Foundations of Poggioreale: Movements and Wars

MOVEMENTS AND WARS

It is not possible to remain silent about the year 1893, when the socialist class struggles with “Worker Squads” culminated in Sicily. In several communities, there were serious, and even bloody, disturbances even nearby to Poggioreale in the community of Gibellina, where the Warrant Magistrate lost Iris Hie killed by stoning by a group of crazed women.

In Poggioreale a certain fanaticism was awakened by too many campaign meetings of Socialist deputies. assisted in their daring and impudent entrance into town by groups of strong men flanked by a delirious crowd of women. They were tire male and female representatives of the “Worker Squads” of other communities, having come to launch the call to revolt. But in Poggioreale the dangerous fire was not kindled, thanks to the prudence of the President of the “Worker Squad” of agricultural workers, Signor Don Ignazio Asaro, who was a calm and wise person, deserving of everyone’s remembrance and esteem. Here, as in all Sicilian communities, the people had to suffer the consequences of the state of siege, with a curfew and arms checks, on account of the severe precautions taken by the General La Morra di Lavriano, in charge of Sicily, faithful and strong executor of the order promulgated by the Minister of the Interior, Francesco Crispi, to disperse the Sicilian Socialist Worker Squads, There were quite a few arrests, but none accepted the responsibility, nor was condemned.

In the year 1896 the disastrous day of March 1 is remembered. The voice: Adua! Abba Carima! came from the mouths of all who knew about the terrible and disastrous defeat, which could not be prevented even by the valor of the Italian army. Poggioreale was there, too, some of its sons were present on the fatal day at the uneven fight among those bitter cliffs and narrow straits. Calia Accurso returned a decorated hero, from the contingent of 1873, volunteer in the First Battalion of “African Hunters” in the column of the valorous General Arimondi. Yet another proof, added to hundreds of acts of valor, demonstrating to the world that the ancient courage was not yet spent, and the heroic Sicilian battalions are still famous for the valor they demonstrated that day.

The disastrous war of 1915-18, which started as an European war, and finished as a world war, was tragic even for Poggioreale, which counted a large number of war dead. Mixed in with the great number of sons of Italy, on the Isonzo, on the Carso, in Carnia muddied in the trenches, trapped under wire nets covered with snow, clinging to rocky cliffs, climbing the Dolomites as avalanches form,64 the Poggiorealesi knew how to carry out their sacred duty, even amidst terrible sacrifice. They were awarded many decorations for military valor and meritorious service. In Poggioreale there was no damage from the war; it was too far from the fighting, but it did count its maimed, dead and missing.

In the year 1920 a stormy period began. when the dream of free land insinuated itself into the minds of the peasants, with reference to the lands which were then property of the Pious Works.

In that time men and women with an insane delusion attended a sort of nightly vigil around the office of the Charity Congregation, waiting to be successful in obtaining the conquest of treasure. To this scene, add that of the cavalcades of agricultural workers coming from the formal feudal estate of Pietra, and other lands, to raise the red banner as a sign of possession, encouraged by inflammatory discourses, with the goal of awakening in the delirious masses the vision of imminent riches. Oh, how very appropriate are the words of the creator of pessimism, Arthur Schopenhaure, who said of the people:

“the masses resemble dogs who loves he who pets them and inretum and gives him their very bones.”

But, let’s be honest, One wins over the people in two ways with virtuous example, and with the usefulness of the final goal, as Mazzini noted.

The interests were neither good nor honest that wanted to take advantage of the Law of the 12 Tablets: vulgus milt decipi. Rather, it is the conscious will to fool the ignorant masses. To divert water to one’s own mill, even if it is selfish, is not criminal as long as one remains within the limits of the law. But these demagogues speak in order to usurp rights, not to carry out duties. Vincenzo Cuoco explained, when the pretexts push one beyond the law, the cause of liberty becomes the cause of the wicked, and Augusto Conte, the famous standard bearer of the Tuscan Legion at the battle of Curtatone and of Montanare, said: to promise to the peasants the enjoyment of an earthly paradise is to suggest efficaciousness of the torch and the fist. The great English statesman Robert Peel added, “No, that is not the way of the good, a country’s source of light, happiness and prosperity is in the religious and moral improvement of the various classes.” One goes to the people, said President Roosevelt, to elevate them, not to corrupt them, not to make them feel superior, nor to give them illusions, not to make them depraved and then take advantage, not to compromise them.

