Lucia Bisceglia Lariccia In Correspondence, 1917-1937

Translated by Ramón García-Castro, Edited by Ben Lariccia, Jr. who holds all copyright and can be contacted to purchase a hard copy edition of "Lucia Bisceglia Lariccia In Correspondence: 1917-1937".


The letters contained in this publication were in the possession of my grandmother Lucia Bisceglia Lariccia. After her death, they became the property of her daughter, my Aunt Concetta Lariccia. Another aunt, Mae (Filomena) Lariccia Vargo, contributed the letter from Soledade, Brazil.

Quite a few family members vouch for the stories in the correspondence which include the death of a future sister-in-law, the anticipated perils of crossing the Atlantic during the U-boat attacks on passenger ships, a young daughter's fight to survive extensive burns, Lucia's Mamma Antonia's transatlantic attempts to bolster the young burn victim, and sadly, the bitter news of this Mamma Antonia's death as it appears in Francisco Musacchio's letter to Gennaro Lariccia.

Lucia Bisceglia's correspondence shows the rich experiences of a woman who knew the risks of leaving her native land and those of beginning life in a totally new one---as part of a new family. More importantly, the letters show the love and strong relationships that she maintained and carefully nurtured across "the wide ocean full of dangers," in most cases with relatives that she would never see again.

All these messages, whether penned by her or others, became part of a precious cache of letters, the record of a life, that I have gathered for all of us to read and enjoy.

Ben Lariccia Jr., July 18, 1999


To Lucia Bisceglia Lariccia and to all who have the bravery to take their lives in their hands to create a new existence.


I wish to thank the following people who helped me complete this project: Concetta Lariccia, Mae Lariccia Vargo, Carl DiLallo and Andrew Cafaro. Many thanks also to James Lariccia Sr. and Carl DiLallo for family stories and genealogy. And not least to Ramon Garcia-Castro, co-editor and translator, and to Silvana Gambardella and Roberto Castillo-Sandoval, translators.

In regard to primary genealogical records, I wish to acknowledge the helpful people at the LDS Family History Center in the Logan Section of Philadelphia for the use of their microfilms and equipment. And yes, I would like to recognize Napoleon Bonaparte who mandated that civilian vital records be kept in Italy beginning in 1809.

Table of Contents

-Lucia's Letter to Gennaro Lariccia...7
- Lucia's Letter to Gioso (Giuseppe Lariccia)...9
- Lucia's Cousin's Letter...13
- Mamma Antonia's First Letter...15
- Mamma Antonia's Second Letter...17
- Francesco Musacchio's Letter to Gennaro Lariccia...19


(all of the following are available in the hard copy edition)
Copies of the Original letters
Articles from the "Youngstown Vindicator"
Lucia's Ancestor Tree
Lucia and Gioso's Descendants

Lucia's Letter to Gennaro Lariccia

(BACKGROUND: From her hometown of Montelongo, Italy, Lucia Bisceglia pens a sympathy letter to her future brother-in-law Gennaro (James) Lariccia in the US. He has just lost his beloved young wife Carmela Gialdini in childbirth on April 29. See attached newspaper article and photo from The Youngstown Vindicator, April 30, 1917.

Montelongo - May 29, 1917

Dearest Gennaro,
A terrible piece of news that made all of us unhappy spread yesterday along the streets of our small village. I almost did not want to believe it, but some letters that arrived later convinced me that your companion is gone to heaven, where at this moment she prays for you, while you melt into tears overcome with grief.

She was your companion in this world and your protector in the next one. She was your guardian angel and now she is your shining star that smiles at you with the smile of your first love.

If it is true that the soul is immortal, if the spirit flies as thoughts do--Oh Gennaro--console yourself because Carmela is close to you. She attends all of your activities, she follows you in your trips, and she watches over you while you sleep--that beautiful Carmela who was yours in life, therefore she is yours in death.

