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THE STORY OF A PEACEFUL MAN

Ferdinando's Will

by Pacifico Cofrancesco
On August 7, 2010, while reviewing old documents at the State Archives of Benevento (Italy) my wife Anna Di Leone came across the will of Ferdinando Cofrancesco (1762-1827), which was written on June 2, 1827, just 8 days before Ferdinando died. The document, which Ferdinando dictated to a Notary because he could neither read or write, is highly sophisticated and reveals much about the man’s character.


 
 









Ferdinando's house in Massa today
Photo by Pacifico Cofrancesco


 
       
This paper is dedicated to all of Ferdinando's descendants, and in particular to John Cofrancesco who is one his American descendants, and to whom I am so grateful for his great help in maintaining and improving this website, and to Giuseppe Cofrancesco of Massa, and his family.

Contents


  1. The ancestors

  2. The paternal home in S. Lorenzello

  3. Antonio, Ferdinando's uncle, moves to Massa

  4. Ferdinando's parents:
          Simone Cofrancesco and Elisabetta Mongillo


  5. The lands at Massa

  6. Ferdinando's family

  7. Ferdinando's last will and death

  8. The will

  9. Ferdinando's sons: Giuseppe, his descendants
          and the Pantano house


10. Ferdinando's sons: Simone and his descendants

11. The D'Andrea farm

12. Ferdinando's heritage

   
Related PaperS

The Origin of the Cofrancesco Family
A paper about the history of first generations of Cofrancescos who lived in S. Lorenzello from the 16th century.

A new land for the Cofrancescos
A paper about the resons why some Cofrancescos moved from S. Lorenzello to Massa.

Acknowledgements
Thanks to my wife Anna Di Leone for her great help in the archival reasearch and discussions about the content of the paper, and to John Cofrancesco for his suggestions and the help in translating the paper into English.
       


While reading Ferdinando’s will, it was quite natural to wonder about his ancestors, how he came into possession of the properties he was leaving to his family, and what happened to his descendants, as well as the property. In the pages that follow I will try to answer these questions and trace Ferdinando’s ancestors from Giovanni Donato Cofrancesco (born in 1613 and died at the end of the 17th century) to the time of his death, and then present and comment on the will itself. Then I will review the ownership of the property after his death and the destiny of his descendants, most of which immigrated to the United States.

   
SOURCES

Our main sources of information have been:
  • The State Archives of Benevento, for the will of Ferdinando Cofrancesco, several item of genealogical data, and the Cadastre of the Napoleonic age.
  • The Parish Archives of S. Lorenzello and Massa di Faicchio, for most of the genealogical data.
  • The State Archives of Naples, for the Cadastres of S. Lorenzello and Massa of the 18th century.
       
1. The ancestors
     [^][>]
   

     
Ferdinando’s father was Simone Cofrancesco (1730-1778), born in S. Lorenzello and the son of Giovanni Donato Cofrancesco, the grandson of Antonio Cofrancesco, and the great grandson of Giovanni Donato Cofrancesco and Caterina Pacelli, who were the ancestors of a  great number of the Cofrancescos living today. The chart on the right side shows Ferdinando’s known ancestry back to Giovanni Donato Colafrancesco, who was born about 1560.

When Simone Cofrancesco married Elisabetta Mongillo of Massa in 1755, his brother Antonio was married, since 1747, to another woman of Massa, Angela Ciarlo. Angela was the daughter of Caterina Sagnella (see paper "A new land for the Cofrancescos") who, after the death of her first husband Giovanni Battista Ciarlo, married Antonio’s uncle, Alessandro Cofrancesco.

At this time the Cofrancescos were still strongly tied to S. Lorenzello, their land of origin. In fact Antonio and Angela probably lived in S. Lorenzello for several years after their marriage.

