Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Great Grandad was an Anarchist-Bernardino Fratoddi

My great-grandfather was Bernardino Fratoddi. He was born in Montereale, L'Aquila, Abruzzo, Italy in 1869. He was a brick layer, maurer (builder of walls of stone or brick) and cement worker. He came to the United States aboard the steamship Lahn in 1902. He married Giulia Montagna, born in Bologna, Italy. They were married 1905 in Manhattan. Oral history says that he came to work on the Holland Tunnel in NYC. By 1910 the family was in Memphis, TN, and included a daughter Florida, who was Florida. Son George Esperanto was born shortly after the census was taken. My grandmother, Georgia Mildred, and her twin Elise, were born in Birmingham, Alabama in 1912. Bernardino, now called Bernard,  helped build the Birmingham Terminal Station, and most likely Blessed Sacrament Church in Birmingham. Daughter Flavia was also born in Birmingham.

This is a photo from my father's baby book, 1932, in Birmingham.

So far, this sounds like a typical Italian immigrant who settled in the US. Now for the anarchist part:


noun \ˈa-nər-kist, -ˌnär-\

Definition of ANARCHIST

1: a person who rebels against any authority, established order, or ruling power
2: a person who believes in, advocates, or promotes anarchism or anarchy; especially: one who uses violent means to overthrow the established order 

I occasionally do a Google search on the name Fratoddi. The name is rare, even in Italy.

I found a reference in Soviet Russia Pictorial By Russian Soviet Government Bureau, Friends of Soviet Russia that B. Fratoddi, of Birmingham, Ala. made a contribution of $10 May 1, 1922.

Here is a transcription of a document I found in Swedish (thank you Google Translate!):

FRATODDI Berardino (called Riccio)
Montereale (AQ) 07/26/1869 by Giuseppe and Flavia Salieri -Unknown place and date of death.
Emigrated to Switzerland, came into contact with anarchist circles and is reported by police in Switzerland 1898 because it is part of the insurgent bands which have established the Swiss-Italian border after the repression of Milan Bava Beccaris. Expelled from Switzerland by Federal Decree 15 November 1898, takes refuge in Germany where they are hunted in 1902 by anarchist propaganda. He emigrated to the USA in 1904 and since then there has been no news ...
SOURCES: DBAI / GB (deportation order of the Federal Council)

Cantiere biografico
degli Anarchici IN Svizzera
Another source with a slightly different translation:
Fratoddi Berardino (said Ricciuto)

Montereale (AQ) 07/26/1869 by Joseph and Flavia Salieri - You ignore the place and date of death. He emigrated to Switzerland, comes into contact with the anarchist circles and is reported by the Swiss police in 1898 because it is part of the insurgent gangs established themselves to the Italian border -elvetico after the repression of Milan Bava Beccaris. Expelled from Switzerland with the Federal Decree of 15 November 1898 (repression because of the killing of the Empress of Austria part of Luccheni) takes refuge in Germany where they are hunted in 1902 for anarchist propaganda. He emigrated to Argentina in 1904, then in the US where he worked in the social question . With Fratoddi are also expelled, with Federal Decree dell'8,15,18 November 1898: Gualducci Giovanni, Annoni Giuseppe-Giovanni, Bandavalli Silvestro (alias Banderalli), Bazzoli Luigi, Bertola Pietro, Bonati Carlo, Cancarini Giovanni-Battista, Ferraroni Giacinto, Gugliano Carlo, Harrich Joseph, Labade Antonio, Luggi Artore, Wolf Wilhelm/Guillaume, Fratini Antonio, Merlo Francesco-Bernardino.

I had to do a little research since I'm admittedly not very knowledgeable about Italian history.
From Wikipedia:

On May 5, 1898, workers organized a strike to protest the government of Antonio Starrabba di Rudinì, holding it responsible for the general increase of prices and for the famine that was affecting the country. The first blood was shed that day atPavia, when the son of the mayor of Milan was killed while attempting to halt the troops marching against the crowd.
After a protest in Milan the following day, Antonio di Rudinì's government declared a state of siege in the city. Infantrycavalry andartillery were brought into the city and General Bava-Beccaris ordered his troops to fire on demonstrators. On May 9, 1898, the troops used artillery to breach the walls of a monastery outside Porta Monforte, but they found inside only a group of beggars who were there to receive assistance from the friars.
According to the government, there were 118 dead and 450 wounded. The opposition claimed 400 dead and more than 2,000 injured people.

