a child musician from Saponara

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joetucciarone
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a child musician from Saponara

Post by joetucciarone »

The discussions in the Italian History & Culture forum about Saponara (modern Grumento Nova) reminded me of some research I’ve done about enslaved children who were born in that part of Basilicata. Between 1855 and 1874, over 100 advertisements were posted in the New York Herald for the return of “lost” Italian boys. These were child musicians who escaped from their padrones. I wanted to see if any traces of these children could be found in other archives, to see where they were born and what happened to them after they ran away. I was able to do this for a handful of them, including one Bernardo Roselli. The following link takes you to a reward that was posted for 10-year-old Bernardo in the July 8, 1869 edition of the Herald. The red-highlighted word “Italian” near the end of the last column will take you to the advertisement:

https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn ... nge&page=1

A man named “S. Gallo” of 153 Elizabeth Street (New York) posted the $50 reward for the “lost Italian boy.” A careful search of ship manifests shows that a Saverio Gallo arrived in New York aboard the steamship Bellona on July 24, 1867, two years before the reward advertisement for Roselli was posted. Several consignments of Italian children, unaccompanied by their parents, were brought to New York on the Bellona in the late 1860s. On this particular voyage, 20 Italian children arrived with a handful of adults. Among them was 8-year-old Bernardo Roselli. The occupations of nearly all of them, children and adults, were listed as “musician” or “artist” on the manifest.

Thinking I might find Roselli’s birth record in one of the hotspots in Basilicata (in the Province of Potenza) - Marsicovetere, Viggiano, Saponara, etc. - I found that he was born in Saponara on February 13, 1859:

http://dl.antenati.san.beniculturali.it ... ewsIndex=0

Gallo failed to recapture Roselli, even though the boy remained in New York City for ten years. He was naturalized there on October 3, 1887 and was married there the following year. An 1889 newspaper article, “Music on the Waters,” described how Roselli and other Italian musicians were hired as seasonal performers aboard Coney Island steamboats. By 1890, Roselli had moved to Los Angeles. On the 1900 census, he reported his occupation as “musician," but by 1920, both the Los Angeles census and the city directory listed him as a fruit dealer. Bernardo Roselli passed away in Los Angeles on November 26, 1938.
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PippoM
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Re: a child musician from Saponara

Post by PippoM »

Thank you, Joe, for sharing with us your research!
Giuseppe "Pippo" Moccaldi

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MarcuccioV
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Re: a child musician from Saponara

Post by MarcuccioV »

Los Angeles (and Southern California in general) seemed to be a fairly common settling point for emigrated Italians no doubt due to the Mediterranean weather and flora we have here.

1890 would have to be on the very early side for that. I might assume some ethnic musicians may have worked in early Hollywood productions.

Perhaps he finally tired of the music business or sales of fresh-grown California fruit turned out to be more lucrative. Great story. Good for him that he escaped the indentured servitude of Gallo...
Mark

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