Where did the Mafia come from?

How has this secret society spread across the United States, and what part have family relationships—wives, in-laws, godfathers, brothers, and cousins—had in shaping Mafia history? Join Justin Cascio, Mafia genealogist, on a journey of history and personal discovery. These are the Mafia stories you won’t see anywhere else.

Areas of focus

Mafia organization

Social and kinship networks

Mafia history

Pre-Prohibition origins in the US

Here is the first post on this blog.

Author’s favorite posts

How is the Mafia organized? Mafia is not organized in the way it’s usually pictured.

A stranger in this town A new and deadly disease leads to violent insurrection.

The Macaroni Wars: A four-part series beginning with New Orleans, 1905: Who is Sam Sparo?

How to tell if your ancestors were in the Mafia One of the most popular posts on Mafia Genealogy. The advice for finding family ties to organized crime is based on genealogical principles like FANning out (digging into the lives of Friends, Associates, and Neighbors), documenting sources, and studying local history for context.

About the Author

Justin Cascio has been writing nonfiction for over twenty years. His articles and essays on health, popular culture, food, family, and identity have appeared at The Good Men Project, Trans-Health.com, Livestrong.com, and elsewhere. His original research on the Mafia has been published in Informer Journal, at Gangsters, Inc., and The Mob Museum, as well as here at Mafia Genealogy. He is a proud American of Sicilian descent who has traced his origins in Corleone, Sicily, to the 1600s. Justin has told his story on The Family Histories Podcast, on the podcast Italian Roots and Genealogy, and on the Milwaukee Mafia podcast, and appears with writing credits in a short documentary on the life of Pasqualina Albano—Springfield, Massachusetts’ “Bootleg Queen”—which premiered in the summer of 2022.

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Genealogy Research and Reporting

Want to know the story of your ancestors? One-on-one consultation, genealogical research, and reporting are available to select clients. Email likethewatch@gmail.com for current rates.

12 thoughts on “About Mafia genealogy

  1. My Grandfather was Salvatore Cutrera from Corleone, but not the one depicted in this article. This Salvatore might have been my Great-grandfather or Great-Uncle. My father and I visited Corleone in 1971 and learned from other Cutrera family members we met in front of the church, that early church records had been destroyed in a fire years ago and none of the men my father spoke to knew how we were related although all of them looked exactly like my father. None of them mentioned the mafia connection to our family name, although my father knew grandpa worked for Al Capone in Chicago and had to ‘move’ to Canada for a few years after grandpa’s partner (last name Neglia) had been murdered in a barber chair in Chicago for having watered down bootleg liquor before giving it over to Al. This was later made into an episode of “The Untouchables” on TV. Grandpa knew nothing about it but left town till things cooled down. I have also learned that Cutrera (sometimes spelled Contrera) members relocated to Caracas, Venezuela and headed the mafia in the 1990’s. Do you have any information on that faction of the family? I await your reply. Thank you. Thomas Cutrera


    1. Fascinating story, Thomas! If you have more details you’d like to share with me privately, my email address is likethewatch at gmail dot com. If you could tell me your grandmother’s name, who was married to Salvatore Cutrera, or Salvatore’s parents’ names, those would be the most helpful.


      1. My offer to you stands, Thomas, that if you’d like to tell me more about your family, you can email me at likethewatch at gmail dot com. I look forward to hearing from you.


    2. Hello, I’m trying to put together my Paternal Father’s ancestry. I have an Uncle “Fat Frank “Gagliano and his only sibling is my Biological Father. Dominic Joseph Gagliano. I’d love to know my full ancestors history and Family Tree


  2. My name is Thomas cutrera as well and my father is Rudolph Vincent cutrera son of joesph cutrera who was close to big tuna tony Arcado who took over alcapone when he passed


  3. Hi Justin,
    Been scrolling through your blog. Fascinating stuff. Here is some info on the Manganos from within their family. My source is the daughter of Vincent Mangano’s sister’s son, Jimmy Greco, who was Vincenzo’s godson. Filippo Mangano married Agatha Trovato in the US in the 1920s. They had one son and 5 grandchildren. She was alive in 2001 at 100 years old, So he was married and did have an heir.


    1. That’s a great tip, Thom! In a post on the Mangano brothers from 2017, I wrote that Filippo never married. However, I found his grave, which calls him a husband and father. I’ll follow up and see what I can find out about his wife and children.


  4. Justin: Great website…Have a question. I have a distant relationship to Giovanni “Johnny Bath Beach” Oddo
    (1904-1975), my 2nd great aunt’s nephew. He was a capo and later Consigliere of the Colombo family. I am trying to establish the relationship between Johnny Bath Beach to Paul “Paulie” Vario (1914-1988), a Lucchese family caporegime in Brooklyn, New York. When you read all the newspaper articles about Oddo, it says he was a “maternal” cousin to Vario. Not sure whose mother they are talking about, Oddo’s or Vario’s? Oddo’s mother was Maria Calogera Tortorici (1869–1934), his father Rocco Oddo. Vario’s mother was Mary Malguerniero / Malguarnera (born abt. 1875), his father Pietro Vario. All these folks were immigrants and wound up in Brooklyn, NY. Thanks for any insight you might have. Ken Milano


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