Origins of the Bongiovannis

Montalbano Elicona
In Sicilian, Muntarbanu)
(Click HERE to see the Montalbano web site)


          Montalbano Elicona (in Sicilian, Montarbanu Elicona) or Montalbano di Elicona is a medieval town north of Mount Etna in the Nebrodie Mountains of Sicily.  It was the birthplace of Gaetano Bongiovanni and his wife Angela DeGaetano, whose son Salvatore Bongiovanni was also born there.  Others whose sons emigrated to America, (some who married Salvatore Bongiovanni's sisters) included the Presti (LoPresti) and the Cernuto familiies.
          The name Montalbano may be derived from the Latin 'mons albus', 'white mountain', because of the snow-clad peaks, or from the Arabic 'al bana', 'excellent place'.  The town is on the River Elicona, hence the name Montalbano Elicona.
           It is on an old Roman route that connects the Tyrrhenian and Ionian seas and is dominated by a fortress-like castle built by Federicu Secundu, the King of Sicily, Il Regno (the Kingdom).  Federicu was known as Stupor Mundi, the Wonder of the World.  Some of the postcaeds below were sent from Montalbano in the 1930's, from Carmela Presti to her sister-in-law Giuseppina Bongiovanni Lo Presti in Buffalo.
         See 2006 photos of Montalbano at


The message says "Accept my affectionate kisses and good wishes
from your sister-in-law Presti Carmela.  Kisses to the family ~ 26 December 1932"

"To my _ _ _ sister-in-law Giuseppina Bungiovanni Lopresti"


montalbanoelicona.jpg (26384 bytes)



          Montalbano is on the list of most beautiful towns in Sicily, and has an active tourist center.  Information about the town is available at and at  Aunt Angie and I visited Montalbano in 2006 and found it lovely and intriguing.


          Below are two images of Salvatore Bongiovanni's original birth record from Montalbano di Elicona.  On the left is an image that was scanned from LDS Film No. 1726997, Registri dello Stato Civile di Montalbano di Elicona, Year 1897, Number 227. 
        On the right is an image taken on-line from (image 2415 of 1866 - 1899 Births).  Click on each image to enlarge it.

R E C O R D S   O F   B I R T H

Number 272
Salvatore Bongiovanni
*Indicates occupation or condition

one thousand eight hundred ninety-eight, on day twenty-nine of the month of November
at hour eleven thirty-seven AM, in the Town Hall.
    Before me Nicol
Todaro Sparicio Secretary delegated by the Mayor, by
act of eighteen July one thousand eight hundred eighty-two, duly approved

    Official of the Civil Record of the Town of Montalbano Elicona has appeared
Concetta Cernuto, age forty-eight years, *midwife living
in Montalbano, who has declared to me that in the AM at hour six-
fifteen, on day twenty-six of the current month, in the house located at
Via Federico Secondo, no number given, by Angela DeGaetano
housewife, wife of Gaetano Bongiovanni, stonemason,
both living in Montalbano

was born a baby of male sex who she [the midwife] presented to me and to whom she gave the name of
    To the above, and to this registration have been present these witnesses Filippo
, age forty-six years, *herder, and Nicola Terranova
age fifty-three, *farmer, both residing in this Town.
    The declarant has reported the above-noted birth, since she has,
by exercising the skill employed by her art in the act
of delivery, and in lieu of the husband of DeGaetano, since he has found himself,
during the delivery, absent from this town.
This record was read to those assembled but it is signed below by me
because the declarant and the witnesses said they don't know how
to write.

The Official of the Civil Record
Nicolo Todaro Sparici



(Immigration records from

The Lombardia
 Associated Passenger Date of Arrival Port of Departure
 Bongiovanni, Gaetano April 17, 1902 Napoli

Gaetano Bongiovanni was listed as age 40 and a sculptor from Montalbano, whose destination was his cousin Gaetano Tiracorda, at Box 52, Clearfield, Pennsylvania.
Built by G. Ansaldo & Company, Sestri Ponente, Italy, 1901.  5,127 gross tons; 403 (bp) feet long; 46 feet wide.  Steam triple expansion engine, single screw.  Service speed 14.5 knots.  1,360 passengers (58 first class, 1,302 third class).  One funnel and two masts.

Built for Navigazione Generale Italiana Line, Italian flag, in 1901 and named Lombardia.  Italy-New York service.
Transferred to Russian owners, in 1911 and renamed Jerousalim, to Russian Steam Navigation Company service.  Scrapped in 1928.

Photo: Maurizio Eliseo Collection 
The Algeria
 Associated Passenger Date of Arrival Port of Departure
 Bongiovanni, Salvatore
.age 8 years.
August 19, 1905 Auc...
Also on this voyage:

Angela DeGaetano Bongiovanni, age 42
Francesca Bongiovanni, age 20
Giuseppa Bongiovanni, age 17
Vincenza Bongiovanni, age 13 (misspelled as Vincenzo)
Maria Bongiovanni, age 10
Built by Reiherstieg Shipyard, Hamburg, Germany, 1914. 8,156 gross tons; 449 (bp) feet long; 55 feet wide. Steam quadruple expansion engines, twin screw.  Service speed 15 knots.  535 passengers (417 second class, 118 third class).

Built for German-West Africa Line, German flag, in 1914 and named KIGOMA. Laid up during World War I. Sold to Anchor Line, British flag, in 1921 and renamed Algeria. Glasgow-New York service. Sold to Hamburg-American Line, German flag, in 1922 and renamed Toledo. Scrapped in Scotland in 1934.

Photo: Tom Rayner Collection 
The San Guglielmo
 Associated Passenger Date of Arrival Port of Departure
 Cernuto, Filippo
.age 34 years.
Oct 24, 1913 Messina

Filippo LoPresti was actually 20 years old on arrival.  He gave his age as 34.

Less than a year earlier, Giuseppe Coniglio had arrived at Ellis Island on this same ship.
Built by D. & W. Henderson & Company, Glasgow, Scotland, 1911. 8,341 gross tons; 470 (bp) feet long; 56 feet wide. Steam triple expansion engines, twin screw. Service speed 15.5 knots. 2,425 passengers (50 first class, 175 second class, 2,200 third class).Two funnels and two masts.

Built for Sicula-Americana, in 1911 and named San Guglielmo. Italy-New York service. Torpedoed and sunk by a German submarine off Italy in 1918.
Photo: Maurizio Eliseo Collection 

webbunny.gif (3114 bytes)

CompassRose50high.gif (1661 bytes)
Site Index








Last revision: 29 November 2014 ~ Angelo F. Coniglio,