Tuesday, March 30, 2010

I Pesce dei Giachi

The Pesce family can claim the largest number of descendants of any of the families that came to the United States from Giusvalla. This family was also unique among the Giusvalla immigrant families because all the grown Pesce siblings (with the exception of the oldest sister) came over to Squirrel Run, followed by their elderly parents – Paolo Rocco and Francesca (Becco) Pesce.

Paolo and Francesca had 8 children, 44 grandchildren and 68 great-grandchildren. Their progeny continue to flourish into the seventh generation now, with several great-great-great-great grandchildren having been born into the Pesce family! This is the story of their origins in Giusvalla.


In the middle of the 19th century, Giovanni Battista Pesce and his wife, Francesca Teresa Zunino, lived in a little neighborhood in Giusvalla called “Giachi.” Giachi is located down the road and up the hill from Cavanna (the homestead of the Bonifacino family), off the strada provinciale. Giachi is still very much an agricultural neighborhood amidst “i brichi ed Giusvalla”; if you visit today you will find Laura hard at work among her dairy cows.

Giovanni Battista had gone to Altare (a neighboring town of Giusvalla) and worked for several years in the famous glass making industry there before returning to the farm at Giachi, where he raised his family which included his son, Paolo Rocco and a daughter, Luigia.

Paolo Rocco Pesce was born on August 16, 1848 and married Francesca Becco on February 19, 1870. Francesca’s family came from a farm at località Taranco, just a short distance from Giachi. The Pesces were a tenant farmer family, they did not own their own farm, rather they rented the land they cultivated. When Paolo’s parents both died in 1894, there was no inheritance. Paolo and his young family continued to eek out a meager existence on the farm at Giachi, but life in Giusvalla was hard and soon his growing children began to look elsewhere for better opportunities.

And where better to find opportunity in the first decade of the 20th century than the “land of opportunity” …. America soon beckoned with its promises of a better life and financial stability. Paolo and Francesca’s eldest living son, GioBatta “John” Pesce was the first in the family to venture across the ocean to America. He arrived at Ellis Island on March 20, 1901 and listed his destination as Wilmington, Delaware. He arrived at the DuPont powder mills ready to work alongside the two or three fellow Giusvallini who were already there. GioBatta soon sent word home of the plentiful work available at the powder mills, and gradually his brothers, sisters and brothers-in-law began arriving. They all lived their first years in the United States in the Squirrel Run employee housing neighborhood on the grounds of the powder mills. With the exception of the eldest sister - whose entrepreneur husband preferred to keep his business ventures close to home - all the living Pesce siblings came to Squirrel Run. Their parents eventually joined them as well, Paolo and Francesca arrived at Ellis Island on April 12, 1910.

The children of Paolo Rocco & Francesca (Becco) Pesce were:

Francesca “Francìscha,” born in Giusvalla, Jan. 7, 1871; died in Giusvalla, Jul. 1, 1930. Married Jun. 15, 1886 in Giusvalla to Santino Salvo. They had six children.

Carolina, born in Giusvalla, Jul. 9, 1872; died in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, Nov. 12, 1959. Married Feb. 4, 1890 in Giusvalla to Francesco Baccino. They had eight children.

Giuseppe Francesco GioBatta, born in Giusvalla, Jul. 11, 1874; died in Giusvalla, Apr. 13, 1894.

GioBatta “John,” born in Giusvalla, Feb. 17, 1878; died in Wilmington, Delaware, Nov. 10, 1911. Married Jul. 24, 1902 at the Cathedral of St. Peter, Wilmington, to Maria Lucia Bonifacino. They had four children.

Vittorio “Gianèn,” born in Giusvalla, Mar. 22, 1882; died in Kennett Twp., Pennsylvania, Feb. 11, 1947. Married Jul. 11, 1903 at the Cathedral of St. Peter, Wilmington, to Eugenia Baccino. They had seven children.

Carmelina, born in Giusvalla, Sep. 27, 1884; died in Wilmington, Delaware, Aug. 31, 1953. Married (1) Nov. 28, 1901 in Giusvalla to Casimiro Giovanni Carozzo and (2) Jan. 27, 1921 at St. Joseph-on-the-Brandywine Church, Henry Clay, Delaware to Giovanni Brondo. She had five children by her first husband and two children by her second husband.

Giuseppe “Pinén,” born in Giusvalla, Oct. 28, 1886; died in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, Mar. 30, 1960. Married (1) Sep. 3, 1908 at the Cathedral of St. Peter, Wilmington to Flaminia Giuseppina Briccotto and (2) Jan. 27, 1921 at St. Joseph-on-the-Brandywine Church, Henry Clay, Delaware to Adelaide Brondo. He had three children by his first wife and three children by his second wife.

Giuseppina “Pina,” born in Giusvalla, Jul. 23, 1891; died in Newark, Delaware, Nov. 6, 1989. Married (1) Oct. 5, 1911 at St. Joseph-on-the-Brandywine Church to Giovanni Battista Perrone and (2) Aug. 15, 1927 at Christ Our King Church, Wilmington, Delaware to Francesco Rosaio. She had five children by her first husband and one child by her second husband.

In the picture: My great-great grandparents, Paolo Rocco & Francesca (Becco) Pesce, circa 1915.

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