No one can say that he is happy in this land of tears. All mortals, some more, some less, have had to experience pain. The more one walks in this life, the more one finds suffering, and I intend to persuade you that we are pilgrims here. Again one of our relatives is on the other side. Blessed be the one that will soon join her. Blessed be the doer of good works.

I hope you comfort one another. And as a man, don't forget to comfort your mother--that dear old woman. I wish I could speak and console you in person, but the wide ocean full of dangers separates us. I hope that my poor letter alleviates, in part, your pain. And I finish giving you my heartfelt regards, and regards to all your family, and I tell you that I am your dear...

Lucia Bisceglia

Lucia's Letter to Gioso

(BACKGROUND: World War I is being fought in Europe. Italy is allied with France, England, and (soon) the US. The German Navy, believing that enemy ships are carrying arms, is sinking Allied vessels, including passenger liners. The Lusitania has been torpedoed just two years ago. The newspapers are full of horror stories about the murderous U-boat attacks. Two Italian steamers were sunk this month along with 24 British and US ships. Already thousands of innocent passengers have died at sea.

On the other side of the Atlantic, in America, a man is waiting for his bride to be, but she hasn't arrived as planned. You can imagine the letter that Gioso (Giuseppe Lariccia) must have written to Lucia....Why didn't you telegram me from Naples as we had decided?......I haven't heard from you in so long..... Where are you?.... When are you leaving for the US?..... (Lucia responds in a defensive and nervous tone about the delays in her departure for the USA. Yet she is confident that she will get there soon.)

Montelongo, Campobasso -- August 15, 1917

Dearest Gioso,
I am answering your beloved letter dated the 18th of the past month that I received on the 15th of the present month. You can not imagine the relief I felt today when I got news from you. We are all well and I hope to hear the same from all of you. Reading your letter, I'm consoled with what you tell me, but very displeased that the Lord has given you this other deep pain about your dear niece (1), but there is nothing to do. Those are things that God does. Undoubtedly, His divine will has been done.

You are telling me that when I leave for Naples I must telegram you with our arrival and departure dates. Now we are again decided to leave and they've assured us that they are going to reissue (return?) the passport. Well, I don't think it will be long-- my departure and your niece's (2).

After we made our decision that it (the departure) was going to be the 5th of August, they told us then that they (the Germans) were sinking (ships). We didn't care any more to leave, and now we are starting in September again, now that our trip has been stabilized. Perhaps you were thinking that I didn't want to make the trip. No, it isn't true. It's not my fault because you already know how things are at sea--so much danger. Meanwhile, it doesn't matter that time passes if I can travel safely.

Dear Gioso, I wrote you another letter eight days ago and now I answer this second letter of yours immediately. Hearing from you as often as I can makes my heart very happy. I think only of you and God. Now that I have understood that you are a man of good morals I feel very confident. Perhaps you are displeased that I blamed you for not writing, but imagine how I have been mortified with no news from you for the past two months. You tell me that you have written to me and I thank you the same.

I don't have anything more to tell you. Be a source of strength for your brother and sister. My brother-in-law Francesco(3) and all the rest of my family wish you the same. Regards from my mother (4) and sisters(5) to your dear mother(6), to your sister(7) and brothers(8) and brother-in-law(9). Kisses to their children. I send you many regards. I tell you that I am forever your dear one, your fiancee, so that you don't forget me.

Lucia Bisceglia

Answer soon and good night and bye-bye!

(1) Josephine Colangelo, daughter of Matteo and Anna Maria Lariccia Colangelo, has recently died. See attached Youngstown Vindicator article, July 2, 1917. (2) Fiorentina Lariccia Ritucci, 18 years of age at the time, came with Lucia to the US. (3) Francesco Musacchio. (4) Antonia Mucci Bisceglia. (5) Caterina, Concetta, Angelina, and Vincenza Bisceglia. (6) Filomena Casilla Lariccia. (7) Anna Maria Lariccia Colangelo. (8) Gennaro, Raffaele, Domenico, Angelo, Pasquale. (9) Matteo Colangelo

Lucia's Cousin's Letter

(BACKGROUND: Lucia has been married five months. A cousin writes from Soledade, Brazil, from the Hotel Bisceglia. The Luigi below may be "Luiz" the proprietor of the hotel. See copy of original with the hotel's letterhead. The remaining pages of the letter are lost.)

