Giuseppe Morello
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Giuseppe Morello (1867 - 1930)

Giuseppe "Piddu" Morello
Born in Corleone, Palermo, Sicilymap
Ancestors ancestors
Husband of — married 2 Mar 1889 (to 30 Jun 1898) in Corleone, Palermo, Italymap
Husband of — married 7 Dec 1903 (to 15 Aug 1930) in St. Lucy's Church, 344 East 104th St, New York, NYmap
Descendants descendants
Died at age 63 in New York, New York, United Statesmap
Profile last modified | Created 18 Nov 2014
This page has been accessed 7,577 times.



Birth and Early Childhood

Giuseppe Morello is born 2 May 1867 in Corleone and baptized the next day, named after his paternal grandfather. He is the son of Calogero "Carlo" Morello and Angelina Piazza. His godparents are Giorgio Campagna and Giovanna Vintaloro, a married couple.[1][2]

Carlo dies, reportedly at age 36 (he is 32 years old) on 24 May 1872. His parents and wife all survive him.[3]

The following year, Angelina remarries, to Bernardo Terranova, who is a member of the Corleonesi Mafia, called the "Fratuzzi," or "little brothers" in Sicilian.

From Mafia Wiki: "The Morello and Terranova children grew up together and Bernardo may have facilitated Giuseppe's early induction into the local cosca, or Mafia clan." Bernardo Terranova was a member of the Fratuzzi. Bernardino Verro listed him among the members who initiated Verro into the secret fraternity in 1893. His account was found after his murder.[4]

Crichley notes that Morello also had an uncle, Giuseppe Battaglia, who was a leader in the Corleonesi Mafia and who may have assisted in his nephew's passage. This relationship has not been confirmed through genealogical research.[5] Battaglia's wife and Morello are third cousins. Cascio-10 15:10, 14 October 2016 (EDT)

In 1883, Giuseppe's godfather is murdered.

First Marriage and Early Adulthood in Corleone

Giuseppe marries twice, first to Maria Rosa Marsalisi (called Marvalisi in some texts), daughter of the late Benedetto Marsalisi and Biagia d'Antoni, on 2 March 1889.[6]

The couple have at least two children: Angela (1891) and Calogero (1892).

In the late 1880s, while Luca Patti is the leader of his Fratuzzi gang in Corleone, Morello is first heard of as a mafioso of serious repute.[7]

He serves under Salvatore Cutrera, who briefly takes power from Patti. Under Cutrera is Paolino Streva, his captain, and under Streva is Morello, his lieutenant. Streva and Morello engage in cattle theft together.

Angela, named after her paternal grandmother, dies at eleven months of age (b. Feb 1891) on 21 January 1892.[8]

In addition to his cattle theft ring with Streva, Giuseppe Morello engages in counterfeiting with a Palermitan mafioso. He passes bad bills through Bernardino Verro's socialist cafe. He was tried in absentia and sentenced to six years.[7]

Flight to America

Giuseppe reportedly kills a Sylvan guard, Giovanni Vella, and a witness. (Read "The murder of Giovanni Vella" on Mafia Genealogy.) He flees the country on the SS La Bourgogne, arriving in New York on 9 May 1892. He is 25 years old.[9][10]

Calogero is born on 25 November 1892 in Corleone and baptized on 10 December, named after his paternal grandfather. His godfather is the unmarried Antonino Rizzotto.[11]

Giuseppe's sister, his mother and Bernardo and their children, all follow him to New York in March 1893. Also traveling with them on the SS Alsatia are his wife, Maria Rosa, and their son, Calogero, who is two months old.

New York and Louisiana

The reunited Morello-Terranova family lives first in New York, probably in Little Italy (in lower Manhattan). The financial crisis of 1893 sends Giuseppe south to seek work. In Louisiana, he sells lemons from a sack to pay to relocate the rest of his extended family.[7]

Note: Mike Dash asserts that the child born in 1892 dies in infancy in 1894, soon after the family leaves New York for Louisiana.[7] No primary sources are offered by Dash for the death of young Calogero, and none have been found by this researcher. Cascio-10 17:59, 12 July 2021 (UTC) One secondary source, the 1910 census, supports Dash's theory, but records of Calogero's death in 1912 indicate he is the same person who was born in Corleone in 1892.

