2018: Week 6 ~ 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: Favorite Name

I’m looking forward to starting another year-long of 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks with AmyJohnson Crow.  If you’ve never joined into this type of a weekly writing blog, check out her 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks site for more information. I first joined in 2014, opening my first blog and proud to say… I completed all 52 weeks on time! My 2014: 52 Week Ancestor Challenge can be found on the previous link.

2018: Week 6 ~ 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks

Favorite Name – Naming Patterns – Nicknames

6 week 3

In searching for popular names of 1900, it seems my husband’s family was covered in the use of names such as… John, Joseph, Frank, Mary, Fred, Margaret, Rose, Joe, Frank, Catherine, Josephine, Andrew, Michael, Pauline, Johnnie, Stephen, Nancy, Rosie, Jimmie, Nicholas, Steve, Celia, and Cecelia.

Favorite Name:

This weekly prompt was “Favorite Name”, but there were always two that I loved in his family… his grandmothers’ names… Domenica and Giacinta. I hinted a few times of using those names for my grandchildren, but that didn’t get me anywhere!

The name “Domenica” is a Spanish baby name, meaning as born on Sunday, although Grandma Minnie was born on a Tuesday, and named after her father’s mother, Domenica DeCuore; it is also the Italian feminine form of Dominic and an alternate form of the French name Dominique. I never learned her actual name until I began writing and researching the family history… I had only known her as Grandma Minnie… she was Minnie to everyone, although on her marriage certificate, her name was written as Michela.

Italian Naming Patterns

  • A first-born son is named after his paternal grandfather.
  • A second son born is named after his maternal grandfather.
  • A third, born son would be named after his father.
  • The first female is named after her paternal grandmother.
  • The second female is named after her maternal grandmother.
  • The third female is named after her mother.

Subsequent children born into the family were usually named after favorite aunts and uncles, or even deceased relatives. You’ll often find a child in the family with a deceased sibling of the same name. In the DeTulio family, there was a daughter, Antoinette, born in 1910, who only lived about six months. In 1911, another daughter was born and Guilia renamed her Antoinette… after the deceased daughter. (I was told this by Mary D. Pompone)

Naming Patterns were a family tradition in most Italian households and in looking through the families of Cambino, DeTulio, and Insalaco… I’ve written who was named for whom!

Giovanni & Guilia DeTulio

Giovanni Americanized into John and Guilia into Julia

DiTullio transformed into DeTullio and later DeTulio

  • Giuseppe DeTulio – named after his paternal grandfather, Giuseppe DiTullio
  • Domenica DeTulio – named after her paternal grandmother, Domenica DeCuore
  • Antoinette DeTulio – b. 1910, d. 1910
  • Antoinette DeTulio – b. 1911, named after her deceased sister.
  • Carmela DeTulio
  • Rosa DeTulio
  • Michael DeTulio
  • Maria DeTulio
  • Nicholas DeTulio
  • Andrew DeTulio
  • Lucia DeTulio – named after her mother’s sister Lucia Catalano
  • Josephine DeTulio

Guilia’s parents were Giovanni and Theresa Catalano, but yet none of the children received those names; I only found two siblings for Guilia… Giovanni Jr., and Lucia. I have no siblings for Giovanni DeTulio, so possibly the rest of the family was named for them.

John and Julia mostly spoke Italian in the home and their children grew up learning both … English at school, and Italian at home. John probably spoke more English in working outside the home, as he needed to be able to communicate with others. From all told to me, Julia spoke mostly Italian, with very few words in English… which made it hard for the great-grandchildren to have conversation with her, but I’m sure she was able to communicate with them by her daughters translating.


Giuseppe Gambino / Cambino and Domenica DeTulio

Giuseppe became Joseph & Joe – Domenica became Michela & Minnie

Gambino transformed into Cambino

Giuseppe’s siblings were… Francesco, Maria Cristina, Salvatore, and Annunziata,

  • Catherine
  • Frederick Joseph named after his paternal grandfather Federico Gambino
  • Cecelia
  • John – named after his maternal grandfather Giovanni DeTulio
  • Frank named after his paternal uncle Francesco Gambino
  • Nancy named after her paternal aunt, Annunziata (Nunzia) Gambino
  • Antoinete named after her maternal aunt Antoinette DeTulio

Joe and Minnie spoke mostly English in their home… Minnie speaking more Italian as that had been her primary language in her home, but Joe was insistent that his children learn and only speak English. He wanted them to be more American and not associate in the customs and language of Italy. Later in life, his children wished just the opposite… wishing that they had learned Italian in the home and could speak both languages instead of only knowing English.


Stefano Insalaco and Giacinta DiRosa

Stefano transformed into Stephen and Steve, but I never heard any name for Giacinta other than “Mama.”

