It is the custom for a married couple of Sicilian descent to name their firstborn son after his father and their second born son after her father. This played out in a big way on my father’s side of the family because my grandfather was one of 8 brothers who all named their first born son Melchiorre after their father, Melchiorre.
I had never before seen a photograph of my great-grandfather, Melchiorre, after whom they were all named, until a newly-found cousin sent this one to me.
My grandfather, Vincenzo, had 7 brothers whose names were Baldasaro, Gasparo and Melchiorre, named after the 3 wise men, and Pasquale, Alphonso, Guisseppe, and Carmelo. In total, there were 8 brothers. When their first sons were born, each named him Melchiorre. That made Eight Melchiorres and they all lived in the same town, Siculiana, in the Province of Agrigento in Sicily. That made for a lot of confusion! My father, who was one of the Eight Melchiorres, told me that when the cousins were walking down the street together, people called them by their father’s names to distinguish between them. My father’s middle name was Alphonso, the same name as one of my grandfather’s 7 brothers. But when he was with his cousins, he was called Vincenzo.
Until recently I only knew about 3 of the Eight Melchiorres; my father, my Zizi Mike, who lived in Rochester, NY, and another Melchiorre, who was called Alphonso and lived in Galesburg, IL. Zizi Mike, as we called him, and his wife never had any children. “Zizi” means uncle but he was really my second cousin. My father had 3 children, Vincent, Rosario, and me, Maria. The third Melchiorre had Alphonso, Joseph, Salvatore, and Patrina.
I was put in touch with another part of the family, Melchiorre’s brother Guiseppe’s children, by my brother Ross. They include Alan, Pat, Joanne and Anne. My brother, Ross, and his wife, Penny, who live in West Lafayette, IN, met Pat and her husband Leonard, and Pat’s cousin Patrina, for the first time in IL in December of 2014.
After Guiseppe came to America, he joined the US Army. When he was stationed in Australia, he met his wife and brought her to America with him in 1934 and settled in Galesburg, IL.
Melchiorre, from Galesburg, IL, served in WWII in the Sicilian Army and was a prisoner of war. He married Sarina and together they came to America, in 1954 on the Andrea Doria, with their children.
My 96 year old aunt, Francesca, told me that she went to the Galesburg, IL Melchiorre’s wedding in Sicily when he married Sarina. Her remembrance is that when they came to America they came with only their 2 oldest children. Joe told me that he was born in Sicily so this is where some confusion lies in the retelling by my aunt and what I learned from Pat, Joe’s cousin.
I was “speaking” with Pat on Facebook when her cousin Sharon, who also is on Facebook, saw that I live in Fort Myers, FL. She contacted me and I learned that she and her husband Joe are “snowbirds” in Florida, living here during the winter months to get away from the cold and snow of IL. They have been snowbirds for over 20 years. Fort Myers is a large city but incredibly, Joe and Sharon’s winter home in Fort Myers is only 4 miles away from where I live! We met in person before they went back to IL for the summer months of 2015. I am really looking forward to their returning to FL in October and getting to know them better. I’ve been told that Joe’s brother, Alphonso, who lives in Canada, knows about our family tree and I am looking forward to speaking with him in the near future.
What did we do before we had social media? I guess we just didn’t know about all of our relatives!
So now, I have a whole new family! Joseph and his siblings, and Guiseppe’s children are my first-cousins-once-removed since our fathers were first cousins! I have spoken to a few of my new family members and am looking forward to getting to know more of them and their branch of our family tree!
In September of 2015, I found Melchiorre #4, who lived in Sicily his whole life, through my cousin Franco who was born in Sicily and traveled between the US and Sicily quite often. Franco’s mother, Vincenza, who was my father’s sister, lived in Sicily most of her life. I do not know this Melchiorre’s wife’s name but they had 3 children, Melchiorre, Antonino, and a girl whose name we do not know. With almost all of the older Indelicatos gone, it is difficult to find out some of the stories about the people who came before us. I will continue to try to find out more about this part of our family.
So going forward, I still have to find 4 Melchiores! I can’t imagine how many more cousins I will find but it will certainly be interesting, to say the least! So far it has been wonderful to find our new cousins!