The Quilietti Family

The story of a Scots Italian family

QUILIETTI, Giovanni Fedele Giuseppe 1879-1971

A Bit about Giuseppe or Joe

Giuseppe Quilietti was born on 10th November 1879 in the family house in Castelvecchio [Pascoli] Barga, Lucca,  Tuscany. He was the  son of Leonardo Quilietti and Eletta Brucciani.

Being younger than brothers Emilio and Augusto who had left for Scotland 1888, it is documented that he would try America first where sister Ermenia Quilietti had emigrated with her aunt, Mariana Brucciani [her mother’s sister] her uncle Francesco Dante and their children, her cousins. She in fact married her first cousin Peter Dante in Rhode Island [it was allowed then].

Like his elder brothers before him he joined the Italian Army when he was a teenager. [It was compulsory then].

A Young Giuseppe in the Italian Army. He always described himself as Italian [southern] although he was born in Tuscany

It would be many trips to and fro over the Atlantic before Giuseppe and brother Adolfo decided to settle in Rhode Island in 1911. Photographs also tell us that they were in Scotland as well circa 1902.

After 1911 he returned home  to Italy on many many occasions to enjoy the Tuscan weather and to  escape from the harsh Rhode Island winters.  He also had long holidays in sunny California.

Giuseppe and Adolfo must have been devastated when they heard the news of their brother Emilio’s sudden death on  9th January 1898.  This news was not good for their mother Eletta and on 5th October that same year she also passed away.

Giuseppe in Edinburgh 1902  He  was the middle son  of Leonardo Quilietti and  Eletta Brucciani.   .
Augusto died in 1904. His daughter Angelina was born in 1894. She looks around 7 or 8 I think here – so we much date this event around 1902.

After the death of their mother in 1898 Giuseppe and his younger brother Adolpho knew it was time to follow in their elder brothers footsteps and leave Italy.

They left their father Leonardo and youngest sister Maria Alfonso Quilietti [1876-1965] in Castelvecchio and moved to Rhode Island.

After Leonardo died in 1904 Giuseppe returned to Italy to be at his youngest sister’s baby’s baptism in Castelvecchio.


The last of the Quilietti Clan in Italy now moved to Rhode Island. Baby Ellen was handed over to older sister Ermenia and Peter Dante who raised her as their very own daughter. In Scotland her two eldest brothers had already died very prematurely so Scotland would not be an option for her.

The brothers at first found work in the Mills which were prevalent along the River.

The 1910 census shows the family together at 52 Prairie Avenue in Pawtucket. The men all working as Machinests.

Giuseppe and Adolfo were inseperable and they journeyed from Italy to Rhode Island on many occasions before.  Giuseppe would take the 1st class option with younger Adolfo the 3rd.

We know that the brothers travelled to Scotland in 1902 as they were photographed with their brother Augusto and his wife Francesca and daughter Angelina.    We do know however  that they met Emilio’s family, his three sons and daughter  and a close bond was made with Valentina Quilietti their only niece at that time.

With them at this time was their cousin and also their brother-in-law Peter Dante who had made the journey from America to join them in Scotland. The gathering may have been due to Valentina’s remarriage to her own cousin Sante Brattesani, and their wedding may have brought them all over to witness the occasion.  They were married on 30th April 1901 in St. Mary’s Cathedral in Edinburgh.

Joe and Adolfo went  back in Italy shortly thereafter.  They  witnessed the death of their father Leonardo and the birth of their niece Eletta Quilietti/Giuglietti.   They then travelled to Rhode Island in 1906, 1907 again in 1910  and their emigration date was finally given as 20th May 1911.

Official Documentation 1942 The War Years

This final journey was from the Havre in France leaving on May 13th and arriving on 20th May in the Port of New York.  They were described as such

1938 Voyage back from Italy was upon the Conte di Savoia.

Giuseppe, retired [at age 31], able to read and write and their nearest relative in Italy given as their aunt Fedele Brucciani, their mother’s sister.  He had at least $50 dollars upon his person.  He was travelling to his sister Ermenia Dante who resided at 82 Prairie Road, Pawtucket.   He was 5 feet 8 inches tall with brown complexion, black hair and brown eyes.  Country of birth Italy, Castelvecchio.  He travelled second class.

His brother Adolpho had the similar entry except his occupation was given as a labourer.

