Hot Pepper!
The Lucchino Family
Hot Pepper!



New World

"Love is only the dirty trick played on us
to achieve continuation of the species." 
[W. Somerset Maugham]

At the time of the newlywed’s arrival in the U.S., Rocco had relatives already living in the Buffalo, NY area. He had one uncle who lived in Silver Creek, NY, and another uncle, whose surname was Celeo, who owned a tavern in Buffalo. It was Uncle Celeo who sponsored Rocco into the U.S., which is why Rocco and Mariantonia came to Buffalo. Rachel, the ninth of Rocco and Mariantonia’s ten children, was named after this uncle’s wife. Rocco had a first cousin, also named Rocco, as well as the Vastola cousins who lived in the area. [It’s not surprising that many immigrants were drawn to the Buffalo area; at the turn of the century, Buffalo was a bustling port city with a strong economy and plenty of work.]

When the Lucchino’s first came to Buffalo in 1893, they lived on Scott St. and belonged to St. Lucy’s Parish. Family stories also place the family at Swan St. and Chicago, as well as Burwell Place. Over the years, Rocco and Mariantonia had the following ten children: Theresa, Mary, Joe, Michael, Anna, Angeline, Anthony, John, Rachel and Frank.

Other branches of the family have been located in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, PA, and one in NY City. The Lucchino family based in Pittsburgh can trace their family back to the towns of Contisaro and Nicastro, both in Calabria. Mary-Ann has talked to them, and they are going to send her the research on their family.

Despite the way things had gone in Campomaggiore, there were no hard feelings between Rocco and Mr. Lorenzo; once settled in the U.S., they re-established contact and remained close friends. Some time later, Mr. Lorenzo married a woman named Wilamena, and when they had children, he invited Rocco and Mariantonia to be godparents to one of them. Many years later, his daughter, Anna, married Rocco and Mariantonia’s son Michael. And his other daughter married Tony, brother of Mary, wife of Frank.

The census of 1900 reveals the following: "The family of Rocco A. Lucchino, laborer, aged 32, living at 36 Beaver Alley in Buffalo, NY, with wife Mariantonia, aged 25, daughter Theresa, aged 6, daughter Mary, aged 4, son Joe, aged 2, son Michael, aged 8 months, and Frank Iasco, aged 27, boarder, brother of Mariantonia."


Original Characters

Rocco was a serious and stern man, but one who occasionally enjoyed kidding around. When he came to the U.S., he became a railroad man on the New York Central Railroad and worked for them until he retired. Like most southern Italians, he was a Roman Catholic; nevertheless one day his Vastola cousins convinced him to attend a Jehovah’s Witnesses meeting. He was so impressed by what he experienced that he quickly converted, and became a devout Bible student for the rest of his life. Every Sunday morning, he would deliver sermons to his family, and once he took his children to Kingdom Hall.

Mariantonia was a beautiful and loving woman with long dark brown hair, which she wore in a bun. She loved to laugh, was a great cook, and had a wonderful singing voice. She was a devout Catholic and refused to join the Jehovah’s Witnesses with her husband. Every Sunday she would take the children to Mass.

Rocco’s brothers, Silverio and Michael, stayed in Italy, while his sister, Carmela, emigrated to Argentina. She married a wealthy Argentinian (surname Blasi), who owned a sizeable ranch. Their desire to have children, however, went unfulfilled. Knowing that her brother Rocco had ten children in Buffalo, she wrote him asking if he would send his two youngest (Rachel and Frank) on a vacation to visit her. Suspecting that she might want to keep them, he decided not to write, but rather to personally deliver his response. So on September 22, 1925, at the age of 58, he boarded a ship that would take him all the way to Argentina to tell her, "No." Her reaction was so impassioned (perhaps hurt by his suspicions, certainly disappointed by the outcome) that she never spoke to him again. She and her husband died without heirs, and left their ranch to their servants.

Also in 1925, Grandpa Lucchino thought the world was going to end, so he took all the family money out of the bank and spent it. [Editor’s note: Oh that Rocco - What a kidder!] Grandma Lucchino was furious!

From the Old World, the Lucchino’s brought many of the southern Italian social traditions, as exemplified by how they managed the marriages of their oldest daughters, Theresa and Mary. When Theresa was a young woman, she fell in love with a young man in Buffalo. Rocco and Mariantonia, however, had other plans for her; they arranged a marriage with a young Rocco living in their hometown in Italy. This young man came from Campomaggiore to Buffalo in 1905, and married Theresa in 1910. [The arrangement must not have been too bad, for they stayed together for more than fifty years.] And Mary wanted to marry a man who was moving to Ohio, but again the parents intervened; they arranged her marriage to Amico [again with successful results].

Rocco Lucchino died on July30, 1940 (age 73), and Mariantonia joined him less than a year later on June 21, 1941 (age 67). They left a legacy of a large, loving family firmly planted in the New World - so firmly planted, it turned out, that the ties with their homeland would be permanently severed. The family has prospered and proliferated throughout America, and now we can look to each branch to continue with their respective stories.