Saturday, April 3, 2010

Surname Saturday – The DiBernardo Family of Western Pennsylvania

This name has been hard to trace. It’s an Italian patronymic name (literally “of Bernard”). My great-grandfather, Giovanni DiBernardo, came to Pennsylvania in 1910 from Caserta, Italy and settled in Rankin in Allegheny Country, PA. He lived most of his life in nearby Braddock, PA. His first wife, Maria died young in childbirth, and so did the infant. Another son died soon after, leaving one son, Guido “Guy” DiBernardo. He married my great-grandmother Raffeala a few years later.
Bisnonno Giovanni helped build the beautiful Madonna del Castello Church in Swissvale, PA. (Bisnonno is Italian for great-grandfather). You can see photos of the church as well as its history here. They have photos of the church from when it was built in 1933, which make me very proud. Grazie, bisnonno!
According to my relatives, though, Giovanni preferred to go by the English translation of his name: John. John was a laborer at Union Switch & Signal, a manufacturer of railway equipment. What's interesting is that I only have record of him working there up to 1917, when US&S became a subsidiary of Westinghouse Air Brake. Maybe he was a victim of some downsizing? I feel you, bisnonno. On the 1930 U.S. Census, he is recorded as a mixer in a glass factory. I could look at old census records all day. Most likely a good sign for my future career, I think :)
Back to the DiBernardo family; my information stops at my great-great-grandfather. All I know about Giovanni's father is that his name was Gaetano DiBernardo and that he lived in Chieti, Abruzzo, Italy when Giovanni came to the United States in 1910. Hoping to find more info on him soon, but as I'm sure many of you know, gaining access to some Italian records is quite a task.


  1. Please visit at Amore e Sapore di Famiglia to accept your ANCESTOR APPROVED AWARD!

  2. Hi Sarah, I just nominated you for the Ancestor Approved Award also!

    Have a great day!

    Betty Tartas

  3. Well, it looks like you got another Ancestor Approved award! ==>

  4. Thanks so much, everybody! I guess, then, I'll recommend 20 blogs? I'd better get to work!