The Tirocchis' move to Providence followed a classic pattern of
chain migration. Very often one or a few members of a family went
ahead to find work and then supported the subsequent migration of
their relatives, who in turn encouraged and supported others.
The very poor could rarely afford to immigrate, and the wealthier
classes were seldom motivated to leave their comfortable situations.
Thus, those of modest means and immodest ambitions most often took
the chance on a better life and emigrated.
Tirocchi family lived in Guarcino, a village outside Rome. All of
the Tirocchi children who eventually came to the United States,
Frank, Anna, Laura, and Eugenia were born and raised there. Rosa
Tirocchi, their mother, was twice married and twice widowed. In
the 1890s, upon the death of her second husband, who may have been
the brother of her first husband, she lost title to the family property.
In order to support her family, she moved them to Rome and took
a position as a cook in a wealthy household.
The Tirocchis move from country to city mirrored changes
in Italian society at the end of the nineteenth century as Italy--like
much of the Western world--was moving from a rural, agrarian economy
to an urban, industrial one. Their move also enabled the children
to develop skilled trades and to be aided by Mrs. Tirocchis
employer, who helped find positions for them. In particular, the
employer recognized Annas talent for sewing and arranged a
position for her with an established dressmaker in Rome--one who
made clothes for wealthy, aristocratic clients, perhaps even for
Italian royalty, as family legend has it. As a young man, Frank
Tirocchi came to America to seek his fortune. He prospered by working
on the railroad and encouraged his sisters Anna, Laura, and Eugenia
to join him, aiding their passage with money he had saved.
The senior Cellas were both born in Italy. They settled in Providence
and had thirteen children, several of whom died of tuberculosis
or service in World War I. Several other children moved on, as adults,
to California. Louis J. Cella, a younger son, benefited from the
work of older siblings, which allowed him to go through the Rhode
Island School of Pharmacy and the medical school at the University
The Tirocchi and Cella families were united when Frank Tirocchi
and his wife, who were running a pharmacy at the time, played matchmaker
with Franks sister Laura and Dr. Cella, then a young physician
who frequented the pharmacy.
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