It appears that Bernardino was on the run when he came to the US. His application for citizenship specifically asked if he was an anarchist, to which he replied no. (Good thing for me I guess)

United States of America
Declaration of Intention
(Invalid for all purposes seven years after the date hereof)
State of Alabama
County of Jefferson
In the District Court of U.S. Nor. Dis. of Ala.
I, Bernardino Fratoddi, aged 42 years, occupation Cement Worker, do declare on oath that my personal description is: Color White, complexion Dark, height 5 feet 6 inches, weight 170 pounds, color of hair Brown, color of eyes Brown, other visible distinctive marks____
I was born in Montereale, Italy on the 26th day of July, anno Domini 1869; I now reside at 1419- 3rd Ave, (West End) Birmingham, Ala.
I emigrated to the United States of America from Naples, Italy on the vessel Haw???; my last foreign residence was Rome, Italy.
It is my bona fide intention to renounce forever all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty, and particularly to Victor Emanuel III, King of Italy of which I am now a subject; I arrived at the port of New York, in the State of New York, on or about the 18th day of August, anno Domini 1903; I am not an anarchist; I am not a polygamist nor a believer in the practice of polygamy; and it is my intention in good faith to become a citizen of the Unites States of America and to permanently reside therin: SO HELP ME GOD.
Bernardino Fratoddi
Subscribed and sworn to before me this 6 day of January, anno Domini 1912
Charles? Allison?
Clerk of the U S Dis Court.
By J S Allison?, Dep Clerk
Note by Bev-
The Steamship Lahn departed from Naples 7 July 1902, and arrived at the Port of New York 18 Aug 1902, not 1903 as stated.
1419- 3rd Ave, (West End) Birmingham, Ala is now Alabama Ave SW. We tried to find the home but the houses have been renumbered also, there was no 1419.

Bernard raised his family and lived to the age of 81.

Bernard Fratoddi, 81, long-time resident, dies at West End Home

A Birmingham Resident for the past 45 years, Bernard Fratoddi, 81, of 1225 Princeton Avenue, West End, died last night at his home after a long illness.
A native of Rome, Italy, Mr. Fratoddi moved to Birmingham in 1905 to make his home. He was a member of the Italian Society and the Cement Finishers Union.
Rosary will be said at 8 p.m., Wednesday, at the home.
Funeral services will be held at 9 a.m. Thursday, at the home and at 9:30 a.m. at the Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church with the Rt. Rev. Msgr. Walter J. Tobin officiating. Burial will be in Elmwood Cemetery, Johns directing.
---Published in the Birmingham News Oct 25, 1950, pg 16
Bernard's wife Guilia (Americanized to Juilia)died seven years later. Her obit says Bernard was a Birmingham pioneer:
Mrs. Juilia Fratoddi, pioneer resident
Mrs. Juilia M. Fratoddi, 1225 Princeton av, died Sunday Morning at a local Hospital.
Mrs. Fratoddi was the widow of Barnard Fratoddi, a pioneer resident of Birmingham.
Survivors are a son, George E. Fratoddi; three daughters, Miss Florida Fratoddi, Mrs. John R. McGowan and Mrs. J. P. Whitt, Jr., and eight grandchildren. 
She was a member of Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church of West End.
Funeral services will be at 9 a.m. Tuesday at Johns-Ridout's and at 9:30 at Blessed Sacrament Church with the Rev. George W. Keys officiating. Burial will be in Elmwood Cemetery. The rosary will be said at 7:30 Monday night at Johns-Ridout's Chapel. 
Pallbearers will be Joseph Schneider, William Bayliss, Hal Hamilton, Patrick Tully, John Wilford and Clarence Busenichner.
---Published in The Birmingham News, Monday, Dec 9, 1957, pg 28


Footnote: One of Bernardino's grandsons retired from the FBI and is a security consultant.