Ciro Terranova

Ciro Terranova (1887 - 1938)

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Ciro "The Artichoke King" Terranova
Born in Corleone, Palermo, Italymap
Ancestors ancestors
Husband of — married in New York, New York, New York, USAmap
Died in New York, New York, United Statesmap
Profile last modified | Created 18 Nov 2014
This page has been accessed 1,821 times.


Ciro Terranova is a black sheep because they were outcast, outlawed, or outlandish.
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According to the his marriage record, Ciro Terranova is born and baptized on 24 June 1887 in Corleone, the son of Bernardo Terranova and Angelina (Angela) Piazza.[1] A certificate of birth recorded by the city gives his date of birth as 20 July of that year.[2] Ciro's godparents are Calogero lo Jacono and Leoluchina di Miceli, a married couple. A margin note on his baptism records Ciro’s marriage in New York on 25 April 1909 to Teresa Catania.[3]

His brothers Vincenzo, and Nicolo', parents, and four sisters all immigrate to New York to meet his older half-brother, Giuseppe Morello, in 1893.

Bernardo Terranova, age 40, his wife Angela Piazza, 44, and children Lucia, 16, Salvatrice, 12, Vincenzo, 7, Ciro, 6, and Nicolo', 3, immigrate together on the SS Alsatia from Naples, arriving in New York 8 March 1893. Bernardo is listed as a laborer, and literate: his wife and children are not. Unlike almost everyone else they travel with, who have one or two pieces of luggage with them, the Terranovas have sixteen bags with them. Bernardo has six, Angela has four, Lucia, two, and each of the younger children has a piece of luggage.[4]

Ciro, Vincenzo, Nicolo, and Giuseppe found the powerful Morello crime family.

From Wikipedia: "Ciro earned his nickname, "the Artichoke King", by purchasing artichokes at $6.00 a crate from California, then selling them in New York at a 30-40% profit. Ciro's violent reputation preceded him, frightening vegetable sellers into buying them."[5]

Ciro marries Teresina "Tessie" Catania (30 April 1892, Palermo - d. 1978), the daughter of Calogero Catania and Anna Montala', in St. Lucy's Church in New York on 25 April 1909.[6] Witnesses are Gaetano Lo Monte and Rosa Portoghese.[1]

In June 1920, Ignazio Lupo’s sentence is conditionally commuted by Pres. Harding June 1920 and he goes to live with his wife Salvatrice and the Terranovas at 338 E 116th St. Ignazio and Salvatrice live there until 1927, when they move to Brooklyn, into an "elaborate" house they build on a lot given them by Ciro and Tessie Terranova in May 1926.

By December 1929, Ciro and his family -- six Terranovas plus two children of his brother who was killed by racketeers and his 80-year-old grandmother -- live in a $52,000 Spanish type home at 989 Peace Street in "fashionable" Pelham Manor, New York. Ciro paid cash for the home, a very rare occurrence. Neighbors suspected shady dealings in the Terranova home -- Ciro allegedly would stay up late at night after his children and grandmother went to bed and "fast moving cars would come up to the Terranova home. Men with caps drawn low over their brows would enter the house and before long, would leave again. Guards lurked around the was noticeable the Terranova limousine never came from Harlem Market by the same route on two successive days."[7] Ciro denied all of this and maintained that he was "just a young fellow from Sicily making his way in the world."

In the 1930 federal census of Pelham Manor, in Westchester County, New York, Ciro Terranova, age 40 (b. 1890), heads a household. He owns his home, worth $50,000. His wife, “Gessie” is 37 (b. 1893); they married when he was 20 (in 1910) and she was 17. The children were born in New York: Angie, 17 (b. 1913), Angelie, 16 (b. 1914), Vernon, 14 (b. 1916), Josephine, 13 (b. 1917), Anna, 12 (b. 1918), Vincent, 9 (b. 1921), Norma, 6 (b. 1924), and Bessie, 2 (b. 1938). Ciro is an artichokes importer. He and his wife, both from Italy, are naturalized citizens. Ciro immigrated in 1892 and his wife in 1902. The next couple in the census, William Ruenoz, 30 (b. 1900), from Spain, and his wife Margaret, 24 (b. 1906), born in New York of Italian parents, do not have their own household number, and are initially listed as the chauffeur and maid, respectively, but those are crossed out and replaced with Head and Wife, respectively. William immigrated in 1920. Their occupations are listed in the appropriate column.[8][9]

