Links to the Tortorici, Jacobs and Frank Family Histories

The Tortorici Family History 1909-2000

The Tortorici Family 1909-2000: Until I rest with you again…

The Jacobs and Frank Family History

The Jacobs Family: Prologue

The Jacobs & Frank Families History Part One: 1904-1940

The Jacobs & Frank Families History Part Two: Highlights 1950-2014 (1)

The Jacobs & Frank Families History Part Two: Highlights 1950-2014 (2)

The Jacobs & Frank Families History Part Two: Highlights 1950-2014 (3)

The Jacobs & Frank Families History Part Two: Highlights 1950-2014 (4)

The Jacobs & Frank Families History Part Two: Highlights 1950-2014 (5)

The Jacobs & Frank Families History Part Two: Highlights 1950-2014 (6)

The Tortorici Family Get-Together-Saturday, April 25th, 2015 (Part Four)

EmilyAnn:  Connecting the past with the present

Nadenia Marie, EmilyAnn and Diane at Circles Café.

I was very comfortable with Bill, Diane and Dina Marie.  There’s a spiritual quality to the way in which we came together.  In my heart I feel that the purpose is not just to make a connection but to receive answers that better help us all understand events that happened in the past.  I also enjoyed hearing family stories and learning about my cousins.  Here are some of the memories they shared with me:

  • Bill and I have a very bad sense of direction. I’ve been like this since childhood. Bill told me his son Jon also shares this trait.
  • Anthony Tortorici, Bill and Dina Marie’s dad, used to work at the Copacabana. They enjoyed meeting their Dad after work and going out with him to different restaurants. He knew many clubs, bars and eateries in New York and Brooklyn.
  • Anthony loved to cook. Bill said the kitchen would be a mess but the pasta and sauce were very good. You just didn’t look at the kitchen until the meal was over and you had to clean up!
  • Bill’s mother Frances passed away very young at the age of 40 due to stomach cancer. His maternal Grandmother Dora Jacobs raised Bill and his sister June. Dora had a tough life as a young woman and knew how to handle herself when things got difficult. Bill said there was a landlord who once came asking for the rent in advance of the next month. Dora told him off in no uncertain terms that it was not going to happen. That landlord never asked for the next month’s rent in advance again!
  • Diane used to be a school teacher in the inner city. She told me it was a challenge for her students to build a family tree as part of a school assignment. The difficulties arise when the children do not have complete knowledge of their parent’s families.

We all agreed that this family history project has a very special quality to it.  I attribute this to the contributions made by the living descendants who work with me to bring the past to life through photos and memories.  It is in this collaboration that we are able to tell the story behind the information provided by the official records.  For this I am very thankful.

A Retro Look to Our Photos

I love working with photos from family events and making them look like they were taken with an old fashioned box camera.  Partly this is for the nostalgia appeal of the photos taken in the 1950s and early 1960s.  Many children of our generation learned how to take pictures with a Brownie camera using Kodachrome Color or Black and White film.  Here are some versions of the Tortorici Family Get-Together that were run through the Photo Time Machine feature of PaintShopPro.

April 25, 2015

The Tortorici Family Get-Together-Saturday, April 25th, 2015 (Part Three)

Nadenia Marie-Finding her Brother

Bill and Nadenia Marie.

One weekend in March I decided to google my Grandmother on my father’s side, Angelina Torregrossa Tortorici.  I didn’t know why, of course she would not be anywhere on the internet.  I was stunned when a picture of my father started to appear before my eyes.  My jaw dropped, it was a picture of a young Anthony Arthur Tortorici!  I just stared.  He had his arm around a beautiful blonde woman, and I knew she was my brother Billy’s mother.

Nadenia Marie and Diane.

I knew instantly Nonna Angelina, and my father had nudged me to look her up.  They wanted me to reconnect with my brother.  I am amazed, every day, of what I have discovered.  I met my brother Bill Frank and his lady, Diane, and my cugina EmilyAnn.

This is a new chapter in my life, and I am thankful to EmilyAnn, for writing her blog, or Billy and I would have died without ever reconnecting.

Nadenia Marie Angelina Tortorici Biondolillo
May 2, 2015

The Tortorici Family Get-Together-Saturday, April 25th, 2015 (Part Two)

Bill Frank Tortorici-Finding his Sister and meeting his Cousin

Bill and Nadenia Marie at EmilyAnn’s apartment.

My son Jon Frank, told me through DNA testing, that he was related to Emily May.  To my surprise Emily contacted me through email, she informed me about my relatives that I did not know I had.  I put her in contact with other family members and told her I had been searching for my sister Dina whom I had not seen for over thirty years.  Leave it to Emily she found my long lost Dina.  On April 25, 2015 we all were reunited.  Our time together was wonderful and I felt as if I was always in contact with them.  While walking to a restaurant I found a store with a broom that I was looking for (what a bargain.)  I can’t wait to see them again!  I had a wonderful time.

