"A family tree can wither if nobody tends its roots."


Historical Records for Ciolli

by  Phyllis Zeck

Below is the historical documentation about my great grandmother’s family (Elvira Ciolli).  Thank you to my cousin Joe for collaborating with me on this project and thank you to Kathy from GenTracer for her research.  The photo below of Ann and Mary was contributed by Allen and Marie, my Ciolli cousins.  It was taken in Cicero Illinois.


Esperanza Ciolli’s Daughters 1919 Ann and Mary

Note below that some of the Ciolli children were delivered by midwives with the last name of Di Nella and Vitale. These last names appear over the years in our family tree.

I don’t have a completed “Family Group Record” because all birth records could not be obtained by our researcher, Kathy from GenTracer.  She explains the reason for this below.

There is some confusion as to the year Elvira was born.  I have recorded her birth year based on the information on Elvira’s death certificate.

My conclusion as to the children born to Pietroantonio Amabile Ciolli and Filomena Ursitti are:  Gemma Nicolina born 28 Jun 1855 (married ?? Leone), Oreste Emilio Fortunato born 25 Aug 1856 (married Maria “Mary” Giusta Criola), Maria Celestina Belisena born 26 Feb 1859, Cesidia Bibbia born 12 Sep 1860, Florindo Ercole born 16 Dec 1862 (married Maria Conacci), Bibbiana Celestina born 19 Jan 1865 (married Basilio Di Nella), Elvira born 08 Nov 1874 (married Pietro Giovanni Del Principe), Carmino “Charles” born 20 Mar 1875 (married Anna D’Aquila), Speranza “Mary” born 06 Feb 1877 (married Joseph Leone), Ester date of birth unknown, Angelica date of birth unknown (married Pasquale Neri),  and Henry date of birth unknown.

Documentation From GenTracer:

Elvira and one of her sisters

The goal of this research project was to trace back the ancestral line of Elvira Ciolli, wife of Pietro Giovanni del Principe, in Pescasseroli, L’Aquila, Italy.

The first step was to discover when Elvira immigrated to the U.S. and to glean as much information about her from her immigration record as possible. On the Ellis Island Website (www.ellisisland.org), a search was conducted for Elvira Ciolli or Elvira del Principe. Only one match was located: Elvira Ciolli, age 25, who arrived on board the S.S. Weser on 21 August 1893. Three children accompanied Elvira: Antonio del Principe, age 4, Giuseppe Del Principe, age 3, and Amelio Del Principe, age 2.  There was no name of the town that Elvira and her family had emigrated from, only that she was from Italy. Her destination was Illinois but there was no category on the manifest where the name and address of persons being visited in the U.S. could be listed.

Initial information on Elvira Ciolli suggested that Pescasseroli, L’Aquila was her home in Italy and that she was born about 1874. Her passenger record however stated that she was 25 years old when she arrived here in 1893, making her birth year about 1868. Because the civil registration records of Pescasseroli only cover the years 1809 to 1865, it would be impossible to obtain her birth record from the microfilms of the Family History Library, regardless of whether she was born in 1868 or 1874.

At this point it seemed that the only way to identify the ancestry of Elvira Ciolli was through her siblings, who could have been born to Pietrantonio Amabile Ciolli and Filomena Ursitti, in 1865 and earlier. The research now turned to the births of any children of Pietrantonio and Filomena and also the marriage of the couple in Pescasseroli. The following children were found:

The births of Pescasseroli for 1864-1865 (FHL #1360907) included #2, the birth of Bibbiana Celestina Ciolli, was filed on 19 January 1865 in Pescasseroli, by Gemma di Nella, age 53, a midwife residing in this town. Bibbiana Celestina was born on 19 January 1865 to Amabile Ciolli, age 34, a pharmacist, and Filomena Ursitti, age 27, a property owner, residents of Pescasseroli. Bibbiana was baptized on 19 January at the parish church in Pescasseroli. Bibbiana Celestina Ciolli was married to Basilio Di Nella, son of Vincenzo Di Nella, on 18 August 1883 in Pescasseroli.2 (Document 2)

The births of Pescasseroli for 1861-1863 (FHL #1360906) included #85, the birth of Florindo Ercole Ciolli, was filed on 16 December 1862 in Pescasseroli, by Gemma di Nella, age 50, a midwife residing in this town. Florindo Ercole was born on 16 December 1862 to Amabile Ciolli, age 32, a pharmacist, and Filomena Ursitti, age 25, a property owner, residents of Pescasseroli. Florindo was baptized on 16 December at the parish church in Pescaserroli. Florindo Ercole Ciolli was married to Maria Filomena on 24 August 1891 in Pescasseroli. 3 (Document 3)

