view of Salandra, Matera, Basilicata, Italy by Antonio DiPersia

Thursday, July 25, 2013


In presenting the history of the Ambruso Family on this blog, I started with my own branch, the descendants of Rocco Vincenzo Ambruso who settled in the northern New Jersey-New York City area.  Old Rocco had 10 children, so it took a long time for me to get through the family.  It is now time to move on to the Philadelphia Ambruso’s.  As I said previously, two of the sons of Michelarcangelo Ambruso settled in Philadelphia.  Both branches have rich histories and interesting stories, all of which contributed to the wonderful Italian culture of South Philly that exists today. 
Francesco Domenico Ambruso was the oldest son of Michelarcangelo Ambruso and Maria Giuseppa Iula.  He was born in Salandra in 1845.  He was the first Salandra Ambruso to come to America.  He came in the early 1880’s.  It is believed that his wife and three children followed in the mid 1880's.  They came through New York City, but settled in Philadelphia. 

Francesco was one of over 100,000 Italians who made their way to Philadelphia between 1980 and 1930.  During that short period of time, the Italian population of the city grew from under 25,000 to well over 150,000.  A report by the Italian Commission on Emigration says that over 75% of the Italians who were living in Philadelphia in 1901 were from four regions in southern Italy:  Abruzzi, Calabria, Campania and Basilicata.  Ward 4, just south of South Street was the center of Italian immigration from about 1885 to 1910.  Eventually, Italian immigrants spread further south and west to the familiar South Philly Italian neighborhoods we know today.  But in period betwee 1890 and 1900, the Italian immigrant population of Philadelphia was centered in the neighborhood between 6th and 10th Streets on the east and west; and Bainbridge and Washington Streets on the north and south.  This is where Francesco lived. 
Francesco’s two sons Michele and Leonardo came to Philadelphia around 1885 with their mother and sister.  In 1898, Michele (Michael) married Caterina DiBiase in Philadelphia.  The next year, his brother Leonardo married Maria Isabella Gentile.  All three families lived on a narrow alley named South Mildred Street.  Like Harrison Avenue in Garfield, NJ, “Uncle Frank’s house” on Mildred Street was to become the destination for all the Salandra Ambruso’s coming to Philadelphia and elsewhere in America.

In October of 1900, Francesco’s brother Giuseppe Maria Ambruso came to the United Stated from Salandra with his two grown sons, Michele and Eugenio.  They stated on the ship’s manifest that they were going to Uncle Francesco’s house on Mildred St. in Philadelphia.  Giuseppe and his family started the second branch of the Ambruso clan from Salandra to settle in America.

In subsequent postings, I will present all the information I have on both Philadelphia branches of the Ambruso Family. I will start with posts on Francesco’s branch, and then move to Giuseppe’s branch.  This is an invitation for all descendants of both Philadelphia branches to send me any facts and stories you have on your Ambruso ancestors.  Now is the time to speak up.  All of us will appreciate your stories and family memories.

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