Son dell'Abruzzo forte e gentile
The Abruzzese are strong and gentle
Raphael D'Emilio married Felicita Rattenni and they had four children while living in Palena in the province of Abruzzo, Italy. Their four children were Dominic, Laura, Mary and Amerigo. Dominic emigrated to the United States where he eventually married Anna Campana, who was also originally from Palena.
Records obtained from Ellis Island American Family Immigration History Center document that Domenico D'Emilio (sic) (6/16/1884- 1955) arrived there from Palena July 23, 1900 at the age of 16 on a ship named Patria which had departed Italy from Naples. As with many Italian names, the correct spelling is difficult to ascertain. On many documents, the apostrophe and capital E are dropped. Demilio.
Family oral history tells the story that Dominic's father Raphael had apparently made the trip to North America before Dominic, but I haven't yet been able to locate any record of his arrival at Ellis Island. Because those records change occasionally, and other clues surface from time to time, the search continues.
Apparently Raphael had found work laying tracks on the railroad in Chicago and Dominic first went there to be with him. Uncle Joe remembers that Raphal sent for Dominic to help him avoid conscription in Italy. Dominic and Raphael eventually moved to Monesson and arranged to have Felicita come to the US.
Raphael had a little grocery store in Monesson before he moved to Pittsburgh.
Annina Campana came to the US from Palena in 1905 at the age of 17. According to her son Joe, she was working in Italy sewing clothes and shoes at that time. Joe remembers that Anna sewed with thread made by silkworms! Also that her older sister designed clothes, and her father made shoes.
According to her daughters, she came over from Palena with Lucia Belli, Perry Como's mother. So far, I haven't been able to confirm this from researching the Ellis Island records. Perry Como's mother's maiden name was Travaglini, not Belli, and there is a record of Lucia Travaglini making the voyage from Palena to Canonsburg in 1910. Perry Como was born in 1912 in Canonsburg. Aunts also recollect that Perry Como's sister married one Joe D'Emilio, son of the brother of Raphael, which would have made Joe Dominic's cousin. And finally, they say Anna's sister Eugenia, (also zia Eugenia or Sugenie) (came from Palena to Canonsburg in 1909) was the midwife at his birth.
Anna's parents were Berardino Campana and Dalinda Primavera. They had six children, several of whom came from Palena to live in the Pittsburgh. Their other children: Elisabetta, Luigi, Clarice, Eugenia and Josephine.
Anna married Dominic in St. Leonard's church, Monesson, PA on January 28th, 1906. Anna was 18 and Dominic was 22.
Anna and Dominic started having children and didn't stop until they reached 11. Mary, Felicia, Ralph, Linda, Viola, Joe, Tony, Lucia and Edmund. A set of twins born after Edmond died at birth. Ralph also died when he was very young.
Anna had a brother, Luigi Campana, who worked briefly in the mill in Monesson, but also worked as a photographer. That might explain some of the existing family photo's and postcards.
Dominic became a naturalized citizen April 23, 1936, over 30 years after his first trip to the US.