Giuseppe's half-sister, Lucia Terranova, marries in Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana, at the beginning of February 1894. (Read "Giuseppe Morello and the Macaroni Wars" which ties together several episodes in Morello's early life in the United States, starting with Lucia's marriage.)

Bryan, Texas

Giuseppe and his stepfather, Bernardo, work for a season on a plantation in Louisiana, probably planting sugar cane. The family moves next to Bryan, Texas, where there is a settlement of farmers from Corleone established on the east side of the Brazos River.[7]

The family lives here for just over a year before deciding to give up sharecropping cotton and return to New York. While living in Bryan, the whole family fall ill with malaria.[7]

In early 1897, the family returns to New York City's Little Italy.[7]

Giuseppe's wife, Maria Rosa, dies in Corleone at age 35 (b. 1863) on the morning of 30 June 1898. The cause of her death is not known.[12]

Counterfeiting in New York

Around 1898-99, Morello starts a counterfeiting operation based in an apartment on E. 106th Street. Calogero Maggiore, his distributor, is determined to be the ringleader, and sent to Sing Sing for six years. Morello avoids a sentence.[7]

His parents and siblings appear together in the 1900 census, but Giuseppe is not listed in their household.

In 1901, Giuseppe invites the newly arrived Vito Cascio Ferro to a plate of macaroni.[7]

On the last day of 1902, Morello starts the Ignatz Florio Co-Operative Association Among Corleonesi. He sells shares in the co-op, buys relatively cheap land in the northern part of the county, and builds apartments, then sells them. The Co-op is at first profitable, but has a liquidity problem as it tends to reinvest all capital into new projects.[7]

He is still active in counterfeiting in April 1903 when he has Benedetto Madonia killed by Tommaso "The Ox" Petto. The "Barrel Murder" is investigated by Detective Joseph Petrosino, whose assassination is in part orchestrated by Morello.

Giuseppe remarries, to Nicolena "Lena" Salemi (b. ~1884), on 7 December 1903 at Saint Lucy's Church in New York. The witnesses are Ignacio Lupo and Salvatrice Terranova.[13]

Later that month, Giuseppe's half-sister, Lucia, marries Nicolena's brother, Vincenzo. Vincenzo Salemi is a Mafia associate of Morello's.

Lena and Giuseppe have four children: a second daughter named Angelina (c. 1905), Carmela (c. 1909), a second son named Calogero (c. 1921), and Geraldine (c. 1924)[14]

In the 1905 state census of New York, Giuseppe appears as "Joseph Terranova," reportedly age 30 (he is 38) with his wife, Lena, 21 (b. 1884), and two children: Calogero, 10 (b. 1895---actually, he is 13) and Angelina, five months (b. 1905), both born in the US. Joseph is reportedly a salesman. His close neighbors include the families of Sebastiano Cimino, James Lomonte, and Charles Lomonte.[15] Charles and his brother, Tom, take over Morello's gang in 1911. James is their father. Sebastiano is Charles' father-in-law.[9]

A financial depression in 1907 puts pressure on the struggling building cooperative, prompting Morello to resume counterfeiting.[7]

Sometime in 1907 or 1908, Morello takes a trip to New Orleans where he, as boss of bosses, weighs in on leadership of the local Mafia. He lends his support to Vincenzo Moreci, who becomes the new boss.[16]

In October 1908, Morello begins a counterfeiting operation on an associate, Salvatore Cina's farm in Highland, New York. (Read "Giuseppe Morello's counterfeiting gang" on Mafia Genealogy.) Antonio Comito, the printer whose testimony would devastate the defense at the counterfeiting trial, is abducted in November. Antonio B. Milone, a Co-op officer, etches the first sets of plates used by the gang.[7]

In 1909, Giuseppe Morello is acknowledged by his peers as the "boss of bosses" of the Mafia in the United States.

