Charles Mercurio and Salvatore Martino

Submitted by Philip Bova

This is a picture of my great grandfather, Salvatore Martino. He is the one on the left with the mustache. Here is a history of the Salvatore Martino family as I know it. My grandmother is the only Martino girl who settled in Toledo. The other girls all stayed around Boston and Providence.

In doing my research, with the help of stories and a professional genealogist, I have been able to gain much information. Together with some speculation I am attempting to piece together the story of our Martino heritage. Some of you may know more than me so please let me know what you think.

Antonina Mercurio Martino whose real name was Margherita Arpa was born in Palermo March 27, 1873 to unknown parents. She died in 1954 and is buried in Boston’s Forest Hill cemetery. She was raised by the Mercurio family of nearby Termini Imerese. In a picture that I sent you the man on the left with the mustache is Salvatore Martino her husband and my gr. Grandfather. The man on the right is her adopted father. However, the resemblance to the Martino girls and him is so strong that I would say he was the “unknown” father of Margherita. She was married to Salvatore Martino on September 10, 1891. On the marriage certificate, which I have, her parents are listed as "ignoti" which means parents unknown. Papa Bova, my grandfather, had told us that before he was married the priest came to him and told him that his wife to be “Mama Bova” was not fully Silcian. The priest thought that she might have had a Spanish parent. I believe that parent was the mother and her last name was Arpa. They had nine children; Marina 1892, Maria 1894, Salvatore 1895-96, Angelina 1897, Maria Camela Assunta 1900, Anna 1902, Salvatore 1904-1904, Giuseppa 1906-1916, Antonina 1909. The two boys died as infants and Giuseppa was struck down by a streetcar.

Salvatore Martino was born on August 13, 1864 to Salvatore Martino and Maria Arrigo. He was the second born to them. The first was Giuseppe 1859 but I don't know what happed to him. There were two Antonino Martinos who were born to the same parents. One in 1862 and one in 1871 so I believe the first died. I have traced Salvatore's family back to the late 1700's. Some last names of his (our) relatives are; LoSchiavo, Balsamo D'Amore, and Demma.

The guessing part is how and why they came to the USA. I have been told that Joe Mercurio, who was a brother to Margherita, settled in Providence, RI and was instrumental in building a large produce depot. He brought over his relatives and friends helping by setting them up in business. The Bova family lived in Providence when they first came here. I have viewed the manifests of ships that brought the Martinos and Bovas to the USA. I think that Salvatore Martino and his two brothers, Anonino (Tony) and Michele (Mike) came to the USA several times. Mike settled in Toledo. I am not sure if Tony did the same. At age 29 Tony came in March of 1900 with children Antonino, Agostina, Marina, and his wife Concetta. Mike came here at age 43 with his young family listing Toledo as his home on March 16, 1914. He brought Concetta, Maria and Salvatore his children with him. I think that our great grandfather Salvatore had died around 1912. I am not sure how or where he died.

The Martino sisters came in this order: Marina at age 18 in March of 1910. She later married a man named Restivo who appartently died. She then married a man whose last name was Earnarisso and had two daughters. Maria Carmela Assunta came with her sisters Marina and Anna on the same boat. Carmela married Dr. Oddo and had three children. Anna married a man named Calabro and had three children. I have not been able to find when Angela came over. However she married her first cousin Salvatore “George” Martino who was the son of one of the Martino brothers. Our grandfather must have come over by himself at an earlier time. A child was born to Maria and Filippo Bova, my grandparents, who was named Philip. He died as an infant. My father was then named Filippo as was the custom if a child died. On October 5, 1914 my grandmother, Maria came with my father who was three months old, her mother Margherita, sister Antonina who was 5 years old and sister Guiseppa who was 8 years old. Antonina who we knew as Lena married Carl Apicella and had three children. Gueseppa was killed by a streetcar on the streets of Providence in about 1916. It should be noted that the ship that brought Maria to this county was the Taormina which was sunk three years later by German U boats. Another note worth mentioning is that in 1910 Marina, Carmela and Anna appeared to be traveling with a large family with the last name of Cormella who were also going to Providence. They were probably friends or relatives of the Martinos.

In doing my research I have been in communication with Dr. Sal Oddo who is retired in Bakersfield, CA. He has told me some very interesting stories of the family. Sal was in the MASH unit in Korea which was the basis for the TV and movie MASH. He also told me that a son of Michele Martino named Salvatore "George" Martino came to California to get away from the influence of the Toledo mafia. In San Jose, CA he had cherry orchards and was the largest cherry grower in California. He and an actor named Charles Farrel were two of the early founders of Palm Springs. I have also been in communications with Sal and Frank Apicella who live ten miles south of me. I have spoken with Rita Stanziale who is a descendent of Marina Martino. I have also spoken to several members of the Calabro family in the Boston area.

In doing my research I have found out that Silcian children were named in an order. The first born boy was named after the father’s father, the first born girl was named after the father’s mother. The second of each sex was given the name of the mother’s parents in like order. This is why there are so many Salvatores and Filippos in the family. Also, to Americanize the name Salvatore the name George was used. Salvatore does not mean George but was used in its place.

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