January 12, 1904 - June 21, 1965
My great-grandfather, Anthony Pellegrini, was born in Pennsylvania on January 12, 1904, according to all of his vital records. At that time, birth records weren’t required at the state level, so there’s no birth certificate. Most records state he was born in Monongahela, which fits with what I know about the rest of the family, since that is where they resided.
Tragedy struck Anthony’s family when he was just 14 years old. His step-father, Dominick (born Domenico), died from the Spanish Flu which killed an estimated 50 million people. He was under the care of a doctor starting on November 4th, and six days later, on November 10, 1918, he died at the age of of 42. Anthony, being the oldest son, I’m sure took on more responsibilities at home, since his mother, Emilia, was left with eight children, the youngest (Hilda) being just 4 years old. This was a life-altering event for the family and something that left a lasting impression on Anthony. When I first started researching my family, I asked my grandmother about her dad and one of the first things she mentioned was that he was 14 years old when his dad died. It was a defining, life-altering event and something that Anthony clearly communicated to his children.
I don’t know exactly when, or why, he came to New Jersey, but at some point between April 8, 1930 and his marriage to my great-grandmother on August 1, 1932, he moved to New Jersey where he resided for the rest of his life. His marriage to my great-grandmother, Assunta Maria Filomena Iannacchione, but better known as “Susie (or Susan) Tannachion,” was an interesting one because Anthony had actually gotten her and another woman pregnant, just weeks apart. In the late part of 1931, he and Susan conceived a baby, who would grow up to become my paternal grandmother, Elizabeth “Bette” (Pellegrini) Scozzari. A few weeks following that, he also got another woman, simply known as “Theresa”, pregnant. My grandmother was born on July 7, 1932 in Paterson and 1 month and 9 days later, Theresa gave birth to a boy named Donald. I do not know what Donald’s surname at birth was, but he was eventually adopted by Anthony’s older sister, Edith, and her husband, Joseph Guerrieri, and raised to be almost like a nephew to Anthony, though he was his biological son. Donald, for the rest of his life, was known as Donald Guerrieri.
Focusing back on Anthony, after welcoming his daughter (my grandmother), Elizabeth, on July 7, 1932, he and Susan were married a few weeks later on August 1st in Paterson, NJ. After Elizabeth’s birth, he and Susan went on to have six more children: David, in 1934; Amelia, in 1936; Robert, in 1937; Robert in 1938; Diana, in 1941; and William, in 1944. More tragedy struck Anthony in 1937 when in a span of just 50 days, he and Susan lost two children. The first, a premature newborn named Robert, died two hours after being born from respiratory failure. Somewhere along the way, I believe my grandmother told me that her mom was 7 months pregnant when Robert was born, though no records have been able to corroborate that part of the story. She did tell me that her mom was outside hanging laundry on the clothes line, when she went into labor. Robert was born at 11:20 PM on August 5, 1937 and died two hours later at 1:20 AM on August 6th. My grandmother recalls going to the cemetery, which I’ve found out was Holy Sepulchre Cemetery in Totowa, NJ, where she, along with her dad and brother, Dave, buried Robert in "just a wicker basket." At that time, my grandmother would have been 5 years old and my Uncle Dave was almost 3. The exact location of that grave is not known, as it was not recorded by the cemetery. They have a burial record, number 38230, which I obtained a copy of, that simply says “Child of Mrs. Pellegrini”, with a not that it was a “Still-born Burial” with Marrocco as the Undertaker.
If that wasn’t tough enough to deal with, fifty days later, on September 25th, one of the worst stories I came across occurred. Anthony’s daughter, Amelia Gabriela, just 17 months old, died after boiling water spilled all over her body as her mom was moving a pot of water from the stove to the sink. Known as “Babsy”, she experienced an awful, incredibly painful death that is simply unimaginable. Babsy’s story is one that I still think of every single time I''m boiling water in the kitchen.
Moving on from the tragedy of 1937, Anthony and Susan raised their 5 surviving children in a home located at 146 Madison Street in Paterson. He was employed as a Back Tender at the Allied Textile Printing and Finishing Company in Paterson. As a Back Tender, Anthony’s job responsibilities would have required things like measuring cloth and assuring it was of the correct width and dryness, observing the cloth as it was wound onto rolls or passing through the machines, and also assuring that it was free of any flaws.
Anthony lived to see his 3 oldest children marry. In 1952, his daughter Elizabeth (my grandmother) married Salvatore Scozzari on Anthony’s birthday, January 12th. 1960 saw his marriage of his son, David, to Margaret Weibrecht and the following year saw the marriage of Robert to Shirley Bernadette Sargent.
When Anthony died on June 21, 1965, he was survived by his wife, Susan, five children and eight grandchildren. His cause of death was basically kidney failure, but he specifically died from a chronic condition called glomerulonephritis. Coupled with a posterior wall myocardial infarction, he died at 8:10 PM. Four days later, he was laid to rest in Calvary Cemetery in Paterson.
As I write this, Anthony has 54 descendants, both living and deceased. This includes his 7 children (excluding his son Donald’s family), 14 grandchildren, 27 great-grandchildren, and 6 great-great-grandchildren.
2020 Update: Thanks to Anthony's daughter, my great aunt, Diana, we have determined that Anthony was not the biological son of Domenico Pellegrini. As other parts of my research will explain, Domenico arrived in the United States in 1900 with his brother Pietro. Three years later, in August 1903, Domenico's wife Emilia arrived in the US with their two oldest daughters, Giuseppa (Josephine) and Ida (Edith). Anthony was born five months later. Aunt Diana told me that when her dad was younger, he would fight with his sister Josephine (Known in the family as "Zia") and he would tell him that he was only her half-brother. With that story in mind, and the evidence of the passenger list, I took a look at my grandmother's DNA and determined that she only has half the amount of common DNA with her cousins on the Pellegrini-Martinelli side of the family, which means that instead of sharing two grandparents with those cousins, she only shares one, which would be their common grandmother, Emilia. I have now begun work to see if we can locate the biological father for Anthony, whose name is not known at this time.