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36.4 Nellie Pellegrini.jpg

Nellie (Pellegrini) Spaziani

February 14, 1906 - July 15, 1988

Nellie Pellegrini was born on February 14, 1906 to Italian immigrants Domenico Pellegrini and Emelia Martinelli Pellegrini.  Nellie's father, Domenico, had left Italy on January 19, 1900 and arrived at Ellis Island 19 days later, on February 7, 1900.  After coming to the US, Domenico worked as a miner while Emelia cared for the children at home. She and her two oldest daughters, Giuseppa (Josephina) and Ida (Edith), arrived in 1903 and the following year, my great grandfather, Anthony, was born.  Two years later, Nellie arrived and after her, her parents had 5 additional children:  Angelo (Who was known as “Pee Wee”), Julia, Famie, William (Known as “Bubbles”), and Hilda.

Tragically, when Nellie was only 12 years old, her dad died after contracting the Spanish influenza, which is still one of the largest pandemics in the history of this country. Leaving his wife and 8 children, Domenico’s death at the age of 42 on November 10, 1918, was obviously hard for Emelia, but the family adapted and got through the horrible loss. Domenico was buried in a single grave in Monongahela Cemetery amongst all the other victims of the influenza pandemic.


About 6 years after Domenico’s death, Nellie married Angelo “Spuzzy” Spaziani, an Italian immigrant 16 years her senior, who was born in Forsinone, Italy. He passed away on November 10, 1957 from a coronary occlusion and was survived by his wife and three children: Mildred, Sistina and Harry. I’ve been told that when he died, he “flipped up in the air” and hit the ground, dead.


Mildred married Louis Merolillo and had 3 biological children — Cecilia (Stillborn on December 4, 1942), Sandra and Louis — and 1 adopted child, Francis, who was the biological child of Louis’ brother, making him his nephew AND adopted son. Mildred passed away on April 3, 1987 at the age of 63. Her husband passed away more recently, on August 16, 2003. They are also buried in Monongahela Cemetery.


Sistina married James Ross and had 1 son, James Ross, Jr. Known as “Tiny”, she died on January 8, 1975 after a battle with cancer. Her husband passed away in 1990 and both are also buried in Monongahela Cemetery.

After losing her husband in 1957, “Tiny” (Sistina) in 1975 and Mildred in 1987, I’ve been told that Nellie “gave up”. She started having bouts of dimentia in which she would tell her family that she was sitting with her sister Josephine, who had died in 1976, and Josephine’s husband, August “Specha” Spinelli, who died in 1970.


Nellie passed away on July 15, 1988, as mentioned at the beginning of this biography. She was 82 years old and survived by her son, Harry, 6 grandchildren, and several great grandchildren. She, like her father, several siblings, husband and 2 daughters, was buried in Monongahela Cemetery. Her son, Harry, passed away on May 1, 2015 and was buried with Nellie.

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