On 12 March 1909, Joseph Petrosino, the New York police detective, is assassinated in Palermo. Clues point to a collaboration among Morello, Cascio Ferro, and other mafiosi in his murder.[7]

Trial and Prison

Less than a year later, Giuseppe and his brother-in-law, Ignazio Lupo, are tried in the first of two trials for the counterfeiting gang. Morello gets 25 years in prison.[17]

In the 1910 Census, Angela Morello, age 60, lives in Manhattan, Ward 12, with her daughter, Dora (Salvatrice), 28, son-in-law Nazzio Lupo, 31, granddaughters Nufria, 4, and Angelina, 2, Rocco Lupo, her grandson, born that year, her son Joe Morello, age 42, daughter in law Lena Morello, 26, grandson Charles, 15, born in Texas, granddaughters Angelina, 5, and Carmela, 1, son Vincent Terranova, 23, and daughter Rose Terranova, 17. Nufria, Angelina, and Rocco Lupo, and Angelina and Carmela Morello, were all born in New York. Angelina and her children and in-laws were all born in Italy.[18]

In the 1910 federal census of the US penitentiary in South Bend, Fulton County, Georgia, Giuseppe Morello appears. He is 43, married twice, most recently for seven years. He immigrated in 1892. He works as a helper in the kitchen.[19]

Morello first continues to lead his gang from prison via letter, but soon consents to have the gang managed in his absence by the Lo Monte brothers, Fortunato (also called Charles) and Tom. The brothers are killed in 1914 and 1915, respectively.[9] Giuseppe's brother, Nick, leads the gang after the Lo Monte brothers.[7]

Giuseppe's first son, Calogero, called Charles, is killed in a gunfight in Harlem on 16 April 1912.[20] Giuseppe's second son by this name, with Lena, is also called Charles.

Nick Terranova is killed in an ambush by Camorra from the Navy Street gang in 1916. Vincent and Ciro lead the gang after his death.

In the 1920 federal census of the US penitentiary in South Bend, Fulton County, Georgia, several of the counterfeiters appear in sequence:

61. Giuseppe Calucchio (“Calicohio”), 68 (b. 1852). Calucchio is married, works as a nurse in the prison.

62. Giuseppe Morello, 53 (b. 1867), married, immigrated in 1899. Tailor.

63. Ignacio Lupo, 52 (b. 1868) (called “Sopo”), married, immigrated in 1900. Cook.

64. Giuseppe Palermo, 58 and single, one of the only Morello counterfeiters to become a naturalized citizen, in 1904. He is also a tailor.

65. Antonio Cecala, 45 (b. 1875), has no occupation.[21]

Giuseppe is released on 1 February 1920, a few days after this census is taken.[7]

Masseria Era

He becomes the right-hand man of Joe "The Boss" Masseria. Masseria, the Morello-Terranova family, and a third mafioso, Umberto Valenti, are allies against the powerful D'Aquila cosca.

D'Aquila has Morello and Ignazio Lupo denounced at a general assembly meeting of the US Mafia, and condemns them to death. They run with Valenti to Sicily around October 1921, where they seek aid from Nicola Gentile.[7]

On their return to New York, Valenti rejoins D'Aquila against Morello and his supporters. Morello's brother Vincent is killed in May 1922. After a retaliatory shooting, Joe Masseria is arrested.[22]

From 1922-28, Masseria and Morello dominate the underworld of Manhattan.[7] Joe Valachi calls Morello "a vicious Masseria enforcer."[23]

In the 1925 New York state census taken 1 June, Joseph Morello, 57 (b. 1868), heads a household at 352 E. 116th St. with his wife, Lena, 40 (b. 1885), both born in Italy. He has been in the US for 34 years (imm. 1891) and she for 22 (imm. 1903). They are both resident aliens. He is an importer working on his own account. With them are their children Angelina, 20 (b. 1905), Carmela, 16 (b. 1909), Charles, 3 (b. 1922), and Geraldine, 350 days old (b. 1924). The children were born in the US. Angelina and Carmela are machine operators.[24]

