Pueblo County, Colorado
Contributed by Karen Mitchell
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Pagnotta, Ralph Thomas Jr., M.D.
born 1-23-1919 died 3-8-1974
Pagnotta, Ralph Thomas
Pagnotta, Esther Jane Stake
born 1-24-1932 died 4-24-2005
Pagnotta, Esther Jane Stake
Pagnotta, Robert & Joseph
born and died 1971, buried 8-20-1971 premature twin sons of Ralph and Esther
Pagnotta, Robert & Joseph
The Pagnotta Family
The small town of Grimaldi, Italy, is a cluster of weather-aged stone buildings that nestle in the rolling hills of the southern Italian region of Cosenza. Through its woods, thick with chestnut trees, herds of goats and cows wander along its dirt roads shared with ox driven carts. The five thousand or so inhabitants of Grimaldi live a very simple, rural life in a town whose closely-huddled buildings suggest a vestige of the feudal preoccupation with security. In this idyllic, but secluded, hillside town Raffaele Antonio Pagnotta was born in 1888 to Serano Pagnotta and his wife.
We can imagine that Raffaele was raised as other young boys of his age in the farming community, although at the age of 19 he stated he could not read or write. We do know that Raffele had siblings, but just how many is uncertain at this time.
On July 5, 1907, at the age of 19, Raffele said good-bye to his father, Serano, and his homeland. He boarded the SS Konigen Luise at Naples, Italy, bound for the United States of America to join his cousin Saverio Mauro. One wonders at the thoughts of this young man as he left home and hearth and all that he was familiar with, probably wondering if he would ever see his loved ones again, but anxious to start this new adventure in this land of opportunity. Being single, he traveled alone and listed his destination as Pueblo, Colorado.
Thirteen days after departure, on July 18, 1907, Raffaele placed his feet upon the soil of his new country at Ellis Island, New York and began a new life in America.
Southern Colorado at the time was the final destination of hundreds of immigrant Italians who settled in the area to find work in the coal mines. The area was also particularly attractive to a number of Grimaldians who found the terrain around southern Colorado quite similar to the rolling hillsides of their native Italy.
By 1910 Raffaele, whose name would later be anglicized to Ralph, was 22 years old, single, an alien, living in a boarding house, and was working as a miner for the Tioga Coal Company in Huerfano County, Colorado. Shortly after that Raffaele met Rose Anna Kakalecik, the daughter of Czechoslavakian born parents, Stephen and Mary Kakalecik. Rose was born in Pennsylvania in 1896. Raffaele and Rose were married April 18, 1914 in Huerfano County, Colorado.
On February 4, 1919 Raffaele filed a Petiton for Naturalization at the Huerfano County Court House, and became a United States citizen.
Raffaele and Rose had at leat 3 children, maybe 4:
1. Anthony Edward, Jan. 12, 1915 at Tioga
2. Ralph Thomas, 1-23-1919 at Tioga
3. Irene Rose, 6-5-1922 at Tioga
4. Mary, possibly born at Trinidad, died young.
Raffaele and Rose raised thier small family at Tioga and Pictou in Huerfano County while he worked as an electrician in the coal mines. The children attended the local schools. Raffaele died March 20, 1962, and Rose died 4-22-1969, both are buried at St. Mary's North Cemetery, in Walsenburg, Colorado.
Anthony Edward Pagnotta, first child of Raffaele and Rose, married Jessie Leona Hankey October 19, 1938 in St. Mary's Catholic Church in Walsenburg. He began working in the coal mines at an early age, going underground at 17. Pagnotta was later tested to get his "papers" which meant he had qualified for a foreman's job. From foreman to general mine foreman, then to "Super" he became the top man at CF&I Allen Mine, a position he held 25 years of the 50 he had spent in the mines. He was a member of St. Anthony Church in Aguilar and in his younger days had been a member of both the Elks and Lions Clubs. Anthony and Jessie had four children: Anthony Jr., Ruby, David and Verna Irene. Anthony died February 9, 1993. Jessie died January 8, 2002. Both are buried at St. Mary's North Cemetery, Walsenburg, Colorado. (see obituaries)
Ralph Thomas, second child of Raffaele and Rose was born January 23, 1919. Ralph was actually Raffaele Pagnotta Jr., but due to the military they changed his name to Ralph Thomas. Ralph, still single and aged 21 years, enlisted in the US Army on August 17, 1940 and was attached to the Medical Department for the Phillipine Department. Ralphs's first wife was a young lady named Jean. That marriage ended in divorce (she died in 1964). Ralph then met Esther Jane Stake, daughter of Fred and Marguerite Stake and they were married in 1958 in Denver. Esther was born January 24, 1932. Although Ralph and Esther produced 11 children, only nine lived to adulthood, the twin boys died in infancy. The surviving children were: Teri, Geoff, Maria, Greg, Rosanna, Ralph, John, Melanie and Gunny.
In 1969 they moved to Rye, Colorado where many of their offspring are still living. Ralph Tomas Pagnotta died March 8, 1974 and Esther Jane Stake Pagnotta died April 24, 2005. Both are buried in the Pagnotta Family Cemetery in Rye, Pueblo County, Colorado.
Irene Rose, third child of Raffaele and Rose, was born 6-5-1922 and died February 21, 2003. Irene was engaged to a young man who entered WWII and was killed. Irene never married.
Written by Karen Mitchell.
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