The year of 1943 was even worse and Sicily witnessed the dishonorable disbanding of the army, the disembarking of the Americans, the intentional destruction of sound military installations and goods, in the eastern part of the Island, again suffering humiliation and defeat, a morbid disorganization cunningly organized. It was nauseating to observe the uncivilized scenes, to see the emptied buildings, the collapsed warehouses and houses burying treasures and furnishings. The word liberty had a new meaning: each one can make and unmake.

In this period the offices of the Prefecture and Police Headquarters of Trapani and their personnel transferred to Poggioreale.

They remained there for several months, and then disbanded forever, when the Americans took over the town. The Americans proclaimed a form of plebiscite in which the Mayor of the community, Dottore Professor Gaspare Tamburello, was nominated. They succeeded in obtaining a bit of peace that insured the town some tranquillity. A Vice Mayor, Can. Francesco Aloisio was called to assist him, during the school vacations, since the schools were opened, and the Americans saw the resignation of his excellency the Prefect Paolo D’Antoni who, provisionally, nominated Aloisio President of the Pious Works of Poggioreale, a task that was respectfully declined by Aloisio. The job of Vice Mayor was held with irreproachable competence by Accountant Crocchiolo Antonino, and that of President of the Pious Works was well entrusted to Signore Don Crispino Ippolito, And since we are recalling the difficult wartime, of apocalyptic dimensions and the wounds of which are yet to heal, we say that if Poggioreale grieves its many sons, maimed, fallen, missing, those who did not return from Russia, traumatized by certain prisons that don’t conform to international laws, nor the intervention of the Red Cross and for whom the law that recognizes the rights of the soldier as a prisoner of war was ignored, at least, Poggioreale can be proud of giving no deserters.

The town was not a theater of war, it did not suffer bombardments, nor horrifying scenes, and the people were not forced to flee yet, Poggioreale did watch from afar, at night the luminous tracings of bullets aimed at the airplanes that were bombarding the airport of Castelvetrano. Poggioreale experienced the passage through its streets of the American army war machine which, coming from the territory of the province of Agrigento, was marching towards Palermo. The Artillery group that had been here since 1941 moved shortly before this passage of the Americans, to go to the front lines.

Poggioreale is in the province of Trapani, which is the seat of the Prefecture, Civil and Penal Courts, Finance Office, Notarial Archive, Mortgage Office, School District Office, Revenue Office, Commander of the “Carabinieri,” Social Security, Provincial Office, Office of Agricultural Subsidies, and Provincial Inspector of Agriculture. The Military District is now in Palermo. The Direct Taxes Office, Command of the Financial Police, and the Tobacco Trading Group are in Salemi, while the Attorney’s Office is in Partanna, the Electoral College is in Calatafimi, the Barracks of the Carabinieri are in Alcamo, and the School Inspector and the Central Hospital are in Castelvetrano, the seat of the Administrative District and the Educational Administration are in Gibellina.

The Community is united with the communities of Partanna, Santa Ninfa, Gibellina, and Salaparuta in order to have an independent section of Trapani’s Civil and Penal Courts nearby in Castelvetrano, due to the centralized location and convenience of the latter. Poggioreale, with resolution number 40 of October 3, 1953, requested the institution of a District Tax office in Castelvetrano that would be closer and therefore more convenient to this population. Resolution number 9 of March 21, 1953, requested the reinstatement of the Registry Office in Gibellina, as it was before, since Gibellina had again become the seat of the District Administration.

[This webpage is excerpted from the book: “The History of Poggioreale, Sicily – From 1640 to 1956.” Originally written in Italian by: Canonico Dottore Francesco Aloisio in 1956. Adapted and translated by: Dr. Jeremiah P. Spence, Ph.D. of Austin, Texas. 5th Edition. International Order of Genealogists Publishing. Ireland. 2019. ISBN: 9781072403371. The book can be purchased online at: https://www.amazon.com/History-Poggioreale-Sicily-1640-1956/dp/1072403374/ ]