April 3, 1918
Dearest Cousin,
Here I am in this town ten days already. You don't know but I'll tell you, the place is where Luigi lives. I came to stay for a while with him. The weather is better than in Cruzeiro. It's a city that resembles our dirty Montelongo. Luigi has been here for 13 years, but he doesn't care because he is accustomed to it. Perhaps in two or three days I'm returning to Cruzeiro.

Your dear letter has made me totally content to know that you are in excellent shape, healthy, and happy to be married. I've always been interested in your well being. I pray to good God (if there is any!) to protect you and to always give you the utmost happiness that you want. I have experienced great joy to know that your husband's relatives love you and that he sincerely respects you. Even if I don't remember him well during the year I stayed in the town (Montelongo?), all the people talked about how excellent a young man he is and that for me, my dear Lucia, makes me happy.

Mamma Antonia's First Letter

(BACKGROUND: Lucia's mother Antonia Mucci Bisceglia responds to the news she has just received about Antoinette's (Lucia's second daughter) severe burns. Some boys lit a fire which spread to the girl's dress. She has been hospitalized for a while. Antoinette is 6 years old at the time.)

September 13, 1925

Dear Daughter,
In answer to your letter that I wanted so much to get, and to your postcard, I am very happy that your little girl is doing better. Believe me, dear daughter, how much pain I have felt first for this poor little girl, and then for you.
Dear daughter, I would like to be close to you in order to help you and therefore get to know my dear granddaughter. Has she complained that everyone has gone to see her and not me? Ah! If I could fly and not be missing there. Damned distance! Poor daughter, she got burned almost all over. Blessed be that beautiful Saint Anthony who granted you that grace (that she has survived)--which may console you all the time.

The money--I'll do as you tell me to give 50 soldi to someone. I've also had a mass said to St. Anthony. Dear daughter, I'd like to know how much agony it is for you and Gioso. Is the hospital real far? I'd like to know if they know whether her burns will cripple her in the thigh or in the arm. You can't believe, my daughter, all the thoughts I have. I grieve for all the pains that the poor girl is suffering .

May God impart proper justice if that boy did it on purpose. Dear daughter, it's been a year since Gennaro Paoletti's son was burned and he hasn't recovered yet because they left his arm stuck to his side. I tell you this so that you'll watch out; otherwise I wouldn't have told you, so as not to scare you. But besides don't do anything. It takes some time for burns to heal well.

Lots of dear kisses to the dear baby Antonietta. Kisses to the other kids. Many hellos to Filomena, Gioso and everyone. Many kisses from your sisters.

Your mother

Mamma Antonia's Second Letter

(BACKGROUND: Antoinette is better. The "crowns" mentioned at the end most likely refer to an amount of money.)

Montelongo, October 10, 1925
My Dear Daughter,
I am responding to your letter where you tell me that the little girl is better. St. Anthony and all the saints have granted you a favor. The poor little girl is right not to want to be left all by herself in the hospital. Think how pleasant your company is (for her)! I think one of these days she's going home completely cured. You're going to tell her that if I could fly there to see her, I wouldn't miss a minute to be at her side.

I would have liked to have been there to help poor Gioso (Joe) during the time that Antonietta was in the hospital. He doesn't know a minute's rest. I think the money's gone, isn't that right? But in these cases one doesn't worry. I've had a mass said to St. Anthony and I've lit a candle to each of the saints. I don't have any more to say.

Take care of your health. Greetings from everyone. Greetings to Filomena (1), Gennaro(2) and everyone. Millions of kisses to Antonietta, many kisses to Beniamino (3), Filomena, and Concettina. Many regards to Gioso. All your sisters, aunts and uncles, and cousins send kisses to the baby, and kisses to you.