So at age 31 retired.   Well what do you think …….He was certainly the great franchiser in the family and had a shrewd head for business matters and making the dollars.

1930 American Census

On their arrival of course the brothers would have resided with their sister Ermenia ,  her husband Peter and their three daughters at 82 Prairie Road in Pawtucket.  Their neighbour was another Italian who was a butcher.   He was known as Peppi and he was the owner of a butcher’s shop in the community.   Papino lived at 93/95 Prairie Avenue. He employed the two brothers and it was he who taught them the business.  Peppino was perhaps a Padrone’ and he had apartments in North Street on the borderline of Pawtucket and Providence.  He would rent out these apartments to the newcomers always making money from this peddlershouse business.  Officially Giuseppe was employed as a clerk in the business [even although he had not mastered the language].   Adolfo was employed as an operator for the cooling devices which were located in the basement of the premises.

1920 Rhode Island Census Quilietti and Dante families

By the year 1918, their Italian neighbours in Prairie Avenue were made up of Pelligrini’s at No. 131, the Giudicis at Nos. 73 and 101, the Bertolini’s who were the grocers at No. 57 and Zamparini & Martini who owned another meat market at No. 83.   The Quilietti’s and Dante’s were living together in one premises at No. 82.

The Quilietti brothers were quick to learn and Giuseppe  had a fair bit of money saved already.  They also learned that money could be made in the Peddlarshouse business. After some time they saved up enough money and mortgaged property of their own at 596-598 Main Street, Pawtucket.    Giuseppe owned three apartments and Adolfo owned two.   It was a typical Rhode Island dwelling, built of wood.   They had chickens freely running around their back area and also started to grow their own fruit and vegetables.  Vines were also a necessity for making jugs of wine.

old Postcard of Main Street, Pawtucket

The story goes that Adolfo being suspicious of the banks stored his money at home.  In his early years he would invite his girlfriends up to his room where his $100 dollar greenbacks would be there in full view attached to his bedspread.

A Butcher’s Shop in Rhode Island 1950. Joe’s would have been similar

One of the ladies who took his fancy was a young Italian immigrant by the name of Filomena Leonora Raffanti.  Her family came from Baldotovo, Lucca, Italy.   Her parents were Battista Raphael Raffani and Catherine Donati. [may have been an aunt of Giuseppe]   She was born on 26th April 1886 and arrived in New York on 26th May 1910.

Raffaelo and Catherine, ran a peddlarshouse at 187 Southbend, Pawtucket up until the year 1926.

Giuseppe and Filomena were married on January 18th 1915 in Pawtucket. The document below shows her place of birth and date of arrival in Pawtucket.

By 1930 the citybooks list Joe and Frances Quilietti living at 87 Prairie Avenue, a new building, directly across from the Dante house.

They had one child, a daughter, who died in infancy at the Cranston Medical Centre in the town.   There were no other children. As a post script to this last sentence it is now believed that his niece Leonora Catherine Raffanti, whose photograph is below was in fact the daughter of Leonora and perhaps also Giuseppe. Her ‘father Bruno’ who became a policeman in Rhode Island was only 9 years her senior!! For whatever reason at the time this was done. She would have been born a year after they married.

In the year 1932 Giuseppe, Adolpho and Filomena all applied for American citizenship with affadavits of Witnesses given as Frank B. Gaird and his wife Anna Gaird of 277 Lafayette Street, Pawtucket.   The date of their naturalisation was given as November 28th 1932.  They were described as meat market owners and residing at 590 Pawtucket Avenue.

In 1942 Filomena Raffanti Quilietti died and was interred in the Mount Saint Mary’s Cemetery in the town.

Joe never remarried.   However he lived with Leonora and her family for many years.

The 1950 census showing Joseph Quilietti right at the foot of the document residing with Leonora, her husband and daughter Nancy. Also in this document there is Alfred Papino and his mother Josephine and a branch of the Pelligrini family, all related.

He died in Rhode Island on 13th February 1971 age 92 years old.   During his long life in the U.S.A. he never mastered the language and he got by with his broken English and with a lot of help from his nieces.  He drove a car but never held a driving license.   It was said that whilst driving he never looked left nor right, only straight ahead.  He drove always at a steady pace exclaiming when made aware by other drivers ‘I am o.k. – I am o.k.’ and ignoring the public’s screams of despair.

