Research reveals a common ancestor shared by six Mafia wives, two Mafiosi, and one mafia genealogist.
I’ve identified 101 men who are (or were) known to be involved in organized crime in Corleone. I found them using a selection of primary and secondary sources, in combination with genealogical sleuthing around. News reports, trial records, police blotters, and senate hearings were some of my most important sources for the vital statistics of known Mafia members. I also used the published works of journalists who have written extensively on the subject of the Mafia in Corleone, such as John Alcorn, Mike Dash, and Dino Paternostro. By following the clues of ages and known relationships in these accounts of criminal activity, I’ve been able to connect these individuals with their vital records in Corleone, New York, and elsewhere.
Along with the men, I’ve found three women who are known associates of the Mafia, although the organization does not admit them as full members. Of these, two are wives of known mafiosi. Epifania Scardino was implicated with her husband, Vito Ciancimino, in an S&L fraud. Maria Concetta Leggio, who was a defendant at Bari, is the wife, sister, and daughter of other defendants at the Corleonesi Mafia trial. The third woman is Leoluchina Sorisi, who sheltered Luciano Leggio and who eventually married, away from Corleone.
Three of the men marry twice: Nicolo’ “Puntillo” Ciravolo, a Rapanzino associate, in 1815 and 1834; Giuseppe Morello, who led a gang in New York, in 1889 and 1903, the second time in New York; and Marco Maggiore, active around 1900, who married in 1893 and 1908. A few of the mafiosi, I can confirm, never married. But others were born so late that I haven’t found their marriages in public records. So far, I’ve documented fifty-six marriages of known mafiosi in Corleone, performed between 1815 and 1953.
At least a dozen of these marriages are consanguineous. Half of them, about ten percent of the total, are between relatives closer than second cousins. As I’ve noted previously in this blog, my first attempts at finding a baseline of consanguinity in Corleone have not come close to the percentages that Cavalli-Sforza, Moroni, and Zei report for the province of Palermo, which is why I’m planning a control study, in which I will select a marriage record at random from the same year as each of the mafia marriages. I’ll work out the family trees for these control grooms and brides, and report their rate of consanguinity, for comparison.
One fact that has emerged from the study group is unrelated to my current hypothesis on consanguinity, but will certainly play a part in future research I have planned into the cosci of Corleone. Six of the fifty-six marriages I’ve documented were between known mafiosi and women with the surname Cascio. Their shared name is not a coincidence, either: these six women are all closely related to one another, as well as to the two Cascio men I’ve learned were in the Mafia, Antonino and Carmelo.
The six marriages:
- Biagio Jannazzo, a member of Rapanzino‘s gang, married Rosalia Cascio in 1843, several years after most of his associates were killed by the police.
- Mariano Mancuso, named by Dino Paternostro as an active member of the Mafia around 1900 in Corleone, married Maria Concetta Cascio in 1889. She is the sister of Carmelo Cascio, who served as mayor after Bernardino Verro’s assassination.
- Pietro Majuri married Giovanna Cascio in 1897. He and two of their sons are named in a 1962 Italian Senate hearing on the Mafia.
- Carlo Taverna and Angela Cascio married in 1904. Carlo and his brother in law, Giuliano, are both named by Dino Paternostro.
- Giuliano Riela married Angela’s sister, Salvatrice, in 1907. Angela and Salvatrice’s parents are second cousins in a double in-law marriage.
- Dr. Michele Navarra was the boss of the Mafia in Corleone until his assassination by Luciano Leggio. Navarra married his first cousin, Tommasa Cascio, in 1936. Tommasa is the daughter of first cousins, once removed.
Tommasa and her second cousins, the sisters Angela and Salvatrice, are all grandnieces of Rosalia, Biagio Jannazzo’s wife. And they are all descendants of Vito lo Cascio and Antonia la Rosa, a married couple who are the sixth-great-grandparents (6GG) of Maria Concetta and Carmelo, the 5GG of Giovanna, Angela, and Salvatrice, the 4GG of Antonino, and the 3GG of Rosalia. Vito and Antonina are my ancestors, too: they are my eighth-great-grandparents.
Of Note: My study of the kinships among known bosses of the Fratuzzi, the Corleonesi mafia, appears in this month’s issue of Informer, a journal of the history of American crime and law enforcement.
Image credit: Portrait of Lucrezia de’ Medici di Cosimo by Bronzino. Public Domain. Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1202867