Michelle Ann Kratts

Archive for the ‘St. Joseph’s Church’ Category

St. Joseph’s School, Niagara Falls

In Niagara Falls, School Days, St. Joseph's Church, The Italians of Niagara Falls, New York on April 29, 2014 at 10:02 pm

Step back into the 1920’s with this photograph revealing a classroom at St. Joseph’s School in Niagara Falls.  The only student we can name is:  Sam Carlo (the arrow points to him).

DOC042914-04292014175505-0001 (2)

St. Joseph’s Cemetery, Cemetery Register, January 26, 1969 to May 22, 1978

In St. Joseph's Cemetery Records, St. Joseph's Church, The Italians of Niagara Falls, New York on July 3, 2013 at 4:44 pm

This book contains records from the Cemetery Register from St. Joseph’s Cemetery, from January 26, 1969 to May 22, 1978.

Index A-D
Index D-M
Index M-S
Index T-Z
January 26, 1969-August 25, 1968
September 1, 1969-February 3, 1972
January 26, 1970-August 5, 1970
March 13, 1971-November 13, 1971
December 30, 1972-July 3, 1973
April 20, 1973-January 9, 1974
January 6, 1974-July 11, 1974
May 11, 1974-November 29, 1974
November 26, 1974-May 25, 1975
April 3, 1975-November 28, 1975
March 6, 1976-August 18, 1976
August 16, 1976-March 31, 1977
January 15, 1977-August 6, 1977
August 11, 1977-March 18, 1978
January 12, 1978-May 25, 1978

St. Joseph’s Cemetery, Single Graves, March 1931-March 1942

In Niagara Deaths, Niagara Falls, St. Joseph's Cemetery Records, St. Joseph's Church, The Italians of Niagara Falls, New York on July 1, 2013 at 8:30 pm

This book contains the burials at St. Joseph’s Cemetery from March 1931 to March of 1942.

March 21, 1931-August 29, 1931

September 7, 1931-September 1, 1932

September 3, 1932-August 2, 1933

August 7, 1933- March 15, 1935

April 1, 1935-March 16, 1936

March 26, 1936-June 2, 1937

July 21, 1937-June 2, 1938

June 2, 1939-August 23, 1941

September 21, 1941-May 28, 1942 (some 1922)

St. Joseph’s Cemetery, Death Register, 1922-1942, Sections A,B,C,D, Six and Twelve Grave Lots

In Niagara Deaths, Niagara Falls, St. Joseph's Cemetery Records, St. Joseph's Church, The Italians of Niagara Falls, New York on July 1, 2013 at 6:46 pm

This book contains graves listed in the Death Register from May 1922 to March 1942 that are located in Sections A,B,C and D.

May 5, 1922-Feb, 15, 1925

March 12, 1925-June 11, 1927

July 9, 1927-May 28, 1928

July 7, 1929-January 23, 1932

February 10, 1932-February 5, 1934

February 15, 1934-October 19, 1936

November 8, 1936-December 9, 1938

January 3, 1939-March 12, 1941

March 15, 1941-March 30, 1942

My Mother’s Mother’s Mother

In Coming to America, Niagara Falls, Niagara in Love, Restaurants of Niagara Falls, St. Joseph's Church, The Italians of Niagara Falls, New York on June 28, 2013 at 4:19 pm
Clementina, Gina and Francesco Fortuna

Clementina, Gina and Francesco Fortuna

The Ventresca family in Italy (not including Clementina, or her father, Angelo)

The Ventresca family in Italy (not including Clementina, or her father, Angelo)

My great grandmother, Clementina Ventresca

My great grandmother, Clementina Ventresca

I have always wondered if there is something mystical about being the first-born daughter, of a first-born daughter, of a first born daughter, etc. As far as I can tell by my research, my maternal line, the one that also carries my Mitochondrial DNA (passed only by mothers to their children) is a long series of uninterrupted first born daughters. Interestingly enough, I also gave birth, first, to a daughter. This special relationship was something that my family celebrated and I have been told that back in Italy things such as this are indicative of some sort of psychic prowess. The Abruzzo region, where my family originated, is known for its superstitious character so I am not surprised. Some things I have read have said it is the area in Italy most “prone to magic and superstition.” Bordered by the Apennines, Abruzzo is home to some of Italy’s wildest terrain. Silent valleys, vast untamed mountain plains and abandoned hill villages carelessly dot the ancient landscape today. Many unusual stories have been passed down and even in America we have a strong inclination toward unearthly things.

