Biography of Francesca (Frances) Randazzo

Prepared by her daughter Jean (Arcadipane) Patz (4/9/2002)

Frances was born in Valledolmo, Province of Palermo, Sicily, May 30, 1903, and with all births at that time, it would have been at home or at the home of a relative.

According to the Ship Manifest obtained by my husband Bernard, through the Ellis Island Foundation web site, Francesca (Frances) Randazzo came to U.S., sailing from Palermo on the Perugia, October 30, 1909, She arrived at Ellis Island on November 14, 1909, with her mother, Giuseppena Sangiorgi (women kept the last name of their fathers), brother Salvatore, and sister Rosina.

I believe her father, Pietro Randazzo, had previously come here in 1896, and again in 1907 with her sister Patrina (Randazzo) Fricano. He died July 8,1909 in North Collins, N.Y. thus Francesca (6 yoa) arrived here after her father died.

She was instrumental in having a proper headstone placed at his grave site on Route 62, North Collins, New York and always made sure that his site was included when she and her husband Sam placed flowers on other relatives grave sites every year.

The dedication she and Sam had regarding gravesites became clearer when my husband Bernard and I visited Valledolmo, Sicily. Bernard had asked a cousin take us to the cemetery. The outward signs of remembering the deceased were evident in the photographs included on most of the crypts, together with some artificial, but mostly fresh flowers placed at the crypts, even though the person had to place them using a stepladder, five or six crypts high.

The passport in her mother Giuseppena’s name indicated they were headed to 120 George Place in Buffalo to visit her brother. My notes show Giuseppena’s brother, Cologero, lived at one time on Trenton Avenue, before returning to Sicily, so possibly it is the same brother. His stepdaughter Phillipena corresponded with my mother, according to letters dated in the 1970s from Sicily.

While in New York, Frances lived in North Collins, possibly Oakfield, then in Silver Creek on Buffalo Street where she met my father when they both lived on Buffalo Street in Silver Creek, N.Y.

First living in Silver Creek, then in Cleveland, Ohio, they returned to Silver Creek sometime between 1930 and 1935 where they lived on Central Avenue, before purchasing the property at 18 Oak Street, and where she had flowers anywhere she could find several inches of soil. The “inside” plants numbered almost 85 when my father was caring for them after her death.

I understand she attended school in the U.S. possibly through the seventh or eighth grade (death cert. Information we gave Parker at the time shows eighth grade) so it would have been a Catholic school. She was a housewife all her life, but worked on local farms harvesting berries, beans, tomatoes, grapes, accompanied most of the time by her children.

Since her mother and two sisters, Patrina and Josephine, lived on Hickory Street, many evenings were spent at the home of one of them, where the kids could play cards or bingo, and where I recall eating apples and popcorn, two of my favorite foods to this day.

Since they lived in Cleveland where my father had found work, she returned to Silver Creek to her mother’s home for the birth of their first four children. So Sam, Peter, Joseph and Jean, were born in Silver Creek, at the home of her mother, Giuseppena Sangiorgi 10 Hickory Street. Only Thomas was born in 1938 at our Oak Street home.

Frances learned to drive about age 68-69 although she never passed the test, since she drove through a stop signal that once was at the corner of Sixth and Eagle Streets in Dunkirk, and never repeated the test. At the time she wanted to learn to drive in the event my father was unable to drive, but she predeceased him in 1983 nine years before he passed in 1992, after they were married 62 years.

She spoke, wrote and read both English and Italian, using the Sicilian dialect. Before our trip to Sicily in October, 2001, while perusing language books in Barnes and Noble, would see words that did not seem familiar, until I came upon some pages with the Sicilian dialect, and although I can’t understand it, could recognize words she used.

She and her relatives would use Sicilian when speaking together, but I never was interested in learning. In fact, when Donna, one of my few non-Italian friends was at our home, I would often mention it would be nice if they did not speak in Italian in case the person thought they were speaking about her.

She belonged to Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church women’s societies, and probably due to her ability to write both languages, material found after she passed indicated she had been either Treasurer or Secretary at times

She was adept at sewing, as were all women at that time, and she often made clothes for me, since I was so small, and I hated to “shop.” She would use patterns, as was the fashion, and it worked fine for both of us. While doing housework, she always sang or whistled and was fond of and collected dead butterflies so I never see a butterfly without a feeling of her presence ... while in Sicily I saw one or more every day we were there.

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