The Civil War was over. John Riley had been ordered to active service for a short time, perhaps even multiple times. But for the most part, he was home. And busy.
Two years after the Rileys settled in Pettis County, Missouri, war broke out between North and South in 1861. Sedalia had been founded in October 1860, just six months earlier.
Border states like Missouri allowed slavery but did not secede from the Union.Continue reading
William Joseph Riley was born September 9, 1863, on his parents’ farm in Pettis County, Missouri. The farm was just three miles north of Sedalia, Missouri, near the small settlement of Georgetown.
His parents were John Riley and Ann McMurrough Riley.
After Antonio Pensa left for Italy in 1888, Josie spent a lot of time at her sister Kate Gardella’s in Sedalia. It’s there that she met Will Riley.
The Gardellas were well known in Sedalia. Andy Gardella had opened a small fruit and produce stand there in 1875.Continue reading
It’s 1890. Josie Pensa has been staying at her sister Kate Gardella’s in Sedalia. She’s met William Riley, and they’re going to get married. We’ll meet Will and his family.
But we can’t leave St. Louis without a word about the Pensa saloons and the beginnings of “yellow journalism.”Continue reading
In 1880, the Pensas and Gardellas had been in St. Louis for ten years. The population was 350,000, up from 310,000 in 1870. Irish and Eastern Europeans were the largest immigrant communities. The number of Italians had grown to thousands, and would increase dramatically in the next 20 years.
Here’s an amazing fact. In 1880, our Pensas, all the way from Roccatagliata, were the only Pensas in the United States.
We’ve visited the home village of our Pensa and Gardella families in Italy. We’ve investigated the mystery of Josephine Pensa’s birth.
Now we’re back in New Orleans. The S.S. Paganini arrived at the docks March 1, 1869, having left Genoa three or four weeks earlier. The Pensa and Gardella families were among the 85 passengers, all Italians.
We’ve found the home village of our Pensa and Gardella families.
We’ve found citations for the marriage of Antonio Pensa and Rosa Gardella. We’ve even discovered their parents’ names.
But there’s one big mystery remaining. Who is Josephine Pensa?Continue reading
Antonio and Rosa would recognize Roccatagliata today. The church and many of the buildings are those that they knew. Perhaps they lived in one of those buildings.
Antonio Pensa was born in Roccatagliata in 1825.
His father Giovanni and mother Caterina were born in Roccatagliata, probably in the 1790s. And their parents and grandparents were born in Roccatagliata.
Antonio married Rosa Gardella, who was born in Roccatagliata in 1835. Rosa’s parents and grandparents were born there too.
It was their home village.Continue reading