S. Lorenzello

S. Lorenzello, the place of origin of the Cofrancescos

Cerreto Sannita in the background
   
Ferdinando's Ancestors
     

  Giovanni Donato Colafrancesco
(S. Lorenzello, abt 1560 - 1606)
     

  Mattia Cofrancesco
(S. Lorenzello, abt 1580 - bef 1650)
     

  Giovanni Donato Cofrancesco
(S. Lorenzello, 1609-bef 1683)
     

  Antonio Cofrancesco
(S. Lorenzello, 1647 -1717)
     

  Giovanni Donato Cofrancesco
(S. Lorenzello, 1684 -1749)
     

  Simone Cofrancesco
(S. Lorenzello, 1730 - Massa, 1778)
     

  Ferdinando Cofrancesco
(abt 1762 - Massa, 1827)
     

       
2. The paternal home in S. Lorenzello
     [^][<][>]

     
Antonio and Simone’s ancestors lived in S. Lorenzello for about two centuries. Their paternal home was on Avantisanti Street, in the center of the little old town. It was near the house of another Cofrancesco, Marco, as shown in the Catasto Onciario (Cadastre) of 1742.

S. Lorenzello 1714

Antonio’s home and the other Cofrancescos’ homes
in S. Lorenzello in 1714 according to the “Status of Souls”

   
S. Lorenzello - Avantisanti

S. Lorenzello, Avantisanti Street
In 1714 Antonio and Simone’s family already owned that home. In fact in the “State of Souls” (a kind of Census of all the inhabitants of the place) written by the Parish priest of S. Lorenzello in that year, we find that their grandfather Antonio Cofrancesco (62 y) lived there with his wife Vittoria Rubbano (58 y) and their five children, the elder of whom was Giovanni Donato (35 y), Antonio and Simone’s father to be, who was not yet married.

In 1742 Giovanni Donato Cofrancesco’s parents had already died (Antonio died in 1717 and Vittoria in 1721). Giovanni Donato had married Vittoria Mattei in 1718 and they had nine children, five of which were listed in the 1742 Cadastre: Antonia (19 y), Antonio (15 y), Simone (8 y), Anna Teresa (6 y), and Benedetta (1 y). The other four had previously died at a young age. His wife, Vittoria Mattei had already died, probably immediately after the birth of their last daughter Benedetta. As stated in the Cadastre, Giovanni Donato and his children still lived in the Avantisanti Street home that was of his father.

giodofam.jpg

The family of Giovanni Donato Cofrancesco (1684-1749),
Ferdinando's grandfather

     
       
3. Antonio, Ferdinando's uncle, moves to Massa      [^][<][>]

     
Probably Antonio and Angela Ciarlo lived for some time after their marriage in the paternal house in S. Lorenzello. Antonio’s father, Giovanni Donato, was a widower and perhaps in poor health, as we can deduce from the fact that he died just a couple of years later, in 1749 at the age of 65. So he probably needed assistance from his children to deal with his family affairs and cultivate his lands. At the time of Antonio and Angela’s marriage, his elder sister, Antonia, had already married Paolo Festa of S. Lorenzello in 1746 and had probably left her father’s house, while the other daughter, Anna Teresa, who would marry Alberto Fusco in 1754, still lived with her father. Simone, who was only 17, was still unmarried and also living with his father.
 
Antonio and Angela’s first child, Nicola, was baptized in S. Lorenzello in 1749, while their second child, Stefano, born on December 26, 1751, was baptized in the Church of S. Nicola of Massa, showing that the couple was already permanently living there. The Catasto Onciario (Cadastre) of 1754 (prepared some years after the one of S. Lorenzello) confirms that Antonio and Angela, with their two children, lived in Massa with Angela’s mother, Caterina Sagnella, in the house that was partly inherited by Angela. Also in the preparatory acts of the Cadastre we find Antonio Cofrancesco as one of the citizens of Massa who participated in the election of the mayor of the small municipality (called “Università” at that time). After his father’s death, his departure from S. Lorenzello was definite. His wife was from Massa and all the lands he inherited from his father were on the border of Massa. So it was quite a natural choice to move there. When Antonio moved to Massa, his siblings Simone and Anna Teresa still remained in their paternal house in S. Lorenzello.
   