In the 1930 federal census of Palisades, Bergen Co., NJ, taken 11 April, Joseph Morello, 61 (b. 1869), owns his home at 419 Arcadian Way. He lives with his wife Lena, 45 (b. 1885), both born in Italy, and their children Angelina is written and then crossed out, Carmela, 21 (b. 1909), Charles, 5 (b. 1925), Geraldine, 5 (b. 1925), and a servant, Pauline Thomas, 23 (b. 1907), single, born in Italy. Joseph emigrated in 1892. He is a lathing contractor working on his own account. Lena emigrated in 1905. Pauline emigrated in 1930.[25]

Death of Giuseppe

Giuseppe is killed at the age of 63 along with associate Joseph Perriano on August 15, 1930, an early casualty of the Castellammarese War (1929-31) between the enterprises of Giuseppe Masseria, Morello's chief protector and ally, and a rival group led by Salvatore Maranzano and Joseph Bonanno. His address at the time of death is 1115 Arcadian Way, Palisades Park, New Jersey. Also injured in the attack is Gaspare Pollara, a contractor.[7]

Giuseppe's occupation is listed as "contractor". He is buried on 19 August 1930 in Calvary Cemetery.[26] His wife Nicolina (Lena) survives him.[27] In "The Valachi Papers," Maas calls Giuseppe "Peter" and reports his death in his office at at 362 E 116th St. Maas also gives his home address in Palisades Park. He under reports Morello's age at death as fifty.[23]


