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Salvatore Scozzari

August 21, 1862 - October 29, 1950

Salvatore Scozzari, my great-great-grandfather, was born in Casteltermini, Sicily on August 21, 1862 to Nicolo Scozzari & Mattia Rotolo. He was their 7th or 8th child and appears to be the first member of the extended family named Salvatore, as he was not named after any one of his grandparents or great grandparents. 

He grew up in Casteltermini and on May 3, 1889, at the age of 26, he married 16-year-old Maria Spoto (yes, she was 16). Salvatore and Maria went on to have at least 7 children, one of them being my great grandfather, Giuseppe (Joseph). He and Maria were married for 27 years until her untimely death in 1916 after giving birth to a son, Vincenzo. I’ve told the story of her death many times, so I’ll spare the details here, but the baby also ended up dying 13 months later after being breastfed and cared for his oldest sibling, Mattia (Salvatore & Maria’s first child). Of his 7 known children, three died as babies: a daughter, Vincenza (14 months old); a son, Giuseppe (12 months); and Vincenzo. The remaining 4 children—Mattia, Nicolo, Tommaso & Giuseppe—all went on to have their own families and all have living descendants. 

Salvatore came to America in 1920 with his two youngest sons, Tommaso & Giuseppe. His older son, Nicolo, had come over in 1917 but because of the war, they couldn’t come over until 1920. When they arrived, they first settled in Brooklyn, NY, before ultimately settling in Passaic County. They first lived on Lanza Avenue in Garfield (along with the Cassata family—their cousins), then later moving to Paterson. Salvatore never worked after coming to America, but was a Sulfer miner prior to immigrating. Once here, his sons supported him until his death. It is also interesting to note that he was the only one of his siblings to ever come to America. 

He died on October 29, 1950 at the age of 88, having lived his final 31 years with his son (my great grandfather), Giuseppe. From everything I’ve heard about him, he was quiet & didn’t say much, liked to eat hard boiled eggs right on the table—no plate, just a little salt & pepper—and was “good”. His grandchildren all called him “Nonno,” and he only spoke Italian. My grandfather had a lot of admiration for his grandfather and until the day he died, my grandfather would always get a Mass card for his grandfather each October, marking the anniversary of his death.

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