Gaetano Bongiovanni

.Born: 20 April, 1860 ~Montalbano di Elicona, Messina, Kingdom of the Two Sicilies
Married: 8 May 1884, Montalbano
Arrived at Ellis Island: 17 April 1902
Died: - - 26 June 1940 ~ Montalbano

Meaning of Bongiovanni (bohn-joe-VAH-nee): John the good


Angela DeGaetano with infant Salvatore Bongiovanni  and Gaetano Bongiovanni
~ 1898 ~


        In 1860, the year my wife's paternal grandfather Gaetano Bongiovanni was born, Sicily played a major role on the world stage. 
       Garibaldi invaded the island, then still under the control of Bourbon Spain.  With his Camisi Russi (Red Shirts) and Sicilian partisans, he captured Sicily and presented it to the King of Savoy as the first element of the Risorgimento, or the Unification of Italy.  It was a great day for Italy, but to the Sicilian people, it was just another sad conquest leaving it ruled by others ~ this time the northern Italians.

          By 1861, Italy was a monarchy ruled by Vittorio Emanuele II.  In the United States in 1860 there were 33 states.  The Pony Express  was begun for mail service from St. Louis to San Francisco.  Abraham Lincoln was elected as the nation's sixteenth President, in a prelude to the Civil War.

      The Bongiovanni coat of arms at the left, above, is that of a noble Sicilian family.  Having a surname that was or is descended from nobility does not mean that everyone so named has 'noble blood'.   Only descendants of the original family can claim a noble connection.  Many 'noble' surnames were the result of distinguishing ordinary persons who lived in the sphere of influence of a prince, baron or count.  My wife's grandfather Gaetano Bongiovanni's father was a 'murifabbro', a stonemason.  There is no evidence whatsoever, at least back to the mid 1700's, that any of his ancestors were of the nobility.
      For more about the 'Arms of Sicily', click HERE.


        From about 1820 through 1860, Sicilian civil birth records reported the details of all births on the left side of a two-page form, reproduced below.  On the right side of the form was documentation that the record had been sent to the local church, and that the Parish had confirmed the baptism of the child and the date of baptism. 
      The transcription and translation shown below after the actual record have been condensed to one page.  The use of "Maestro" before an individual's name means "Master" in the sense that he was a master of his trade.
       Gaetano was born before The Kingdom of the Two Sicilies was subsumed into a united 'Italy'.  He and his ancestors were not Italians, but Sicilians.

From Montalbano di Elicona Registri Stato Civile Film 1467944, 1860 Births, No. 45, Gaetano Bongiovanni



R E C O R D   O F   B I R T H  

Notice of the day on which was ad-
ministered the Sacrament of Baptism

Number 45
In the year one thousand eight hundred
sixty on day twenty-one of the month of April at hour twenty before Us Doctor Benedetto Cernuto, Mayor

and Officer of the Civil Records of the town of Montalbano District of Castroreale Province of Messina appeared Master Giuseppe Bongiovanni

age thirty-four
occupation stonemason
domiciled in Montalbano, who has presented us a
boy that accordingly we have visibly witnessed, and he has declared that the same was born of Francesca Infantolina his wife age thirty-two, living with him, and of he the declarant, age as above, occupation as above, residing as above on day twenty of the month of April in the year stated above at  hours three in the afternoon in house in which they live.

The same has also declared that he has given the newborn the name

[Page 2]  The aforesaid presentation and declaration was made in the presence of Master Antonino Germano age seventy-two, occupation laborer, a subject of the realm, living in Montalbano, and of Nicolo Limina age fifty-two, occupation laborer, a subject of the realm of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, living in Montalbano, witnesses attending the present act, and provided by him, Mr. Master Giuseppe Bongiovanni

  This document, which we have created as required, was inscribed on two registers, read to the informant and to the witnesses, and on the day, month, and year as stated above, signed by Myself because the declarant and witnesses said that they don't know how to write.

