Giuseppe Napolitano was born in the Parantoro frazione of Montalto Uffugo on November 11, 1892. My grandfather's father and both his grandfathers were property owners and millers. I know they made enough wine to sell in the neighboring towns. They were also farmers. I have been able to trace most of Giuseppe's ancestry back as far as the 1600's using Stato Civile records and church records. Giuseppe's father was (Domenico) Enrico Napolitano (1869-1895) and his mother was Angela (Angelina) Napolitano (1871-1907). Because his early life was so tragic, he rarely spoke of his life and family in Montalto Uffugo. His father died in 1895 at the age of 26. Since Giuseppe was only 2 1/2 years old when his father died, I doubt he had any memories of him. His mother Angela Napolitano married Raffaele DeSeta in 1898 and had 6 children with him. She died shortly after giving birth to her last child in December, 1907. After her death, my grandfather and his siblings went to live with their uncle, Domenico Garrafa.
Giuseppe worked on the farm and sold wine in the neighboring towns. The family must have had a connection to Paola because my grandfather lived there for a short time before immigrating to Chicago. At least 3 of his sisters married men from Paola. Because his ship manifest has been lost to time, we are not certain exactly when he emmigrated to the United States. The last evidence of him in Italy was his "Lista di Leva" (Italian military record) which states he passed his physical in May, 1912. He probably left Italy shortly after that since he did not actually serve in the Italian military.
The family story states that Giuseppe came to America because he missed his cousin, Concetta Garrafa. Concetta married a cousin of my grandfather, also named Giuseppe Napolitano and immigrated to Chicago. Giuseppe also had 2 other cousins in Chicago, Fiore Napolitano and Rocco Napolitano. Giuseppe obtained work at a Country Club in Deerfield, Illinois as a chef. His cousin Rocco referred him to a boarding house owned by Natalina (Scrugli) Maiuolo where he met her daughter Caterina whom he would marry. He joined the United States military and served in Camp Gordon in Georgia as a chef during World War I. An outbreak of influenza had quarantined the base so no one there could be deployed abroad. After his service there, he returned to Chicago and obtained a job as a chef at the exclusive Chicago Club where he would work until his death. Shortly after in April, 1919, he married Caterina Maiuolo.
When he married Caterina, they lived in her mother's 3 flat located on Loomis Street in the heart of Chicago's "Little Italy". He took the streetcar to work, which was just a short distance away from his home. In 1924, shortly after the birth of their third child, they moved to the nearby suburb of Cicero, Illinois. Joe bought a car, but still took the streetcar to work. The location was perfect for the growing family with a school across the street and a little Italian grocery store literally down the street. Joe died in 1949.