“My parents were Italian immigrants, and they settled in West Virginia, where my father came over at the age of seventeen, where he was a bookkeeper. He came over as a bookkeeper for an Italian, Mr. Fucci [sic], who was building a railroad through a great part of West Virginia at the time.
[ed. note: Joseph ‘Col. Joe’ Fuccy (1857-1922) was for forty years one of West Virginia’s prominent railroad builders and contractors. He was involved in the construction of half a dozen different lines in West Virginia and the Ohio Valley.]
“Mr. Fucci knew my father, because he came from the same little town in Italy many years before. He knew about my father’s background, and he needed a bookkeeper, so he asked him to come over, which he did. My mother came a few years–came from another small town in Italy. She came about a year or two later. She settled in Pittsburgh with some relatives; she was only fourteen when she came over.
“My father was eighteen, seventeen or eighteen, and they were introduced to each other through mutual friends and married and settled down right outside of Clarksburg, West Virginia, in the little town of Wilsonburg, which was a coal-mining town. My father had a little office there and kept the books for Mr. Fucci. I was born in Clarksburg and brought up there. I have a brother who was a year older than myself, and I had three sisters. So our family consisted of five children.
“My education was in the Catholic school there in Clarksburg until I was eleven years old when I was sent to a prep school in New Rochelle, New York, because my father was concerned that I had lost my ability to speak Italian. Until I was five years old, until I started to school, we spoke just Italian at home, and that was the only language I knew, so I had some difficulty when school started, which I started at five.
“But the English came easy, and eventually by the time I was eleven years old, I had lost my ability to speak Italian, although I understood it very well, and to speak it well–. And my father was concerned. And then he was concerned also because some of the boys that I was associated with at that time in Clarksburg had bad reputations I presume, although I don’t recall anything terrible that they did. My father wanted me to get away from that environment, so he sent me to New Rochelle, New York, to prep school there.”
Dr. James Gifford
b. Clarksburg WV
Medical historian, in 1970 started the first formal archives program for Duke University Medical Center
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appalachia appalachian+culture appalachian+history history+of+appalachia Italian+immigrants+in+WV James+Gifford Joseph+Fuccy