The first Cofrancesco's home in Massa

The first Cofrancesco's home in Massa, where Antonio Cofrancesco lived with his wife Angela Ciarlo, step-daughter of Alessandro Cofrancesco after 1749
       
4. Ferdinando's parents:
    Simone Cofrancesco and Elisabetta Mongillo
      [^][<][>]

     
Simone Cofrancesco married Elisabetta Mongillo of Massa on January 3, 1755. Like his brother Antonio, Simone was living in S. Lorenzello after his marriage, very probably in the same house where he was born and grew up. In fact their first two daughters, Angela Vittoria (born in 1755), and Vittoria Lorenza (born in 1759), were baptized in the church of S. Lorenzello.

Simone's Familiy (click for more details...)

The family of Simone Cofrancesco (1730-1778), Ferdinando's father


Ferdinando was the third child of Simone and Elisabetta, and was born about 1762 (as we can deduce from his death record), but we don’t know if he was born in Massa or S. Lorenzello, as his baptismal record has not yet been found.
     
Sebastiano Mongillo's home

Sebastiano Mongillo's home
in Massa, built in 1735, where Elisabetta Mongillo grew up and lived just prior to her marriage to Simone Cofrancesco in 1755.

It was one of the largest homes in Massa at that time, with 8 rooms on two floors, as written in the Cadastre of 1754 and Sebsastiano Mongillo was one of richest men of Massa
 
     
5. The lands at Massa
     [^][<][>]

     
In the S. Lorenzello Cadastre of 1742, Giovanni Donato Cofrancesco, father of Antonio and Simone, is the owner of a “land with some trees and vineyards, with a farm, and some other facilities, situated in the boundary of Massa of the surface of six  'moggi' (the  “moggio” is a unit of measure of surfaces that is about 3000 square meters) including one “moggio” of plowable land”.

After his death in 1749, his children inherited Giovanni Donato’s properties, including his lands in Massa. In the Cadastre of Massa of 1754 we find that Antonio and Simone each owned half of that land in the “Padulo” (“Pantano”) area of Massa. In particular Simone, who was not yet living in Massa, owns “a land with some trees of one 'moggio' and twenty measures (another unit of measure of surface area, one 'moggio' is 24 'measures') with a farm” in the place called “Padulo” and together with Antonio “a land with some trees in the place called “Padulo” of three “moggi”, half to each”.

It was quite common for the families of S. Lorenzello to own lands in Massa, and the Padulo and Pantano areas of Massa are very close to the border of S. Lorenzello, and it is easily reachable.
 
In the so-called “Napoleonic” Cadastre of some 50 years later we find that Ferdinando Cofrancesco is the owner of about half of the little property in the Pantano area (two “moggia”, about 6000 square meters) that belonged to his father Simone. Ferdinando’s brother, Domenico, inherited the other part.

Just a few hundreds meters from the Pantano area there was (and there still is) a farm where Ferdinando lived for a time and died, but it was not his own. In fact, as we learn from his last will, at that time Ferdinando lived on the farm of the D’Andreas at Massa and he was a kind of land agent for the property of that family in Massa.

D'Andrea Farm

The D’Andrea farm at Massa today, in the middle of its vineyards
where Ferdinando Cofrancesco lived and died in 1827


The D’Andrea Family was a rich family of Cerreto, which has now died out. One descendant was Giuseppe D’Andrea (1849-1934) (see Giuseppe D’Andrea on Wikipedia, http://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Giuseppe_D%27Andrea), who was a lawyer and a senator of the Italian Parliament between the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century.

Giuseppe D’Andrea is well remembered in Massa because in 1926 he built an important road connecting Massa to the road to Cerreto Sannita, as inscribed on a memorial stone placed on the external wall of the church of Massa by the grateful people of Massa.

So Ferdinando was not only living on the small piece of land inherited from his father, but he was also cultivating the lands of the larger farm of the D’Andrea Family. From the 1754 Cadastre we learn that the D’Andrea family owned 15 moggi of land (about 45,000 square meters) with a farm. It was not a big farm. There were bigger farms in the same area, such as the neighboring ones of the Lavorgnas and Maiorinos, but it was enough to give Ferdinando’s family the possibility for a decent life.