  • Louise Rosario Insalaco – named after her paternal grandmother Louisa M. Cacciato
  • Anthony – named after his paternal grandfather Antonio F. Insalaco
  • Stephen Joseph Insalaco – named after his paternal grandfather Stefano Insalaco and also his maternal grandfather Stefano DiRosa
  • Maria A. Insalaco – named after her maternal grandmother Maria Stincone
  • Thomas Insalaco
  • Virginia Rosalie Insalaco
  • Peter Paul Insalaco named after his maternal great-grandfather Pietro Stincone
  • Ruth Insalaco
  • Martha Insalaco

As more second-generation were born in America, the custom of Italian naming patterns soon disappeared as they wanted their children to be more associated with being American and born here. Italian was not usually spoken in the Insalaco household… Giacinta often reverted to speaking more Italian, but was quickly prompted by her daughters to “speak English Mama“. I always enjoyed hearing her speak Italian, but they encouraged her to speak English.


Cambino: Giuseppe Americanized his name quickly into Joseph and Joe, and later all the children, even Minnie referred to him as “the old man“, but only when he wasn’t around; it’s also said friends referred to him as such too. My husband remembers that when he was young, he’d heard his grandfather called that so often, that he thought it really was his name.

So many Cambino family members ended up with nicknames… “Cecelia” morphed to just Celia, but her brothers preferred to call her “york” or “yawk” and sometimes “yatti”. “Antoinete” became “dolly” because it was said that she didn’t like to play with dolls. Her brother Freddie often teased her by calling her “dreep“. The boys Frank, Fred and John Cambino transformed to Frankie, Johnny, and Freddie. After Johnny began racing at Savin Rock’s, West Haven Speedway, he became known as “King Cambo“, “King” and “Big John.” Later when Johnny Jr. was born, he soon became known as “little Johnny”… who does that anymore to their children? Even as they are all grown now, it’s hard to refrain from saying “little”… when calling them by name.

Daughter, Nancy Cambino never seemed to have had a nickname, but when her niece Nancy Cambino was born, daughter of Johnny and Maggie, the baby quickly became “little Nancy.” It worked the same way with Dolly’s son, Joseph Burgarello… he was called “little Joey“, as his father was known as “Joe, Joey, and Joey Bags“. My husband, Steve Insalaco, was called “beans” or “string bean” by his uncles… why… because he was thin as a bean pole as a young boy; his son followed in that same trait and uncle Frankie often called him “little beans.” If you weren’t named after a family member, you escaped the “little” in your name. My husband called our daughter Melissa, “sunshine“… not quite sure why, but it flowed with her name.

Sister, Catherine, was always Catherine… no nickname, but her husband James Donahue was known as Jimmy and Jim, and Uncle Gee by his nephews and nieces. Sister Nancy married Gennaro Cavallaro, who was known by the American version of Gene. Their son Paul escaped the “little”, as his middle name was Gene, but his son Paul quickly became known as “little Paul”, but he’s outgrown that now as he has a “little Paul” to carry on.
DeTulio: In the DeTulio family, we have Michael DeTulio, who became known as “O’Toole”, Josephine was shortened to “JoJo”, Rosaria DeTulio became Rose, Rosie, and later “Roseburg” or “the bird” because of her married name Burzynski. Antoinette was most often called by her given name but sometimes was called “Antoine”. Antoinette married James Carbone, who was called “Jimmy Brown”… a name given to him as his boxing name; one son Joseph “Johnny” Carbone somehow acquired the nickname of “Johhnycakes”… no one has figured out who nicknamed him or why… might we assume he loved johnnycakes? When Lucy DeTulio married Frank Romano, they became known as “Lulu and Rummy.” I’ve never heard anyone refer to their brother Andrew other than his given name, but just recently a cousin referred to him as Uncle Andy. Their brother Nicholas became Nicky to everyone, Carmela was shortened to Carmel and Mary was always known as Mary, no nickname! What’s most remembered about Mary… is her cooking!

Insalaco: The Insalaco family didn’t seem to have nicknames as the Cambino and DeTulio families had. My father in law, Stephen, was mostly called Steve and later more as Stef. His sister, Maria, was called Mary and his brother Antonio went by Tony.

If I’ve missed any of the family nicknames… please let me know so I might add to the story.

52 ancesors with name

Like to read more, click on… 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks

© 2018, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved

The prompts for February are:
Week 6 (February 5-11): Favorite Name
Week 7 (February 12-18): Valentine
Week 8 (February 19-25): Heirloom
Week 9 (February 26-March 4): Where There’s a Will

Published by

Jeanne Bryan Insalaco

My blog is at: https://everyonehasafamilystorytotell.wordpress.com/

2 thoughts on “2018: Week 6 ~ 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: Favorite Name”

  1. Wow – interesting…I like the info on the naming patterns – I suspect it’s similar in a lot of European countries. My father too Anglicized his Polish name from Jozef to Joseph. My uncle Zbigniew (diminutive Zbyszek) didn’t bother trying – he was known amongst his non-Polish friends and colleagues as Bas…the first three letters of his surname. Oldest brother, Jan Jerzy (diminutive Jurek), kept Jan, but everyone outside the Polish community pronounced the J in the English way, rather than the Polish (it’s a Y), same for sister Jadwiga (Jaga or Jadzia diminutive.)

    Your Italian family sounds in many ways like my Polish one. I loved reading about the various generations 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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