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         News and Events - January 2015


Buon Natale e Felice Anno Nuovo


During this period of the traditional 12 days of Christmas we want to take an opportunity to express our wishes for a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to members.

We also want to acknowledge and share the good wishes and joyous feelings of the season that were received from Society friends and members including: Presidente Nicola Benedetto, Basilicata Regione; l’Amministrazione Comunale and Pino Lacicerchia, Sindaco of Craco; Marco Lategana, Noeltan Film Studio (producers of Montedoro, a film by Antonello Faretta); Ann Pirozzi, Antonio Rinaldi and Family.

With the New Year we look forward to the plans for the Society in 2015.

We will continue describing the Cracotan experience in North America making sure we preserve the history of the immigrant migration and assimilation that occurred in two waves, between 1880-1924 and with a special focus on the second wave that came in the mid20th century after the Frana.

As part of this, we will be researching census data from Italy that provides information about our ancestors in Craco between 1881 and 1921.

Of course we will be organizing our annual reunion and also looking into a return trip to Craco.

The Cracotan tradition of celebrating the feast of San Vincenzo Martire in New York City for the 114th year on October 25, 2015 will happen but the venue and details are still unclear.

As we close the year we would be remiss if we didn’t thank the membership, volunteers, and friends who support the Society’s efforts and do its work without compensation throughout the year.  It is their contributions that makes our small organization vibrant and robust allowing us to accomplish much.

We extend our best wishes to all for a: 





President’s New Year Message

 As we move into 2015, a year that represents an opportunity for your Society to make changes to adjust to external events, I thought it would be important to tell you about our plans.

As a virtual organization with 474 members and their families spread out through North America and Europe, we feel it is important to get as much of the material we’ve preserved since our founding in a format that will make it available to everyone. The internet fulfills that need and also helps to serve as a warehouse to store it for the future. We may explore ways to refresh our website so you, your children and grandchildren will be able to know about the people of Craco and their rich history.

Complementing this will be an effort to obtain additional public record census information about Craco from Italy. This will help fill in details about the history of the Cracotan families inhabiting North America. Besides adding details about genealogy it also makes information that is locked away in archival vaults available to the people who care about it.

Caring is imbedded in our mission to preserve the history, culture and traditions of Craco and its people in North America and it will continue to drive us this year.

We are looking into a trip back to Craco that includes travel throughout Basilicata which will connect us to our roots.

We will also continue our practice of holding our Annual Reunion, an event that is always full of energy, vitality and a warmth that rejuvenates us by spending time together sharing stories of our “Cracotan family.”

Since our founding, we embraced and supported the celebration of the feast of San Vincenzo Martire in New York City. This year will challenge us to fulfill that tradition for the 114th time. Although the details are unclear we are not dissuaded; after all didn’t we get here from people who left everything in Craco with no clear understanding of what the future held but only had hope available to them?

Our chronicling of the history of the Crachesi in North America will continue to complete the story through the period that brought Cracotans here after the Frana.

Since our founding we have been fortunate to have dedicated members providing support through dues, participation in events and also providing unique and historic materials, photographs, and items for us to preserve and share. It is humbling to realize that these cherished family heirlooms and keepsakes have been made available to us; they literally make history tangible when we are able to touch items used or created by our ancestors. It is one of the things that makes the Society so special.

But I would be remiss if I did not tell you that we may have to ask you for more in the way of additional support as we deal with extraordinary circumstances and expenses to address the changes we anticipate. As these become clear we will share the details with you and be specific about what we plan to do so you will have continued confidence in our actions.

Reflecting on our Society’s future please make sure all your family members and Crachese friends are aware of the Society and what we have that can help them understand their background. And please continue to participate in events so our relationships and knowledge of each other keeps expanding.

On behalf of the Board of Directors I want to wish you and your families a wonderful and prosperous New Year. 


Society’s Membership

 The Society now has 474 members with the two newest members born this year. This is about the same size as the Crachese population in Lower New York around 1900. During the period between 18801891 before Ellis Island was opened available records list 40 individuals from Craco entering New York Harbor. From 1891 to 1901 records show an additional 381 immigrants arriving from Craco.

In 1899 this small group organized a mutual aid society under the name, Societá S. Vincenzo Martire di Craco, to help provide for their paesani and also bring their culture to New York in the form of the veneration of the town’s patron. Their first organized celebration occurred in October 1901 and continued for the 113th time this year.

During the next 13 years a surge of 897 Cracotans joined those already in New York City swelling the number to about 2,000 with the natural growth of families already there.

They were mostly concentrated in the area called Little Italy living in close proximity to each other on streets including Baxter, Cherry, Roosevelt, Mott and Mulberry.

There were a very small number of families living just outside New York City in Brooklyn and across the Hudson River in Jersey City, NJ but commuted to New York to make their living.

It was in this period, the first Cracotan family would move to western Canada from New York and remain there until another family would join them directly from Craco after the Frana in the 1960s.

Although “Note Storiche del Comune di Craco” tells us immigrants from the town went to other countries the Society is only aware of the Romano family who emigrated to Argentina in the 1880s.

Although the town of Craco population never exceeded 2000 people we estimate the descendants of the immigrants entering New York now number about 12,000 people.

The Society’s objective in preserving the history, culture and traditions of Craco and its people in North America aims to reach all of them making sure they are aware of their heritage and can pass it along. 


 Le Procession di Craco 2015 Calendar

 The Society’s 2015 calendar displays scenes from Craco Vecchio showing some of the processions held there in the past. The photographs are part of the Society’s collection of over 1000 images of the town, which we believe is the largest assembly of material about Craco in one place.

The images show the following procession events:  Top row, left to right: all Madonna della Stella processions.  Middle row, left to right: San Vincenzo, San Nicola, Madonna della Stella, Madonna della Stella.  Bottom row: San Nicola, Madonna del Monserrato, Madonna della Stella, Good Friday, Good Friday, San Nicola (photo that spans 2 rows, with 2015 heading).

Although these traditional events continue to be a regular part of Italian culture and in many cases draw growing attention in the media the practice of them in the US seems to be in decline. This dwindling support not only impacts Italian American families with the loss of culture but also impoverishes the population as a whole which loses the cultural diversity that gives it vibrancy.

All members should have received their copy of the calendar by now. Anyone wanting additional printed copies can contact us at: memberservices@thecracosociety.org

An electronic version is also available on request.  



About our Christmas Card


The image on the Christmas card was created for the Society by Garnet Armstrong (Frank Rinaldi’s son-in-law) using software to extract the background image of Largo Vittorio Emanuele II in Craco Vecchio and insert the Nativity into the piazza to create a unique “Cracotan Presepio.” The Society expresses its gratitude and appreciation for Garnet’s efforts and creativity on our behalf and for giving us this heartwarming and imaginary scene during this magical time of the year.


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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