D'Andrea farm at Massa

The D'Andrea farm and lands at Massa in a 1830 map
(Istituto Geografico Militare - Florence, Italy)

    Cadastre of Massa (1754)

1 May 1754. A preliminary act
of the Cadastre of Massa
(State Archives of Naples)




























D'Andrea Memorial

TO SENATOR

GIUSEPPE D'ANDREA

TIRELESS PROMOTER
OF THIS ROAD
PLACED IN HIS MEMORY
BY THE GRATEFUL PEOPLE

MCMXXVI

The memorial stone placed on the external wall of the church of Massa for senator Giuseppe D’Andrea who built the main street of Massa in 1926
       
6. Ferdinando's family      [^][<][>]

     
Ferdinando Cofrancesco married Libera Antonia Lavorgna at S. Lorenzello on April 8, 1792. We don’t know much about Libera Antonia Lavorgna. We think that she was from S. Lorenzello, because of the tradition of celebrating the wedding in the church of the place where the bride lived. We don’t even know if they lived in Massa or S. Lorenzello after their marriage. What is certain is that the first 5 of their 8 children, born between 1793 and 1802, were baptized in the church of S. Lorenzello.

From Ferdinando’s will we learn that he lived on the D’Andrea’s farm “for several years”, but we don’t know how many. In 1811, when the people of Massa received an emphyteusis contract (i.e. a perpetual lease) for a part of the Forest of Massa that belonged to the previous feudatory, Carafa, Ferdinando Cofrancesco is listed as one of the citizens of the Commune of Massa, who had the right to receive a part of that Forest. So we deduce that he should have lived in Massa for a long time. At number 23 of the list we find “Ferdinando Cofrancesco son of the late Simone”, who received land of about 6300 square meters for his family of 5 persons.

Of the eight children of Ferdinando and Libera, only four lived to adulthood: two sons, Giuseppe, born in 1797, and Simone, born in 1808, and two daughters, Maria Carolina, born in 1793, and Maria Giuseppa, born in 1799. All of them are mentioned in Ferdinando’s last will.

Ferdinando's Family (click for more details...)

The family of Ferdinando Cofrancesco (1762-1827) 
     
       
7. Ferdinando's last will and death
     [^][<][>]

     
Ferdinando dictated his last will on June 2, 1827 at the D’Andrea’s farm, “in which farm he lived with his family for several years” and there he died, “in the barn”, 8 days later on June 10 at about 3 p.m., as written in his death record in the Civil State archive.

Wills, such as marriage contracts, and most notary acts, are standard documents, as far as their structure is concerned. Also the term “dictated by” did not correspond to what really happened. The notary has a big part in structuring the document. What is different every time is the content of the will.
At the beginning of the will there is always the dedication of the testator’s soul to God and the Saints and the clause about the holy Masses to be celebrated for his/her soul after his/her death. Then follow some directions about where the testator wants to be buried. The core of the will is, of course, the part in which the testator says how he/she wants to divide his/her properties among his/her heirs.

Ferdinando’s will follows a standard format. Concerning the dedication to the Saints, first of all Ferdinando asks the intercession of the “Very Holy Mary” and then of his “Guardian Angel”.  In his will, Ferdinando did not say in which church he should be buried (there were no cemeteries at Massa and in the area at that time). He just says that he wants his “body when dead be buried in that Church and with the kind of funeral that will be considered the best suited to my condition by my heirs”. This is a detail not to be ignored. In Massa at that time there was only one church, and Faicchio was not a usual place where the people of Massa were buried. So the only other possibility was the church of S. Lorenzello, where many of Ferdinando’s children were baptized. This suggests some kind of continuing connection with the place of origin of his father and family.

What is remarkable in Ferdinando’s will, because it tells us a lot about his character, is the precision with which he specifies every little detail. He was a righteous man, and wanted to die in peace, leaving the appropriate part of his properties to each member of his family. Ferdinando was a peaceful and thoughtful man. This is the image of him that we get from his will: a man who loved his wife Libera Antonia Lavogna, married 35 years ago, and his children, and who took care to give precise directives about how to divide his properties to avoid any quarrels among his heirs after his death.

