S: The Schillaci Family Comes to America
FC: From Marianopoli to Buffalo: The Schillaci Family Comes to America | By Thomas D. Skill Volume #1 of the Skill Family Genealogy - November 2015
1: This book is dedicated to my family. Thank you for enduring countless conversations about my search for our "dead relatives." Thomas Skill Dayton, Ohio February 2012 | This book is just part of the story of our Schillaci ancestors coming to America. Much more is yet to be discovered. However, there are many things to marvel and wonder about in these pages. Survival was a near daily challenge for some. Others adopted lifestyles that we may not be proud to share, but in the end, for better or worse, these are our relatives. I hope this book will grow your curiosity around the history and events that carried our families to places near and far. Stay tuned for more stories about our other family branches. There are many tales of life, death, love and conflict that are yet to be shared.
2: St. Prospero Catholic Church in Marianopoli | FILIPPO SCHILLACI was born in 1824 in Raddusa, Catania, Sicilia, Italy. He died after 1893. Filippo, his sister Maria and his mother, Concetta Langela, moved to Marianopoli where he worked as a shoemaker. According to his marriage certificate, Filippo never knew his father or even his first name, so the Schillaci family tree begins here. Prior to 1847, Filippo married ANTONINA COSTANZO-NASO (daughter of Pasquale and Giuseppa GENCO) in Marianopoli. She was born in 1827 in Mussomeli, Sicilia, and died on 19 August 1874 in Marianopoli. He then married Antonina’s younger sister FILOMENA COSTANZO-NASO on 3 July 1884 in Marianopoli. She was born in 1847. | Home to a Shoemaker Marianopoli
3: FILIPPO SCHILLACI and ANTONINA COSTANZO-NASO had five children, all born in Marianopoli. GIUSEPPE SCHILLACI (born 1847). He married Maria Anna ANDALORO (daughter of Calegero and Maria Angela LOMBARDO) on 26 Nov 1870 in Marianopoli. She was born about 1848 in Marianopoli. CALOGERO SCHILLACI was a shoemaker (born 1849) He married Calogera LaPLENA (daughter of Salvatore and Calogera IPPOLITO) on 27 Feb 1875 in Marianopoli. She was born about 1859 in Marianopoli. The "Skills from Buffalo" are descendants of Calogero Schillaci and Calogera LaPlena. SALVATORE SKILL (born 18 Nov 1855). He died on 24 Jun 1957 in Long Beach, California. He married Giuseppa VULLO on 30 Aug 1879 in Marianopoli. She was born in Apr 1860 and died in 1935 in California. MICHELE SCHILLACI (born 1858). He died on 06 Apr 1902 in Buffalo, New York. Michael married Crocifissa VELLA (daughter of Alfonso and Maria Teresa Falzone) on 15 May 1886 in Marianopoli. She was born in 1868. CONCETTA SCHILLACI (born 1860) She married Salvatore GIUNTA (son of Saverio and Crocifissa LOMBARDO) on 08 Dec 1879 in Marianopoli. He was born in 1855 in Marianopoli, and died on 24 Feb 1883. She then married Vincenzo PATRICOLA (son of Antonino and Elisabethe Lazo) on 13 Sep 1883 in Marianopoli. He was born in 1863 and died before 1920. | Earliest Family | Marriage of Calogero Schillaci and Calogera LaPlena. February 27, 1875 - Marianopoli, Sicily | Calogero Schillaci immigrated to US on 25 March 1891 aboard the SS Caledonia
4: Calogero SCHILLACI and Calogera LaPLENA, married February 27,1875, had seven children. The first six were born in Marianopoli. The last, Julia, was born in New York. From 1891 to the early 1920s, nearly every Schillaci living in Marianopoli migrated to the US – mostly to the Buffalo area. Calogero began his migration in March 1891 aboard the SS Caledonia. He arrived at the Castle Garden immigration center in New York on March 25th. Next to follow was eldest son Filippo. At age fifteen, he boarded the Belgravia from Naples and arrived in New York on May 21, 1891. Filippo apparently lost his luggage and did not have enough money to immediately travel to Buffalo, so he worked as a courier boy in New York for a short period of time before finally saving enough money for his trip to Buffalo. It was five years before Calogero’s wife, Calogera LaPLENA Immigrated to the US aboard the SS Patria, arriving at Ellis Island on 23 Dec 1896. As was common practice for most Italian women, she traveled under her maiden name with all the children except Phillip and yet to be conceived Julia. Calogera ventured alone to the US with her five children in tow (Antonia, 17, Salvatore 14, Calogera 11, Angelina 7, Guiseppa 6). One can only imagine the family reunion for Christmas 1896. | 1891 The Buffalo Migration Begins with Calogero Schillaci and Calogera LaPlena | Birthplace of Filippo Schillaci (b. 3 March 1876) #3 Via Noce, Marianopoli.
