, , ,

The meaning of the Colosi name is not well-known. Research shows that it is believed to be a shortened form of the name Nicolosi which is a place in Catania, Sicily. The Bongiovanni name is said to be formed from the elements of bon meaning “good”, and Giovanni which is the equivalent of John.

Ancestry.com has published name history books that are available on Amazon. I located one called The Colosi Name in History and another called The Bongiovanni Name in History. Each paperback book presently sells for $19.95.

Grandpa Angelo Colosi claimed his family was from Rome and there is some degree of evidence to support that some of the family had been in Rome, but ship passenger records show that Angelo’s family lived in Gualtieri prior to coming to America.

The parents of Angelo’s first wife, Minnie Maggie Bongiovanni, came from San Pier Niceto, Italy, which is in the province of Messina, Sicily. Minnie’s mother’s surname was Nastasi, which is one of the most common names in the region.

Regardless of what you see in movies, immigrants gave their names in their home country when they purchased their ship tickets. Ellis Island had an army of interpreters to help the inspectors who had strict instructions not to make any changes to names unless the original information was found to be in error.

According to Congress, immigrants who changed their names usually did so within 5 years of living in the United States. Names were sometimes shortened, especially if it was hard to pronounce and got in the way of jobs.  By 1906, Congress began requiring that any name changes be done legally in court before naturalization was sought.

It was customary in Italy to  name a firstborn son after his father’s grandfather and a firstborn daughter after the father’s grandmother. The second-born sons and daughters were named after the mother’s grandparents. Prior to the 1900s, children in Italy often died before reaching adulthood, so a new child born might take on the name of the prior child. It appears that this custom was used somewhat among our Italian family tree.

Another common custom not just with Italians, but throughout the world, was for cousins to marry. However this custom became taboo in Europe after a long campaign by the Roman Catholic Church. They argued that the practice promoted family loyalties. But cousin marriage is still legal about half the US and in many parts of the world. Cousin marriage was very common in our Italian family tree. Even Angelo and Minnie were cousins; Angelo’s mother and Minnie’s father were siblings having the same mother.