Answer to Question No. 1: The DiCaprio Family – Alfredo DiCaprio came to America in 1900 from Italy and eventually settled in Amsterdam. He married Pauline Coluni in 1911 and the couple purchased a farm on Smith Rd. just south of the city, which the family tended for many years. The couple had a total of sixteen children. Sadly, one daughter died at the age of seven, an infant son passed away when just a week old and three others died at birth. The eleven surviving offspring included five sons and six daughters. The boys names were Peter, Alfred (Fred), John, Joe and Nick and the girls (including their married names) were Julia (Martini), Jean (D’allasandro), Nancy (Gentile), Madeline (Gentile), Mary (DeStefano) and Jennie (Hall). All the daughters with the exception of Julia ended up leaving Amsterdam as did brother Nick. Peter took over his dad’s farm. Fred went to work for the rug mills and laid thousands of yards of carpet in Amsterdam homes working nights. Joe became an institution as a Rug City mailman and brother Johnny was the guy who started “Cappie’s” one of the oldest and most successful food and ice cream drive-in restaurants in the history of our city!
Answer to Question No. 2: The Bradwell Family – Tom and Ruth Bradwell raised six kids in their home on Amsterdam’s Cedar Street. Oldest brother Tom Jr. was the first of the siblings to get his name in the sports pages of the local newspaper as a very talented pitcher in Amsterdam’s youth baseball leagues. But it was brothers Larry, Melvin and Ricky who became stellar athletes at Amsterdam High School. Larry’s forte was track and field, Ricky was Amsterdam’s very first Section II wrestling champion and Melvin was perhaps the best athlete of the bunch starring in football, basketball and track during his days at AHS. Their eldest sister Mary Ellen was married with a daughter and working as a secretary at Knolls Atomic Power Lab, when in 1969 she was tragically killed in a Schenectady, NY car accident. Sister Kathleen was a longtime caregiver at the Amsterdam Infirmary/Montgomery Meadows. She passed in 2014. Another brother Raymond, died in infancy.
Answer to Question No. 3: The Sise Family – If not the most well known “large Amsterdam family” this clan certainly falls among the top three. Judge Robert J. Sise the father moved to Amsterdam when he was 14 years old, graduated from St. Mary’s Institute, served his country as an officer in the US Navy, played some minor league baseball and then went to Albany Law. Along the way he met Theresa Daley, a St. Mary’s School of Nursing graduate from western New York state. Judge Sise put together a remarkable judicial career, rising all the way to the office of Chief Administrative Judge for the State of New York, in which he oversaw the case assignments of 1,000 judges. His union with Theresa produced nine boys. Their beloved son Bob Jr. died while serving in the US Navy. All the rest of the brothers have achieved success in their chosen careers and four of the boys have followed in their Dad’s footsteps with careers in law. This includes Joe, who currently serves as a justice of the New York State Supreme Court. Bob and Theresa’s marriage lasted 66 years until his death in 2015. She passed two years later. There are over two dozen Sise grandchildren currently working on the task of carrying on their family’s wonderful legacy.
Answer to Question No. 4: The Catena Family – He was a star football player for Amsterdam High School, the son of an Amsterdam West End baker and she was the Salutatorian of her AHS graduating class and the granddaughter of a Market Hill cobbler, whose dad became a state supreme court justice. Gene Catena and Nancy Aulisi were married in 1954. He would put together his own successful career as a lawyer and also become a judge and together they would raise a family of seven children. Cornelio became a hospital administrator, Felix followed in his Dad’s footsteps, becoming a lawyer and he now serves as Montgomery County Court Judge. Gene Jr. went into the military, retiring as a Major. John chose marine biology. Paul became a priest and now pastors two Catholic parishes in western New York, while baby sister Ann worked as the development coordinator for Operation Smiles and is now raising her own family down in Maryland. That of course leaves Brother Tom, who became a doctor and who has devoted his life to caring for the Nuba tribe in the Sudan, one of the most under-developed war-torn regions on this planet.
