The seed of the this web site was planted by Damon Sorrentino but did not fully germinate until Sandra Faye Concialdi and Loretta Wagner (nee Concialdi) started researching and developing the family tree. They essentially used Giovanni and Nicasia Fushi (nee Concialdi) as the tree’s main root.
Giovanni reached the shores of the “Stati Uniti” through Ellis Island like millions of other italian immigrants at the turn of the century. Arriving here on June 23, 1905 aboard the Konigin Luise, leaving his wife and children in the ancestral home of Caccamo, Sicily. He made his way to the industrial southern suburb of Chicago Heights, Illinois to forge a home for his family. During the next 11 years he returned to Sicily several times. Finally in 1916, aboard the ship Patria, his wife Nicasia, sons Mariano, Giuseppi, Nicolo and daughters Rosaria (Sarah), Rosa and Angelina joined him here. They arrived with the tidy sum of $80.00 dollars between them.
Chicago Heights provided opportunity and relative wealth for the german and italian immigrants of the era and Giovanni seized this moment to bring home the pancetta. His family grew in size with the birth of Giorgio in 1917.
The Volstead Act was ratified in 1919 and prohibition was upon us. This had to seem insane to the italian immigrants, as wine was the staple beverage and was now outlawed. Today it would be like making Coca-Cola illegal. It also provided a unique financial enterprise for the “industrious” Fushi family. Namely, “moonshine.” I’m sure they considered it nothing more than providing supply for an unquenchable demand.
Possibly the most audacious and ingenious scheme of the era was of that of the remote storage facility. Giovanni and his daughter Sarah Concialdi both had homes on Hanover Street, two houses apart. Giovanni’s basement was cleverly excavated deeper than the norm to be able to house the stills. He and his sons actually tunnelled under the alley to Sarah’s house, piping the mash to fermentation tanks located in her basement. You can be pretty certain they didn’t get a building permit for that bit of construction.
Authored by Damon Sorrentino