Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Becco Sisters

Many of we Giusvallini here in the U.S. and our cousins in Italy are descended from the Becco sisters – Francesca (Becco) Pesce and Carlotta (Becco) Bazzano. Francesca was the mother of eight children, six of whom came to the U.S. as adults before Francesca herself came over in 1910 at the age of 59. Carlotta, who was 10 years younger than Francesca, was the mother of six children, two of whom came to the U.S. Carlotta stayed in Giusvalla, but came over to visit her two sons in the 1930s.

Francesca and Carlotta were among the large brood of children born to Francesco Becco and his wife Margherita. One of their brothers, Carlo Becco, married in 1876 to Angela Beltrame, a relative of the Carozzo and Camoirano families. Another sister, Giuseppina Becco, married Pietro Reverdito and their son Lorenzo came to Squirrel Run in 1910. Lorenzo was a gardener for the DuPont family for many years, then worked as a mushroom farmer and stone mason.

Francesca was a tiny woman, just over five feet. She became the matriarch of her large brood of children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren and was known in the family as our “Mùma granda” and “Little Grandmom.” She lived with my great-grandmother up on the farm on Ebright Road, and my aunts often spoke of their memories of her as a kind and loving grandmother. She spoke only the Giusvalla dialect, and my aunts would reminisce about how they remembered her saying her prayers every night, kneeling beside her bed with her long hair hanging loose or in a braid down her back. Francesca died in 1940 at the age of 89, those who knew her during her lifetime still remember her with great fondness and much love.

Carlotta was taller than her older sister Francesca. She and her husband Giovanni Callisto Bazzano lived in a little house right along the strada provinciale near the center of Giusvalla. Giovanni held the important position of local postmaster, a vocation that later passed to his son Cide. One of my cousins tells me that she remembers Cide as a tall man, always dressed up formally in a suit and a tie and having a very serious expression with a deep baritone voice. He must have struck quite an imposing presence. Cide would stop at the Cavallo Bianco every day on his walk home from work for a glass of red wine. He was the youngest of Carlotta’s children, and died in 1977 at the age of 79. Carlotta made a visit to her sons Pietro “Pete” and Amedeo “Dave” in Kennett Square in 1931. She was almost 70 years old at the time and made the trip by herself, traveling aboard the steamer ship “Augustus.” She died at home in Giusvalla in 1943.

Like the Biblical Rebekah, who became “the mother of thousands of millions,” Francesca and Carlotta were blessed with an enormous progeny. We their descendants remember them with great pride.

In the picture: The Becco sisters, Carlotta Bazzano and Francesca Pesce, visit in Kennett Square (summer 1931).

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