5: After the birth of Julia Schillaci in 1898, tragedy must have struck the family resulting in the two youngest children, Josephine and Julia, being placed in an orphanage in Buffalo. The 1900 census shows Julia (born April 1898 in New York) and Josephine (born January 1894 in Italy) as "inmates" at the St. Mary's Asylum for Infants and Orphans located at 126 Edwards St in Buffalo - run by the Sisters of Charity. This orphanage typically only allowed children up to age 6, so it appears that Josephine's age was "modified" so that she could be with her sister. At this writing, it is unknown as to what happened to great-great grandma Calogera. Death during or following childbirth was not uncommon in this era. We might also assume that great-great grandpa Calogero had no ability to raise these two young girls alone, thus the only option was to place them in the orphanage. In 1910, it appears that Calogero was a boarder at 32 Maiden Lane in the Dante Place tenements (for Buffalo’s poor Italians). The census record shows 60-year-old widower “Charles Shillacci” working as a foreman at a rag shop. We have only one other hint of Grandpa Calogero in a 1940 Buffalo city directory showing Charles Schillaci living with Josephine Schillaci’s nephew, Joseph Sacca, at 35 Cottage St. The 1905 New York census shows Julia (age 7) living at "Our Lady of Refuge" on Best St - with her older sister Angelina (age 18). This "home for girls" has both an orphanage and a reformatory. Previously, Angelina lived with her oldest sister Anna. There is no sign of Josephine at this census. However, the 1910 Census shows that Josephine is married and living in Chicago. Julia is living with her sister, Anna Cinelli on Lovejoy Street in Buffalo. At this point, Sister Angelina disappears from public records - perhaps because she has married. | 1898 - 1900 The St. Mary's Orphanage Mystery | 1900 Census - 126 Edwards St, Buffalo | 1905 NY Census - 435 Best St, Buffalo
6: Family lore suggests that Filippo Schillaci and Grace LaMarco met at a church "saints day festival" and soon thereafter ran off and eloped. They probably married in 1898 or 1899, with their first child, Charles, born in Buffalo in January 1900. Grace was about 17 and Philip was about 23. Thus began their back and forth treks between Buffalo and the coal towns of central Pennsylvania from the early 1900s to the mid 1920s - when they finally settled permanently in Buffalo. In 1910, they lived in Winslow Township of Jefferson County. In 1920, they lived in Madison Township of Armstrong County. | Filippo Schillaci and Grace LaMarco: Restless Immigrants? | (Above left) Flippo Schillaci birth record from Marianopoli dated 30 March 1876. (Below Left) Grace LaMarco US Citizenship document as "derivative" from her father, Joseph LaMarco (below).
7: Philip, Grace and Joseph Skill | 1870 Stereograph of Buffalo from St. Paul's Cathedral. | 1900 map showing Canal, Erie, and Commercial Streets that comprised the Italian district | Philip Skill, aka Filippo Schillaci, a barber, was born March 30, 1876. Grace LaMarca was born July 26, 1882. Both are from Marianopoli. As was common, immigrants from the same towns tended to live, socialize and frequently marry in their newly adopted American communities. They had five children - three boys (Charles, Joseph and Anthony) and twin girls who died at birth. Grace died August 1, 1957 and Philip died March 14, 1960.
8: Pennsylvania Coal Mines and Barbershops: Jefferson Co (1910) & Armstrong Co (1920) | (Above) Joseph Skill at mine entrance Armstrong County 1920s. (Below) Picnic games in Jefferson County 1910s. | Philip Skill (1920s) Armstrong County.