Answer to Question No. 5: The Kelly Family – Dr. Edwin B. Kelly was born in Amsterdam in 1904. He graduated from Union Collegeand Albany Medical School and then launched a medical career spanning from the mid-thirties until his death in 1964. Evelyn Mattei Kelly was born in Amsterdam in 1912. She was a diligent and remarkable mother of ten and grandmother of twenty five. She died in Amsterdam in 1988. Ann Cranton, the oldest child, was born in 1935. She raised her four children in Groveland, MA, before moving to Wells, ME, where she lived until her death in 2016. Pat (Kathleen) Lundberg was born in 1937. She raised her three children in Fort Plain, New York and eventually moved to Manhattan where she was employed as a legal assistant. Upon retirement she moved to Yarmouthport, Cape Cod, where she died in 2003. Mary Barker was born in 1938. She raised her two children in Hagaman. She was employed by Montgomery County Trust and Bankers Trust in Amsterdam and at the State Employees Federal Credit Union in Albany. Upon retirement, she moved to Yarmouthport, MA, and, shortly before her death in 2017, to Lake Oswego, Oregon. Teenie (Corinne) Schofield was born in 1939. She raised her four children in Fairport, NY and lived there until her death in 2018. Michael Kelly was born in 1943. He and his wife Marcia live in Georgetown, OH, where he has been practicing law since 1973. They have five daughters. Betsy (Elizabeth) Treiber was born in 1945. She and her husband, Tom, live in Yarmouthport, MA. They raised their two children in Connecticut. Betsy was a regional vice-president for Key Bank in Manchester,CT before retiring to Cape Cod. Alice Heaton was born in 1947. She and her husband Bill, also an Amsterdam native, live in Osterville, MA. Alice raised her two daughters in Amsterdam. She worked at the G. E. Research and Development Center and,when she relocated to Cape Cod, was employed by the Environmental Chemical Corporation. Timothy Kelly was born in 1951. He and his wife,Doreen, live in Bethel, OH. They raised their two children in Ohio,where he has been practicing law since 1991. Christine Kelly was born in 1952. She and her husband, Peter Sacks, live in Greenport, NY. They raised their son in New Jersey. Christine was a computer scientist at NASA, Novartis and Esri, which is a geographical information system. Upon retiring, they moved to eastern Long Island. Thomas (Tom the Bomb) Kelly, the youngest child, was born in 1954. He died tragically in a car accident in 1974, at the age of 19. He distinguished himself as a body builder and, in high school, as a remarkable athlete in both football and track.
Answer to Question No. 6: The Lazarou Family – Greek immigrants Michael and Bessie Lazarou were both employed in the Sanford rug mills and raised a family consisting of five sons and a daughter in their home on Amsterdam’s Arnold Avenue. Their daughter Christine married Edgar Allen and she became an elementary school teacher at Amsterdam’s Fifth Ward School. Brother George also became a teacher and had seven children himself, which got him heavily involved in this city’s youth sports programs as both a league officer and coach. George co-founded Amsterdam’s Cinderella League. After he retired he wrote a nostalgia column for the local newspaper and became a gold medalist in the Senir Olympics. Brother Paul was one of 23 Amsterdam servicemen to be stationed at Pearl Harbor when the Japanese attacked (all five Lazarou boys served during WWII). He was also one of Amsterdam’s all-time great handball players. Brother Jim, the only sibling still alive was one of Amsterdam’s favorite letter carriers. The youngest boys, Aristotle (Dolly) and Costa were the star athletes in the family. Dolly was a good enough baseball pitcher to spend two years playing in the St. Louis Cardinal organization. Costa was one of the all-time great three-sport stars at Amsterdam High School. He too was offered a minor league baseball contract but an arm injury dashed his hopes of a professional career. Both Dolly and Costa were also outstanding golfers and I believe they remain the only pair of siblings to each have won the City Golf Championship.