The furthest back in this special line of women–that I have had the privilege of knowing personally–was my great grandmother, Clementina Ventresca Fortuna. Her mother, Adelina, was also a first born daughter, however, she died a few years before I was born.

Clementina was born in the small mountain village of Torre Dei Nolfi, in the province of L’Aquila, region of Abruzzo, on November 16, 1901. Her life in Italy was far from idyllic. The eldest daughter on a farm, there was much work to do. Her father, Angelo Ventresca, was often in America, or traveling across the ocean, earning money at various jobs in order to ensure the family’s survival. Adelina, his wife, was left with the arduous task of managing the farm with her daughters. Her only son, Vittorio, was one of the youngest, and could not help with the major work. Clementina, my great grandmother, was a shepherdess and she spent her days tending to the sheep that grazed the primeval hillside. In this sort of natural solitude, her needlework often kept her busy in her loneliness, and of course, there was that other notion to keep her going…the love of a young man. His name was Giovanino. He was a policeman from Rome and over the years this sad, sad story concerning unrequited love has been passed from generation to generation. I only knew my grandmother as an old woman, but every time I looked at her I imagined the young girl she had been, because of this story.

It was really quite simple. They met, fell hopelessly in love, were forbidden to marry, threatened…and in the end he was dead and she was on a boat to America. Clementina’s youngest sister, my Aunt Phil (Felicetta) remembers how Giovanino would stand outside the window of their old stone house, in the garden, before the earthquake had struck, and he would sing his heart out to her sister. In my imagination, my grandmother was Juliet and poor desperate Giovanino was Romeo. A love so beautiful as theirs was destined for tragedy. The family was set against Giovanino as she had been promised in an arranged marriage to another, the son of the most powerful man in the village. But Clementina was not prepared to surrender. She embodied the stubbornness that we all share today. Even as various relatives did their best to instill fear within her, and even as another cousin who had also attempted to break with tradition and marry the man she had loved was brutally murdered and her body left in Clementina’s family’s garden (an obvious warning), Clementina refused to give in and marry a man she did not love. In fact, she hated him even more. And so, as they had promised, deep in the night, those who had found their love unsavory, murdered Giovanino. My grandmother was heart broken but even fear would not break her spirit. Emboldened by her anger and her grief she found there was only one thing left to do: go to America. Italy had broken her heart.

Lucky for Clementina, her father was in America. He was in Niagara Falls, New York, working on the railroad. He welcomed her to come. Little Felicetta was very small when her sister left for America and just a few years ago she told the story of her sister’s last night in Italy, while my uncle and I interviewed her on film. Clementina had been sweeping the barn when her sister ran in and she stopped her work and held onto her and cried for what seemed to be hours and hours. They cried their eyes out; the littlest sister and the oldest sister. And then she was gone. After close to 90 years, the memory still makes my aunt cry. We were all moved to tears and it was at that moment that I realized the story of America almost always begins with goodbye.

But fate would have it that for these sisters, goodbye would not be forever. For just a few years later, most of the family would be reunited in Niagara Falls. My grandmother also found much happiness and she did find love again. She bewitched yet another young man, Francesco Fortuna, my great grandfather and they lived happily ever after. They were married at St. Joseph’s Church on December 12, 1923, and had two children: Gina (Jean Ann, my grandmother, and their first born) and Joseph (my uncle and godfather). They opened a very popular restaurant located on 19th Street, known as Fortuna’s and it is still there today.

