Mt. Rainier and Lenticular Clouds - Dec. 2008 copyright: JMM

March 6, 2007


(Cue Italian music)....
This is a picture of my maternal great-great grandparents (center), great grandmother (right), aunt and uncles.
Back left to right: Frank, Vincent, Joe & Salvatore DiMartino
Front left to right: Teresa (DePaulo), Angelina, Sabatino and Filomena DiMartino, although by this time my great-grandmother was married to Giovanni Marganella.

My maternal family hails from the tiny town of Corvara, in the Abruzzi Mountains, on the Adriatic Sea. My grandmother was 5 when she came over from Italy in 1911 with her mother and 6 year old sister. They arrived July 26, 1911 on the ship "Berlin", which departed from Naples about 10-14 days prior. I have no idea how they got from Corvara to Naples, but the entire journey must have been difficult for a woman and her two small daughters, especially since they were only able to afford "steerage" class. Giovanni married Filomena in Italy. He was the caretaker of estates on Park Hill Avenue in Yonkers, New York, and was sponsored to come here by the Celli Family. Like many immigrants, my family was processed at Ellis Island. My mom and I went to Ellis Island in 2004 to take the tour and it was fascinating to me to think that my grandmother walked those same halls as a small child, waiting for entry to the promised land. Her name is on the wall there, as are the names of many of my other relatives.

The rest of the DiMartinos settled in Connecticut; Filomena was the only one who settled in New York. I've been told that my great great grandmother, Angelina, was a midwife.

This is my grandfather, Anthony Marsh. His last name was Americanized from either Marsharello or Masciarelli (I have not been able to determine which it was), but he was born in Yonkers, not Italy. This photo was taken when he was 17, in 1914. I have only vague memories of him. He and my grandmother were separated, and he died of lung cancer a day or so before my 4th birthday, in 1968.
This is my grandmother, Mary Marsh. Her name was originally Maria. Her brothers and sisters all had Italian names but most of them were Americanized. Their names were: Ersilia (Celia), Maria (Mary), Anna, Emilio (William but we called him Dick), Angelo (Charlie), Adeline (Lee), Giovanni (John) and Louise. Only my Uncle Dick and Aunt Louise are still living; my Uncle Dick turned 93 this year. My grandmother died in 1989.
Here is a "4 generations" picture, of my grandmother Mary, my great grandmother Filomena, my Aunt Gloria (mom's sister) and cousin Karen, who we call Cookie. Filomena died in 1950 at the age of 67.

My great grandmother was widowed at the age of 37 with 8 children!!! Their youngest, Louise, was only 2 and has no memory of her father. My great grandfather, Giovanni, died in 1922 of throat cancer. My great grandmother did beadwork to support the family, and my grandmother also worked in a bead shop, hand sewing beads to gowns that were later sold in New York City's poshest shops. Small wonder I myself am a bead-a-holic; beads clearly run in my blood.
When I was a kid, in the late 60's and early 70's, I absolutely loved going down to Yonkers to see everyone. We would make the rounds and visit all the aunts and uncles; and boy did we eat!!! Homemade gnocci, lasagna, veal cutlets/parm...bread... and the pastries!!! Plus my grandmother's amazing pizzelle cookies. Those were such fun times and I am blessed to have been so close with such an extended family.
My cousins were all older than me; most of them were born in the late 40's and in the 50's, but I've always maintained contact with them. The only cousins my age are Sharon (1963) and Diane (1965). The next wave of cousins arrived in the 1970's and 80's as my older cousins had kids. I just counted and I presently have approximately 38 cousins!!!!
In the 1980's, my family began to scatter to the four winds. Some went to to Florida & Connecticut, some passed away very young, Aunt Louise has lived in the San Francisco Bay Area since the 1950's. The cousins married and moved as well. Now their children are getting married and having children themselves and I'm really starting to feel OLD!


