Continuing Research……Two New Pieces of Information

Now that the gravestone of my great-grandfather Lorenzo Milano has been restored and there’s no chance of him being exhumed from his grave, I can continue my research for information regarding my other great-grandfather Giuseppe Maria Vivona.

As I mentioned before, I have written to and visited the Sicilian Comunes of Calatafimi, where he was born and Castellammare del Golfo, where he raised his family.  I scoured the Ellis Island Foundation and Family Search websites, all to no avail.  I am totally baffled. I even wrote to New York City Vital Records, identifying myself, including my credentials, but there was nothing except he was listed as “Father” on my grandmother, Rosaria Vivona’s marriage record.

Online, I belong to a few genealogy research groups, including the Sicilian and Aeolian Islands group.  Two of the members know that I have hit the proverbial “brick wall”.  They mentioned the Antenati, an Italian Records website, as another resource. I figured Why not give it a try?  I logged on, typed in various combinations of dates, names and reviewed the results.  Everything jived with what I have in my records. Then came the true test, as I entered Giuseppe Vivona and Angela/Angelina Giliberti, hit the search key while crossing my fingers.  WoooHooo! I did not find any records for Giuseppe,  but found two new pieces of information.

Research results – 2 New Records

The first record was the death record for Salvatore Vivona, their first-born child.  A couple of years ago, the Comune of Castellammare del Golfo, had sent me his birth record and I always wondered why there was no additional information about him.  Salvatore was born in May 1891 and died in May 1912 at the age of twenty-one.  His death record listed his occupation as “barber” but, of course, no cause of death was listed.

Great Uncle Salvatore Vivona Death Information

I can’t imagine what my great-grandmother Angela went through coping with his death.

The second record, was for Antonino Vivona, another son, about whom I did not know. The death record states that he also was a barber and died in October 1918 at the age of 15.  Dio mio!! So young.

Great Uncle Antonino Vivona Death Information

I wrote to the Comune in Castellammare del Golfo requesting birth and death records and received a reply from Signora Rosa Giabino that included an official birth and death certificate for Antonino. Salvatore’s has not yet arrived.

Recently I referred back to the letter written by Elisabetta Vivona Olivet, my grandmother Roasario’s sister.  She stated that both Antonino and Salvatore died from the Spanish flu. But I question this, as the “Spanish flu” outbreak did not occur in Europe until 1918. According to my research, which is mindboggling, the flu outbreak occurred in the U.S. much earlier, was ignored by the government and the flu spread with our troop movements during World War I to Europe. []

So I believe that Antonino, who died in October 1918, was possibly a victim of the flu.

Doing some further research, Salvatore’s death may have been caused naturally, by accident, by an outbreak of cholera [] or by the heat wave of 1911 in Italy and Spain that had devastating consequences by creating diseases via microorganisms in fish, plants, and man. []                 Another mystery.

As for their father, my elusive great grandfather, on August 16, 2014, during a conversation I had with my cousin, Betty Olivet Palumbo, she stated that her mother, Elisabetta, told her that Giuseppe Maria Vivona died of double lumbar pneumonia at age 45.  So, I am assuming Giuseppe Maria Vivona died in 1910.  The death date is unknown as the Comune does not have his death record. And so the mystery continues.

“Who is this cousin Bernardo? Why didn’t you mention him before in your blog?”

Everyone is asking me “Who is this cousin Bernardo? Why didn’t you mention him before in your blog?”  So in answer to your many questions……. 

2016-May. At the Belvedere in Castellammare del Golfo. Photo by C.M.

After my sister, Laurie and I left Italy, cousin Vera, from Rome, Time To Meet Cousins  and I continued communicating via email.

One email had a request. Vera wrote that another cousin, Bernardo, her mother Maria’s nephew, who lives in Germany, heard about our surprise visit in Rome and was asking for my contact information.  Vera wanted to ask if she could give him my telephone number, as he does not have a computer.  I said “Of course. But you know that I do not speak any Italian nor German!”  Vera told me that he spoke the Sicilian dialect, English and German, so do not worry.  Shortly after, Bernardo called me and we began our continuing conversation about the family.

Also, at this time, I was also beginning a photo scanning project. After Mom passed away, I found a box of old photos that she had stashed away at the back of her closet. I don’t believe she even knew they were there, as she had inherited them from Grandma Milano, her mother-in-law.

Sadly, I never knew about these photos and wished I had. Maybe Mom would have known who some of these folks were.

I told Bernardo about the photos and that most had no writing on the back.  Of course, Grandma Milano knew who all these folks were, so there was no need to identify everyone!  



