The Masseria Valente - Old Legal Documents
In August 2003 I discovered an old green box in my Valente grandmother's house. The box is a WW2 British or Canadian ammunition box. When I opened it, I expected to find the military effects of my grandfather Francesco Valente (1917-1980). But instead I found legal documents about the old Valente Farm in Gambatesa.
The wood around the box was for the fireplace. It was used for heat in winter. My grandmother still uses it sometimes for cooking. It is a stone house. It was the last one built of stone in Gambatesa. Now they use bricks and cement.
The box had been covered with wood until last winter when my grandmother used the wood. That was why I did not know the box was there. The box is in an unfinished room or apartment on the first floor [i.e. the second story] of the house.
I took the manuscripts outside to photograph them in the sunlight. But the photographs cannot be read because of their low resolution.
The photographs on this page are of the backs of three documents. These documents were folded in quarters; each fold is about the size of a postcard. The documents are written in legal language in a hand-writing that is no longer used. But the titles written on the backs of the documents are in a different hand from the documents themselves.
The Masseria Valente ("Valente Farm") belonged to the descendents of the Domenico Valente who, with his son Pasquale, was the first Valente to live in Gambatesa. Pasquale's son Domenico acquired the land some time after 1806, when feudalism was abolished in the Napoleonic Kingdom of Naples.
The title of the document below, therefore, would refer to this second Domenico Valente (1764-1828).
"Gift [of] Domenico Valente."
The Family Tree of the Valente in Gambatesa
- Domenico Valente (died before his son Pasquale; migrated to Gambatesa in 1748 from San Marco de' Goti with his children Pasquale and Anna and presumably with his wife Barbara Conte)
- Pasquale Valente (1736-1793)
- Domenico Valente (1764-1828)
- Nicola Valente (1793-1855)
- Donato Valente (1817-1902)
- Antonio Valente (b. 1842), Francesco Valente (b. 1847), and Nicola Valente (1853-1939)
The Masseria Valente was the farm of the Donato Valente (1817-1902) who was the father of the brothers Antonio, Francesco and Nicola Valente. Donato's sons worked the Masseria Valente together. The documents show the purchase or transfer of the Masseria Valente to the three brothers.
Antonio Francesco e
Strumento means "instrument" [i.e. a legal document such as a deed, will or agreement]. The past participle fu as in del fu means "[of the] deceased", and therefore this title was given to the document after the death of the three brothers' father Donato Valente in 1902.
dei tre fratelli
"Old map of the Farm at the Macchie of the three brothers Antonio, Francesco, and Nicola Valente." The Macchie (macchia means a "hill with woods or scrub") in the document's title would refer to the Macchie della Terra (See map showing the Masseria Valente) which used to be part of the Valente Farm in Gambatesa.
The map shows extensions made to the farm; the extensions are separate from (not contiguous with) the main farm. The sizes of the extensions are stated in tomoli. The main farm -- which was a rectangle with its longer side (maybe three times longer) running north to south -- stretched from the Tappino River to the Colle della Putina (I don't know if Putina is only a proper name or if that word also has a meaning in dialect; colle means "hill").
According to Gambatesa's land records, in 1806 the masseria ("farm") belonged to another man. The other man sold it to the Valente. It had another name before it was called "Masseria Valente".
In 1877 the Masseria Valente was very big. It included the Colle della Putina. The two hills just to the south of the Colle della Putina still belong to the Masseria Valente, as do the woods on the western slope of the southeastern of these two hills.
All Gambatesa's farmland is now small patches of land. In the village's land records, the nun Serafina Valente (born in 1888) is still listed as an owner of a small parcel of the Valente lands.
Photographs by Angelo Abiuso (Geneva), August 2003.
The URL of this Web page: https://www.roangelo.net/valente/cassa.html
Last revised: 3 December 2005 : 2005-12-03 by Robert [Wesley] Angelo.