Saturday, May 3, 2014

Cultural Exchange: The Italian Challenge, From Italia to Puerto Rico

So, a few good moons ago I challenged myself by searching a German family named Hess Klinger that had arrived to Puerto Rico. While searching for my family in Salinas I came across an Italian family and decided to challenge myself to finding more about their background. I had some experience with Italian records but primarily with Sicilian records. Despite not knowing Italian, the use of my Spanish and Google Translate took me a long way. 

Italia! [Google]

It started with finding the death certificate of Carmen Elena Mugno in Salinas. She passed away at the age of 23 (my current age!) and was naturally from Santa Isabel, but her parents and grandparents were from Italy. So I got interested and started poking around some more. I ended up finding her birth certificate in Santa Isabel which I hoped would point to the towns of origin in Italy for her parents and grandparents. The certificate did just that! Her father, Vicente Mugno Delisa, came forth to declare her birth - the record mentions that he was a native of Padula, Italy. His wife was named Rosalia Marotta Canello, and she was a native of San Giovanni a Piro, Italy. Turns out that both of these towns are communes of the province of Salerno in the region of Campania. The record also goes on to mention that her paternal grandparents were Carmen Mugno and Carmen Delisa, also natives of Italy, yet he was widowed and living in Italy while the maternal grandparents were José Marotta Marotta and Dominga Canello Petrilli, also natives of Italy but living in Santa Isabel, Puerto Rico. I decided to turn to FamilySearch to see what else I could dig up from Padula and San Giovanni a Piro.

Carmen Elena Mugno - Defunción [FamilySearch]
Carmen Elena Mugno Delisa- Nacimiento [FamilySearch]

I first turned to the town of Padula to see if I could find the birth record of Vicente Mugno Delisa born there in the mid-1800s. Since they were Italian, I had to be on the look out for the Italian version of their names- therefore, instead of Vicente, I would be looking for a Vincenzo Mugno. I ended up finding Vincenzo Mugno's birth record on the 15th of September 1867 (if my Italian reading is correct), stating that his parents were Carmine Mugno and Carmela de Lisa, matching what we have in Puerto Rico! (again, Carmen= Carmine and Carmen= Carmela). It also states that Carmela de Lisa (aged thirty five) was the daughter of Andrea de Lisa, while Carmine Mugno (aged forty) was the son of the deceased Nicola Mugno. With this new information I wanted to try and dig deeper and see what else I could find.

Padula, Salerno, Campania, Italia [Google Maps]

I tried to see if I could find out more about Carmine's father Nicola Mugno. I ended up surprising myself by finding Nicola Mugno's marriage record in 1810 to Eduvigia Breglia. Here is the document below with a transcription and translation of the text: 

Nicola Mugno- Matrimonio [FamilySearch]

Oggi che sone li due del mese di Gennaio presente anno mille ottocento dieci, ad ore ventiquattro. Avanti di noi incaricato del registro degli atti degli stato sono comparso Nicola Mugno, minore, cioè di anni diciannove de professione negoziante, naturale e domiciliato in Padula strada os? Croce, figlio di mastro? Carmine Mugno calzolaio e Marianna Padrone, ed Eduvigia Breglia, minore cioè d'ani sedici contadina, domiciliata in Padula strada Spirito Santo figlia di Felicano Breglia benestante, e Giuseppa Bricaza. 

 On the 2nd of January of the present year 1810, before us those in charge of the registry of this state, appeared Nicola Mugno, minor, of 19 years of age, merchant, native and domiciled in Padula, son of master? Carmine Mugno shoemaker and Marianna Padrone, and Eduvigia Breglia, minor of 16 years of age, peasant, domiciled in Padula, daughter of Felicano Breglia, well-off and Giuseppa Bicaza. 

Definitely very interesting information! It seems that Carmine Mugno, son of Nicola Mugno was named after his grandfather Carmine Mugno (it is/was common in Italy for the firstborn male to receive the name of the paternal grandfather, meaning Carmine could have been Nicola's firstborn son). I haven't delved too much further into the Mugno and De Lisa families but I know there must be more information to be found there in the records!

The next stop was San Giovanni a Piro to find the Marotta and Canello family. Like I had mentioned before, both are areas of Salerno, so actually not too far from one another. 

I knew that José Marotta and his wife Dominga Canello were both born in San Giovanni a Piro and that their daughter Rosalia was born there as well. They also had a son named Francisco who was born about 1876 so I knew that they had to have married before then (by 1910, only 2 of their 7 children were alive). I searched for a marriage certificate mentioning Giuseppe Marotta and Domenica Canello (remember to always search for the names in their native language!)

I ended up finding a marriage record for Giuseppe Marotta and Domenica CARIELLO, which seems to be the original spelling of "Canello" which we find in Puerto Rico. They were married in 1874 and the record gives us some new information as well. It mentions that Giuseppe was born to a padre incerto e Rosalia Marotta. This means that the father was unknown and his mother was Rosalia Marotta, this would explain why he appears with the doubled surname Marotta Marotta in Santa Isabel, Puerto Rico. His wife Domenica Cariello was the daughter of fu Francesco Antonio Cariello e della vivente Maria Petrillo (the deceased Francesco Antonio Cariello and the living Maria Petrillo). Here we see how some of the surnames took a new spelling in Puerto Rico Cariello<Canello and Petrilli<Petrillo. Giuseppe would have been born around 1854 while Domenica was born around 1851, these years don't have records available on FamilySearch and since I found Rosalia's parents marriage record I didn't put that much of an effort to find Rosalia's birth certificate. 

Italy and Puerto Rico [Google Maps]

I think it's amazing that these two families from Padula and San Giovanni a Piro found their way to Puerto Rico, these small pockets of culture add to the overall "Puerto Ricanness" we have on the island.  San Giovanni a Piro's current population is near 4,000 while Padula's is near 6,000; I imagine that back in the early 1800s the numbers were probably maybe even smaller than that but no higher I imagine. I wonder how the transition from Italy to Puerto Rico would have been for them. I also wonder if there are more Marotta and Mugno descendants around Puerto Rico as well. If so, I hope they find this page and learn more about their Italian connection! Ciao!


  1. Carmen Elena Mugno Marotta happens to be my grandmother on my father's side.She died when my father was 1 year old. My father is 92 and is still living. I have tried to trace her genealogy and find that you have done an extraordinary work. I would appreciate if you can contact me at Thanks.

    1. Hi Jose, I sent you an email. I'm happy to hear that Carmen is your grandmother and you have more information on her now!

  2. Hi, I know a few relatives of Carmen Elena Mugno who diverted to Colombia instead of Puerto Rico. They are related to my extended family on my mother's side (quite handsome people I have to say, dark hair and big, beautiful eyes). Actually Colombia has the highest occurrence of the Mugno lastname outside of Italy, surpassing the USA. If you may want to know about them you can contact me.