Giuseppe Napolitano

Giuseppe NapolitanoMy grandfather Giuseppe Napolitano left Italy sometime after his Italian Army physical in 1912. Since his ship manifest has never been found we do not know if he went directly to Chicago or stayed in the New York area with other cousins before coming to Chicago. We do know he left his life in Calabria behind him, never to return. We can assume he left in or after 1912. By this time, many of his cousins had already left for the United States and Argentina.

Life In America

Joe in WWI uniformWe don't know much before he came to Chicago, but my father thinks that after his immigration to America his father stayed in New York or New Jersey for a short time prior to coming to Chicago. I know that he had relatives there. Giuseppe joined the United States Army in 1917 according to his registration card below. His army service helped him gain his US citizenship which he obtained in Atlanta, Georgia. He was stationed at Camp Gordon, Georgia and was the private chef of a General there. The great outbreak of influenza hit Camp Gordon during his time there which prevented deployment to Europe in World War I. Giuseppe earned his chef's certificate there. He was honorably discharged in December, 1918. This is a copy of Giuseppe's U.S. Army registration card. It states he was a chef at a country club in Deerfield, Illinois. Deerfield? No one knew he was there before. This is proof that he was a chef prior to his service in the Army.

Marriage And Children

Nonna's Wedding DayMy grandmother, Caterina Maiuolo lived with her mother in a three flat in Chicago's "Little Italy" at 828 Loomis Street. My great grandmother Natalina Scrugli Maiuolo bought this three flat when she immigrated here from Cortale in Catanzaro Province in Italy. They lived on the first floor and rented out the upper rooms to Italian immigrant boarders. One of these boarders was Rocco Napolitano, my grandfather's cousin. When Giuseppe came to Chicago Rocco recommended Natalina's boarding house as a temporary residence. This is how Giuseppe and Caterina met. In April, 1919, four months after Giuseppe returned from the army, Caterina and Giuseppe were married at Our Lady of Pompeii Church in Chicago. At some point Caterina's name transformed to Kate and Giuseppe's to Joe. After the wedding Joe moved in with Kate and her mother Natalina. A year later their first child, a girl, was born. A year and a half after that their first son was born. The family was beginning to outgrow the three flat. When Kate became pregnant a fourth time, they purchased a home in Cicero and moved there around 1926. Natalina moved with them. Kate's sister moved a block away.

Joe's Work in Chicago

The majority of the family - the cousins of Joe and the family of Kate lived very close. Joe rode the streetcar on the corner to his job as chef at the exclusive "The Chicago Club" on Michigan Avenue in downtown Chicago. Although Joe bought a car after they moved from Chicago, it was easier to ride the streetcar. Joe's job as chef allowed him to meet many wealthy people who gave him tips on the stockmarket which he listened to very carefully. The extra money he earned on the side allowed the family to live a good life. Joe worked at The Chicago Club from the time he returned from the Army until the day he died.

More coming soon