Poggioreale in America is a group of descendants of the original immigrants who left their beloved Poggioreale in order to pursue a better life in America. Each founding member had been doing their own independent study of their family tree and the history of Poggioreale. Many first and second generation American descendants had done the same kind of study; some recorded their thoughts and family stories and shared them with their families. Some wrote articles or books to preserve our shared histories. And some even attempted to reach out to and connect with
larger groups of descendants to varying degrees. We thank all the people who have studied, written about, and promoted Poggioreale before us! We seek now to archive their work and to add current materials as we contribute.
In spite of the outstanding work that preceded us, we realized that a permanent internet site to preserve, protect, and present this important and fascinating history was never created. We humbly create it now in the form of this website. We dedicate this modern website to the memory of all the brave immigrants of Poggioreale who came to America to find a new lives. Once they left Sicily and created their families in America, they created us, their grateful descendants who appreciate their hand in making us who we are today.
Our Team Leaders
A lifelong businessman in the Bryan and Houston general areas, Ross has always devoted time to the practice and preservation of the traditions that his maternal and paternal Poggiorealesi grandparents brought with them when they bravely came to America for a better life. From the time he was a little boy, his love of family and their vibrant and emotional stories about their Sicilian roots and experiences when the came to America to begin life anew, it instilled in him a passion for further knowledge of his ancestral home.
Although Ross participated and loved the Sicilian traditions, foods, and values all of his life, it wasn’t until visiting Poggioreale just a few years ago that his passion was set ablaze. He began researching family roots in earnest, looked for “new” family members, and quickly realized that he wanted to meet and connect with people well beyond the boundaries of his immediate family in Texas.
In 2018, he met and joined hands with a “new” cousin, Tina Tondola Anderson from Chicago, and they began to turn mutual goals into reality using social media, expanding research, and attracting a large following spanning continents. His brainchild for the FB page has attracted nearly 1000; their website is ever growing and developing. And this is just the beginning, he is quick to tell you!
A former educator and business co-owner, Tina now devotes her time to genealogy research and to the Poggioreale in America Association she helped create because it expresses her passion for her Italian and Sicilian family and cultural studies.
Although her maternal Poggiorealesi grandparents were gone before she was born, she became acquainted with them in the stories, writings, and traditions her mother loving taught her starting when she was a small child. As a result, the love of family, tradition and culture was indelibly imprinted. It set the stage for her future endeavors.
Her activities over the last several years have led her to find family in Texas, other states, and in other countries. After meeting her “new” cousin Ross Todaro in Houston, they refined and developed similar dreams to create modern repositories for such research using social media and websites. Whether the research she collects is from others who studied and recorded it before her, or others who have newly created it, the goal is simply to make this knowledge available to both current and future generations. After all, she is happy to point out, it is through learning about our mutual Poggiorealesi history and relatives that we can see how it has impacted our individual development.
Sarah Campise Hallier is a California native with a love of family that stems from her Sicilian roots. She has a passion for genealogy, writing, and learning as much as she can about her ancestral towns of Poggioreale and Bivona, Sicily. Getting to know her cousins, extended family, and new network of friends through
Poggioreale in America has been a dream come true.
Sarah, her mother and son travelled to Bryan, Texas for the June 2019 reunion, and it was an exciting moment to visit St. Anthony's Church, meet the Mayor of Poggioreale, and learn more about her family's journey to America from Sicily in the 1880s.
As part of the crew in PIA’s first Sicilian tour in September 2019, Sarah experienced first hand the importance of fostering the connections to our ancestral town and keeping the communication open and flowing. Her goal is to help keep the memories of the old town alive, while learning as much as she can about why the new town, and the wonderful people who live there, are so special. When she’s not working on expanding her family tree or visiting with her very large family, she enjoys traveling with her husband and four children. Next stop – Sicily!!!