Just the Right Christmas Gift for Someone from Amsterdam, NY
Fifty Amsterdam, NY Top Ten Lists presents readers with a nostalgic and entertaining review of the people, places, events, and traditions that have made this Mohawk Valley community a beloved place to call home for so many current and former residents. It includes a series of fifty top ten lists on topics that range from Amsterdam’s all-time most distinguished homes and successful businesses to its favorite pastimes and traditions. To assist in this endeavor, author Mike Cinquanti invited well-known local personalities like Bob Cudmore, Frank Derrico, Bob Going, Bert DeRose and others to share their expert opinions via top ten lists in their respective fields of expertise. Who was the best boxer in Amsterdam history?…its most popular mayor?…the most successful women?…its greatest sports teams? You’ll find these answers and more inside this book.
260 pages, soft cover, perfect bound
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Answer to Question No. 7: The Vicinanzo Family – Oldest sibling Dave Vicinanzo is a 1977 Bishop Scully Grad who got his law degree at Harvard and was a highly regarded federal prosecutor in Washington, DC and New England for thirteen years before becoming a partner in a Boston law firm. Dave’s brother Paul is a retired US Navy Captain and is currently in charge of USAID relief efforts in Africa, the Middle East and Indo/Asia. His brother Phil is the only sibling still in the area. He went to Harvard and has master’s degrees from the University of Kent in England and RPI. He has worked in a NYC hedge fund for many years. His sister Marie went to Cornell and obtained a masters at NYU. She works in the pharma industry. His sister Jeanne graduated from Cornell and after getting her masters married an attorney and settled in Scarsdale where they are raising seven kids of their own. His youngest sister, Anne captained the cross-country team at Duke, where she received an engineering degree. She moved to DC and helped design what is now called the Capital One Arena where the Capitals and Wizards play. Youngest child Matt graduated from Harvard and and is now a highly specialized eye/brain surgeon in private practice in Alabama and on the faculty at the University of Alabama Medical School. Vince Vicinanzo has passed away but Anne is doing well at 85 and still summers on the Sacandaga. All the Vicinanzo siblings are shown in their much younger days with their Mom in the photo above.
Answer to Question No. 8: The Lanzi Family – Lorenzo (Larry) Lanzi was the son of Luigi Lanzi, who was owner of Lanzi’s Restaurant on Bridge Street, one of the most popular eateries in Amsterdam history. After growing up in the business and serving his country in WWII, Larry married his high school sweetheart, Antoinette Gaetano and in 1956, they opened up their own restaurant called Lorenzo’s on Union Street. The couple raised nine children. Sons Luigi, Larry, Joe, Anthony and Christopher (see accompanying illustration) first helped their father turn Lorenzo’s into one of Amsterdam’s all-time favorite restaurants and then moved north to apply the Lanzi magic to a string of three new dining spots on the Sacandaga Lake plus a popular tavern in Johnstown called Partner’s Pub. They are not finished yet and are scheduled to open two new spots on Amsterdam’s South Side just a few steps from where there grandfather’s restaurant once stood. A fourth generation of Lanzi’s are now already heavily involved in the clan’s dining empire. Meanwhile, sisters Amy and Pattie opened up a popular ladies apparel store called Chatterbox, which is still going strong on Route 30. Sister Marybeth moved to Texas, where she uses her Lanzi food lineage breeding to host a local television cooking show. Sister Lois had a career in nursing.
Answer to Question No. 9: The Davey Family – No quiz about large Amsterdam families could possibly be complete without including the Davey clan. Jack and the late Joanne Davey raised 16 children in their Henrietta Blvd. home; Theresa, Christine, Tricia, John , Lisa, Kathleen, Joey, Michael, Marie, Kim, Christopher, Meghan, Nicholas, Mandy, Bryan and Ashley Davey. They were all great kids and both the brothers and sisters provided fans of both Bishop Scully and Amsterdam High Schools’ interscholastic sports teams with one outstanding performance after another over the years. Father Jack was one of the greatest athletes in the history of St. Mary’s Institute. Joanne Davey gets my vote as one of the most amazing women in our city’s history. In addition to being an incredible mom to sixteen children she was widely acknowledged to be one of our community’s most skilled nurses and was the supervisor of nursing at St Mary’s Hospital. Oh and by the way, Christine Davey’s role in this quiz is not yet finished.