Bill Frank/Tortorici
May 3, 2015

The Tortorici Family Get-Together-Saturday, April 25th, 2015 (Part One)


In May of 2014 a series of developments occurred, so rapidly as to be breath taking when reviewed from this point in time.  Maspeth, a volunteer photographer from FindAGrave, went to Calvary Cemetery in Queens, NY to photograph the resting place of Rodolfo Torregrossa for his FindAGrave memorial.  She then walked to the grave of Rosa Torregrossa who passed away at 19 years of age.  While standing at Rosa’s plot Maspeth viewed an impressive monument nearby.  Attracted by the statue of a woman weeping by a cross Maspeth went over to take a closer look at the monument.

There she found the resting place of Angelina Torregrossa Tortorici who passed away from puerperal infection after childbirth.  Together we created a memorial at FindAGrave for Angelina, her husband and daughters who are all at rest in the same plot.

At the same time I was contacted by Angelina’s Great Grandson Jon Frank Tortorici after Ancestry’s DNA tests matched us up as cousins.  We exchanged emails as the story unfolded that we shared descent from Alfonso and Benedetta Torregrossa who were the parents of my Great Grandfather Francesco and Jon’s Great Grandmother Angelina.

Jon introduced me to his father Bill and we began collaborating on blog postings and Family Tree profiles for the Tortorici, Jacobs and Frank families in the extended branch network of our family trees

Another development recently took our journey to a deeper and very exciting level:  Bill’s sister Nadenia Marie Angelina Tortorici Biondolillo found him through the postings at this blog.  They had been out of contact for some time.  To celebrate the amazing and blessed events that have unfolded since the discovery of Angelina’s resting place was a very wonderful thing.  We had our first get-together on Saturday, April 25th, 2015.

Bill and Diane came from New Jersey and Dina Marie came from the Bronx to visit me.  I was so touched that they came such a great distance for this important get-together.  We spent some time at my apartment and then went to Circles Café in Bay Ridge to celebrate our coming together.

We’re sharing photos and our thoughts in the next three postings.

Torregrossa Family Outing, July 20, 1947

I felt a great happiness when Betty Ann shared her photo albums with me during our first meeting in December 2014.  As we turned the pages of the albums, it was like opening a gift.  Finally I was able to see some of the relatives I had written about.  I was also able to see younger versions of the relatives I had known as a child.

Anna Rossi Torregrossa took care to note the date on which many of the photos were taken.  This little detail was able to help us reconstruct what was going on in the lives of those in the photographs taken on July 20, 1947.

The woman in the center of one of the photos, dressed in black, was Caterina Gioccimo Torregrossa.  Caterina was Betty Ann’s Great Aunt and my paternal Great Grandmother.  When Betty Ann and I exchanged emails about the photo she described Caterina as looking lost.  This is understandable.  On January 21, 1947 her husband Francesco passed way from stomach cancer.

The surprise for me was seeing Alfonso and his children Frank, Robert and Maureen Torregrossa in this photo, too.  Alfonso was Caterina’s son and my paternal Grandfather.  Frank was my father, Robert Edward my Uncle and Maureen my Auntie and Godmother.  My Dad rarely spoke of his childhood relationships with his cousins or his paternal Grandparents.  Seeing these photos gave me a glimpse into his past that filled in the empty spaces I have had questions about.

One of the delightful surprises was seeing how Grandpa Al resembled his mother.

Betty Ann and I think that three of the older women in the photo were Caterina’s daughters.  We are not sure of their names.  I vaguely remember my father’s Aunt Edith and think I have placed her in this photo.  One of the older women with white hair may have been Bettina, Caterina’s first child.  My parents often asked her to come to the house to babysit in the mid-late 1950s.  I do remember a well dressed woman with silvery white hair but the facial features do not come to mind.

Seeing my Aunt Maureen as a 14 year old brought back so many memories of her and little things my Dad would tell me about her.  She learned how to answer back and stand up for herself as a child because her three older brothers always teased her.  I always pictured her as acting older than her years and there is something in these photos that reinforces that impression for me.

Another confirmation I received from the photos was that my memories of Grandpa Al’s brother Jessie (Gesuri) were also correct.  I always remembered that when I saw Great Uncle Jesse with Grandpa Al there could be no doubt that they were brothers.

Even though the people and event during which the photos were taken are long gone, memories have been renewed and new connections have been made.  In a way that day now lives on in me and for Betty Ann, too, as she shared her impressions with me.

