my Grandfather, born in Abruzzi, 1895

Posted by Cathsutton on February 27, 2009 at 18:19:36:

My Grandfather, whose name originally (I think) was Florindo Fanella, came to Ellis Island from Abruzzi. At Ellis Island, his name was changed: he was told his first name should be "Frank" and that his last name would be the name of the sponsor - Porreco. My Grandfather was born in Abruzzi, the illegitimate son of "the Duke" or someone with a castle referred to by my Grandfather as "the Duke". Grandfather's mother was a servant (cook) in the palace or castle of the Duke. I know there were many dukes, some of lesser stature, and I don't know the name of this duke and I suspect this was not a famous Duke or I am sure we would have heard more about it growing up. Although Grandfather was private about this. And I barely remember him speaking of his mother. Grandfather did say that he was one of many illegitimate children who lived with their mothers (who were servants of some type who worked in the castle in the mountains. He talked about the "real son" of the Duke, who used to play with my Grandfather when they were young boys, about the same age I gather, but my Grandfather pointed out that whenever the boy felt like it, he would say: I am the son and can do whatever I want, you get out of here. My grandfather cried when he talked about the shame of being illegitimate and now when I think of this I think it was also about lack of love. I remember Grandfather, in his 80's, still shaking when talking about this, and blotting his eyes from the tears. Grandfather married his childhood sweetheart, Assunta Bucci, also from Abruzzi. He came to the US twice, the first time when he was just a boy, and worked as a "water boy" bringing water to the workers who laid down the tracks for the subway trains in NY. He was saving his money to go back to Abruzzi and get Assunta and bring her to New York. When he returned to Italy, for awhile, he was in the Italian cavalry in the Alps. He then returned to New York with Assunta, they were married and moved to Colorado where my Grandfather worked for the Santa Fe Railroad. Grandfather had unusually vibrant, light blue eyes and his hair was auburn. He grew the best and hottest peppers in Pueblo. He was humble and went to church every day. He didn't go beyond third grade but he was smart and read the newspapers front to back and news magazines. He taught himself. Assunta died young - in her early 30s, and Grandfather had to put his boys in an orphanage in Pueblo so he could keep working. He took care of things, figured out what he had to do and did it.

They had five sons - my father, now 88 is the only one left.

I would like to get information for my father -- about his father (my grandfather). Is there anyone who has a relative with a similar story, someone whose family came from Abruzzi? Maybe someone who grew up as son or daughter of a servant of a duke? Also, my Grandfather's sister was given the name: Maria Stella. I don't know if Stella was Grandfather's mother's name or not.

Thank you.

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