Answer to Question No. 10: The Parillo Family – Ralph and Rita Parillo (pictured above) raised a family of seven children in their Florida Avenue home. Ralph was no stranger to large families since he was one of twelve children himself. Ralph and Rita’s offspring; Paul, Ralph, Robert, Joey, Michael, Maria and Lisa and their respective families have established a long and impressive legacy in this town by creating some of Amsterdam’s most successful restaurants, teaching thousands of this city’s school students, serving as mayor, fighting fires and beautifying area homes.
Answer to Question No. 11: The Horigan-Smeallie Family – Richard Horigan was born in Pennsylvania on June 26, 1925, the son of a retail executive. He attended Prep school in Maryland and then enlisted in the US Navy at the age of 17 and ended up serving as an Ensign in the Pacific theater. After the war, he graduated from Georgetown University and then Georgetown Law but he also went on a blind date that ended up getting him a wife and a new hometown.The “wife” was the late Marie Smeallie, daughter of a prominent Amsterdam paper manufacturer. The young couple ended up getting married here in St. Mary’s Church in 1950 and the newlyweds’ original plan had them settling in Massachusetts, where Horigan’s dad then resided. But probably beginning on their Maine honeymoon, the new Mrs. Horigan began lobbying for a move to Amsterdam. She won and Horigan eventually became one of this town’s very best litigators. But he sadly lost his beloved Marie in 1977. Two years later a wonderful new merger took place when Horigan married Eleanor Harrower Smeallie, widow of Marie’s brother Peter Smeallie. The new union converted what had been two groups of close cousins into a family of 13 brothers and sisters. The siblings included James Donald Smeallie of Beverly, MA, John Smeallie of Connecticut, Peter,and Shawn Smeallie of Alexandria, VA Christopher Smeallie of Amsterdam, NY; Melanie Smeallie Mbuyi of Alexandria, VA, Timothy J. Horigan of Galway, NY, Richard T. Horigan Jr. of W. Hartford, CT, James Donald Horigan of Beverly Hills, CA; Agnes Baker of Winchester, MA, the late Mary Catherine Boccherini of Cumberland, ME, Christine Kaledin of Niskayuna, NY and Hanna Horigan of Portland, ME. Pictured above are the six Smeallie siblings during a childhood Christmas.
Answer to Question No. 12: The Pileckas Family – Joe Pileckas arrived in Amsterdam from Lithuania in 1917 and got a job in the rug mills. He married his wife Monica, moved to a home on
Chuctanunda Street in Hagaman and together they raised a family of eight kids, Henry, Paul, Joseph, Allen, John (Jack), Philomena, Susan and Nellie. The Pileckas brothers were all great athletes and something tells me if Title Nine had been around back then, the sisters would have been too. In fact, one of the girls, Nellie Pileckas became pretty famous for saving two young children from a burning cottage in the late 1930’s by climbing up and jumping from a porch roof on the second floor of the burning structure, each time with a young child in her arms. But it was the Pileckas brothers who became local baseball and hockey legends as youngsters. All five of them played baseball for Amsterdam High School. Two of them, Hank and Paul went on to great collegiate careers at Colgate and a third, Johnny (aka Jack) was a fleet-footed outfielder for AHS who got signed by the Cubs organization right out of high school in 1944. It was often said that Jack Pileckas was the greatest left-handed hitter to ever play for Amsterdam High School. Another thing all the Pileckas boys did was serve their country and the oldest four sons saw action in World War II. The oldest boy in the family, Allen Pileckas, was killed in action in the battle for Guam. Just two months ago in October of 2018 , Jack Pileckas the last of the eight Pileckas siblings passed away. Pictured above from left to right are Jack, Joe and Allen Pileckas.