The births of Pescasseroli for 1859-1861 (FHL #1360905) included #89, the birth of Cesidia Bibbia Ciolli, was filed on 12 September 1860 in Pescasseroli, by Gemma di Nella, age 48, a midwife residing in this town. Cesidia was born on 11 September 1860 to Amabile Ciolli, age 30, a pharmacist, and Filomena Ursitti, age 22, a property owner, residents of Pescaserroli. Cesidia Bibbia Ciolli was baptized on 12 September in the parish church in Pescasseroli.4 (Document 4)

#5, the birth of Maria Celestina Belisena Ciolli, was filed on 26 February 1859, in Pescasseroli by Battista Vitale, age 71, a midwife residing in this town. Maria was born on 26 February 1859 to Amabile Pietrantonio Ciolli, age 28, a pharmacist, and Filomena Ursitti, age 21, a property owner, residents of Pescasseroli. Maria Celestina Belisena Ciolli was baptized on 26 February in the parish church in Pescasseroli.5 (Document 5)

The births of Pescasseroli for 1854-1858 (FHL #1360904) included #85, the birth of Oreste Emilio Fortunato Ciolli, was filed on 25 August 1856, in Pescasseroli by Innocenza di Nella, age 77, a midwife residing in this town. Oreste was born on 25 August 1856 to Amabile Pietrantonio Ciolli, age 26, a pharmacist, and Filomena Ursitti, age 19, a property owner, residents of Pescasseroli. Oreste Emilio Fortunato Ciolli was baptized on 25 August in the parish church in Pescasseroli. Oreste Emilio Fortunato Ciolli was married on 4 August 1884 to Maria Giusta Criola, daugher of Geremia Criola in Pescasseroli.6 (Document 6)

#62, the birth of Gemma Nicolina Ciolli, was filed on 29 June 1855 in Pescasseroli by Innocenza di Nella, age 73, a midwife residing in this town. Gemma was born on 28 June 1855, to Pietrantonio Amabile Ciolli, age 25, a pharmacist, and Filomena Ursitti, age 18, a property owner, residents of Pescasseroli. Gemma Nicolina Ciolli was baptized on 29 June in the parish church in Pescasseroli.7

The same film included the marriage of Pietrantonio Amabile Ciolli to Filomena Ursitti was not located during the above search. Nor was it found in the Pescasseroli marriage records back to 1852. However, the first and second marriage banns (intentions) were finally located in 1854 as follows:

#10: Parte Prima, 16 July 1854, the notification of the solemn promise of marriage between Pietrantonio Ciolli, son of the living Raffaele Ciolli, and the living Speranza Tudini, and Filomena Ursitti, daughter of the living Angelico Ursitti, and the late Annunziata de Arcangelis.

#10: Parte Seconda, 31 July 1854, the notification of the intended marriage of Pietrantonio Ciolli, age 24, a pharmacist living in Pescasseroli. He was a son of the living Raffaele Ciolli, a land owner, and the living Speranza Tudini, residents of Pescasseroli, and Filomena Ursitti, age 17, daughter of the living Angelico Ursitti, a land owner, and the late Annunziata de Arcangelis.9 (Document 9)

Even though there was notification of the marriage of Pietroantonio Ciolli to Filomena Ursitti in 1854, their marriage record could not be located. A search was made of the marriage index for that year, and the actual marriage records were examined one-by-one. The un-indexed processetti (marriage supplement) records of 1854 were also searched from beginning to end with no results, but that isn’t conclusive either way. It is possible that Pietrantonio and Filomena were married in another town, but there was no indication of that in the notification documents since both the bride and groom were living in this town with their parents.

It is more likely that they married in the church in Pescasseroli and didn’t register the marriage with the civil authorities. There were some groups who refused to register their marriages with the civil authorities because it was a holy rite.




Don Pietrantonio Amabile Ciolli

by  Phyllis Zeck

Arco (Arch) Ciolli

Joe Del Principe has been corresponding with Salvatore Toscano in Pescasseroli.  Salvatore is an Innkeeper who owns a Bed and Breakfast called Via Della Piazza.  Please visit Salvatore’s website at www.viadellapiazza.it

During their correspondence Joe and Salvatore discovered that they are relatives on the Ciolli side of the family!  Joe’s grandmother Elvira Ciolli Del Principe and Salvator’s great grandmother  Ester Ciolli Saltarelli were sisters.

Ester and her husband Francesco Saltarelli had 5 children: Carmela, Amelio, Maria, Paolo, and Angelo.  Paola immigrated to the US aboard the S.S. Duca Degli Abruzzo on April 1, 1920 and settled in Detroit Michigan.   Amelio immigrated in March of 1914 and lived in Chicago, Detroit, and Ann Arbor Michigan.  Ester died when her children were very young.  Salvatore’s grandfather Angelo Saltarelli was just 5.

