Buffalo

 

        After leaving Robertsdale, the Coniglio family: Gaetano Coniglio, Rosa Alessi Coniglio and their sons Gaetano (Guy), Leonardo (Leonard), Raimondo (Ray) and Felice (Phil) came to Buffalo, where they moved into a historic part of the city, the Erie Canal District, variously known as Canal Street, the Five Points, and "the Hooks".  According to Gaetano's 1924 naturalization papers, they came in early 1921, after the neighborhood was already mostly Sicilian and its primary street, Canal Street, had been re-named Dante Place.  The photo at right shows Ray at about six years old, in 1924 or so.

          The whole neighborhood came to be known as Dante Place, and the Coniglio's moved into 18 Peacock Street, a three-story brick tenement crowded with other other families.  Carmela (Millie) was born in that building, on the 27th of May, 1923.  She was baptized at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church, the first Sicilian-neighborhood church in the City of Buffalo.  The Church, like the rest of the neighborhood, no longer stands: it was in the area now covered by the Marine Drive Apartments. The photo and caption below are from the book America's Crossroads by Mike Vogel, Ed Patton and Paul Redding.

           The neighborhood was bounded by the rough pentagon shown in red on the map below.  The green rectangle near the center of the map shows the location of 18 Peacock Street.    The red rectangle just outside the area shows 58 Lloyd Street, where Angie Bongiovanni Coniglio's grandparents lived during the same period, with Angie's aunts and her mother, Mary Lanza

            Although the infamous neighborhood had calmed down since its earlier heyday of bars, brothels, men being "Shanghied" for work on lake steamers, and other nefarious activities, it was still a rough neighborhood.  Not the least worry was the closeness to the Erie Canal, where Phil had a close call, falling into the cruddy waters.  Years later we found out that the young man who pulled him out was Vincent (James) Gaglione, father of Jim Gaglione, who was a high school classmate of Ange's at Lafayette High School!   The Gagliones lived at 112 Dante Place, shown in blue on the maps below.  


Photo from "America's Crossroads",
by Vogel, Patton, and Redding

             And Joseph Genco, father of Josie, Trudi, Marilyn, and Ange's fraternity brother Sam Genco, lived with his parents at 42 Fly Street, the four-story tenement shown at the right above, and in yellow on the maps.   By 1925, Gaetano had moved the Coniglio family to the East Side, where the family had more space in a real "neighborhood", at 309 Myrtle Avenue.

             Click on the map below to see more detail.  The neighborhood began to be "renewed" after a disastrous tenement explosion on New Year's Day, 1936, and today is no more, replaced by the Marine Drive apartments, the Erie Basin Marina, the Buffalo and Erie County Naval Park, the I-190,  and the Skyway.  The second map below shows the area as it is today, with shading showing where the old canals and slips were.  It also shows the spot where 18 Peacock Street once stood, smack in the middle of the Marine Drive apartment area.  The old Commercial Slip, the first part of the Erie Canal District Redevelopment Project, has recently been re-watered.

 

           Our family lived in 'the Hooks' for only a couple of years.  Before Connie and Mary were born in 1925, the Coniglios had settled in a rented home at 309 Myrtle Avenue, on Buffalo's East Side, in the St. Columba's parish.  It was across from the La Stella bleach factory and near the F. N. Burt box factory.
 

MarToConAnge.jpg (221311 bytes)  

Mary, Tony, Connie & Angelo
 at 309 Myrtle Avenue ~ 1941
F. N. Burt factory in the background

 

The F. N. Burt factory
from the empty lot that was 309 Myrtle Avenue.
~ August 2012 ~

 

           The children attended Public School No. 6, where young Guy Jr. eventually earned the Jesse Ketchum Award for scholarship.  Gaetano worked as a custodian at the Welcome Hall, a community center on Myrtle Avenue and South Cedar Street, and as a bartender at Marconi's Tavern on Seneca Street.  In the diverse community of Sicilian, Italian and black families, the kids made many friends.          

           By 1927, Tony had been born, and the number of Coniglio children had increased to eight.  Rosa suffered through a stillbirth in 1932, and then had her last child, Angelo, in 1936.  By that time Guy was married, and he and his wife, next-door sweetheart Mary Modica had their first child, Guy Jr. two days after Angelo's birth.

 
 

Part of "Coxie's Army" in front of the La Stella factory,
314 Myrtle Avenue, about 1932.

Back row: Vito "Bugs" Maniscalco, Tony "Wickersham" Nigro, Santo Vitrano

Middle row: Felice "Felix the Cat" Coniglio, Joe "Coxie" Calcaterra, Ray Coniglio

Front: Tony Coniglio

 

          In summer the whole family would be loaded on a truck with other poor immigrant families, and be taken to Musacchio’s farm, on Route 62, just outside the town of North Collins.
 
          While we lived on Myrtle, after WWII began, Leonard and Phil were in the Navy, in the Pacific and in Florida, respectively; and Ray was in the Army in Africa, Sicily, France and Germany.  When possible, they would return to 309 Myrtle on leave.

   

Tony held by Rosa, with
Mary, Connie and Millie,
about 1929

 

Tony top, Phil middle, Ray standing in road.
Truck at Musacchio's farm,
about 1937.

 

Phil and Gaetano
at Myrtle and Spring,
about  1937

 

Generations:

Genesis

1

2 3 4

bunnyanimated.gif (21803 bytes)

CompassRose.jpg (2452 bytes)

Gaetano & Rosina

1
Guy

2
Len

3
Ray

4
Phil

5
Millie

6
Connie

7
Mary

8
Tony

9
Ange

Family
List

SerradifalcoCrestModSmall.jpg (4693 bytes)
Serradifalco:

SerraSmal.jpg (5441 bytes)
The First Visit


The SecondVisit

ChiesaMadreSmall.jpg (3842 bytes)
The Church

SocietaSmall.jpg (5131 bytes)
La Societ
à

TheBook.jpg (7040 bytes)
The Book

La Bedda Sicilia

PITTSTON

Robertsdale

Click the postcard to see more about the Erie Canal.

 

Last revision: 11 April 2015 ~ Angelo F. Coniglio, ConiglioFamily@aol.com