Answer to Question No. 13: The Stanavich Family – Tom Stanavich and Christine Davey were high school sweethearts and star athletes at Bishop Scully High before the school was closed in 1990. They ended up getting married and creating a family of ten children. Their three oldest boys, Brett, Bryan and Dale have already enjoyed terrific careers as Amsterdam High School gridiron stars. If you want to see just how good these boys were, you can google Bryan or Dale’s name and you’ll find videos of their respective high school highlights online. If you do so, be prepared to be amazed. But as good as the oldest brothers were, there’s a group of five Stanavich sisters going through the Amsterdam school system now that have the potential of rewriting all of record books in AHS girls sports. Gabrielle is a star sprinter on the AHS track team and sister Jackie is in the process of taking her place among the school’s all-time great female basketball players. Anne, Dana and Claire are coming right behind them and then two more boys, Tommy and Bobby will one day join them.
Answer to Question No. 14: The Sandy Family – Two of the best known sets of siblings from Amsterdam’s Port Jackson neighborhood both owned gas stations. They were the Leggiero’s and the Sandy’s. Giovannina and George Sandy raised nine kids They included two former Fifth Ward Montgomery County Supervisiors Lewis and Freddie. Fred succeeded his brother as supervisor when Lew died from a heart attack while snow blowing the sidewalk of his home on Broad Street in 1974. Brother George was a very good softball pitcher, who ran a popular coffee shop with his wife on Center Street for many years. Brother Anthony was a good athlete who got married late in life. Hermie lived above Shorty’s tavern and was the last of the brothers to work at the gas station. Eddie moved to Florida. Carmella Sandy married Joseph Cincotta. Edith Sandy married Philip Bracchi and Anna Sandy married Peter Baldine. The Sandy family loved to bowl together. In the photo above, that’s Edith’s boy Phil Bracchi Jr. on the left followed left-to-right by Fred, George and Ed Sandy and then Anna’s son Larry next and Moe Sandy at the far right. The only one from this picture still alive is Ed Sandy.
Answer to Question No. 15: The Bubniak Family – The Sandy’s weren’t the only Rug City bowling team of brothers. In fact, there were so many large families in this town back in the day that an annual Amsterdam “Brothers” Bowling tournament was held with all proceeds going to the Heart Fund. The Sandy’s always fielded a team as did the Leggiero clan, the Lazarou boys, and the LaBate siblings. The Fourth Ward was also always well represented in this annual affair by the Bubniak’s. Joe, Ray, Alfred, Alex and Frank Bubniak were all the sons of Polish immigrant Albert Bubniak, who came to Amsterdam in 1910 and became a tap-weaver for the Bigelow-Sanford Carpet Co. He was one of the fortunate Sanford workers who reached retirement before the mills abandoned the city in 1954. Unfortunately, he then died just one year later. His wife Victoria had passed away seven years earlier. Together they raised a total of twelve children in their Grand Street home. In addition to the five bowling Bubniak’s, there were six more sons, Victor, Leon, Chester, Stephen, John and Richard plus sister Genevieve. Ray Bubniak (pictured above center) was perhaps the best known of the siblings because for fifteen years, he ran Slick’s Tavern on Amsterdam’s Grand Street. I graduated from AHS in 1972 in the same class as Teddy Bubniak, son of Joe Bubniak (pictured above on left), who turned 93-years-old in March of 2018. Victor Bubniak (pictured above on right) is also still going strong out in California.
Answer to Question No. 16: The Wilson Family – Harrison Wilson Sr. was the son of a slave. He moved to Amsterdam from Kentucky in the early 1900s and got a job working for a local builder named Thomas McGibbon. His wife’s name was Marguerite. In 1943 Mr. Wilson became a local hero when he saved two young women from a burning building, which was owned by McGibbon on Amsterdam’s Main Street. As a reward for his action, McGibbon gave Wilson a small downtown Amsterdam parking lot he owned. The Wilson’s raised a family of eight children. All of them went on to attain college degrees. They included daughter Martha (Marshall) who became a registered nurse and lived in El Paso Texas; son Edwin, who graduated from Morehouse College and worked as a chemist for Ford Motor Co. in Detroit; son Willis, who graduated from Kentucky State and became a college administrator in Washington D.C. and son Harrison Wilson Jr., who was a three sport star at AHS in the 1940s and who, after serving his country in WWII, graduated from Kentucky State University and then became a professor and head basketball coach at Jackson State University. In 1975, he was named president of Norfolk State University, a position he held for the next 22 years. Harrison Wilson Jr’s grandson is Russell Wilson, the Super Bowl-winning QB of the Seattle Seahawks. Pictured above are Harrison Wilson Jr. on the left and his older brother Willis on the right.
