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 Luigi & Marianna Calise 

The Enigmatic Matteras

Born in Ischia circa 1845, Luigi Matttera and Marianna Calise lived through four earthquakes: 25 July 1853, 17 September 1854, 30 January 1863 and 4 March 1881.  But the most devastating terremoto took the lives of their children and their home. 

On 28 July 1883, six days after the Feast of Santa Maria Maddalena Penitente, the most devastating earthquake in Casamicciola, 1883.gif (219885 bytes)which is situated on a deep underground fault, took the lives of one half of the inhabitants.  Some bodies needed to be identified, others were entombed, never to be discovered and their homes were damaged or destroyed.  Victims of the earthquake are interred in the high-lying Campo Santo at the foot of Monte Rotaro, (870 ft.) to the E.

One of the Casamicciola families to suffer a massive loss in this tragedy was our great-grandparents, Luigi Mattera and Marianna Calise, who survived with only two of their nine children.   Because access to records is difficult, the question that remains is whether these nameless children are buried at Camp Santo or are they amongst the entombed bodies.  However, as the story is told, with their remaining family, consisting of Clemente, whose hearing was minimally damaged and Giuseppe, a toddler,  they sadly emigrate to Marseille, Bouches-du-Rhône, France.

According to Giovanni’s Naturalization Petition #24151, he, their last child, was born in Filliperill, on 11 February 1884; however, further investigation shows no record of the existence of this town, it may have been incorporated with Marseille.  Also, Clemente’s Naturalization Petition #48754 states that the traveling family departed Le Havre, France, on 15 May 1887, on an unnamed ship, which arrived at the Philadelphia port on 27 May 1887.  However, there is no documentation thus far to substantiate this information nor New York arrival records.

While searching the 1900 Philadelphia Census Records, I was unsuccessful in my attempt to locate Luigi and Marianna Mattera.  On further searches, I discovered the Philadelphia Marriage License #106632 that shows the address of the potential groom as well as the bride.  Armed with Clemente’s address, I made another attempt at finding the enigmatic Mattera family in the 1900 Philadelphia Census Records.  Looking for 926 Christian Street, located across the street from St. Paul’s RC Church, I found Luigi and Marianna Matri, with only two sons, Giovanni and Giuseppe; by this time Clemente and Maria Antonia are married with one child and living at 210 So. 8th Street.  The occupations show Luigi employed as a peddler, Giuseppe as a confectioner, and Giovanni as a laborer.  This information coincides with family stories that Luigi worked at Giordano’s at 9th and Washington Avenue. At an unknown date, approximated as sometime before 1903, Luigi and Marianna, with their youngest son Giovanni, returned to Casamicciola to rebuild the damaged home they left many years before.  

In 1906, Clemente and Maria Antonia are living at 926 Christian Street with their first four children.  Giuseppe married Angelina Tomasso on 3 January 1904 and Giovanni who departed from Naples 11 November 1906 on the SS Cretie arrives in New York on 4 December 1906 as a married man ready to earn the money he needs to send for his bride, Mariarosa Mariosa

Maria & Clemente with Luigi, Nicola, Vincenzo & Anna, 1906
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