The Apparent Italian Bostonian Was Really an Italian Floridian

15 April 1906

Death of Joseph (Giuseppe) Damato

A cursory glance at the vital records for Joseph (aka Giuseppe) Damato might lead one to assume that after immigrating from Italy in 1881 he lived his life in Boston. It is true that he married and died in Boston, but the years between those events reveal a very different story.

A tailor by trade, perhaps he found an abundance of tailors in Boston and decided, instead, to offer his skills in a less competitive market in the South. Among the family memorabilia is a personalized box lid indicating that Joseph Damato, at least for some period of time, practiced his trade in Spartanburg, South Carolina. But it was in Jacksonville, Florida, that he made his home and his reputation as a tailor merchant.

Box lid - Joseph Damato - tailor0001

Having been born Giuseppe, he chose to use the English form of his name, Joseph. Joseph Damato can first be found in the Jacksonville city directory in 1887, listed as a tailor working and living at 14 Bridge in LaVilla. Although he is listed in the 1888 city directory, he did go to Boston for at least a short time during that year. Perhaps the Yellow Fever epidemic gave him cause to leave town and visit his brother in the Boston area. Regardless of why he left, while he was away, he married Angela (aka Angelina) Previti. How my great grandparents met remains a mystery, but marriage intentions for the couple appear in the 24 August 1888 issue of Boston Daily Globe, and they were married 2 September 1888. By 17 October of that year he was back in business in Jacksonville according to an ad in the Florida Times-Union. Every year through 1906, Joseph Damato can be found in the city directories in Jacksonville.

Joseph faced two difficult situations in the last ten years of his life. In 1896 he was involved in a business lawsuit (Reese v. Damato) which was appealed to the Florida Supreme Court. Although Damato was vindicated, it must have been a stressful ordeal. Then sometime in 1905, he became ill with testicular cancer. He was still living in Jacksonville in 1906 according to the city directory. His wife’s brother was a physician in Boston, and the family story is that he wanted to be treated medically by his brother-in-law. I wonder if he might also have been thinking of  his family’s welfare – how would they manage if he died? Angelina’s family lived in Boston; they would surely look out for her and their two sons, ages 16 and 12.

On 15 April 1906, Joseph Damato passed away in Boston and was buried in an unmarked grave at Holy Cross Cemetery, Malden, Middlesex County, Massachusetts. One of the names of the two physicians on the death certificate was Joseph Prevett, so that lends credibility to the family story.

The grave remained unmarked, but identified in the cemetery office, for 104 years.  His grandson, my daddy, remedied that in 2010 when he purchased and had set a headstone to mark the grave of this man who can be found in vital records in Boston, but who lived most of his life in the United States in Jacksonville, Florida.

EPILOGUE – Watch for the 16th June post for the story of what happened to Joseph’s family after his death. See a former post “My Great Grandparents” for a photo of Joseph Damato.

NOTE: To post this without the proper citations goes against every fiber in my being, but I want to post this on the appropriate date, so I have chosen to post it as is. However, I will list my sources in an abbreviated manner for those who wish to search out the information for themselves. I will edit the post with proper citations in the near future.

Sources:

~The immigration information for Giuseppe Damato can be found at www.castlegarden.org by searching for his name and the year 1881.

~Jacksonville city directories can be found online at Jacksonville Public Library (www.jpl.coj.net/coll/florida/cdindex.html) or at the Jacksonville [Florida] Public Library.

~The 24 August 1888 issue of Boston Daily Globe was viewed through an online subscription of my local library system to ProQuest Historical Newspapers.

~The Damato-Previti marriage record can be viewed online at www.familysearch.org searching records in the collection “Massachusetts, Marriages, 1841-1915.”

~The 17 October 1888 issue of Florida Times-Union can be viewed online at http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00053710/00003  on page 3, column 6.

~The Florida Supreme Court ruling in Reese v. Damato can be read online at Google Books by searching Reese v. Damato. Although in several books online, look specifically at The Southern Reporter Volume 33.

~Death certificate for Giuseppe Damato can be viewed online at www.familysearch.org searching records in the collection “Massachusetts, Deaths, 1841-1915.”

~Headstone for Joseph Damato can be viewed at www.findagrave.com.

 

Please let me know if you have any trouble accessing the websites posted above.

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One Response to The Apparent Italian Bostonian Was Really an Italian Floridian

  1. Pingback: American Marriage of Two Italians | ancestors2013

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