The process of identifying who is who in the photo

It took Betty Ann and I several email exchanges to identify all the relatives in the photos.  To make it easier, I saved a copy of the photo and then used Microsoft Paint to add numbers for each person in the photo.  This is what it looked like during our sessions to sort out who is who.

I then made captions adding the numbers and the names of the people I could identify.  Betty Ann reviewed and added the names of those people she remembered.

Betty Ann turned the captions into a numbered list which worked out better.  It was easier to add more details as we took time to recollect the memories of long ago.  This is what developed:

1.  Maureen Torregrossa, daughter of Blanche and Al Torregrossa.

2.  Betty Ann Torregrossa, daughter of Anna and Dr. Ermete Torregrossa.

3.  Theresa, wife of Jesse Torregrossa. In some Federal Census records Theresa appears as Tessie.

4.  Terry (Ermete, Jr.), son of Anna and Dr. Ermete Torregrossa.

5 and 7.  Caterina’s daughters.  Might be Bettina and Mamie.  Bettina was a widow by this time.

6.  Edith Torregrossa Dazzo, wife of John Dazzo and daughter of Caterina. John and Edith owned the property where the photo was taken.

7.  Anna Rossi Torregrossa, wife of Dr. Torregrossa and mother of Betty Ann and Terry.

8.  Husband of Caterina’s daughter who is number 5 in the photo.

9.  Blanche Flashenberg Torregrossa, wife of Alfonso and mother of Frank Jesse, Robert Edward and Maureen

10.  Al Torregrossa, son of Caterina and husband of Blanche, father of Maureen, Frank Jesse and Robert Edward.

11.  Caterina Torregrossa, spouse of the late Francesco Torregrossa.

12.  Might be Edith’s husband, John Dazzo

13.  Robert Edward Torregrossa, son of Blanche and Al

14.  Frank Jesse Torregrossa, son of Blanch and Al

15.  Dr. Ermete Torregrossa, nephew of Caterina.

16.  Catherine, daughter of Jesse and Theresa.

The biggest challenge was trying to place the eldest women who appear in the photo (numbers 5 and 7).  Caterina had six daughters:  Bettina (b. 1894), Mary/Mamie (b. 1896), Angelina (1899-1905), Edith (b. 1904), Adeline (b. 1906) and Eleanor (b. 1910).

We decided that based on their appearance the two women in the photos might be the eldest daughters, Bettina and Mary/Mamie.

A process such as this might help other family historians collaborating with their relatives on identifying group photos from family events.  I can say that the collaboration with Betty Ann was very enjoyable.  As we exchanged emails about the photos, many memories surfaced.  Not every memory was directly related to the photos but I saved some of the information and will add it to family history notes I’m compiling.  These notes often develop into short anecdotes or stories about someone in the family and get added to the relevant family member profiles at Ancestry.

Photo with Caption

Front Row (seated, left to right): Maureen, Betty, Theresa (Tessie), Terry (Ermete, Jr.), one of Caterina’s daughters.  Might be Bettina and Mamie. 

Second Row (seated, left to right):  Edith, another older daughter of Caterina, Anna.

Third row (standing,left to right):  Husband of Caterina’s daughter who is seated next to Theresa, Blanche, Al, Caterina, might be Edith’s husband John Dazzo, Robert Edward, Frank Jesse, Dr. Ermete Torregrossa, Catherine.

Other photos from the outing

 Front row (seated):  Terry, Betty Ann.

Second row (seated):  Edith, Catherine, Jesse, Caterina.

Third row (standing):  The first two women may be Caterina’s daughters Mary (a/k/a Mamie) and Bettina, the man next to the second woman from the left is husband to one of the sisters,  unidentified man, Dr. Torregrossa.




I thank Betty Ann Torregrossa Falletta for sharing photos from her albums and for editing this post.


The little composition book of Rosario Torregrossa: Sheet music as an heirloom

I am delighted to share with you the beautiful sheet music of Rosario Torregrossa.  Betty Ann shared her Grandfather’s composition book with me when we first met in December 2014.

Betty Ann’s memories, as described in “Mandolin Memories”, vividly communicate the love her Grandfather had for her and for music.  Now you can see some examples of his beautiful handwriting, illustrations and finely written music for his mandolin.  There is so much love and refinement that comes across in the following photos.  Betty Ann and I wondered what kind of a life Rosario lived in Caltanisetta that enabled him to reach such a level of accomplishment in composing songs and writing them.

It still remains one of those mysteries that we may never solve about what life was like back in Sicily.

“Le Mie Piccoli Composizione
Scritti nel momenti di gioia e di dolore.”

“My little compositions
Written in moments of joy and of sadness.
Rosario Torregrossa”