Angelo Saltarelli married Ines Pistilli when he was 25.  He was a Shepherd like his father Francesco.  He would follow the livestock during the winter to Apulia and in the summer on the Pescasseroli mountains.

Winter in Pescasseroli

After he was married he and his father worked for the same employer building roads.  In 1937 he left for the then Italian colony in Africa – first Libya and then Somalia & Ethiopia to build roads.  In 1941 he was captured by the British army (even though he was not a soldier) and sent to a Raf camp in Uganda on Victoria Lake.  In 1945 he was taken to Glasgow Scotland and finally in 1948 he was set free and went back to Pescasseroli.  He did not see his family for about 11 years.

Angelo had 5 daughters, the eldest is Salvatore’s mother Ester who was born in 1931.  The other daughters were: Benedetta born in 1933,  Zelia born in 1935, Anna born in 1937, and Franca born in 1950.  Angelo had to wait 11 years to meet Anna.

Ester married Arnaldo Toscano and they had a son named Salvatore.

Click here to look back in time at our family tree.  You will see that another member of the Saltarelli family married a Del Principe back in 1789 when Mattia married Maria Scholastica Saltarelli.

The Ciolli home is behind the peach house

Salvatore told us that he recently spoke with a woman who is a direct descendent of the Ciolli family.  Her name is Ofelia Vitale and her grandfather was Florindo Ciolli, Ester & Elvira’s brother.  She lives in the house in the oldest part of Pescasseroli that was the dwelling of Elvira and her family.  A whole block seemed to belong to the Ciolli family.

Salvatore remembers some of the stories  that his grandfather Angelo, Elvira’s sister Gemma, and Ofelia have told him over the years.  Ofelia remembers that during the second world war the times were very hard.  American relatives helped the family in Italy by sending parcels to them.

This sign says “Salita (Uphill) Dott (Dr.) Ciolli”

Elvira’s father was Pietrantonio Amabile Ciolli.  He was the town’s Apothecary (pharmacist/chemist).  His wife Filomena Ursitti was a property owner.  Amabile and Filomena had about 17 children.  One of the children was a priest at Pescasseroli’s parish.

During one of her research project’s Kathy from GenTracer discovered that the 1854 marriage record shows the title “Don” before the name of my great great grandfather Pietrantonio Amabile Ciolli.  I asked Kathy about this and she said “Don is a title, as is Donna.  It is usually applied to landowners and is the top of the social strata in a town, topped only by a title (Baron, Duke, Prince, etc)”.  Also, the 1828 marriage records of Raffaele Ciolli states that Raffaele’s father Medici Carmine’s occupation is a doctor.   There is a sign hanging on a building leading to the Ciolli home that says “Dott (Dr.) Ciolli.  Does this sign refer to Dr. Medici Ciolli or to Pietrantonio Amabile Ciolli?

Salvatore told me that many people from Pescasseroli left for the United States the same time my great grandparents did.  A lot of the town folks abandoned the Catholic religion to follow a popular Protestant group in Southern Italy.   The town split in two and there were many arguments about important issues such as education.  The Bishop sent some missionaries to intervene and in the end they defeated the Protestants.  Most of the Protestant people left for America.  They may have gone of their own free will, or they may have been pressured to leave.  Salvatore relays this story from a very important Historian/Philosopher named Benedetto Croce born in Pescasseroli in 1867.

Thank you Joe for linking us to our new friend.  Thank you Salvatore for the wonderful photographs and all the information.  I hope to communicate with Salvatore again to learn more about the Ciolli side of the family.




Elvira Ciolli Del Principe

by  Phyllis Zeck

Elvira Ciolli Del Principe

Elvira married Pietro around the age of 14 in approx 1888.  We know she had at least 15 children.  She came from a large family herself.  Brothers Amelio and Carmino (Charles) arrived aboard the Britannia on May 1, 1890.  Other siblings living in America were Henry, Gemma, Angelica, and Sparanza.  I believe the photo below is of Elvira and her sister Gemma Leone, although I couldn’t tell you which woman is Elvira! Gemma Leone lived across the street from Elvira and she is was Aunt Phyllis’ godmother.

Now we may have discovered our first link to family in Italy.  Through correspondence with a B&B in Pescasseroli, Salvatore writes

Elvira and sister (or friend)

“I’m not yet sure but your Grand Mother, Elvira Ciolli should be my great grand mother sister Ester Ciolli. They were about 15 brothers and sisters.  Ester Ciolli died when their children were very young. My Grand father Angelo was just 5, his sister Maria was 11. They have two more brother Paolo and Amelio which went to Usa.  My mother is Ester, as you can see her first name is after her Granny. To be sure I have to ask an old lady here in Pescasseroli and I’m waiting for my mother to arrange an encounter with her”.

We try to remain patient waiting for a response from Salvatore.  Life seems to move at a slower pace in Italy than in the USA!