The Mayor, Official of Civil Records
(Signed by)
Dr. Bened. Cernuto


Number forty-five
In the year one thousand eight hundred
sixty on day twenty-two of the month of April  the Parish priest of the Mother Church of this town has returned to us on day twenty-two of the month of April of the year stated above, the record,

which we had remitted to him on day
twenty-one of the month stated above of the year stated above, the here-written birth record, at the bottom of which he has indicated that the Sacrament of Baptism has been administered to Gaetano Bongiovanni on day twenty-two of the month and year stated above.

Having seen this document after having it encoded, we have provided that it be preserved in the register of documents at page forty-five

We have also acknowledged to the Parish priest the receipt of the same, and we have created the present record which was inscribed on the two registers in the margins of the

[Page 2]  corresponding birth record, and then we have signed.

The Mayor, Official of Civil Records
(Signed by)
Dr. Bened. Cernuto




     Year 1884, day 8 May
at hour 8:45 AM                                                       , in the Town Hall
of Montalbano Elicona                                                 open to the public. 
      Before me Lodovico Faranda, Mayor    
Official of Civil Records, in official garb, have appeared in person:
1st: Gaetano Bongiovanni, age 21;
born in Montalbano, living in said place, son of Giusep
 resident of Montalbano, and of the late Francesca Infantolina,
once resident of said place; 2nd: Angela Degaetano,
age 21;
*spinner of thread, born in Montalbano, living in
said place
, daughter of Giuseppe, a resident of Montalbano,
and of Vincenza Corica residing in said place .
 They have asked that I unite them in marriage; to this effect they
 have presented me with the documents described below, and through
examination of these and those already produced when requesting
banns, all of which, supported by my review, I insert in the volume of
attachments to this register, resulting in no objection to the celebration
of their matrimony, I have read to the couple articles one-thirty, one-thirty-one and one-thirty-two of the Civil Code,
and asked the groom if he intends to take as wife Angela
here present, and of her if she intends to take as husband
Gaetano Bongiovanni
here present; and as they have each answered
yes with full understanding, and as have the
witnesses indicated below, I have pronounced in the name of the Law
that the couple is united in matrimony.
At this certification have been present:
Nicoḷ Todaro Mastropaolo
age 48,
*landowner, and
Ferdinando Parlavecchio age 46,
both living in this Town. 
A record was presented of the certification of the first marriage banns executed by me on the 20th of this past April, and the second on the twenty-seventh of the month
    The above-recorded matrimony was given consent by the
father of the groom and the parents of the bride, with the
exception of the late mother of the groom, as is explained in the record of the request for marriage banns

 The present document was read to those assembled, but is signed only by me and the two witnesses, the betrothed having said they don't know how to write

Nicoḷ Todaro Mastropaolo,Wit.
  Ferdinando Parlavecchio, Wit

The Mayor, Official of Civil Records
Lodovico F

Number 16

 Gaetano Bongiovanni
Angela Degaetano



















* Indicates the occupation or status.

From Montalbano di Elicona Registri Stato Civile Film 1726999,
1884 Marriages, Gaetano Bongiovanni and Angela Degaetano

This translation is factually correct.      
To conserve space, it is not a strict literal translation.     


        On 17April 1902 Gaetano Bongiovanni landed at Ellis Island on the SS Lombardia (line 3).    His last residence was listed as Montalbano and his destination was his 'cousin' Gaetano Tiracorda at Box 32, Clearfield, Pennsylvania.   The portion of the manifest for Gaetano is also shown enlarged, below the full manifest page.


 Gaetano (Thomas) Bongiovanni
~ 1913 ~


        Gaetano Bongiovanni was a difficult person.   He left his wife Angela DeGaetano after she bore him four girls, because she had not given him a male heir.  He didn't know that he had left her pregnant, and when she had a son, my father-in-law Salvatore Bongiovanni, she sent Gaetano the photo at the top of this page, to confirm the birth of a son.  Gaetano alternately rejoined her, escaped again, to South America, returned to Buffalo, and finally returned to Montalbano alone in about 1935, leaving in Buffalo his wife and five children.
     On 26 May, 2016, his granddaughter Angie Bongiovanni and I visited Montalbano and I went to the town 'Anagrafe' (Registry Office).  There, a clerk, Milene Faranda found the index card and death record of Gaetano, shown below.

