Vallone Family History
The origin of the Vallone name appears actually to be French. It appears first in the ancient records of Bourgogne, a center stage in the development of European civilization. 3000 years ago, the first merchants brought tin to this area ushering in the great bronze age and creating a center of wealth and rich culture. In the tenth century, Bourgogne (or Burgundy) came to mean a duchy belonging to the royal family of the Carpetians. The Vallone family's Italian roots can be traced back at least to the eleventh century, when the Normans (descendents of the Vikings) invaded Sicily. During this time, Norman French culture and language gradually contributed to what would become the unique Sicilian dialect. Palermo became a political center of great wealth, art, and culture. French reign over Sicily would end in the thirteenth century as the Papacy gained a political stronghold.
The history of Sicily is riddled with political overthrows, adding to it's cultural uniqueness. It played the part of a bargaining chip or a battle prize because of its disassociation with the rest of Europe and because, as an island, it was more easily invaded and conquered. When the French lost power they also lost their wealth, and those few that were left fled away from the city southward into the countryside and eventually assumed the roles of farmers and merchants who lived off the land. The village where our family settled was called Valledolmo, meaning "Valley of the Elms".
Through the centuries, the Vallones lived a simple existence using the land to provide them with all they needed. Their homes were simple stone structures, and they traveled by donkey to a central farm each morning to work the land. They absorbed the regional culture and eventually became part of the Sicilian People who directed and shaped the culture and traditions of 'the old country' as we have come to know it. They learned to grow very large fruits and vegetables, and prepare savory dishes with the fruits of their labor. They loved to eat, as it was one of the simple pleasures they came to appreciate in life. Their appreciation for the beauty of the land was manifested in the way they also learned how to tend beautiful ornamental gardens in their village.
BELOW: Giuseppe and Crocesfissa (LaPaglia) Vallone c. 1880
They entered the US through the immigration center at Ellis Island, and then continued to their destination of Buffalo, NY. Many people from Valledolmo settled in Buffalo, where work was available and other Italian-speaking people had already formed a close community. In 1906, Rosario's sister Loretta and brother Luigi (with wife Antonina) sailed for America, bound for a reunion with their brother who now lived in Rochester, New York.
Giuseppe and Crocefissa's children: Rosario, Loretta, & Luigi ( Louis)
Giuseppe arrived came to the United States in 1893 in search of a better life for his family. His wife, Crocefissa stayed behind in Valledolmo with her children to be close to her sick mother. Some years later, after her mother had passed away, Crocefissa made the journey to America. By that time, Rosario had taken a bride. Rosario had met a young widow named Anna Maria (Mary) Manuele who had a son just a year old. They probably met at the annual picnic that reunited all of the townspeople who lived in Valledolmo. They were married and bought a house at 270 Pennsylvania Avenue in Rochester.
Rosario and Mary's family grew quickly in the new house. The couple had eight more children together. The last of the Vallone children to arrive, in 1929, was Donald. By this time, the family had already sat for a formal family portrait a few years before (thinking that no more children would arrive!).
Rosario's Family, 1925
Top: Mary, Peggy, Joe, Pino Bottom: Frank, Maria (Mary), Virginia, Tony, Rosario (Sam), Clara
Rosario and Mary Vallone (c.1940's)
The Vallone girls: Virginia, Peggy, Clara, and Mary c. 1950
The family home on Pennsylvania Avenue became the gathering place for the extended family on weekends and holidays. There was never a day when Mary wouldn't be ready with a pot of fresh coffee and home made Italian cookies for friends or family to enjoy when they stopped by for a visit. Carrying on the traditional family skills, sharpened over centuries, Rosario's home was a garden in the city. He grew roses and flowering shrubs around the house and planted fruit trees in the back yard. There was a root cellar for all of the home grown vegetables, especially tomatoes and peppers that together they would can in the basement. Through the depression years, the family would be provided well with fresh canned fruits and vegetables. There was also an herb garden behind the house that Mary tended to supply her with fresh bay leaves and other ingredients for her homemade sauce.
50th Anniversary Party - May 4th, 1957
As proud grandparents, they welcomed the next Vallone generation into the world with cultural traditions and stories of the old country. In 1967, they celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary. They would eventually have 16 grandchildren and to this day over 30 great-grandchildren and a growing list of great-great-grandchildren! 2007 will mark the 100th anniversary of their wedding day!