The earliest known ancestors of
this line of the Alessi and Abate
families include the DiGiugno, Cimino, and lo Guasto
families. The surname Alessi, a variation of the earlier Alessio, is
from Greek, meaning Alex or Alexander, from the Greek word
or aléxo, meaning "to defend".
I recently identified our first (known) American relatives who are relatives of, but not direct descendants of Rosa Alessi: they are the Loquasto family. Like Rosa (and us), they're descendants of Libertino (Alberto) lo Guasto (born 1795 in Serradifalco), and Francesca Lattuca. Libertino and Francesca's children were Concetta, Salvatore, and Fedele lo Guasto. Concetta was the great-grandmother of Rosa Alessi, and Salvatore was the progenitor of the American Loquasto family.
village of Serradifalco is a small "Comune" in central Sicily, in the
Province of Caltanissetta. It is not far from the provincial capital, the City
of Caltanissetta, which was called "the fort of the Nissenes" by its
12th-century Arab occupiers. Today, a local nickname for the city is
"Nissa". The area of "Serra del Falco" was a vast
feudal "fief" or holding of the noble family
Moncada as early as about 1400 AD. The last Moncada to own
the fief in which the town of Serradifalco was eventually founded was
Guglielmo Raimondo Moncada VI, a direct
descendant of El Cid, the legendary
champion of Spain. The
Grifeo family acquired the fiefdom in
1617, and the incorporated Comune
(town) of Serradifalco was founded in 1640 by Baron
Francesco Grifeo. Since he was only five years old at the
time, the license was granted to his grandmother and guardian,
Donna Maria Sarzana-Ventimiglia. Just
twelve years later, in 1652, the fief and town were acquired by
Baron Leonardo Lo
Faso Pietrasanta of Palermo, who was later named Duke of Serradifalco. Many
peasant legends whirl around the town's name. One of these, recounted by the
inhabitants of the "Falbaccaro" district, tells of a fabled
falcon or hawk that
lived in the cliffs during the time of the Moncada
Serradifalco's coat of arms, showing a hawk,
is reproduced above.
Like mainland Europe, Sicily once had a feudal system, with Baroni (Barons),
Duci (Dukes), Signori (Lords), and Cavaliere
(Knights); and many Sicilian families have "noble"
origins. Even more come from peasant stock, and it was generally they who emigrated
to America and elsewhere, seeking a better life.
The town still has its
original layout, with ancient streets which now are called Via Roma, Corso Garibaldi,
Via Crucillà, etc. It is about 1,600 feet above sea level, in
central Sicily, in an area rich in minerals and ores. The patron saint of
Serradifalco is San Leonardo Abate (St.
Leonard the Abbot). A French nobleman-turned-monk, he is also known as
the patron saint of prisoners of war, expectant mothers,
and those in danger from brigands, robbers, and thieves.
He died on November 6th in the year 559. His official church feast day is
November 6, but the town celebrates his festival each year on the second Sunday of August
(it's much warmer then!).
The Alessio coat of arms in the background is that of an early Sicilian noble family, but no connection between that family and ours has yet been found.
Leonardo Di Giugno
Calogero Alessi and Angela
Gaetano Abate and Giuseppa
(b. 8/14/1884 - d. ?)
Photo ~ 1916
(b. 9/9/1893 - d. 2/19/1972)
Photo ~ 1938
(b. 10/11/1898 - d. 2/27/1974)
Photo ~ 1920
(b. 9/8/1879, d. 12/21/1964)
Gaetano V. Coniglio
(b. 4/26/1889, d. 7/4/1944)
Also three other daughters of Leonardo and Concetta:
(b. 11/16/1888, d. ?)
(b. 12/28/1891, d. 189?)
(b. 4/6/1896, d. 1897?)