Assunta Iannacchione

June 27, 1904 - August 2, 1978

On June 27, 1904, my great grandmother was born. Born Assunta Maria Filomena Iannacchione at 58 Cedar Street in Paterson, she was known as “Susan” or “Susie”. Her parents, Domenico Benedetto Iannacchione and Gabriela Antonia Carlini, were Italian immigrants from the village of San Pietro Avellana in the province of Molise. Her father, who went by his middle name, Benedetto, worked as a tailor, while Gabriela cared for the children at home. Although the family name is actually Iannacchione, they are commonly referred to as Tannachion. It seems as though the ‘I’ became a ’T’ and the last ‘e’ was dropped, thus transforming the name from Iannacchione to Tannachion. 

A lot of Susan’s childhood is undocumented, though it is known that she grew up in what was called the “Sandy Hill” section of Paterson bouncing between houses on Cedar, Summer and Straight Streets. Her birth certificate states that she was the 8th child born of her parents’ marriage, but only 3 other children were living, though I know from research that she was their 5th living child. 

When Susan was 16 years old, her older sister, Teresa, who was 15 years her senior, passed away from influenza and lobar pneumonia — she was just 30 years old and left her husband with 5 small children, ranging in age from 12 to 3. Teresa was interred in Holy Sepulchre Cemetery in Totowa, with a headstone that incorrectly states her name as Teresa Palomba (it’s actually Palumbo). 

About 12 years later, on July 7, 1932, Susan gave birth to her first child, a girl, named Elizabeth (my grandmother). Just about 2 weeks after Elizabeth’s birth, Susan’s mother, Gabriela, passed away from a stroke on July 20th. 3 weeks after that and not widely known or discussed amongst the family, Susan married Elizabeth’s father, Anthony Pellegrini, exactly 5 weeks after giving birth to her, on August 1, 1932. At that time, Anthony had also gotten another woman, who we only know as “Theresa”, pregnant and on August 16th, that child was born — A boy, named Donald. Since Anthony had made the decision to marry Susan, Susan then made the decision to also raise Donald, since his mother could not care for him.

I’m unsure of timeframes, but my grandmother has told me that sometime after taking Donald in, Susan’s younger brother, Alfred Tannachion, offered to take Donald and raise him, so he and his wife began to do that. However, Susan quickly noticed that they weren’t properly caring for Donald and found him to often be dirty, so she took the baby back and started to care for him once again. After that, Anthony’s sister, Edith Pellegrini Guerrieri, formally adopted Donald and raised him as her own.

Following the birth of my grandmother in 1932, Susan and Anthony began to expand their family, starting with their 2nd child, David (Uncle Dave) in 1934, then another daughter, Amelia Gabriela, more commonly referred to as “Babsy”, in 1936. 

August and September of 1937 turned out to be a horrible time for this family as they lost two children within 7 weeks of each other. Starting with a son, Robert, who was born prematurely on August 5, 1937 at 7 months gestation. Susan was outside putting laundry on the clothes line when she went into labor with the baby. He was born around 11:30 PM and lived for just 2 hours, before ultimately passing away at 1:30 AM on August 6th at Saint Joseph’s Hospital. The next day, my grandmother, who was 5, and Uncle Dave, who was almost 3, accompanied their dad as they buried baby Robert in Holy Sepulchre Cemetery in Totowa. My grandmother remembers going there and knows that the baby was buried in a wicker basket. 

Just a few weeks after losing baby Robert to prematurity and a underdeveloped respiratory system, Babsy, who was 17 months old, met what is probably the most horrific death I’ve come across in my research. Susan was in the kitchen of their Summer Street home (#480) and while boiling water to sanitize the diapers, the pot handle broke while taking the pot from the stove to the sink and the water poured all over Babsy, which destroyed her lungs. This accident occurred in the afternoon and at 1AM the next day, September 25, 1937, Babsy died. She was interred in Calvary Cemetery in Paterson, in a grave that she now shares with her grandmother, Amelia Martinelli Pellegrini, who died about 10 years later.

Following the deaths of Robert and Babsy, 3 more children were born from the marriage — Robert in 1937 (Uncle Bob), Amelia Diana in 1941 (Aunt Diana), and William Joseph in 1944 (Uncle Bill). 

A year after Uncle Bill was born, Susan’s father, Benedetto, passed away in the family home at 395 Straight Street. Benedetto went into the bathroom and suffered respiratory failure and died. He was 80. He was buried with his wife and near their daughter, Teresa, in Holy Sepulchre Cemetery, under a stone that bears the "Iannachione" at the top. 

The next 20 years are not documented too well, though the family began to expand, bringing in several grandchildren for Susan and Anthony. Anthony passed away just 6 days before Susan’s 61st birthday, on June 21, 1965 from a disease called glomerulonephritis that was paired with an anterior wall heart attack. Anthony was buried in Calvary Cemetery, not far from the grave that Babsy and his mother shared, under a large tree and just a small, simple stone that bears both his and Susan’s names. 

Susan died at Valley Hospital in Ridgewood from complications caused by a tumor on her pituitary gland, on August 2, 1978. She was buried next to her husband in Calvary Cemetery and was survived by 5 children, 13 grandchildren and 1 great grandchild. To date, Susan has 4 living children, 13 living grandchildren (1 grandchild was born after her death and another, Dina Pellegrini Sisco, died in 2004), 27 great grandchildren and 5 great great grandchildren. In total, her and Anthony have 53 total descendants, both living and deceased.

Copyright 1996 - 2020
Michael D. Scozzari