The two girls were already married: Maria Carolina married Giuseppe Cappella of S. Lorenzello on November 8, 1815, and her sister Maria Giuseppa married Antonio Fappiano, also of S. Lorenzello, on December 22, 1822. They both lived in S. Lorenzello with their respective husbands and were each promised a dowry of 40 ducats (the ducat, “ducato”, was the currency of the Reign of the Two Sicilies), which was not completely paid by Ferdinando at the time of his last will. A dowry of 40 ducats was a normal dowry for a family of modest means as Ferdinando’s was, but the poor peasants of the time rarely had cash, so very often they were obliged to sell their lands, if they owned any, to pay the dowries, and this is what Ferdinando said to do after his death.

His son Giuseppe was already married to his first cousin, Maria Angela, daughter of his father’s brother, Domenico Cofrancesco. Simone, Ferdinando’s youngest child, was only 19 at the time of his father’s last will, and was living with his parents on the D’Andrea farm. He had the duty to take care of his father, as said in the last will, and probably he had to run the farm and its lands after his father’s death. According to Ferdinando’s last will, his wife Libera Lavorgna was given the usufruct (the legal right of using and enjoying the fruits or profits the something belonging to another) of half of Ferdinando’s land until her death. Probably Libera remained on the D’Andrea farm with her son Simone until her death, which occurred in 1842.

Ferdinando wanted the Masses for him to be celebrated by the Canon Don Giuseppe D’Adona, an important Priest of Cerreto. Also the person who was appointed by Ferdinando as his will executor was a rich man of Cerreto, Antonio Grillo, who is said to be a “very beloved” friend of his. So even if Ferdinando never learned to read and write, as noted at the end of his will, he was not such a naive person as his will shows.

Ferdinando died when he was 65. He was not very old, but for that time it was a long life. His father Simone died when he was only 47, and his uncle Antonio died when he was 42. He had some illnesses, but he was strong enough to be able to descend the grand staircase of the D’Andrea farm. When he died he was not in his bedroom on the first floor of the house, but “in the barn”, downstairs. This detail about the place of his death makes us imagine a man trying to protect himself from the sun in a cool place, to be quiet and get some rest.
     
       
8. The will
      [^][<][>]

     
On June 2, 1827 the Notary Gabriele Biondi went to Ferdinando's home in Massa, where he was "sick in his body but ib is right mind" to write Ferdinando's last will, at the presence of some witnesses, and the following act resulted.


Ferdinando's will first page
(State Archives of Benevento, Italy)
   
the NOTARY act

Source Citation: State Archives of Benevento, Italy, Unit 16081, pages 65-66

Date: June 2, 1827
Place: Massa, D'Andrea farm


Notary: Gabriele Biondi of Cerreto, working in S. Salvatore




















Kingdom of the Two Sicilies

The day two of the month of June of the year one thousand eight hundreds
   and twenty-seven. In the border of this Municipality of Massa joined to the
   S. Lorenzello [1] one , and precisely in the farm of Don Giuseppe D’Andrea of
   Cerreto.


Francesco the First, for the grace of God King of the Reign of the Two
   Sicilies, and Jerusalem, Duke of Parma, Piacenza, and Castro, Great
   Prince Heir of Tuscany.

In front of me, Gabriele Biondi son of Don Luigi, Notary resident in San
   Salvadore, Province of Terra di Lavoro, and at the presence of the
   subscribed witnesses who has the qualities required by the Law, appeared
   Ferdinando Cofrancesco son of the late Simone, peasant living as said
   before in this farm of Don Giuseppe D’Andrea, well known to me the
   Notary, and to the witnesses, who, being sick in his body, but in his right
   mind, as it is shown by his right speech, has manifested to me the Notary,
   at the presence of the witnesses the wish to make his last will as a public
   act, in order to give his clauses about that part of his property that the law
   allows him to decide about by his last will, in order to prevent any possible
   quarrels that could arise among his children.


First. I commend my soul to the Very Holy Mary who, as the mother and
   refuge of sinners, could present him to her very beloved son, and my
   God, Jesus Christ, also I commend my soul to all the Saints my
   advocates, and to my Guardian Angel, and to all the Saints in Heaven.


Second. I want that my body when dead be buried in that Church and with
   the kind of funeral that will be considered the best suited to my condition
   by my heirs.


