Welcome to this Poggioreale Families Website

This website is a cumulation of years of research into the Sicilian village of Poggioreale and their kin around the world by Dr. Jeremiah P. Spence, Ph.D..

(Abandoned Old Village of Poggioreale)

The small village of Poggioreale sits in the mountains of Western Sicily and was founded in 1640 to be a center of commerce in a vast farming region. At its most populous the village never had more than 3,000 inhabitants. Beginning in 1880 many families left to live in America and Australia. As a result there are tens of thousands of living descents of this village that exist in the United States, Australia and other countries.

(Scardino Family Coat of Arms)

I am one of these descendants, my ancestor Andrea Scardino arrived in Houston, Texas in 1883 on a ship that steamed from Palermo to New Orleans, Louisiana. From New Orleans he took a second ship to the Port of Galveston and made his way to Houston where two of his brothers (Vito and Mariano) had already established themselves. Andrea became Andrew and he married Carmela who became Carrie, also the daughter of an immigrant from Poggioreale – Giovanni Lavite known as John Lavite who ran a small grocery store in Houston.


I grew up listening to the broken recollections of a long forgotten past. The great aunts (the daughters of Andrew and Carrie Scardino) knew that we were from some village in Sicily and they came through Galveston but that was about it. This was inspiration to begin me down the path of immersing myself in family history and the study of genealogy. As I went off to university and received my bachelors, masters and later doctorate, I would regularly return to my examinations and apply my newly mastered research skills.

(Dr. Jeremiah P. Spence, Ph.D. – 2018 – Antwerp, Belgium)

It was not until the year 2017 when I was an Assistant Professor at Erasmus University in the Netherlands and living in Brussels, Belgium that I returned to the effort with a proper focus and gusto. I first set out to research and publish a book on the Scardino family in Houston that I am descended from, and afterwards I was contracted to research and publish a book on the Danna / D’Anna family with whom I am distantly related via the Scardino family. This lead to an introduction to the Todaro family of Bryan, Texas who wanted a book, as well.

(Coat of Arms of the Village of Poggioreale)

By this time I was retiring from my post as a university professor, I had become an Italian citizen and learned a fundamental degree of the Italian language.  With the support of the Todaro family I was able to travel to the village of Poggioreale and spend several weeks there collecting historical and genealogical information.  All of the information that I gathered was gradually converted into searchable databases and interactive maps that provide a remarkable resource for gaining access to our collective past there in the little village.


Several years later I have developed a number of interactive data sources, published 30+ Poggioreale family histories, translated several books including “A History of Poggioreale” by Father Aloisio.  All of the published book will continue to be available in the Amazon.com Marketplace.  At the same time my aim with this website is to make all of the information that I have gathered over the years open, public and easily accessible.

A more complete discussion of Dr. Jeremiah’s research experience can be found here: https://poggioreale.xyz/sample-page/about-dr-jeremiah/