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Esther Valente at Michele Valente's Farm in Gambatesa

Esther Valente (1930-1994) first visited her parents' village in September 1960.  Her uncle Michele Valente (b. 1883) was the oldest brother of her father Giovanni Valente (1887-1969).

Esther Valente at the farm of her uncle Michele Valente, Gambatesa, 1960, 32 KB

With Esther is her Uncle Michele's granddaughter Pasqualina Gallo (center), the daughter of Michele's daughter Carmina Valente.  (The Italian name Carmina is Carmene in dialect, but the final "e" is silent.)  The young man straddling the sheep is Pasqualina's brother Salvatore Gallo.

The farmhouse in the background is u casine Mechele Valente (in Gambatesa's dialect as recorded by a French speaker, or la fattoria di Michele Valente in Italian).  But Michele Valente's farmhouse doesn't exist any more.

"In the dialect of Gambatesa, this kind of farm is called a masseria or casino, but don't look in the dictionary for casino because in Italian that word means 'brothel' (a house with girls)."

Michele Valente's house was located near the Church of Saint Nicholas.  If you are walking from Via San Nicola to the cemetery, the farm was on the left side of the road.  This farm was not part of the Masseria Valente down in the valley.

Under the law of primogenitura, which was in force during the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, the oldest son inherited all of his parents' property.  This was intended to prevent the weakening of noble families by the division of their lands into ever smaller holdings.

In effect, this rule was followed by Nicola Valente when he divided his own farmland: the lion's share of his property went to his oldest son Michele, with the other three boys each left with only a parcel of land large enough for a vegetable garden.

Nicola's second son, Donato, left Italy for America at the age of seventeen and seems never to have looked back.  When his daughter Anna-v visited Gambatesa in 1960, she was amazed by the village's poverty.  Her father had never spoken to her about it.

Nicola's third son, Giovanni Valente, waited until he was almost 24 years old before leaving for America.  He only left because he could not earn a living at home.  His job on the farm was to look after the family's sheep and goats....

Nicola's fourth son, Salvadore, would have gone to America too, but his wife was not willing to leave Gambatesa.

Giovanni used to quote the saying, "Lord, make me a fool, but make me the oldest."  But there was no bitterness toward his father in this.  Giovanni always wrote to his family in Gambatesa, and he always sent them money from America.

Every year Donato and Giovanni Valente used to get together to draw up a paper to decide the disposition of their land in Italy.  Donato wanted to keep the land together, so he favored giving the land to their brother Michele.  But Giovanni wanted to give the land to their brother Salvadore.  They argued about this for many years.

The URL of this Web page: https://www.roangelo.net/valente/fattoria.html
Last revised: 5 March 2007 : 2007-03-05 by Robert [Wesley] Angelo.

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