9: (Above) Philip Skill and Grace LaMarco (abt 1910) Winslow Township, Jefferson Co. Pa. (Left) Armstrong County - outside Philip's Barbershop. Joe Skill on Right. (Below Left) About 1915 Philip and Grace with sons Anthony, Charles, Joseph. (Below) About 1912 Skill sons Anthony, Joseph, and Charles
10: In 1908, Aunt Josephine Skill, married Antonio "Nino" Sacca. She was 18, he was 25. Shortly thereafter, they moved to Chicago and lived in a rooming house with Nino's brothers Stefano and Dominic. As history tells it, Nino Sacca was a successful restaurant operator, beginning with a tavern in New York in 1906 at 163 Hester St and later at several locations in Buffalo known variously as Sacca Bros, Caruso (Pearl St), Venice (Washington St) and Tivoli (Dante Place and later on Terrace St). The history does not stop there. It appears that Nino was involved with the "Black Hand" extortion as early as 1906. Later, during prohibition, he was identified as one of Buffalo's most powerful bootleggers, using his strong Calabrian Mafia connections in Canada to import whiskey. News stories suggest that he was an associate of many prominent underworld bosses such as Joseph DiCarlo and Paul Palmeri who frequented his restaurants. During the Prohibition Mafia war in Chicago, Nino's brother, Dominic sent his son Joseph to live with Nino and Josephine about 1930. Joseph Sacca later ran the Tivoli before moving to Detroit in 1937. | Aunt Josephine Skill and the Mysterious Uncle Nino Sacca | 15 Feb 1906 - NY Times | 20 Oct 1906 - NY Sun
11: The Tivoli Restaurant located at 112 Dante Place (blue box on map) can be seen just behind the third car in the photo above. | 2 May 1927 | 4 Jan 1963 Niagara Gazette
12: Schillaci-LaPlena LaMarca-LaTona
13: Journey to America
14: Employer: Auburn Prison (NY). “Wow,” I thought, “That’s a long work commute from Buffalo for great-great grandpa Joseph LaMarco.“ The 1917 WWI draft registration source was actually for great uncle Joseph LaMarco, Jr - Grandma Grace's younger brother and a family member no one ever mentioned. The 1910 census showed him in solitary confinement on “death row.” A search of several on-line newspaper sources revealed that on August 19, 1909, Uncle Joe shot and killed Rosso Polomino in a NY Central Railroad station in Black Rock, NY. They were rivals fighting over a woman (and yes, Uncle Joe was married to another woman at this time!). In November 1909, he was convicted of 1st degree murder and sentenced to death by electrocution at the Auburn State prison. In 1912, his sentence was commuted to life in prison by NY Governor John Dix. In 1917, Governor Charles Whitman changed the sentence to 10-20 years and after serving nine years, Uncle Joe was released from prison in 1919 – Only to return again in 1920 for grand larceny. He was released a second time in 1921 and had his one last run-in with the law at age 66 for a driving violation in 1951. | Joseph LaMarco, Jr: The Black Sheep Dodges the Chair | 20 August 1909
15: 1910 US Census - Auburn Prison (April 15) | WW1 Draft Reg - 1917 | WW1 Draft Reg - 1917
16: Auburn Electric Chair - 1890s | 8 March 1912 | 27 November 1909
17: Dante Place - 1930s | 26 November 1909 | 6 January 1920 | 17 August 1951
18: Salvatore Skill, brother of great grandpa Calogero in 1951 news story. | Manifest from SS Patria for Calogera LaPlena and children, 23 December 1896
19: Above:Anthony Skill's baptism certificate from Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church located on Fly St in the Buffalo Italian neighborhood called "Dante Place" (February 1908) | Putting Down Roots: Buffalo Generations | Far left: Grace LaMarco Skill in front of home and barbershop 1132 Jefferson, Buffalo (about 1947) | Left: Anthony Skill about 1928
20: Four Generations of Skills: Anthony (b.1908), John (b.1930), Philip (b.1876) Thomas (b.1955). Photo is Tom's Christening. (Sept 1955) | Anthony Skill Homestead 1940 - 2003 located at 218 Windermere Blvd, Eggertsville, New York. | Anthony Skill & Dolores Caterino Wedding 23 July 1928 (Center). Brother Joe on left and Charlie on Right. Father Philip far right. Mother Grace seated far left. Sister Assunta seated far right.