Saturday, February 16, 2008

Bonkers for Yonkers

This blog's first guest post is by inveterate and unrepentant Genealogue reader Doogles McQuig:

In response to my query about the subject of challenge #117, Mario "Contasino", a most courteous reference librarian at the Riverside Library in Yonkers sent the following important clue:
I looked up 300 Yonkers Avenue in the 1936 criss-cross directory. (1936 is one of the few years for which I have a criss-cross.) There I found listings for Nicholas V. Castasano, who is listed as employed in the junk business, and for Edward F. Castasano, who is listed as employed in “trucking.” Proceeding to the 1936 city directory proper, I found the same listings, but with some additional information; most significantly, that the wife of Nicholas is named Michelina.
The librarian (not knowing any other details) tentatively concluded the correct spelling was probably "Castasano," and thus a Mario Castasano was the person to be found. But a quick search on Castasano turns up almost nothing. On the other hand, a much more common usage was Cantasano, and look what juicy details that name turns up:
1910 census
Brooklyn Ward 31, Kings, New York

Nicholas V Cantasano 42, born Italy (immigrated 1887)
Madeline Cantasano 33, born NY
Angela R Cantasano 9, born NY
Helene A Cantasano 8, born NY
Edward M Cantasano 4 born, NY
Remember that Mario had two sisters in Brooklyn? Well, here's Edward M. (Mario anyone?) Cantasano with two sisters in Brooklyn. Right name, right place, right age, right family configuration. The middle initial is a bit of a misdirect because it's inconsistent with the Yonkers directory. However, continuing the search on "Edward F. Cantasano," the SSDI reveals a man of that name born on November 25, 1905, with the number issued before 1951 in New York. That works. Googling on "Edward Cantasano" leads to the Rootsweb Brooklyn archive, which tells us Edward graduated 8th grade in June of 1920 from Public School 17 at Driggs avenue and North Fifth street in Brooklyn. Still fits. Finally, and this is sweet, a search on Ancestry leads to a WWII service record for an unmarried Edward F. Cantasano who was born November 25, 1905 and enlisted from Westchester County, NY on 12 Mar 1942.

I wonder what inspired him to enlist?

Edward F. Cantasano died on January 17, 1989 and, according to the records at, was interred on 24 Mar 1989 at Calverton National Cemetery, 210 Princeton Boulevard Rt 25 Calverton, NY 11933, Section 8 Site 13092.

So, what about it Genealoguers? Is this our guy? How best to find a next of kin?

I'll post a few more details in the comments, including some passport data on Nicholas, and a presumed uncle of Edward's named Vito G. Cantasano. They were each born in Craco, which happens to be in the province of Potenza, in the south Italy.


In Manhattan on 25 Feb. 1892 were married Vincenzo N. Cantisano and Michelina Favata.


"Vine Canterano," 18, arrived at Castle Garden from Italy aboard the Leerdam on 3 Jan. 1887.


I had been thinking Michelina was a second wife, and that Madeline was deceased, as the NYT article indicated. But that marriage record is almost too good of a match to pass up. The census records indicate Mom & Dad Cantasano were married about 1893.


Here are naturalization records for Nicola V. Cantasano and Vito Gaetano Cantasano, both from 1893.


BTW, here's a link to the indexed marriage record.


Most of the naturalization data agrees with that from the Ancestry passport applications:

Nicola V. Cantasano born at Craco, Italy on 22 Sep 1868; emigrated from Naples about Dec 1882; resided 14 years uninterrupted from 1882 to 1896 in New York City; naturalized before Superior Court of NY on 9th March 1893; permanent residence of NYC; dealer in paper stock; intends to return to the US in six months. Signed Nicola V. Cantasano, 2 Mar 1896

No picture, but he was 5-3 and 1/2 inches tall, and had a big nose!

Vito G. Cantasano born at Craco, Italy on 28 April 1865; emigrated from Naples on 20 April 1884 on the Britannia; resided 19 years uninterrupted from 1884 to 1903 in New York City; naturalized before Superior Court of NY on 9th March 1893; permanent residence at 395 Pearl Street in NY; occupation of paper stock; intends to return to US in a few months. Signed Vito G, Cantasano; 26 Sep 1903

No picture of Vito either, but he was five feet tall with an ordinary nose. Luck of the draw, i guess. He-he-he.