     The above index card, stamped 1935, shows Gaetano Bongiovanni's vital statistics on the front and the date of his death and the number of his death record on the back.  He was born 20 April 1862* and was the son of the late couple Giuseppe Bongiovanni and Francesca Infantina, and the husband of Angela DeGaetano.  A stonemason, he lived at Via Cuore di Gesu in 1935 and at Via Principe di Napoli at his death.  The note dated 27 June 1940 on the back of the card states that his death record is in the 1940 Register, at Number 35, Part 2, Section A.

* The index card shows Gaetano born on 20 April 1862, but birth record No. 45 from 1860 shows a Gaetano Bongiovanni born to the same parents on 20 April 1860.  It may be that a child was born in 1860, died as an infant, and a subsequent child was coincidentally born on the same day and month two years later, and was given the same name as the deceased child (not an uncommon occurrence).  Records for 1862 births and deaths don't exist, so these possibilities can't be checked.  It's also possible that the date of birth shown on the index card is incorrect.


     Year one thousand nine hundred forty, VIII (E.F.) on day twenty-seven of the month of
June at the hour nine AM and thirty minutes in the Town Hall.
     Before me, Arturo Bavastrelli Official of the civil status
of the Town of Montalbano (1) delegated by the Prefectural Commissioner
(2) has appeared Giovannino Stefano, son of the late Filippo
age fifty-nine (3) a landowner resident in Montalbano
who, in the presence of the witnesses Antonino Bongiovanni
son of the living Pietro, age forty-one, (3) a tailor resident in
Montalbano, and Filippo Romano, son of the late Giuseppe,
age sixty-nine (3) a cabinetmaker resident in Montalbano,
has declared to me the following:
   Day twenty-six of the month of June of the year one thousand nine
hundred forty XVIII (E.F), at hour fourteen and ten minutes
in the house located at Via Principe di Napoli at No. 64
has died Gaetano Bongiovanni age (5) sixty-eight
(6)___________________ race white resident of Montalbano
(3) a stonemason who was born in Montalbano of (7) the late Giuseppe
(3) a stonemason, resident of Montalbano and of (8) the late Francesca Infantina
(3) a housewife, resident in Montalbano; and who was (9) married to
Angela DeGaetano

(10) This record was read to those assembled, they have signed
below.  Giovaninno Stefano    Antonino Bongiovanni    Filippo Romano
The Official of the Civil Status, A. Bavastrelli

Number 35

Surname Bongiovanni
Name Gaetano









Note: the letters E.F. after the year mean 'Era Fascista'.  XVIII (E.F.) means '18th year of the Fascist Era'.
           Mussolini copied this practice from earlier times, when a Roman numeral after a year indicated the number of years of a monarch's reign.


Gaetano Bongiovanni married Angela DeGaetano on 8 May 1884 in Montalbano

Francesca Bongiovanni: 2 Apr 1885 -
(Married Filippo Presti)
Giuseppa Bongiovanni: 26 Jul 1888 -
(Married Giuseppe Santo Presti)
Giuseppe Antonio Bongiovanni: 23 Nov 1890 - 6 Mar 1891
Vincenza Bongiovanni: 30 Jan 1892 -
(Married Gaetano Cernuto)
Maria Bongiovanni: 6 Jun 1895 -
(Married Filippo Cernuto)
Salvatore Bongiovanni: 26 Nov 1897 -  15 Mar 1988
(Married Mary Lanza)

Anna Bongiovanni: 5 Aug 1901 - 19 Jan 1902



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Gaetano & Rosina


















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