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         News and Events - February 2015

 

The Crachesi Come to Canada

 The 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 St.

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

 Craco 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 Frana.

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.

They were:

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, masses, etc.

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 Blessed Virgin (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—the 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 history.

 Entryway—a 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 Rinaldi

 


 

 Regione Basilicata

 

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 the timeframe.

 


 

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 Vecchio.

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.

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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 this project.

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.

 



Click 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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