In November 1902, an ad was placed in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle by M. V. Cantasano of 2056 Homecrest Ave., Brooklyn seeking the services of a housekeeper. Nicholas V. Castasano lived at 2052 Homecrest Ave. in 1910.


From the same newspaper, Michelena and N. [or "N. G."] Cantasano took out mortgages on "Homecrest av, nr Avenue U" in June 1900 and Feb. 1902.


The following birth record agrees with the Helena A. Cantasano in the 1910 household:

Helen A. Cantasano born 14 Mar 1902
certificate 5399
Borough of Brooklyn.

If she survived Mario, maybe she or her kids got the signed Churchill book!


jeebus - in 1920 V. G. Cantasano lived at 2144 Homecrest. Haven't been able to find bother Nicola in 1920, but he must be close by.


Found 2052 Homecrest in 1920 -- the home is owned by someone else.

Mario should have been graduating 8th grade in Brooklyn though, so Nicola and family should be in the hood somewhere. (Census was taken in January.)


From the Nov 26 1903 NYT:

"South Street Parcel Changes Hands"

"The Ruland & Whiting Company has sold the property 177 South Street, opposite the Long Island Railroad ferry. The ship chandlery firm of Floyd and Newins have owned and occupied the building for about twenty-five years. The present purchasers are Nicholas V. Castasano & Brother, paper stock dealers."

I'd say these guys weren't doing too badly.


Looks like Dominick Casatasano is a brother also. There was some data in google books that indicates he is in business Nicola. He has a large family in the 1910 census and his occupation is paper dealer. Nicola's two daughters should be good targets to find a next of kin, as well as any offspring of Vito and Dominick. Chris, did you tell your readers about the big prize you're offering to the first who comes up with a living next of kin?


Big prize? Oh, yes, the big prize... The first person to find a living relative gets his or her name published on the 81,766th most popular blog in the world!


Angelo and Charles are brothers also. That makes five of them. Maybe all living American Castasanos come from this group. With luck, maybe we can get this blog up over the 81,000 mark.


Signing off for the night but here are what I think are Mario's uncles and cousin:

Vito 1865
-Mary 1890
-Maria 1895

Nicholas ca 1868
-Angelina ca 1901
-Helen 1902
-Edward F (Mario) 1905

Angelo ca 1865
-Joseph ca 1897
-Madeline ca 1900
-Gaetano ca 1901
-Francesco ca 1905

Dominick ca 1877
-Amelia ca 1897
-Constaance ca 1900
-James ca 1903
-Patrick ca 1904
-Joseph ca 1905
-Anthony ca 1906
-Victoria ca 1908
-Angelina ca 1909
-Mary ca 1911
-Frank ca 1913
-Santa ca 1915

Charles ca 1884
(no identified wife or children yet)


A nice day's work, Doogles. Thanks.


Chris You asked why he enlised in 1942. My dad was just a few months younger and he enlisted as they were drafting single men age 36 and younger. He would still have been 36 till November of 1942.



ACK ... in my comment above about the NYT article "South Street Parcel Changes Hands", I notice I used the spelling "Castasano." That is my mistake; the article spelled the name "Cantasano." I repeated the typo in the next comment below it. The google books entry for Dominick correctly spelled the name "Cantasano." My bad.

Andy E. Wold

I let Codemasters know of our new findings.


Here's a couple of heirs to Vito G. Cantasano. From the NYT July 1930

Wills For Probate
Cantasano, Vito G (June 11) Estate, more than $20,000. To Madeline Guarini, daughter, executrix, 1150 Fifth Avenue, $25,000 and life estate in one-fourth residue; Maria G. Cantasano, widow, executrix, same address, personal and household effects, life estate in half residue; Maria A. Tozzi, daughter, 995 Fifth Avenue, life estate in one-fourth; Piero Tozzi, son-in-law, same address, co-executor. Executors directed to erect $25,000 mausoleum and &5,000 for its upkeep; for masses, $5,000.


Awesome work guys. This should be a case history in a genealogy class.

Somebody needs to notify the Churchill biographers to make some changes before their next printing.

