Thursday, July 10, 2014

Throwback Thursday

I finally found my great-uncle (by marriage), Manny. He was a stone cutter by trade and family lore states he carved his own tombstone.  I have no way of verifying the story.

The stone tells an interesting tale and may point to some truth in the family stories.

Uncle Manny, as my father called him, is buried with his son, Americo, who died two years after he was born in 1910. An accident or an illness, I have no idea. Either way, sad to lose a child.

 Uncle Manny died in 1926 from heart disease.

Little Americo's name is not the first name listed on the stone.  Usually, the first name on a stone for a multiple grave is the person who passed away first.

Also, a headstone was an expensive purchase (still is), even with a discount, or at cost, or a less than perfect stone for a stone cutter from the monument works where he was employed. That would explain why such a long time passed from the time Americo died until a headstone was erected. If Uncle knew he was dying, and knew he would be buried with his son, perhaps he carved everything except his death date.

Records with Uncle's family name are spelled DeCristoforo, not with the "faro" ending. Manny's children, my father's first cousins all use the "foro" ending. I had suspected the family name is, indeed, DeCristofaro,  and just defaulted to the "foro" spelling when records were filled out. Manny's father's name has been recorded with the "faro" ending. Not unusual to find variations of spelling due to transcribers not being able to understand thick accents and language barriers. Note, Uncle carved the stone with the real spelling of his surname.

The pink, marble stone is rather plain in its decoration except for the stepped top. A simple cross with the letters IHS (the first letters of Jesus' name in Greek) and palm branches. The back of the stone is rough hewn (like the base) and the stone is unfinished, that is, not polished.

This same unfinished technique was used on the lions at the Boston Public Library which Uncle Manny also worked on according to family stories. Augustus Saint-Gaudens, the artist who designed and carved the lions also left the stone unpolished. The lions are a Civil War memorial to two units of Massachusetts soldiers. The stones were left unpolished to symbolize the unfinished lives of the soldiers who died during the war.

Perhaps Uncle also left the stone unfinished in memory of the little boy who was taken before his life even began.


  1. What an incredible find in your families history.

  2. What a great story. How lucky you are to know so much about your ancestors.

  3. Thanks for sharing, CJ. Did you leave the flowers?

    1. Yes. It took over a year of searching to find Uncle Manny. I felt we both needed to celebrate. It's probably been a very long time since someone left him flowers. Z'Angelina and Zio Manny had 10 children, and one died at the age of 2. Zio Manny had a son from a previous marriage. If any of the children are still alive, they would be well into their 90's and some over 100.