Third. I want that in the two years following my death enough plain Masses
   be celebrated, that fit ten ducats, at the rate of two carlini [the tenth part
   of a ducat] each, by the Reverend Canon Don Giuseppe Adone of the
   Municipality of Cerreto, neighboring Massa’s one, where I am.


Fourth. I give and tie to my very beloved wife Libera Lavorgna the usufruct
   of all the properties of which I can dispose according to the law, and that
   for all her life long, and till when she will keep her widow’s bed [she will
   not re-marry].

Fifth. I want that half of all my properties, the usufruct of which I gave to
   my wife Libera, after her death be equally divided among my dear sons
   Simone and Giuseppe.


Sixth. I declare to have married two daughters whose names are Maria
   Giuseppa and Carolina, and promised to each of them forty ducats as the
   dowry, and the corresponding “corredo”
[another part of the dowry,
   consisting of clothes and tools for the kitchen], [dowry] that was mostly
   given to Caroline, while only a little part was given to Maria Giuseppa,
   that’s why I want that some land would be given to them, corresponding
   to the promised forty ducats of their dowries.


Seventh. If my daughters would not be happy of the promised dowries and
   would claim against my wills, I want that they put together all what they
   have had as a dowry and after they divide with their brothers Simone and
   Giuseppe that part of properties allowed by the law.


Eight. I want that part of the harvest of this year be given to my dear son
   Simone who took care of me, after having deducted the expenses, and
   after my wife had received the expected usufruct, and the interest on her
   dowry of thirty ducats that has to be calculated from the day of my death,
   which dowry with some other fifteen ducats of debts weigh down all my
   properties.


[Marginal note] I appoint my Heirs, in equal parts, my very beloved children
   Giuseppe, Simone, Carolina, and Maria Giuseppa with all the clauses
   written before and that only concerning the part of my properties that is
   destined to them by law, because I gave already the usufruct of half of
   my lands to my wife Libera, and the property [of the same lands] to my
   sons Giuseppe and Simone. This note contains fifty four words, the first of
   which is I appoint, and ends with Simone.
[The signatures of the witnesses
   and the notary follow.]

Ninth. I appoint executor my very beloved friend Sir Don Antonio Grillo [the
   word “Sir” was used here as the English translation of “Signore”, which
   was used in the past only for important, rich or noble people], who I pray
   to give me this last sign of his friendship.


Tenth. I revoke any other last will I could have made before, and I want
   that this only one would be executed.


This last will was dictated by Ferdinando Cofrancesco himself and written by
   myself the Notary with the same words and terms as it was dictated,
   today above-named day, and year at fourteen, in this farm of Giuseppe
   D’Andrea in the land of the joined municipalities of S. Lorenzello and
   Massa, province of Terra di Lavoro, where the testator lives with his
   family from several years, at the presence of the same Ferdinando
   Cofrancesco, domiciled as said, and at the presence of Sir Don Nicola
   Guarino, son of the late Giuseppe, landholder, domiciled at Cerreto, Sir
   Michele Lavorgna, son of the late Giuseppe, landholder, domiciled at
   Massa, and Giuseppe, the son of Paolantonio Cembalo, peasant, domiciled
   at San Lorenzo, qualified witnesses of this act as required by the Law.


I read this last will to the testator, at the presence of the witnesses with
   clear and understandable voice. This last will was not signed by the
   testator Ferdinando Cofrancesco, because when I asked him to sign after
   having read it, he answered he could not do it, because he did not learn
   how to do it.


[The signatures of the witnesses and the details of the cost of the act follow.]


Ferdinando's will - Witnesses

The signatures of the witnesses of Ferdinando's will
(State Archives of Benevento, Italy)

   
NOTES

[1] Between 1809 and 1829, Massa was joined with S. Lorenzello to form a Commune called “of Massa and S. Lorenzello”. It was a true union of two distinct communes, as show by many official acts of that time, even though if the chief administrative town was S. Lorenzello. Since 1830 the Commune of Massa no longer existed and its territory was joined to Faicchio, to become one of its hamlets. Its name was changed to “Massa di Faicchio”, as it is today.


















       
9. Ferdinando's sons: Giuseppe, his descendants
    and the Pantano house

     [^][<][>]
       
The sons of Ferdinando, Giuseppe and Simone, unlike his daughters, settled in Massa after their marriages. Their lives were now centered in Massa.