Andy E. Wold

Note: A volunteer is going to photograph Mario's headstone for me. :)


Nice going, Andy. I've sent a follow-up to the Riverside Library to see if they have access to local obituaries; should list any of Mario's next of kin if they do.


I'm building a map of all the relevant addresses here.

NevadaGenealogist has a number of Cantasano listings in their Pedigree Resource files. Most (all?) seem to be submitted by:

889 W. Mahoney Rd. Brasher Falls, NY 13613

The mapping idea is great.


Vito's daughter from the Connecticut Death Index, 1949-2001.
Name: Maria A Tozzi
Father's Surname: Cantasano
Death Date: 12 Aug 1980
Death Place: Greenwich, Connecticut
Age: 80 Years
Birth Place: New York
Birth Date: 22 January xxxYOB00
Marital Status: Widowed
Spouse: Piero
State File #: 16299
Residence: Ellington, New York
Gender: Unknown
Race: White
Hispanic Origin:

Maria's spouse.
Name: Piero Tozzi
SSN: 083-28-3186
Last Residence: 10021 New York, New York, New York
Born: 15 Jun 1882
Died: May 1974
State (Year) SSN issued: New York (1952-1953)


These clips from the local Yonkers papers add some color to the story and firm up that Mario was a son of Nikola.

From the Yonkers Herald, 21 Dec 1931, p5

When a Herald man called at the Contasino home this morning -- a second floor flat in a house all but hidden from the street by billboards -- to learn of his visit with the Churchills, the youth was too reticent to talk with the reporter. So far was he from seeking publicity in connection with the incident that he refused, through his father, to pose for a photograph.

His father, Nikola, at work in his rags factory adjoining the home, told how deeply concerned Mario was over the accident, and a note of pride crept into his voice as he said the statesman might have been more seriously injured if any other driver had been at the wheel. The Contasinos have been residents of Yonkers for the past seven years, having come here from New York.

Mario, his father said, had been employed as a driver at the Saso stone quarries here until the end of last summer. Since that time he has been looking for another position, unsuccessful until now.

From the Yonkers Statesman, 21 Dec 1931. p7

When Mario's father Nikola was informed of his son's friendship, he was told that Churchill was formerly Chancellor of the British Exchequer, the position being similar to the Secretary of the Treasury in Washington.

"The same as Mr. Mellon?" gasped Nikola. "My, my!"

Andy E. Wold

I have located four of the Cantasano family infant death certificates in Manhattan.

Rosa Candesano, b. 23 Nov 1900, d. 12 Dec 1901, parents Luigi and Maria, living at 2131 ???

Vittoria Cantasano, b. calc 1897, d. 12 May 1901 (age 4y at death), parents Dominick and Maria, living at 26-1/2 Mulberry St

Angelo Cantisano, b. calc 1894, d. 06 Dec 1896 (age 2y at death), parents Nicola and Michelina, living at 26-1/2 Mulberry St

Giuseppe Cantisano, b. calc 26 Dec 1893, d. 10 Jan 1894 (age 15d at death), parents Gaetano and Maria, living at 26-1/2 Mulberry St

All buried at "Calvary".

If anyone would like copies, I have scanned copies available.


26-1/2 Mulberry St. is just a few hundred feet across Columbus Park from 44 Baxter St., their residence in 1893. I guess it's not surprising that they lived near Little Italy.


Library is unable to locate any obituary for Joseph F. Cantasano. Darn.

Serious Shodan

Interesting enough, Edward Cantasano is my great grandfather's name and all of the information about him seems to add up to what the article has said.


Edward Cantasano is my grandfather and lived and owned a junk yard on 330 yonkers Ave. Yonkers, NY


Hi there. Dominick is my GGF. BTW - he was Vito G's cousin - not a sibling.

Nancy - seems like we are distant relatives. : )

Would like to share/compare family tree info.


This is a very interesting story. Is there any more updates on the family.


Sophia, I would like that, but do not want to post my information here. How should we go about doing this?


My father was Edward Cantasano as a child I often went to 300 Yonkers Ave. his family had a rag and paper yard there which is now Tibbits park he was the man who hit Mr Churchill he was born in 1904 and had a hart attack I 1989 he was married to my mom goevanine Jenny D,Angelo thee owner of what was Marttinelie press knew him well so many false spellings and names. My name is Ralph but no one wants the truth.

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