Maria Giuseppe Di Lazzaro Augustine — #Genealogy of Albano-Italians

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

18710613_Birth13_MariaGiuseppeDiLazzaro_page1

page 1 of Birth Record 13

This week Stanczyk ventured far afield to … Castroregio. Where?

Exactly, I did not know where. My wife’s Great Grandmother, Mary Augustine was a Muslim !!! An Albanian Muslim. But when I started trying to find “Castorregio” [sic] from an USA record, I kept being shuttled off to Castroregio … Italy???

It turns out that the commune/settlement of Castroregio a part of Castrovillari in the Costenza Province in the region of Calabria, Italy. It is southern Italy up the pennisula north of the heel of the boot. It is also across the Adriatic Sea from Albania.

Ok, I accepted that fact. Now did FamilySearch.org have any online records/images of it? Yes. Their title:

Italy, Cosenza, Castroville. (Tribunale), 1866-1910URL:

Birth Record #13 — Maria Giuseppe Di Lazzaro di Diomede

I knew her father’s name was Diomede and that her birth date should be: 13 Jun 1871. These were from US records.

I had Mary Dellazarro for  name. The birth record said in the margin: Maria Giuseppe Di Lazzaro di Diomede

OK, so Mary was Maria and Maria’s middle name was Giuseppe. I was in the Civil Records for Castroregio in 1871. The final di Diomede was who her father was (his first name). Ok that was very good too. Diomede was not a common name. But how could I possibly know this was my Mary Dellalazzaro Augustine? The baby’s birth date was 13 Jun 1871 .  OK I was now certain I had the birth record of my wife’s maternal Great-Grandmother. The birth date was an exact match from US records! This happens so seldom among my immigrant ancestors. It is usually a few days one way or another.

So now I had my wife’s maternal Great-Grandmother, Mary’s birth record from Italy. It was in the civil records and the religion was listed as unknown/none-followed (not Muslim, but I could accept that might not be a popular label). But these were Italians or so I thought. After all these were records from Calabria, Italy. Perhaps they had migrated from Albania at some point, but when?

I also had my wife’s 2x great-grandparent’s names: Diomede Di Lazzaro of course. But I also had Mary Todaro too. I’ll save the suspense for another time. I found Diomede & Mary ‘s marriage record too. So I had another generation’s names (3x great grandparents on both Di Lazzaro & Todaro sides). The marriage record also gave me the full birth date of both newlyweds too! Bonus. I like Italian records – more info than my usual Russian-Poland records.

How was I able to read the records? It was not quite the same as Latin (which I knew well enough from Poland). I also was a bit let down by my Hoffman & Shea book, “Following The Paper Trail“. The book did not have a sample of Italian paragraph form. Thankfully, I can read old handwriting pretty well and Google’s translator worked well too and I was reading Italian. The form was very similar to the Napoleon Codex form I was used to from the Russian-Poland records I routinely deal with.

Finally, Google found me several web sites that described the Albanian migration to Italy which was actually a reward to the Albanian hero-king, Skanderbeg! These people were Albanians and they still communicated in their language and even today you may see signs in two languages (Albanian & Italian) for the place names in this region. I also found a Lazzaro in Berat, Albania. It turns out that the TODARO family was in the retinue of the original Albanian Soldiers of Skanderbeg. They were one of forty families that had migrated from Albania about  400 years earlier! Many of these families were Christians too. It turns out they were Eastern Rite Catholics (Orthodox Catholics) due to their connection  Byzantium and Constantinople. Skanderbeg was Orthodox Catholic, then Muslim then converted back to Orthodox Catholic again – so  being Muslim or Catholic was not a problem for these Albanians. They were ALBANIAN (Arbëresh) and that and their connection to Skanderbeg was what mattered to them!

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