It’s time to research the individual lives of those who appear in our photograph. I am always intrigued by the stories that emerge when digging into the genealogical record. Even the most mundane life can be an interesting glimpse back in time, capturing a snapshot of our ancestors. One of my favorite research exercises is to gather all of the clues left behind by a person or family and compile them into a life story.
Let’s begin with one of our wedding couples from that momentous day: Richard Fedrizzi and Angeline Cologna.
“Richard” was baptized Riccardo Cesera Fedrizzi and this name appears on all of his official documents. However, he must have “Americanized” his name upon arrival in Pennsylvania and went by Richard in everyday life. I found several newspaper clippings for miscellaneous events and classifieds that all referred to Riccardo Fedrizzi as “Richard”.
He was born on December 15th, 1879 in Nanno, Austria (now Italy). Nanno is located in the Val di Non, not far from the city of Trento. Riccardo arrived in New York City on October 17, 1905 at the age of 26. He found work as a miner in the coal mines of Pennsylvania. His bride-to-be, Angeline Cologna, arrived soon afterward in December of 1906. Angeline was 22 years old at the time, having been born in Raina, part of the Commune of Castelfondo.
The young couple was married on Saturday, February 13th, 1909 in a double wedding with Riccardo’s sister, Virginia Fedrizzi and her groom Peter Dallachiesa. Most likely the ceremony took place at Sacred Heart Church in Weston, with the reception held at Raffaele Genetti’s saloon and boarding house located in the same village. The newlyweds setup housekeeping in Weston where they lived for most of their married life.
In December of that same year, Riccardo applied to become a naturalized citizen by filing his Declaration of Intention. It would take three more years before his Petition for Naturalization was filed and granted.
By February of 1910, the couple’s first child was born. Her name was Amelia. Two more children quickly followed in 1911 and 1912. As the years rolled by, their family continued to grow. Riccardo and Angeline became the proud parents of eight children. Sadly, little Amelia died in 1920 at the age of ten. Her death was attributed to tetanus. The rest of the Fedrizzi children all lived to adulthood.
Albert (1911-1998), Esther (1916-2001), Eugene (1919-2000) and Richard Jr. (1924-2000) moved to Niagara Falls, New York. Personally, I found the fact that four of the Fedrizzi children lived in upstate New York to be of interest as I grew up not far away in Buffalo, NY. Since I was a wedding photographer between the years of 1980 to 1991 and often worked in Niagara Falls, there was the opportunity that I may have encountered one of the Fedrizzi clan at a wedding. Who knows!
The other three children: Edith (1912-2000), Albino (1914-1964), and Victor (1925-living) all made their home in California. Eventually Riccardo and Angeline joined them on the west coast, spending their twilight years in the sunshine state. They moved in with their daughter Edith and her family.
Angeline passed away at the age of 74 on December 30, 1958. Riccardo followed a few years later, with his passing on September 30, 1963 at the age of 83. The couple is buried in Los Angeles County at Resurrection Cemetery.
Their one surviving child, Victor, is 95 years old and still resides in California. Being a first born American with both parents from the Val di Non, Victor is certainly one of the last living connections to our Tyrolean heritage.
In our next blog post we will look into the life of Riccardo’s sister Virginia Fedrizzi and her husband Peter Dellachiesa.
UPDATE: Thank you to Giovanni Marchetti for spotting an error in our text. Angeline Cologna Fedrizzi was born in Raina, which is part of the larger village of Castelfondo – not in Ravena as I had previously stated. According to San Nicolo baptismal records, Angeline was born on October 11, 1884 to Urbano Cologna and Rachele Ianes. Later documentation from the United States contained the error stating that Angeline was born in a different village. I have corrected my original blog post to read “Raina”.
Thank you Giovanni for helping with this correction! We are extremely grateful to all of our Italian cousins for reading our blog and sharing their knowledge with us! Mille grazie!