About The Craco Society

Our Mission is to preserve the culture, traditions, and history of Craco, and its people in North America.

The Craco Society was formed in May 2007 and is a 501c4 non-profit corporation with a mission to preserve the culture, traditions, and history of Craco, and its people in North America. The southern Italian hill town is located in the Province of Matera and the region of Basilicata. Founded in 540AD by monks the town prospered until after the unification of Italy when societal changes, economic problems and a series of catastrophes made conditions there so difficult that from 1892-1922 over 1,250 individuals left to settle in North America.

After sitting on its hilltop perch for over 1,400 years a succession of landslides struck in the late 1960s and the resulting instability forced the populace to relocate to a new site below the old town. Although virtually abandoned over the intervening years “Craco Vecchio” with its fantastic vistas and unchanged structures serves as a time capsule. It has become a haven for tourists and also the set for movies trying to capture the essence of the area or even more ancient times.
Since its founding by descendants of Craco’s immigrants, the Society has worked to fulfill its mission. It provides an array of services that include historic research, preservation, genealogy, and events. Society milestones include:


Society timeline milestones:


2007


May 29 – Society Incorporated
June 11 – Made documents relating to Craco available:

  • Ellis Island Database of 1,259 Craco immigrants
  • 1857 Craco Census
  • 1865 Craco Census Index
  • Craco Birth Index 1866-1885
  • Craco Marriage Index 1866-1895
  • Craco Death Index 1866-1885
  • 1939 Craco Street Map
  • Pamphlet, “Craco La Sua Storia”

July 26
“Vistas of Craco” a DVD created using 1929 film gift of Peter Benedetto, 1963 film from Joseph A. Rinaldi, 1989 PBS TV show
“For The Colors” segment, and Joseph D. Rinaldi video of 1991 scenes

Aug. 10-12 – Reunion, Albany NY provided members with:

  • History of Craco: Montedoro to Grachium to Craco; Craco History 1900 to Present
  • Crachese Immigrant Experience
  • Craco Genealogy research
  • CD Craco Photographs
  • Recipe book, Sapori di Craco

September 17 – Distributed Italian vesion of town’s history Note Storiche Sul Comune di Craco
October 28 – San Vincenzo Martire Mass, NYC; copies of Italian pamphlet “San Vincenzo un martire a Craco” distributed

December 2007 – 153 members


2008


June 14-21– Society trip to Craco; publishes “Parlë Crac’tan? A Guide to Speaking Cracotan,” town and residents donated gifts of:

  • Crystal & portrait of Craco
  • Foglio di Famiglia records
  • 1807 & 1829 Catasti records
  • Craco property listings & map
  • Anna Lucia Nuzzo presents “A Tear for Yesterday” painting
  • Enzo Rinaldi presents an untitled paining of Craco

August 5 – Gift of Craco film and slides from Leonard Tocci

August 15-17 – 2nd Annual Reunion Manhattan, NY, historic additions received:

  • Statue of San Vincenzo Martire gift from Niceforo family
  • 1937 photo of Societá San Vincenzo Martire di Craco annual dinner gift from Paul Tocci

October 8 – In anticipation of Feast of San Vincenzo Martire in New York the Society received:

  • 1900 Societá San Vincenzo Martire di Craco banner, 1904 & 1933 publications, and 1937 Feast photo gift of the Gallo family
  • 1935 Broadside for San Vincenzo Feast from Paul Tocci

October 26 – 107th Feast of San Vincenzo Martire at St. Joseph’s Church; discovery of 1869 relic with 1901 San Vincenzo statue

December 2008 – 272 members


2009


January 2009

  • “Craco a Year in the Life” calendar containing monthly traditions and historic activities from Craco
  • Distributed CD “Craco” produced by tourist organization, La Macine

May – Craco Family History Database published on website

June – Published 1960s photos of Craco processions, gift of Fil & Rosa Francavilla

September – English translation of town’s history, Note Storiche sul Comune di Craco released

October 23-15 – 3rd Annual Reunion, Brooklyn, NY:

  • Virtual Craco, interactive 3D rendering of the town was added to the Society website
  • “Craco: Visits Through Time” DVD with films from visits to Craco over 80 years issued
  • Book, San Vincenzo Martire: And the Crachesi in Two Worlds with history of the saint and connection to Craco and New York published

