When Giuseppe Coniglio came from Serradifalco, Caltanissetta, Sicilia, in 1912, he went to Robertsdale, a small soft-coal mining town in west-central Pennsylvania.  A year later, his brother (my father) Gaetano Coniglio chaperoned Giuseppe's wife Angela Alessi to America.  Angela was the sister of my mother Rosa Alessi, Gaetano's wife. (Two brothers married two sisters.) The passenger manifest of the SS Berlin, on which Gaetano and his sister-in- law Angela arrived shows that they were to contact Giuseppe at 76 Main Street, Pittston, Pennsylvania.  Pittston is in a hard-coal mining region, on the Susquehanna River in eastern Pennsylvania, between Scranton and Wilkes-Barre.  Rosa and Gaetano Jr. later joined Gaetano Sr. in Robertsdale. It's not clear if, when, or for how long the Coniglio's stayed in Pittston.  
       76 Main Street was the Flatiron Building, a Banca, or Bank, said to be owned by an Italian who loaned money to immigrants to help them come to America.  It may have had mailboxes where arriving immigrants received money or messages from the relatives who had preceded them to America.

Angela Alessi and Giuseppe Coniglio

Gaetano Coniglio (center)

       But there was a large number of other immigrants from Serradifalco in Pittston during this time.  And unlike those who went to Robertsdale, and who virtually all left it for Buffalo in the early 1920's, the Pittston Serradifalchese thrived, and many families remain there today.   For example, the SS Berlin carried my brother Gaetano Vincenzo Coniglio and my aunt Angela Alessi to Ellis Island on April 30, 1913, and on the same passenger manifest, were the names of Vincenzo Di Rosa and Anna Lombardo, also from Serradifalco, also going to 76 Main Street, Pittston!  Vincenzo and Anna were the brother and sister-in-law of Giovanni Di Rosa, grandfather of John Butera, a resident of Pittston who passed away in 2011.

       It seems that wherever Serradifalco immigrants settled, they brought with them a tradition begun in Sicily ~ a "mutual aid society".  These "societÓ" were begun in Sicily as political and economic protection for the severely poor and underprivileged miners, peasants, and their families.  In America, the societÓ served as a way for "paesani" to band together to help the less fortunate, and perhaps even more importantly provide a social life for immigrants who, because of language and education differences, found it difficult to be absorbed into the great American melting pot.

       Pittston, Robertsdale, and Buffalo all had chapters of the "SocietÓ Mutuo Accorso Serradifalco".  Membership originally was restricted to those born in Serradifalco.  Dues of twenty-five cents a month entitled the members to borrow from the club's fund in times of need, and provided a (very small) death benefit.  Women were allowed to form "auxiliaries", and assist in the annual religious festivals which honored "Maria, Madre Addolorata", (Mary, Mother of Sorrows), usually with a procession featuring a statue of the Blessed Virgin. 

       The Robertsdale chapter disbanded when most of the Sicilians left for Buffalo, and the Buffalo chapter fell into decline in the 1950s when most of the original immigrants began to pass away.  In Pittston, however, the club thrived, even purchasing its own building, and sponsoring excursions to the paesani in Buffalo.  On November 4, 2005, my wife Angie and I visited Pittston, were shown into the Serradifalco Club by current members John Butera and Leonard Cumbo, and given an "honorary  membership".  There are Buteras and Cumbos in the Alessi/Coniglio family tree, but I have not been able to make a connection yet.  More research at the Mormon Family History Center may be able to uncover links between our families.

       This page was made possible by information given by John Butera and Leonard Cumbo, as well as by past club president Tino Turco and Pittston Historical Society historian John Dziak.  Our contact with Pittston has also resulted in my finding Bob Bucci, now of nearby Plains, Pennsylvania, who is my third cousin once removed, through the lo Guasto (Loquasto) family, who also settled in Pittston.

       The Pittston Serradifalco Society once had over three hundred members, including native-born Serradifalchese, and eventually their children or spouses not born in Serradifalco.  Unfortunately, there are only about 25 dues-paying members, with a number over 75 years old who are dues-exempt.   The economics have led the club to consider selling its clubhouse at 133 South Main Street in Pittston, with the possibility of using the proceeds to rent a future meeting place.  In the 2005 photo at right, Treasurer John Butera, President Leonard Cumbo and Vice President Mike Marranca discuss the situation.


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Site Index

Robertsdale, Pennsylvania







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A Visit

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The Church

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La Societ

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The Book

La Bedda Sicilia

Last revision: 22 December 2020 ~ Angelo F. Coniglio, ConiglioFamily@aol.com

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