The Zito's From Niagara Falls, NY

We're Talking Loud and Proud!

Nancy's Story

Nancy Zito had a yearning to learn more about the Zito family's Italian roots.  Her thirst for the knowledge of our ancestry led her to contact the Niagara County Vital Records Dept., the National Archives in Washington, the Stati Civile in Portico di Caserta and eventually a trip to Italy.  Below is her story, in her words.  Not only is this story fascinating but I think we all owe her a debt of gratitude for all the time she put in researching and eventually traveling to Italy to meet some of the descendants of the family that Pietro and Maria left behind when they immigrated to America.


Growing up Italian-American, is like having a foot in two worlds. We were born in America but raised with Italian customs.  Our family ties, the way we eat, the way we celebrate, are the continuous bonds we have with our family's previous generations.  "Radici" ( rah-dee-chay) is the Italian word for roots.  Most people at some point in their lives, want to know where their ancestors came from.  For me, this moment came in 1997.  As the older generation started passing, and with two sons growing up fast, I realized I had to do something to preserve the culture and family history before it either became “watered down" or worse, slipping away entirely.  I joined “Communes of Italy", an online Genealogy association.  I took what little family history we had and, with the guidance of many helpful people, I found my way.  I obtained Naturalization papers in Lockport, N.Y.  With the information they provided, I was able to write to the National Archives in Washington for ship manifests.  I now had the correct information to write to Italy and obtain birth records. (previous letters to Caserta and Naples were fruitless.)  The last letter I wrote was to the Stati Civile in Portico di Caserta. (Grandma's hometown).   Never in my wildest dreams, could I imagine that my letter would land on the desk of Grandma Zito's great-nephew, Sebastiano Rauccio, who as it turns out, is the Official there.  We started an email correspondence that lasted a few years and in 2002, I traveled to Italy.  Staying with Sebastiano and his family, we formed an everlasting bond.  They treated me like I was always a part of their lives.  Like my Grandparents never left.  I feel like my generation came full circle.  The line is preserved. 

This is our family's story...........

     Our family's story in America began on May 17, 1913, when our grandfather Pietro Zito (son of Giovanni Zito and Carolina Massara ) of Capua, Italy, sailed from the Port of Naples on the S.S. Madonna heading for New York.  No one really knows the reason why he wanted to leave, but like the millions of other Italian immigrants of that time, it was probably due to economics.  With only 25 dollars in his pocket, and his dreams of a better life, he left his wife Maria (Daughter of Angelantonio Tartaglia and Vincenza Piccirillo) and their first two children, behind in Portico di Caserta. He took his place in steerage and on May 31, he landed on Ellis Island.  After being processed, he was greeted by his brother-in-law and sponsor, Pasquale Tartaglia.  Final destination was Niagara Falls.  Securing a job with the N.Y. Railroad and establishing residence, Pietro sent for Maria and their two children, Carolina and Giovanni in 1915.  Maria and children boarded the S.S.Sant Anna on March 30, 1915 and like Pietro, rode steerage and landed April 14, 1915.  Pietro and Maria settled in Niagara Falls on Pierce Ave, adding seven more children to their family.

 They had a total of 9 children:

Carolina 4/11/1911, Portico di Caserta, Italy

Giovanni (John) 11/15/1912, Portico de Caserta, Italy

Antonio (Anthony) 1/22/1916, Niagara Falls, NY

Francesca (Frank) 9/15/1919, Niagara Falls, NY

Domenica (Dominic) 9/12/1920, Niagara Falls, NY

Pietro (Peter) 3/15,27/1922, Niagara Falls, NY

Irene 4/2/1923, Niagara Falls, NY

Margaret (Marge) 5/29/1928, Niagara Falls, NY

Giuseppe (Joseph) was born to the best of my knowledge, between Irene and Marge but died at a very young age.  I don't have his birth date or when he died.  From what I have heard I believe he was about 2-5 years old when he passed. 



Pietro was Naturalized in June 1924 and eventually was promoted to, and retired as "Assistant Section Foreman" for the NY Railroad.  Maria was Naturalized in June of 1939.  Their children went on to have families of their own, most living in Niagara Falls and a few out of town.  Their unions blessed Maria and Pietro with 29 grandchildren and many more great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren.

Even though many family members have moved to different parts of the United States and are separated by many miles, our family is united by a fierce pride and a deep love and respect for our Grandparent's sacrifice.

(To be continued...)