This year I have come to realize that after Poland and Italy from where my ancestors emigrated, France is the country with whom my family has the longest and closest relationship.
Our family’s relationship with France extends over almost 100 years.
1918: Philip Lovetere serves in France
Philip Lovetere in France.
98 years ago in 1918, my maternal grandfather Philip Lovetere was drafted into the U.S. Army and assigned to the 64th Infantry Regiment, 14th Infantry Brigade, 7th Infantry Division.
On September 23, 1918, Philip and the 7th Infantry Division landed at Brest, France.
By the end of September until the end of the war on November 11, he was deployed to the front where he served in the Marbache and Puvenelle Sectors in Lorraine, north of Nancy on the west bank of the Moselle River.
1920: Angela Giordano travels from Sicily to New York City by way of Marseilles and Cherbourg
Angela Giordano’s passport photo.
96 years ago in 1920, my maternal grandmother Angela Giordano traveled by train from her home in Sicily to Cherbourg by way of Marseilles.
Among her memories of a young single woman traveling alone was her fright of the Arabs of Marseilles.
On December 31, 1920 in Cherbourg she boarded the U.S.S. Finland for the United States.
She took a train from New York City to Chicago where she met and married Philip Lovetere.
1944 – 1945: Felix A. Cizewski serves in France
Felix A. Cizewski in training in 1943 just prior to his deployment to France.
In 1942, my late father Felix A. Cizewski was drafted and assigned to Company C, 3110th Signal Service Battalion, Army Service Forces.
70 years ago on July 25, 1944, he landed at Utah Beach and was initially stationed at Tamerville, France. He also served in Valognes and Cherbourg before the battalion was sent to Paris. There he suffered frostbite.
In January, 1945 after recovering from frostbite he suffered in Paris, he was transferred to the 45th Signal Company, 45th Infantry Division in Petersbach, France approximately 130 kilometers (81 miles) east of where he future father-in-law Philip Lovetere served 27 years earlier
From January until March, 1945, Felix served in Baccarat, Lunneville, Castle Stanislaus, and Sarreguemines, France.
On March 17, 1945, the 45th Signal Company crossed in Nazi Germany.
In 1945 Felix left Europe from Le Havre.
In 1947 he married Philip Lovetere’s and Angela Giordano’s oldest daughter, Ennina Maria (Anna Maria ) Lovetere, my late mother.
2014: Leonard H. Cizewski and Cheryl A. Robinson return to Normandy to Honor Felix’s Service
Cheryl and Leonard at the Tamerville memorial.
Photo by Julie Waldner.
In May 2014, Felix’s son and Philip and Angela’s grandson Leonard and his wife Cheryl A. Robinson traveled to Tamerville for the dedication of a memorial to those who liberted anad served in Tamerville, including the 3110th Signal Service Battalion.
|Plaque honoring the 3110th and other units.
Click on the image for a large PDF of the plaque.
2014: Genetic Cousins Leonard and Daniel Meet
|Genetic cousins Leonard Cizewski and Daniel Ewenczyk.
Pnoto by Cheryl A. Robinson
In June, Leonard and Cheryl traveled to Paris where we met Leonard’s genetic cousin Daniel Ewenczyk.
From their DNA work, Leonard and Daniel discovered within the last 350 years in Eastern Europe their Slavic and Jewish families met and they share a common paternal ancestor.
Passing as French in the United States.
Anna Marie (Lovetere) Cizewski shared two stories of our maternal family passing as French to avoid prejudice and housing and job discrimination against Sicilian immigrant families.
In the 1920s Philip and Angela wished to move out of the crime and poverty of Chicago’s Italian ghetto.
In a neighbor founded by French-Canadians, they found an Lithuanian immigrant family who would rent to them. The owners and my grandparents agreed that they would tell the neighbors they were of French ancestry.
During WWII, Italian-Americans were being denied jobs.
Again, my mother said that when asked she would say she was of French ancestry.
Could my family’s relationship with France be even older?
My Sicilian family’s oral history claims French ancestry.
History and DNA confirm a close relationship between Sicily and France, especially Normandy.
Normans first arrived in Sicily about the year 999 and ruled it until 1139.
DNA studies of Sicilians suggest that at least 7% to 10% of our DNA could originate in northwest Europe such as Normandy.
Our family reflects the heterogeneity of the Sicilian DNA:
The majority of DNA of Sicilians is from the people of Europe, Asia, and Africa around the Mediterranean. Possibly Norman and sub-Saharan African DNA is also present.
The diverse DNA of Sicily confirms that we are all of one human family.
Links, sources, and more information:
Differential Greek and northern African migrations to Sicily are supported by genetic evidence from the Y chromosome Cornelia Di Gaetano, Nicoletta Cerutt et. al, European Journal of Human Genetics (2009) 17, 91–99; doi:10.1038/ejhg.2008.120; published online 6 August 2008.
Sicilian Peoples: The Normans by L. Mendola and V. Salerno.