City directories that list the Terranova family at 989 Peace St call Ciro a mason in 1930 and 1934, and a baker in 1936.[10]

Death of Ciro

On February 18, 1938, Ciro Terranova suffers a stroke. He dies two days later. His residence at the time of his death is listed as 338 East 116th Street in Manhattan. He is buried at Calvary Cemetery.[11] at Columbia Hospital, age 49. "Ciro was the only one of the four Terranova brothers to die in bed."[12]

Teresa dies in March 1978, the month before her 78th birthday.[13] She is buried with her husband and in laws in Calvary Cemetery in Woodside, Queens.[14]


  1. 1.0 1.1 "Italia, Palermo, Diocesi di Monreale, Registri Parrocchiali, 1531-1998," images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 5 February 2016), Corleone > San Martino > Documenti matrimoniali 1845-1909 > image 93 of 191; Archivio di Arcidiocesi di Palermo (Palermo ArchDiocese Archives, Palermo).
  2. Certificato di nascita, part I, record no. 602, Ciro Terranova. Stamped and dated by the municipality of Corleone on 13 January 1998. Received by Justin Cascio from Vivian Lima on 1 September 2016.
  3. Baptism of Cyrus Terranova, record no. 386, 23 July 1887, "Italia, Palermo, Diocesi di Monreale, Registri Parrocchiali, 1531-1998," images, FamilySearch ( : 20 May 2014), Corleone > San Martino > Battesimi 1884-1888 > image 288 of 398; Archivio di Arcidiocesi di Palermo (Palermo ArchDiocese Archives, Palermo).
  4. Ship manifest, SS Alsatia, arriving 8 March 1893. Accessed online 31 January 2016.
  5. Wikipedia entry: Ciro Terranova. Accessed 17 November 2014.
  6. "New York, New York City Marriage Records, 1829-1940," database, FamilySearch ( : accessed 16 February 2016), Ciro Terranova and Teresa Catania, 25 Apr 1909; citing Marriage, Manhattan, New York, New York, United States, New York City Municipal Archives, New York; FHL microfilm 1,439,690.
  7. "Artichoke King Claims He Has Been Framed." The Pittsburgh Press 29 Dec. 1929: 2. Google Newspapers. Web. 11 Mar. 2016. (,5685865).
  8. (1st page) "United States Census, 1930," database with images, FamilySearch ( : 8 December 2015), New York > Westchester > Pelham Manor > image 29 of 38; citing NARA microfilm publication T626 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 2002).
  9. (2nd page) "United States Census, 1930," database with images, FamilySearch ( : 8 December 2015), New York > Westchester > Pelham Manor > image 30 of 38; citing NARA microfilm publication T626 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 2002).
  10. Mount Vernon, New York, City Directory, 1930; New Rochelle, New York, City Directory, 1934; Pelham, New York, City Directory, 1936.
  11. "New York, New York City Municipal Deaths, 1795-1949," database, FamilySearch ( : accessed 31 January 2016), Bernardo Terranova in entry for Ciro Terranova, 20 Feb 1938; citing Death, Manhattan, New York, New York, United States, New York Municipal Archives, New York; FHL microfilm 2,107,687.
  12. Critchley, David. The Origin of Organized Crime in America: The New York City Mafia, 1891-1931. Routledge: New York, 2009.
  13. Social Security Number: 095-42-6613; Issue State: New York; Issue Date: 1964
  14. Accessed 22 January 2018.

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It may be possible to confirm family relationships with Ciro by comparing test results with other carriers of his Y-chromosome or his mother's mitochondrial DNA. However, there are no known yDNA or mtDNA test-takers in his direct paternal or maternal line. It is likely that these autosomal DNA test-takers will share DNA with Ciro:

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Images: 1
Ciro Terranova Image 1
Ciro Terranova Image 1


Ciro is 20 degrees from Jim Angelo, 27 degrees from Willis Carrier and 26 degrees from Henry VIII of England on our single family tree. Login to find your connection.