Leonora or Eleonora worked in the courts and had a fair knowledge of the legal systems in place at that time.  She also resided with her uncle Joe at 87 Prairie Avenue before she herself married into the Giudici family.   She helped Giuseppe with his day to day affairs as he had never mastered the art of the english/American language, even after his long stay in the States.  She wrote his letters and helped him in business afairs.

Adolfo died in 1943 in a tragic accident in the basement of the butchershop.  His affairs were lawfully administered and Joe was a major benefactor in his estate which totalled in excess of 18,000 dollars.  Leonara was appointed the appraisor of the Estate and Joe was the administrator.

We understand that Joe used his inheritance to buy the shop known as the City Limits Variety Store 596 Pawtucket Avenue.   This was next door to his own store.

Joe’s nieces Alma and Elsie Dante remembers his beautiful fruit which were displayed along the front windows.   He also sold lovely vegetables and ‘real’ meat.

The family had a real falling out over their properties and there was a court-case we believe.

In 1968 with his failing health and at the ripe old age of 89 he appointed Eleanora as conservator of his estate.

It read as such

  • JANUARY 1968
  • In Book 196 page 384 of the Probate Court of Pawtucket under No. 19313 dated 29th January 1968.
  • PETITIONER;  GIUSEPPE QUILIETTI of 87 Columbus Avenue Pawtucket, retired shopkeeper/owner asks the Court to appoint ELEANORA RAFFANTI GIUDICI of Pawtucket to be conservator of him, the above mentioned respondent, who has become incapacitated by reason of advanced age, to care for his properties;   witness EMMA BECLELLI.
  • This is made known in the newspapers and if no-one objects within the legal limit it is granted By Order of a Judge from the Probate Court Under 19313 dated 6 February 1968.  The Clerk of the Court gave Notice to Eleanora Raffanti Guidici that as and from that date .  By Order of the Judge GEORGE NAZARONI dated 31st January 1968 she was the conservator of Giuseppe Quilietti, as requested.
  • SIGNED  Henry L. Paquini, Clerk

He relied on her in good faith to look after his interests in his old age.  Giuseppe had now of course retired from his businesses.  Eleanora had full knowledge of the possibilities in law.   Eleonora had a free hand, the Dante’s, Benabio’s and Quilietti’s being left out altogether in any decisions concerning the unwinding of Joe’s Estate.

Joe ended up in a rest-home for the not-too-financially well.

Manning and Heffern Funeral Home, Pawtucket,

After his death on 13th February 1971 he was buried beside his brother and wife in Mount Saint Mary Cemetery in Pawtucket. The funeral was apparently a lavish affair but the children of his sister Ermenia were ‘not invited to come’.    Alma and Elsie Dante did  however attend their uncle’s funeral despite them not being welcome.

There is a document stating that on 25th February 1971 Eleonora  mailed a Notice to the descendants of Giuseppe Quilietti in Scotland and that the Post Office refused to accept any mail addressed to them to the British Isles and in particular refused to accept any Notices she attempted to send giving the reasons as ‘being insufficient addresses. These letters were written to Angelina Quilietti, the descendent of his brother Augusto Quilietti.  The family address had not changed in many years.  Also to Giulio Quilietti, Giuseppe Quilietti, Leonardo Quilietti and Valentina Quilietti, the sons and daughter of Emilio.  Joe had met them all before, way back in 1901 and perhaps on other occasions unknown to us now.

There had been many large withdrawals from his estate by Eleonora through the last three years of Joe’s life.  His estate was now only worth $12,995.

We are delighted to hear from someone who knew our great uncle Joe.  He knew him when he had his boarding house at 87 COLUMBUS AVENUE

87 PRAIRIE AVENUE, later re-named COLUMBUS AVENUE – a neighbour named  Bob Rock remembers Joe

Hi, I had the best years of my childhood in and around that house. Guiseppe was probably  in his sixties when we moved into the third floor of his house. On the second floor the woman who lived there didn’t speak English. And he had his niece Leanora and her two daughters living with him on the first floor. Their names were Nancy and Jane.  Jane was born in 1953, same as me. I saw Leanora’s obituary a few years ago,[2008]  I believe it was on the Manning and Heffern Funeral Home website. I don’t know how to reach Nancy or Jane I’ve been living in Denver Colorado for the past thirty-five years.

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