  1. Baptism of Josephum Morello, 3 May 1867, "Italia, Palermo, Diocesi di Monreale, Registri Parrocchiali, 1531-1998," images, FamilySearch (,351041802,351131001 : accessed 17 Nov 2014), Corleone > San Martino > Battesimi 1864-1871 > image 239 of 576; Archivio di Arcidiocesi di Palermo [Palermo ArchDiocese Archives, Palermo].
  2. Estratto riassuntivo dal registro degli atti di nascita, Giuseppe Morello [Summary extract from a birth record.] (1998, August 11). Record no. 124, Part I, 1867. Official document from the city of Corleone. Record image is here.
  3. Death of Calogerus Morello, 24 May 1872, "Italia, Palermo, Diocesi di Monreale, Registri Parrocchiali, 1531-1998," images, FamilySearch (,351041802,351074501 : accessed 16 Oct 2014), Corleone > San Martino > Morti 1868-1872 > image 133 of 151; citing Archivio della Diocesi di Palermo.
  4. Paternostro, D. (1994). L'antimafia sconosciuta Corleone 1893-1993. Palermo: La Zisa. P. 28.
  5. Critchley, David. The Origin of Organized Crime in America: The New York City Mafia, 1891-1931. Routledge: New York, 2009.
  6. Marriage of Joseph Morello and Maria Rosa Marsalisi, record no. 24, 2 March 1889, "Italia, Palermo, Diocesi di Monreale, Registri Parrocchiali, 1531-1998," images, FamilySearch (,351041802,351112201 : accessed 21 January 2015), Corleone > San Martino > Matrimoni 1888-1902 > image 47 of 445; Archivio di Arcidiocesi di Palermo [Palermo ArchDiocese Archives, Palermo].
  7. 7.00 7.01 7.02 7.03 7.04 7.05 7.06 7.07 7.08 7.09 7.10 7.11 7.12 7.13 7.14 7.15 7.16 7.17 Dash, M. (2009). The first family: Terror, extortion, revenge, murder, and the birth of the American Mafia. Random House.
  8. Death of Angela Morello, record no. 19, 21 January 1892, "Italia, Palermo, Diocesi di Monreale, Registri Parrocchiali, 1531-1998," images, FamilySearch (,351041802,351085401 : accessed 10 February 2015), Corleone > San Martino > Morti 1889-1910 > image 78 of 546; Archivio di Arcidiocesi di Palermo [Palermo ArchDiocese Archives, Palermo].
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 Richard Warner, Angelo Santino, and Lennert Van 't Riet. "The Early New York Mafia: An Alternative Theory." The Informer: May 2014. Accessed at 11 January 2016.
  10. Accessed via 19 April 2017.
  11. Baptism of Calogerus Morello, record no. 555,10 December 1892, "Italia, Palermo, Diocesi di Monreale, Registri Parrocchiali, 1531-1998," images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 9 February 2016), Corleone > San Martino > Battesimi 1889-1895 > image 243 of 427; Archivio di Arcidiocesi di Palermo (Palermo ArchDiocese Archives, Palermo).
  12. Death of Maria Rosa Marsalisi, record no. 159, 30 June 1898, "Italia, Palermo, Diocesi di Monreale, Registri Parrocchiali, 1531-1998," images, FamilySearch (,351041802,351085401 : accessed 4 March 2015), Corleone > San Martino > Morti 1889-1910 > image 246 of 546; Archivio di Arcidiocesi di Palermo [Palermo ArchDiocese Archives, Palermo].
  13. Marriage of Giuseppe Morello and Nicolina Salemi, Transcript: Church of Santa Lucia, 344 East 104th St, New York, NY. Record no. 108, "Italia, Palermo, Diocesi di Monreale, Registri Parrocchiali, 1531-1998," images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 3 October 2015), Corleone > San Martino > Matrimoni 1903-1911 > image 41 of 284; Archivio di Arcidiocesi di Palermo (Palermo ArchDiocese Archives, Palermo).
  14. "New York State Census, 1925," database, FamilySearch ( : accessed 9 February 2016), Garaldine Morello, New York, A.D. 20, E.D. 25, New York, New York, United States; records extracted by Ancestry and images digitized by FamilySearch; citing p. 84, line 04, New York State Archives, Albany.
  15. New York State Census, 1905, database with images, FamilySearch( : 21 December 2017), Thomas La Monte in household of James La Monte, Manhattan, A.D. 32, E.D. 19, New York, New York; citing p. 22, line 27, county offices, New York.; FHL microfilm 1,433,115.
  16. Rawson, R. (n.d. approx 2017). The life and times of Vito Di Giorgio.
  17. "Lupo And His Gang Heavily Sentenced." The Ruyter Gleaner. 24 February 1910. Accessed 16 March 2016.
  18. "United States Census, 1910," database with images, FamilySearch ( : 29 October 2015), Rocco Lupo in household of Angela Morello, Manhattan Ward 12, New York, New York, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) ED 345, sheet 5A, NARA microfilm publication T624 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.); FHL microfilm 1,375,028.
  19. "United States Census, 1910," database with images, FamilySearch ( : 11 November 2015), Georgia > Fulton > South Bend > image 13 of 18; citing NARA microfilm publication T624 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.).
  20. Hunt, Thomas. "Sinistro: The Underworld Career of Giuseppe Morello (1867-1930)." Accessed online 9 February 2016. Hunt cites "Three gunmen fight until all are down," New York Times, April 17, 1912, p. 24; Flynn, William, Daily Report, April 30, 1912, Department of the Treasury, United States Secret Service Daily Reports, R.G. No. 87, Vol. 35, NARA.
  21. "United States Census, 1920," database with images, FamilySearch ( : 14 December 2015), Georgia > Fulton > South Bend > image 2 of 38; citing NARA microfilm publication T625 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.).
  22. Girl, woman, 4 men shot in battle of two bootleg bands. (1922, May 9). The New York Times. Pp. 1, 3.
  23. 23.0 23.1 Maas, Peter. The Valachi Papers. New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1968. Print. P. 87-8.
  24. New York, U.S., State Census, 1925 District: A·D· 20 E·D· 25 New York, U.S., State Census, 1925 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2012.
  25. "United States Census, 1930," database with images, FamilySearch ( : 10 December 2015), New Jersey > Bergen > Palisades > ED 81 > image 22 of 36; citing NARA microfilm publication T626 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 2002).
  26. "Find A Grave Index," database, FamilySearch ( : 26 July 2019), Giuseppe Morello, 1930; Burial, Woodside, Queens, New York, United States of America, Calvary Cemetery; citing record ID 19627, Find a Grave,
  27. "New York, New York City Municipal Deaths, 1795-1949," database, FamilySearch ( : accessed 16 February 2016), Joseph Morello, 15 Aug 1930; citing Death, Manhattan, New York, New York, United States, New York Municipal Archives, New York; FHL microfilm 2,057,842.

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