December 2009 – 334 members


2010


June 26 - July 3 – Society trip to Craco

August 6-8 – 4th Annual Reunion, Catskills, NY: publication of Ommagio alla Stella, an English translation of the Italian book about Crachese history and connection to the Madonna della Stella

October – Issues “A Travelers Guide to Craco and Basilicata”

October 24 – Feast of San Vincenzo Martire at St. Joseph’s Church

  • First phase of restoration of 1901 San Vincenzo statue
  • Released pamphlet: “The Story of San Vincenzo Martire of Craco Italy at St. Joseph’s Church”
  • Released pamphlet with historic poem, “A San Vincenzo Martire, Versi di Giovanni Curcio,” gift of Carlo and Ted Muzio

December 2010 – 380 members


2011


January – Added database to website for Castle Garden, NY with Cracotans arriving in NY before 1892

February – Released 1900s school photographs from Craco

May

  • Added Index for 1753 & 1830 Craco Catasti Onciari to website
  • Completed preservation of 1899 corporate charter of Societá San Vincenzo Martire di Craco

September — preserved 1941 Societá San Vincenzo Martire di Craco Annual Dinner photograph, gift of Maria Colabella McKendry

October 21-23 — 5th Annual Reunion, Brooklyn, NY; 110th Feast of San Vincenzo Martire, Manhattan, NY

  • Completed restoration of 1901 San Vincenzo statue
  • Added plaque to statue identifying connection to Craco

December 2011 — 400 members


2012



February 2012 – Maria Grossi has Society’s historic San Vincenzo statue restored

July – Additional Craco Birth, Marriage & Death Index records added, gift of Lesley & Nick (Mastronardi) Cafarelli

July 27-29 – 6th Annual Reunion, Tannersville, NY

September – Salvatore Grossi restored the pedestal for the Society’s historic San Vincenzo statue

October 28 – 111th Feast of San Vincenzo Martire at St. Joseph’s Church, music for hymn “Inno a San Vincenzo Martire” created

December 2012 – 438 members


2013


February – Society Newsletter begins a series about the history of the Crachesi in America

March – The society and the San Rocco Society of Potenza underwrite the repair of the historic organ at St. Joseph’s Church, 5 Monroe St., Manhattan, NY which houses the statues of San Rocco and San Vincenzo.

April – Society receives gif of History of the 77th Division (a unit many Crachesi immigrants served in during WWI) and a Meritorious Award for Antonio Spera, one of those immigrants.

May - English translation of town’s history, Note Storiche sul Comune di Craco is made available on Amazon.com

July – New US immigration records for Cracotans located entering the port of Boston from 1901-1903

October 26-27 – 7th Reunion and 112th Feast of San Vincenzo held in Brooklyn and Manhattan

December 2013 – 463 members


2014


April – Society website adds “The Lost Neighborhood of New York” covering the area of the Lower East Side that was heavily populated by the first Crachesi immigrants and their children.

August 16-17 – 8th Annual Crachesi del Nord America Reunion held in Manhattan and includes tour of the “Lost Neighborhood of New York.

August 17 – Society receives award from San Rocco Society of Potenza for our efforts to preserve traditions

October – Society issues figurines of San Vincenzo

December 2014 – 472 members


2015


February 2015 – Society begins process of obtaining historic material about Craco from the Archivio Privato Rigirone

March – The historic banner of the Societá San Vincenzo Martire di Craco is professionally repaired and preserved.

April – Society host event at premiere showing of “Montedoro” the film in Atlanta, GA.

July 27 – Society members move statue of San Vincenzo from St. Joseph’s Church (which was closed on July 31) to the Shrine Church of the Most Precious Blood, 113 Baxter St., New York

October 25 – 114th Feast of San Vincenzo celebrated at Church of the Most Precious Blood

November 9 – Society executes agreement with the Church of the Most Precious Blood clarifying ownership of the statue of San Vincenzo for the Society and arranging for loan of the statue to the Church for display

December 8 – Society is one of the sponsors for the Presepe: Nativity of Mercy that was displayed at Most Precious Blood Church through 2016

December 2015 – 484 Members


2016


February 2016 – Society issues “Craco per bimbi” a children’s book about Craco that was created by Vincenzo Rinaldi

March – Society receives rights to the Collezione Simone of postcard photographs from the late 1920s of Craco

April – Society receives digitized copies of historic documents and material from the Archivio Rigirone Privato that relate to Craco’s history