Marriage at St. Joseph's Church in Niagara Falls

Marriage at St. Joseph’s Church in Niagara Falls

Clementina never forgot Giovanino. As complete as her new life had become she made sure we all knew the story. I like to think it was more of a story of who she had been across an ocean and in that other world that didn’t include automobiles or electricity. It was a place and time where love and magic lit up the darkness and in some strange way a piece of me was, in fact, there and remembers everything.

I try to imagine what this special power might be that we all have, all of the first born daughters of first born daughters. Perhaps it’s the greatest power of all…the capacity to love completely and deeply no matter what the consequences. My grandmother’s little love affair with Giovanino is one of the only stories of her youth that has stayed with me. It speaks to me and to all of us and it says one thing: always choose love.

I have much research to do on the rest of our mothers’ mothers. I will be ordering great amounts of microfilm from L’Aquila and hopefully visit one day.
I wish I had more information on Giovanino. I would love to know more of him…this wonderful man, this Romeo, who always held a special place in my grandmother’s heart.

4 generations

St. Mary’s Section, Babies (St. Joseph’s Cemetery, Niagara Falls, New York)

In St. Joseph's Cemetery Records, St. Joseph's Church, The Italians of Niagara Falls, New York on April 24, 2013 at 4:49 pm

Another book from St. Joseph’s Cemetery contains the babies buried in St. Mary’s Section.

This book covers 1942 to 1963.

Again, pardon our blurry images.  We had to photograph the pages as they were too fragile for a scanner.

In the near future, these blurry pages will be re-photographed.

Babies 1

Babies 2

Transcriptions for St. Mary’s Section, Babies:

St. Joe’s baby graves

St. Joseph’s School, Niagara Falls

In School Days, St. Joseph's Church, The Italians of Niagara Falls, New York on April 16, 2013 at 5:17 pm
St. Joseph's School

7th Grade class, St. Joseph’s School, Niagara Falls, circa 1920. Frances Scrivano (Buzzelli) is the second girl seated in the third row of desks.




Click on this article from June 26, 1922, Niagara Falls Gazette. This was the third commencement service at St. Joseph’s School.

organ recital

February 9, 1924

Niagara Falls Gazette

Music week

May 5, 1925

Niagara Falls Gazette

(Click to make larger)

Falls Schools

September 9, 1930

Niagara Falls Gazette

Graduating class

St. Joseph’s Graduates

July 3, 1939

Niagara Falls Gazette

Courtesy Marcia Buzzelli

St. Joseph’s Cemetery, Niagara Falls, New York, Lots A,B,C

In St. Joseph's Cemetery Records, St. Joseph's Church, The Italians of Niagara Falls, New York on April 5, 2013 at 5:28 pm

1__1923 and 1924

Transcription (by Margaret Bowen) 1923, 1924 and some 1925



Transcription (by Margaret Bowen) 1925


3__1926 and 1927

Transcription (by Peggy Taylor Hulligan) 1926 and 1927


4_1927 and 1928

Transcription (by Peggy Taylor Hulligan) 1927 and 1928


5_1928 and 1929

Transcription (by Peggy Taylor Hulligan) 1928 and 1929


6_1929 and 1930

Transcription (by Peggy Taylor Hulligan) 1929 and 1930



Transcription (by Peggy Taylor Hulligan) 1930


8_1931 and 1932

Transcription (by Peggy Taylor Hulligan) 1931 and 1932


9_1932 and 1933

Transcription (by Peggy Taylor Hulligan) 1932 and 1933


9_1933 and 1934


11_1935 and 1936

Transcription (by Margaret Bowen) 1935 and 1936


12_1936 and 1937

Transcription (by Margaret Bowen) 1936 and 1937


13_1937 and 1938


Transcribed (by Margaret Bowen) 1938


15_1939 and 1940

Transcribed (by Margaret Bowen) 1939 and 1940


16_1940 and 1941

Transcribed (by Margaret Bowen) 1940 and 1941



Transcription (by Peggy Taylor Hulligan) 1941



Transcription (by Peggy Taylor Hulligan) 1942

St. Joseph’s Cemetery, Niagara Falls, NY, Death Register, 1942-1963

In Niagara Deaths, St. Joseph's Cemetery Records, St. Joseph's Church, The Italians of Niagara Falls, New York on March 16, 2013 at 7:02 pm

We will be re-doing some of these pages soon!  Some pages came out quite blurry. Apologies….