Your mother

Let me know if Giovanni Mangino has gotten you the crowns.

(1) Filomena Casilla Lariccia, Lucia's mother-in-law. (2) Gennaro Lariccia, Lucia's brother-in-law and partner with his brother in Lariccia Imported Groceries. (3) Lucia's other children

N.B. After Antoinette's recovery, Lucia dedicated Tuesdays to St. Anthony by abstaining from eating meat on that day. In further gratitude, she would send money to St. Anthony's Orphanage for Girls, in Bari, Italy. In this way she paid back the saint who had saved her daughter's life.

Francesco Musacchio's Letter to Gennaro Lariccia

(BACKGROUND: This letter from Italy is from Lucia's brother-in-law Francesco Musacchio. He writes to her brother-in-law Gennaro Lariccia in the USA about a sobering event.)

Montelongo, (Sunday), January 3, 1937
(Should be dated Tuesday, January 5)

Dear Gennaro,
My (1) wife and sister-in-law Angelina have put me in charge of writing you because, with all necessary respect and with every reservation, you will please become the bearer of this news to your sister-in-law Lucia, that her mother after eight days of influenza (also with bronchitis complications) passed away (Sunday), the 3rd of January at 5 am. She had been provided with all the religious comforts and surrounded by the love of all her relatives with no one missing.

She took ill in the house of her daughter Angelina. Nothing was left undone to help her, day and night. All the cures were tried. No expense was spared, but the illness that affected her was inexorable. Nonetheless cruel death condemned her.

She was given a dignified burial, a walnut coffin with a case, and a solemn funeral, with an enormous amount of people. The funeral took place yesterday (Monday, January 4) in church and this morning (Tuesday, January 5) (we took her) to the cemetery.

I know the noble heart of my sister-in-law and how she loved her mother. I know she gets hurt very easily. You should comfort her. Death is so unpleasant. Her mother was old and it was her time.

I have written to you directly to avoid communicating such sad news that would hurt our sister-in-law. My brother-in-law, an exceptional and original fellow, says that he wants to write directly to our sister-in-law Lucia. Therefore, try to communicate with her immediately so that (2) Giuseppe Pallante's letter doesn't arrive first. Certain sad news should be communicated by a third party. We haven't written during the sickness because it was expected that she would get well.

Regards from my family and from Godmother Angelina to the entire family of your brother Giuseppe. Embracing you, I am your affectionate Musacchio Francesco.

(1)Caterina Bisceglia Musacchio
(2)husband of Concetta Bisceglia Pallante, Lucia's sister.
N.B. On the original letter the date has been changed. There is an obvious erasure. A "3" is written over what appears to have been originally a "5." The change was hastily made as is apparent in the mirror image stain at the bottom of the first page of the letter.

This letter was written Tuesday, January, the day of interment. In Italy burial takes place within 48 hours after death. Francesco narrates at least two days after the date of death but the letter surprisingly bears the date of the day of death! He probably backdated this letter so as to appear to have written it before Pallante's letter which might indeed arrive first. Without a doubt, he wanted to show evidence that he had fulfilled his duties as a close relative.

Explanatory Notes

Lucia Bisceglia Lariccia was my grandmother and the wife of Joseph Lariccia, a prominent member of the Italian American community in Youngstown, Ohio. He was co-owner of Lariccia's Imported Groceries which became, and still is, Lariccia's Italian Foods on Midlothian Boulevard. The Lariccia Family and it's store were an invaluable resource for many Italian immigrants putting down roots in the Mahoning Valley.

Moreover, my grandmother's letters show the struggles that many Italian women had to face in making the adjustment to a new family and a new country. This correspondence also sheds light on the bonds that Italians maintained for many years with the old country.

Order the Book

Please contact me if you would like to purchase the hard copy edition of "Lucia Bisceglia Lariccia In Correspondence: 1917-1937".

Ben Lariccia, Youngstown, Ohio
October 20, 1999