As said before, Giuseppe married his first cousin Maria Angela Cofrancesco. The wedding took place in the church of Massa on May 6, 1826. We don’t know where they lived after their marriage. Even if there were some small rustic buildings in the Pantano lands, there was no real house in that area that could be Giuseppe’s home, as shown by the 1830 map of Massa. After a few years, Giuseppe had to build his home on the Pantano lands that were partly inherited from his father and partly bought from his brother Simone in 1836. The house that Giuseppe built is still there, partly restored and enlarged, and still belonging to his Cofrancesco descendants, and inhabited by them.

The Pantano house

Cofrancesco’s home at the Pantano of Massa
partly restored and enlarged after the house built
by Giuseppe Cofrancesco around 1830


Giuseppe and Maria Angela Cofrancesco had 7 children, 6 of whom were girls, Maria Elisabetta (born in 1826), Maria Giovanna (born in 1829), Maria Antonia (born in 1831), Caterina, aka Celestina (born in 1834), Vitantonia (born in 1838), and Maria Filomena (born in 1839 and died when she was only 3), and only one boy, Antonio Raffaele (born in 1842). We have not been able to find Giuseppe’s and Maria Angela’s death records.

In 1883/1890 Giuseppe lived with his family in the Pantano house, as found in the page no. 919 of the population registry of Faicchio, in the road called of "S. Nicola" ("St. Nicholas"). His wife Maria Angela had already died, and his daughter Elisabetta and his nephew Giuseppe Antonio's family lived with him. Giuseppe was the son of the late Antonio Raffaele and Maria Raffaela Marenna.

Giuseppe’s son, Antonio, married Maria Raffaela Marenna in 1863 and died one year later when he was only 22; but before they had twin children, Giuseppe Antonio and Filomena, born on January 2, 1864. Even if Antonio died so young and had only one son, he had numerous descendants.

Giuseppe Antonio married Filomena Marenna of Fontanavecchia, a small village one mile far from Massa, on October 20, 1883 and they had 10 children, 4 of whom were male. Pacifico Vittorio died when he was less than 2 years old. Antonio immigrated to the USA, he got married, but had no children. Vittorio married Giuseppina Di Meo on October 20, 1883, and he also had no children.

Vittorio Cofrancesco and Giuseppina Di Meo
Giuseppina Di Meo and Vittorio Cofrancesco

Alessandro, usually called “Santo” or “Santuccio” married Clelia Cofrancesco in 1928 and they had 6 children.

Santuccio & Clelia Cofrancesco

Santuccio Cofrancesco and his wife Clelia (nee Cofrancesco)

Santuccio and Vittorio Cofrancesco divided their paternal house in the Pantano area of Massa. Vittorio’s part, that appears today as the most ancient one, has been inherited by the children of his sister Paolina, while the other part, restored and improved, is the home of Santuccio’s son Giuseppe, who lives there with his wife Marzia Cofrancesco (nee Cofrancesco), and his son Alessandro and his wife Anna and their two children, Marzia and Giuseppe. Ever since this house was built in the first half of the 19th century it was always the home of the same Cofrancesco branch of the family.
     
       
10. Ferdinando's sons: Simone and his descendants

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When Ferdinando died in 1827, Giuseppe was already married and after some time he moved to the Pantano house, while his brother Simone was not married yet. We don't know how long the Cofrancescos stayed in the D'Andrea's farm after Ferdinando's death, probably at least until the death of his wife Libera, in 1842. At that time, Simone, who had married Maria Concetta Lavorgna on December 17, 1834, already had three children: Maria Luisa, born 1836, Ferdinando, born in 1838, and Giovanni, born in 1841. Two more children would be born later: Leucio in 1844, and Liberantonio in 1848.

From a notary act of 1836 we learn that Simone sold a piece of land in the Pantano area of Massa, inherited from his father, to his brother Giuseppe. In another act of 1846 we found that Simone owns a house in the centre of Massa. It is possible that he lived there with his family, because we found he was still living there in the years 1883/1890, as shown by the Registry of the Population (no. 903) of Faicchio. At that time his son Ferdinando was already married, and living on the road to the ancient source of Massa, called "Via Fontana" (Source Road).

