We spoke just Italian at home

Posted by | August 21, 2017

“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.

St Marys Central Grade School, Clarksburg WV“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

sources: https://archives.mc.duke.edu/search/archives/%22Dr.%20James%20Gifford%22

Related posts: “West Virginia bluebeard” (Clarksburg WV)
“Cut down the damn tree and give it to the Horners!” (Clarksburg WV)
“We all have pictures, we immigrants” (immigrants)

5 Responses


    I recently moved to the Clarksburg area of WV and I am related to Colonel Joseph Fucci. My great grandfather, Antonio Castelluccio worked for his uncle Joseph Fucci after
    coming to America to earn money and bring over his wife and 3 small children he left in Noepoli, Italy…provence of Potenza, region of Basilicata. He was working on the old Mt. Clare road in Weston, WV an when the dynamite that was placed and lit didn’t go off. He went back to check it…and it blew up. I think he died in the hospital but I’m not sure. He is buried in Machpelah Cemetery in Weston, West Virginia. I have been to his gravesite numerous times. The name reads Antonia Castellucci I believe, but the records pointed to the site. His uncle, Joseph Fucci buried him in the family plot. Mr Fucci and his mother are buried there too.

    I would like to hear from you and hear more about your father and the Fucci family. Colonial Fucci is written up in the book “Who’s Who in West Virginia”. Hacker’s Creek Geneaology Society located them all for me when I lived in Los Angeles, and when I visited my family in Bridgeport, Clarksburg and Fairmont and our family reunion, I found the cemetery in Weston. I know Colonial Fucci was a highly respected and very honest man according to the “Who’s Who in West Virginia” biography…and that the last name has been noted as Fuccy now and not the original Italian spelling of Fucci. Our family name on my father’s side was Castelluccio…and that
    is the maiden name of Colonial Fucci’s mother. I found her death certificate a few years back, and that confirmed that
    he was related to my great grandfather Antonio Castelluccio as
    his nephew or possibly his cousin. I have some information on them, but haven’t been able to find anything written about the dynamite explosion in Weston. I probably should check the
    microfiche at the Weston Court House to see if a newspaper article was written about the explosion that killed my great grandfather. There is only a year of death in the cemetery records of 1901…he was born in 1870 I believe…so he was either 29 or 30 when he died..depending on the month he died.

  • Elizabeth Lee says:

    I am the great-great niece of Col. Joe Fuccy. I would be interested learning any information about him and the Fuccy family along with the Castelluccio family of my great-great grandmother. I have been trying to work on the family history but haven’t been able to get much information about the family prior to coming to the United States. I would love to hear from anyone who can share information about the Fuccy (Fucci) or Castelluccio families.


    Hi Elizabeth Lee,

    I would love to talk to you. I live in Clarksburg area of WV. Please email me at dianelauren78@yahoo.com so we can get together….as we are related…probably cousins. I have information on our family and have been doing our family history now for 24 years. I’ll try to find you on Facebook. Where do you live??


    Cousin Diane

  • Elizabeth Lee says:

    Dear Diane, I was working on the family history and came across a reply you sent me about the Fucci/Castalucci families. I actually live in Buckhannon WV. I am having difficulty getting information about ancestors from Italy. Col. Joseph Fucci was the brother of my great-grandfather Dominick. Their mother was a Castalucci. I think her name was Lucrezia but was Americanized to Grace. I would appreciate any information you could share with me about the Castalucci family. I believe they lived in Noepoli, Italy.
    Thank you,
    Elizabeth Lee


    Hi Elizabeth,

    Please contact me and I will share all the info I’ve been a able to put together on our family. We are cousins. I moved to the Clarksburg area in 2008 after 41 years in Los Angeles to be here with all my Italian cousins in the area. My phone number is 304-566-7792. My email is dianelauren78@yahoo.com. My grandfather was Giuseppe Castelluccio and Antonio Castelluccio was his father….and he is buried in Weston. Joe Fucci (Fuccy) was his cousin or uncle. Lucrezia Castelluccio Fucci was the link that took me back to the early 1800’s when I found her death certificate. It mentioned the name of her parents and that was the Castelluccio link. We definitely need to talk and hopefully meet someday soon…after all we are related and we live only 30-40 minutes apart. I will try to find you on Facebook. I am on under Diane Costello Lauren.

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