Answer to Question No. 17: The Harrington Family – Back in the sixties, the West End was a pretty fertile breeding ground for large families. Several of the folks in our old neighborhood had at least three children and families like the Sise’s, Minch’s, McDermott’s, Capel’s, Nicosia’s, Vassi’s and Hoef’s went well beyond that number. So did Jack and Anne Harrington. Jack worked for the Post Office and Anne was a gifted nurse at St. Mary’s Hospital and later with the Amsterdam School District. They had ten children and I knew many of them. Daughter Anne became a nurse like her Mom and I coached her son Brian in Wee Men’s Baseball. Oldest son Timmy was my kindergarten classmate and shares my Flag Day birthday. His brother Marty sadly passed away from cancer a few years ago. I coached Marty’s son Kyle in Babe Ruth League baseball. Tragically, his sister Maureen’s husband Billy Bernat and his sister Nora’s spouse, Ron Bartman also both passed away much too young. Sister Eileen (French) lives in Rotterdam, NY. Brother Denis is out in Minnesota. Another sister Sheila (Sawyer) lives in Clifton Park, NY; Mary Kate (Jensen) is in New Mexico and the youngest Harrington sibling Brigid (Wyszomirski), who used to babysit for my two eldest kids, now resides in Las Vegas.
Answer to Question No. 18: The Kuczek Family – Jack Tracy was one of the most successful and legendary high school baseball coaches this area ever produced. If he were alive today, he’d tell you that he owed a significant portion of that success to this family. Joe and Agnes Kuczek graced Tracy with six sons. They anchored a decade’s worth of the best baseball teams in AHS history. The lineage began with the eldest brother’s John and Ben. John was a hard-hitting first baseman and Ben was the first of three outstanding family shortstops. The middle two were the best of the bunch. Tracy called Eddie the greatest all-around player he ever coached and Steve was the only sibling who made it all the way to the Majors. With Eddie playing second and Steve at short, Amsterdam went undefeated for two straight seasons. Mac came next. He was a third baseman, a great hitter and also the best pitcher of all the brothers. Bernie the youngest was the outfielder in the family and he went on to play collegiate ball at Colgate as did Eddie and Steve.
Answer to Question No. 19: The Santos Family -Emanuel Santos and Isabelle Ramos were immigrants from Spain who met and married in Saratoga Springs, NY and then came to Amsterdam’s South Side, where “Manny” started a construction business with two partners, which they called the “American Construction Corporation”. The couple raised a family of six boys and a girl. The five oldest boys served in WWII and when they all returned home safely, Manny sold his share of the American Construction Co. to his partners and joined three of his sons, Ben, Peter, and Frank and his daughter Matilda in the new Santos Construction Company. Younger bothers Emanuel (Moose) and Billy would also join the company after their own military hitches ended. They would spend the next half century turning Santos Construction into one of the most respected grading and excavation firms in the area and as the years passed, a whole new generation of the family would report for work at the company’s Gilliland Avenue headquarters and eventually take over operation of the business. The only one of the original siblings who did not work for the firm was brother Sylvester, who was tragically killed in a car accident in 1958.
Answer to Question No. 20: The LaBate Family – An Amsterdam institution, 11 children, eight boys and three girls were born to Italian immigrants Annunziato and Maria Santangelo LaBate and raised in the Rug City’s East End neighborhood during the pre-WWII era. The siblings all became very active in our community, especially in sports and as each started families of their own it became almost impossible to go to a school in this city and not have at least one grandchild of Annunziato and Maria as your classmate. And their’s was always a close-knit family. One of my favorite memories was going to a wedding reception that was being bartended by the LaBate brothers. They knew everybody in town and everyone knew them so the conversations, reminiscing and laughter that accompanied their drink preparations was always a highlight of the affair. It was brother Anthony who was nicknamed after a large US city. They called him “Boston” LaBate. All 11 LaBate siblings are pictured above.