In the 1880s Simone and his wife Concetta lived with their son Leucio and his family. Leucio married another Cofrancesco, Maria Giuseppa, daughter of Berardino and Maria Luigia Sansone, and had three children, Antonio, born in 1872, Concetta, born in 1877, Maria Rosa, born in 1879. Leucio died quite young on June 19, 1882.

Simone died in Massa on April 14, 1888 when he was 80. His wife Concetta died some years before in 1882, at the age of 60. A short time after Simone's death, his grandson Antonio emigrated to the United States (Buffalo, NY), and later his mother and sisters reached him there.
   
Massa - Via Vicinato
"Via Vicinato" of Massa,
  where Simone Cofrancesco lived
Ferdinando married Maria Cofrancesco, daughter of Nicola Cofrancesco and Nicoletta Ciarlo, before 1865 and about the end of the 19th century immigrated to the USA with 8 of his 9 children (Maria Concetta died when she was only 9 months) and his wife (New Haven, CT area).

In the Population Registry (no. 888), we find that Ferdinando's family lived in "Via Fontana". We cannot place exaclty his home, but it should be just behind the church of St. Nicholas, in the direction of the water source.

Simone’s first daughter, Maria Luisa, married Marco Ruggiero in 1861 and went to live in S. Lorenzello. The younger son, Liberantonio, did not get married and died in Massa in 1880 at the age of 33. We don’t know anything about Giovanni. We did not find any documents about his marriage or death.
   
Massa - Via Fontana
The part of Via Fontana of Massa, where  Ferdinando Cofrancesco probably lived
       
11. The D'Andrea farm
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The D’Andrea farm and lands, according to what old people of Massa say, at the end of the 19th century – probably after Simone’s death and the immigration of his children and grandchildren to the USA – was run by the Mongillo family of Massa, and some years later by the Tacinelli family that was keeping the farm until the beginning of the 1960s. The last D’Andrea died before the Tacinelli family left the farm to the Branca family of Massa (still living there) without heirs and left all their properties to a monastery of Cerreto Sannita, including the farm.

The D'Andrea farm in an old photo

The D’Andrea farm in the 1950s. The Tacinelli children
with their mother Cristina (nee Beatificato) during harvest time


The D’Andrea farm is probably not much different from the way it was fifty years ago and even from Ferdinando’s death in 1827. Antonietta Tacinelli of Massa (the little girl on the right side of the above photo, who is Anna Di Leone's mother), who was born and grown up in that farm, remembers the home of her youth.

At the ground floor there were the stables and the wine cellars. Entering the main door there was a grand stone staircase at the end of which there was an uncovered terrace. After the entrance there was a small kitchen, almost an anteroom. In front two bedrooms, one after the other. The first one was for the girls and the next one for the parents. On the left side of the entrance, after two or three steps, there was a large well-furnished hall that was the room of the D’Andreas when they went and spent some days in the countryside. At the back of the hall the doors of two bedrooms, one of which had also a bathroom, for the exclusive use of the owners. When the D’Andreas were not at the farm, the large hall was normally used by the Tacinellis too.

Today the ground floor has been partly modified, while the grand staircase is still there, and the first floor is almost unchanged, as it probably was at the time when Ferdinando lived there and made his last will. Another Cofrancesco, Maria Carmina, was living there, who iwas the the wife of the late Pasquale Branca, until she died last November 2011.
     
       
12. Ferdinando's heritage
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Ferdinando prepared his will, even though he did not have much property to leave to his heirs. He wanted to leave this world knowing that he had done his best to fairly distribute all that he owed to his family members. After living a full and productive life, his last concern, beyond that for the care of his soul, was to assure that his wife, daughters, and sons had no reason to quarrel among themselves because of the way in which he divided his possessions.

In reality what he left to them, as well as to us, is the heritage of his big heart, his rectitude, and his peacefulness that we can conceive from the words of his will and in the faces and attitudes of many good people of Massa and other places, who have certainly inherited these values from him.

     
       
       
Last Updated ( Tuesday, 20 December 2011 )
 
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