May 6, 1942-June 27, 1947

Death Register 1

Transcription (by Peggy Taylor Hulligan) Single Graves 1


February 4, 1949-May 13, 1951

Death Register 2

Transcription (by Peggy Taylor Hulligan) Single Graves 2


October 27, 1951-February 15, 1959

Death Register 3


February 23, 1954-July 7, 1956

Death Register 4

Transcription (by Peggy Taylor Hulligan) Single Graves 4


August 27, 1956- September 9, 1961

Death Register 5

Transcription (by Margaret Bowen) Single Graves 5


September 15, 1958-March 27, 1963

Death Register 6

Transcription (by Jeff Manning) Single Graves 6


January 22, 1961-September 13, 1963

Death Register 7

Transcription (by Jeff Manning) Single Graves 7

St. Joseph’s Cemetery–Burials from May 1922-March 1931, Single Graves

In St. Joseph's Cemetery Records, St. Joseph's Church, The Italians of Niagara Falls, New York on February 26, 2013 at 7:34 pm

St Joseph's Angel

Below are links to PDF files of our first book of St. Joseph’s Cemetery Records, Niagara Falls.  Some pages did not come out so well and I will be returning to the archives to re-do those pages.  Apologies!

As you will notice, these pages contain mostly the deaths of children.  There are many names that we all recognize.  There are Bossos, Gallos, Sauros, Scarcellis, Ventry’s, Salvatores, Cardones, Rotellas, Valenti’s.  There are also a handful of Spanish deaths and an Armenian or two.

Most of these early graves did not have markers.  And you will see the notation “unblessed ground”–these babies had not been baptized.   For adults,  this could mean the individual was not Catholic, had committed suicide or had been accused of “unholy acts.”

And take a look at Burials 5, August 10, 1927…”parts of a body in no. 77…worked in grave with the bodie…”  A little mystery to solve with that notation.    Of course, August is one of those warm months during which so many bodies (and parts) are found in the river.  Bodies that had gone over Niagara Falls.

This book contains people of all ages.  As for the little children, though, it might be said that these records are the only proof that they ever existed.  In fact it’s very sad holding these books and knowing the heartache that lives inside the lines.

Below are pages from St. Joseph’s Cemetery Records, Niagara Falls, New York.   Check back soon for an index and transcriptions.

Burials 1 Aug 1922-Feb 21 1924

–Transcription (by Beverly Bidak)  Burials 1

Burials 2 Feb 24, 1924 to Jan 6, 1925

–Transcription (by Peggy Taylor Hulligan)  Burials 2

Burials 3 Feb 14, 1925 to Jan 15, 1926

–Transcription (by Marcia Buzzelli) Burials 3

Burials 4 Feb 1, 1926 to Nov 27, 1926

–Transcription (by Peggy Taylor Hulligan) Burials 4

Burials 5 Feb 28, 1927 to Dec 14, 1927

–Transcription (by Marcia Buzzelli) Burials 5

Burials 6 Dec 16, 1927 to Jan 5, 1929

–Transcription (by Peggy Taylor Hulligan) Burials 6

Burials 7 Feb 25, 1929 to Feb 19, 1930

–Transcription ( By Beverly Bidak) Burials 7

Burials 8 February 22, 1930 to August 22, 1930

–Transcription (by Jeffrey Manning) Burials 8

Burials 9 September 2, 1930 to March 16, 1931

–Transcription (by Jeffrey Manning) Burials 9