Bernardo told me to send him copies and he will try to obtain the information. A couple of months later, I received my self-addressed envelope back with the information for the majority of the photos, mostly of the Milano’s.  I believe the other photos, were of various members of Grandma Rosaria’s family (Vivona). Thanks to Bernardo, more pieces of our family history were uncovered.



P.S. These photos have yet to be identified. 








Grandma Sarah Vivona Milano sitting on far left. Everyone else ????

Dove sei Giuseppe Maria Vivona??

Great-grandparents Giuseppe Maria Vivona & Angelina Giliberti Vivona. [Photo courtesy of K.Vega & D. Veit]
Great-grandparents Giuseppe Maria Vivona & Angelina Giliberti Vivona. [Photo courtesy of K.Vega & D. Veit]

I have been searching for information about my other great-grandfather Giuseppe Maria Vivona for two decades. 

I’ll start with what I do know, the pedigree chart:

Vivona Pedigree Chart
Vivona Pedigree Chart

Here’s more information I found through my research:

As indicated on the above chart, he is the son of Salvatore VIVONA and Agostina BOLENA and was born in May 1865 in Calatafimi,Trapani,Sicily. He was baptized the same day in the San Giuliano Church by the priest Giuseppe Orlando. His godparents were Giorgio and Francesca Scianna.

His occupation was a barber surgeon.

He married Angelina GILIBERTI (born in Castellammare del Golfo July 1867 daughter of Michele and Girolama LaTorre) on 13 Nov 1889 at San Giuliano Parish in Calatafimi, Sicily.

They lived in Castellammare del Golfo and had the following children:

  • Salvatore VIVONA – born May 1891
  • Maria VIVONA – born August 1894 – married Antonino Bongiorno in CdelG January 1912
  • Michele VIVONA – born & died May 1896
  • Michele VIVONA was born May 1897 – married Anna Frazzitta in Palermo May 1921
  • Girolama VIVONA was born January 1899
  • Rosaria VIVONA was born Apr 1901
  • Giuseppe VIVONA was born February 1906
  • Elisabetta VIVONA was born on 8 Jul 1908

Angelina Giliberti Vivona immigrated along with her daughters Giroloma Vivona age 14 and Elisabetta age 5 on September 30, 1913 aboard the ship “SS Canada” into the Port of New York. Angelina was listed as a widow on the manifest.  Two other children, Rosaria and Giuseppe followed afterwards.

Angelina died in November 1928 at the age of 61 at Harlem Hospital in New York City, NY.

So, what happened to my great-grandfather Giuseppe Maria Vivona???? I assumed that he died in Sicily, as the ship manifest indicated. But in my research I have learned that many women who immigrated listed themselves as widows if not traveling with a male family member. So did he really die in Sicily or did he live his life elsewhere apart from his family? 

I have searched files on the Ellis Island web site without any success. But did he immigrate elsewhere?  

When I was in Sicily, my cousin Bernardo and I went to the Stato Civile in Calatafimi to speak with the clerk Signora Serafina, who has helped me via snail mail in the past. 

Serafina in the Stato Civile in Calatafimi
Serafina in the Stato Civile in Calatafimi

She pulled the registry book for him but other than his birth and marriage, there was no other annotation. So he didn’t die in Calatafimi.

Previously I wrote to the Stato Civile in Castellammare del Golfo, as this is where he and Angelina lived and raised their children, but no records were found.  But I visited it any way, but to no avail.

I also inquired at the Cimitero Comunale in Castellammare del Golfo with Maurizio Cassara, but there was no record. 

During one of our morning coffee meetings, my friend Enzo recommended that I go to the Biblioteca and ask to see the city directory.  So cousin Bernardo and I went there but the archivist was on vacation but would be back on Monday.  Early Monday morning, before going for my morning café normale, I walked to la Biblioteca.

After being buzzed in, I spoke with a young librarian. I told her who I was looking for, my great-grandfather and gave her all the information I had. I said I didn’t care if he had many wives and other children.  She laughed and said it was possible. She then told the archivist. The gentleman looked through from 1908 until 1935 but found no entry for Giuseppe Maria Vivona.

So where the heck is he?? 

I have written many letters to those with the surname Vivona in and around Castellammare del Golfo, Calatafimi, New York and New Jersey but received no response.

Newly found cousins in north Florida have been gracious in providing me photos of Angelina and her children.  Plus cousin Kim and cousin Dede provided the photo of the painting of Angelina and Giuseppe that is posted at the beginning of the blog.

But we still have no clue as to where he lived and where he’s buried.  Hopefully you, the reader, would know. If so, leave a comment.  One day before I die, I would like to visit his grave.