  1. How wonderful that you have photos and such rich history of your family...

    I know a little about my dad's side of the family....But my mom's....A complete mystery.

  2. wow, i think that's so neat that you can trace your family back that far. i cant, unfortunately. i don't have much info, at all, on my family roots. mainly just my immediate family :(

  3. Anonymous10:27 AM

    JoJo-I hope you can get to Italy someday to see the places where your family came from. I envy you for having photos and background info on them.


  4. that is very special that you can go so far back. i luv the name filameno (SP)! we have a 4th generation pic with my hubby, his dad, grandpa and our 7yo when he was only 1. it's a very special pic b/c grandpa died that year at age 91.

    see, here's another trip you should take, to italy!!

  5. Awesome Jojo!You make me want to be Italian!I do appreciate the sense of family,wish that was so for everyone.

    I love to hear about immigrations.They are always fascinating.

    I know LOADS about my father's family but not as much about my Mom's.What I DO know is funny and interesting.

    My g-grandfather was a fiddler and a mid-wife.He was born in the 1840's and fathered my grandfather (an identical twin) in his late 80's.He moved from Scotland to Germany and then here.He had three families,because he lived longer than wives 1 and 2.

    Your grandmother is lovely,btw.

  6. Anonymous2:09 PM

    Thank you for sharing this - family history fascinates me; AND you have a 'Vincent' in your line-up ;0)

  7. What a great family history, and I love the photos. I've oftewondered why our ancestors always looked so serious in their photos.

    Like you I am much younger than my cousins, but I have NONE close to my age. My oldest cousin was 30 years older than me, my youngest one 10 years older.

    I have only traced my mother's family back to about 1800, but my father's family tree in Germany, thanks to a very studious cousin-in-law, goes back to 1650 on one branch.

  8. That's one beautiful family history, thanks for sharing, it's nice.
    And, wow, 38 cousins! LOL! That's something! :-)

  9. Something else we have in common! Augustino and Emelia came to America from Udine, Italy (far northeast corner) in 1920-something. I visited their old town when I was 13. My Italian relatives treated me like a princess! I never wanted to leave.

  10. That is one classic pic of your grandfather on the motorcycle!

    I've been meaning to ask you, do I have to get a Gravatar of Vincent D'onofrio if I want to keep posting here?


  11. Mark - I'm a complete tech idiot...I don't know what "gravatar" is..... lol :P

    Is that what you call the little pictures we have? I just call them "little pictures". hahahaha

  12. Donna Marganella12:09 PM

    Hi Joanne - It was really fun to read about the family and see the photos. Brings back lots of great memories for me of your grandmother. I still talk about her gnocchi and have never had any better. I love all the name changes too - everybody had an alias! Here's a tidbit, my father's birth certificate reads "Giovanni Giuseppe Marganelli" even though he was born in the US and I have no idea where the i in the last name came from.

    Your B&W photos are really wonderful. Clearly, you are the artistic cousin!

  13. Yeah, the little pictures! Blogger has there own version. Other sites host gravaters:

    Mine is my recently passed beagle-like friend, Bart:

  14. Hi Donna!!! Thanks for stopping by! I think there were a lot of incorrect spellings on birth certificates from 'way back then'. I miss Nana's gnocchi so much; to this day I have never had any near as good.

  15. Great pics.
    Read a comment you made elsewhere about not being able to play a DVD.
    I had the same problem so I got ANY DVD you can download it.Now I can play any region DVD on my pc.

  16. Hi JoJo your family pix are a great collection. I sure like B&W photos, they seem to take you back into time. You asked about my photo on the ship. It was taken about l922, and they arrived at a famous pier in Hallifax where thousands of other folks landed. From there they went by train to Saskatchewan and the rest is history. I started a new blog, FLASHBACK, you can get to it by clicking on DonW. I have made a one person apology to some folks living in the Everett area for the terrible treatment they received in my country. Cheers DonW