An Italian American Family's 100-Year Journey

Quest’anno, la famiglia Fiorilli hanno festeggiato cent’anni qui negli Stati Uniti. I suoi antenati furono di San Giovanni in Galdo, vicino Campobasso. Viaggiarono su una nave attraverso l’oceano Atlantico, arrivando a Boston e dopo arrivarono a Cleveland. Questa famiglia ebbe forti legami con la sua comunità, la chiesa di Holy Rosary, e con i suoi amici. Oggigiorno, la famiglia è qui in Cleveland da sette generazioni. Benché il cognome sia cambiato in differenti scritte, sono ancora tutt’ora una famiglia. La famiglia Fiorilli ha un gran impatto a Cleveland perché hanno dei diversi lavori, compresi la medicina, la costruzione, l’ingegneria, l'istruzione, e molti altri.

On Aug. 26, 2021, the Fiorilli family marked its 100th year of living and thriving in these United States of America. Our first ancestors arrived a century ago at the Boston Harbor, having traveled from their hometown of San Giovanni in Galdo, just south of Compobasso, Italy.

That group included Antonietta (mother), John (first son), Renzo (second son) and Suntina (daughter). Carmen (father) had arrived in 1920 and made arrangements for the rest of the family to join him a year later.

Each generation has shared and passed on stories involving the challenges and travails of that journey for Antonietta, who traveled with her three children, ages 3 through 7, by horseback to Naples to board a ship named the Cretic. On the ship, one of the children grew very ill (a point that was concealed as the family feared the crew would throw the sick child overboard). Imagine undertaking such a journey; it is no wonder the family gained faith in themselves and grew to become solid citizens and contributors to their new country.

The family grew to 10 members: two parents, seven sons and one daughter. They settled in the Collinwood neighborhood of Cleveland. A few years later, they moved to Little Italy, where Murray Hill and Mayfield roads connect. These were people of strong character who developed close relationships with family and friends, and very close ties were forged at Holy Rosary Church. The family grew and kept growing, and now we are in the sixth and seventh generations.

The “Little Flower” family has members with spellings of Fiorilli, Fiorille and Fiorelli, outcomes of interpretation errors and spelling mistakes when children entered schools and churches. It is curious how this has transpired, especially when the first three children that emigrated here have two of the spellings. Then there are the twins (Frank and Henry) who spell their names differently. All this provides fun within the generations trying to claim which spelling is correct or how the errors or differences occurred and who is right or wrong. Still, we love and appreciate one another, no matter the arrangement of letters.

You may find these spellings in many places because the family members have contributed to the growth of the country in several walks of life. You will find us in the military, medicine, education, labor, construction, engineering, science, finance, entertainment, farming, food, and space industries, among others. It has been and will continue for another century. Ask anyone if they know the “Little Flower” family.

Cento anni!