseph, Harry, Rose and
Vincent and their families would maintain the
Crachese presence there until the 1960s when a new
family from Craco would arrive after the Frana.
Tailored Family — The well dressed family photograph
of Maria Donatella Calitri, Pasquale Marrese, and
Vincenzo Marrese from about 1898 shows their
tailoring skills. Vincenzo, who may have returned
from serving in the Italian Army in this photograph,
reportedly used his skill making uniforms there and
probably made the one his young son, Pasquale was
wearing in this photograph.
Vincenzo Domenico Marrese c.1934
The Church of San Nicola – Chiesa Madre
Vecchio had several churches in it but the Church of
San Nicola Vescovo was the central one giving it the
name “Chiesa Madre” or the Mother Church. Recently,
a photograph of the baptismal font from there was
given to the Society. This is important since it is
the only photograph we are aware of showing the
inside of the church before it was abandoned after
The font was used for centuries and everyone today
who traces their ancestry to Craco either was or had
ancestors baptized using it.
According to “Note Storiche del Comune di Craco” the
history of the town written in 1986,
“The Church of San Nicola Vescovo (Chiesa Madre)
measured 48 ft. at its maximum width and 90 ft. at
the maximum length. It was erected in three
different stages: the main section in the thirteenth
century, an additional section in the sixteenth
century, and in the eighteenth century the dome and
some additional windows were added. The interior was
restored in the last century and decorated on the
initiative of Archpriests Molfese and Giannone, with
paintings of the Neapolitan school.
This sacred church contains a mixture of styles: a
bit Romanesque with a facade that does not have a
cornice and some classic Byzantine domes that
suggests a presence of the Greek Empire in the area.
It has been restored several times: late in the
eighteenth century, just after the unification of
Italy, and again in 1903.
The church has maintained, until the seventies of
this century, chapels (with attached tombs), private
property and brotherhoods.
The Altar of the Chapel and Society San Sacramento
(with burial). They possessed some land, animals and
a couple of houses in the seventeenth century. The
administrator who held power was a brethren elected
by the SS. Sacramento. In the eighteenth century
they gave as a gift to the Chiesa Madre ten ducats a
year and other contributions for processions,
The Altar of the Chapel and SS. Crucifix of the
Brotherhood of Mount of the Dead,
founded in 1683. They possessed much wheat and other
assets and were governed by an administrator, a
conservative, and other officers, elected by the
Brothers utilizing precise instructions. They
donated to the Church thirtyone ducats and twelve
carlini per year. They also paid more money for
assistance to the families of their dead brothers,
for the celebration of the harvest, and so on.
The Altar of the Chapel and SS. Rosario.
They were founded in the late seventeenth century.
They donated to the Church twenty ducats a year,
owned land and were governed by an administrator.
The Altar of the Chapel of the Holy Cross.
They were founded around 1642. They gave the Church
two carlini a year.
The Altar of the Chapel of St. Giovanni Evangelista.
The Nigro family belonged to this brotherhood. They
donated four carlini per year as a gift.
The Altar and Chapel of the Immaculate Conception.
First was run by the Mazzilli family, then the
Montemurro family. Their gift to the Church was one
carlino per year.
The Altar and Chapel of St. Anthony.
Founded at the end of the seventeenth century, their
donation was two carlini per year.
Altar of San Leonard
(Magliari family). Two carlini per year.
The Altar and Chapel of the Assumption of the
(the Nigro family). They donated to the Church four
carlini per year.
The Chiesa Madre which once possessed a great deal
of land today owns practically none; a few houses
and a small tithe.
baptismal font (left) which, according to Pasquale
Ragone, was situated at the right side of the
entrance to the Chiesa Madre. Pasquale is
researching the status of the font but so far no one
is aware of what happened to it.
We are grateful to Fil Francavilla
for providing this photographic piece of Cracotan
view of the interior entryway is shown in a 1990
photograph (right) of the church after it was
abandoned, and a more recent photograph of the same
area showing the deterioration that has occurred.
This view provides a glimpse of an alcove like the
one that held the baptismal font.
Photographs of 1990 from Joseph
The Regione also established new guidelines for
grant requests for 2015 that require submission by
January 31. The Society submitted two requests for
support to cover the extraordinary expenses related
to the relocation and preservation of the historic
statues that were at St. Joseph’s Church which will
be closed by August 1, 2015 and for the project to
obtain the census record for Craco from 1881 1921
that are stored in the Potenza archives.
Both requests are vital to the Society’s mission to
preserve the culture, history and traditions for
descendants of immigrants from Basilicata.
Relocating and preserving the over a century old
statues is critical. The two are the last tangible
connections to the people who came from Basilicata.
And the statues of San Rocco and San Vincenzo
Martire are the focal points for the only Italian
feast day celebrations that are still held in New
York City that represent traditions from Basilicata.
The Italian census records for Craco are also
significant for us in documenting the changes in the
town based on the immigration that occurred during
Craco Photographs on Facebook
The Society’s Facebook site is featuring historic
photographs from the collection that was built from
donations by members. The material was issued based
on the subject matter and generated interest and
comments by people who have fond memories of Craco
These series of photographs posted so far include
the following subjects:
Craco in Art
Craco in Postcards
Families of Craco Vecchio
Craco Vecchio Schoolchildren
Currently being posted are photographs that include:
Houses of the Frana
The Processions of Craco
These images are also on the Society website and any
photographs not already there are being uploaded to
insure the material is available. The website holds
thousands of images along with archives of
newsletter content and historic information about
Craco Football 1971-72: This photo was posted by
Nicola Boffilo to the Society Facebook page in
response to the series of school photographs and
Vittorio Colona added additional names for the
individuals pictured. Standing from left to right:
Peppe Lospinoso, Alfredo Colabella, Tonino Boffilo,
fourth individual unknown, Tonino Petracca, Captain
Dino Sabato, and Nino Rinaldi. Sitting from the
left, the last three are Giovanni Panarella, Sestino
Vignola and Enzo Crapulli. The other individuals
were from Pisticci and not named.
Montedoro Film Update
Antonello Faretta released a press kit for his film,
“Montedoro” that is available online at: ISSUU (the
cover is shown to the left). Richly illustrated with
scenes from the movie and text in both Italian and
English it provides insight and commentary about
The film is also being promoted in pre-release on
Facebook, Twitter, and there is a blog on Tumblr.
As part of the Society’s efforts to help promote the
project a grant request to the Basilicata Regional
Authority of 2000 euro was granted. These funds will
be used by Faretta’s team to publicize the film
which contains extensive scenes of Craco Vecchio.
here to view
A Year in Craco. Events in Craco for
every month are listed. Thank you to Joe Rinaldi
in Canada for his contribution to this page.
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