Baiamonte Family History

Antonio and Rosa Albanese Baiamonte were a modestly prosperous family of farmers who owned land in Palermo, Sicily. Rosa’s sister and her husband were living in Texas and sent word to Palermo that the opportunity was great and that Antonio should come see for himself. In October, 1902, Antonio traveled with his oldest son, Lorenzo, age nine, to see what he might find for himself and his family. They sailed from Palermo to Naples and then boarded the ROMA, upon which, Antonio and Lorenzo arrived in New York on November 10. From there they took the train to Bryan Texas, where he and young Lorenzo were met by his brother-in-law at the station. In time, Rosa and their four other children at the time (Sam, Frank, Pete, and Janey) joined them – they were to have three more children after their arrival in Texas (John, Ann, and Tony). Antonio was a bit different than the average Sicilian immigrant, in that he and his wife owned property; a house and some land just outside Palermo. Lawrence, born in 1893 and the oldest son, had attended school through the fourth grade in Palermo and was able to read and write and had achieved excellent math skills by the time they left for America. Antonio and Lawrence settled, in the town of Highback (about nine miles from Marlin). It was there that Rosa and the others joined them. Once they got their bearings, they moved to Mumford to begin farming “the bottom” as the rich bottomland of the Brazos River was known. They were very successful in their efforts and Antonio was farming about 300 acres when a tragedy struck. The great Brazos River flood of 1913 caused them to lose everything. Having decided that they were going to stay in Texas, and to supplement their finances after the flood, Rosa went back to Palermo to sell the family property. This was quite a feat at the time, a woman traveling alone on such a journey. But that was what was needed and had to be done. Upon her return, in late 1913, Antonio and Rosa packed up the family and moved to Stafford, in Ft. Bend county, where other friends from Palermo, including the Vaccaros and the Ruffinos, had settled. The family began farming there and again became quickly successful. Antonio’s sons took turns running the family farm, each one being the “boss” until he got married. At each marriage, the son or daughter and his or her new spouse was presented with enough to get their own farm going: a couple of mules, a horse and a wagon. As the farm prospered, Antonio shrewdly watched for opportunities. He bought a store located at Dowling and Hadley streets and planned on retiring from farming, moving to the city and running the store. He leased it out temporarily, until such time as he could sell his land and move permanently to the city. As it became apparent that his two youngest sons, Tony and John, were not interested in farming, he sent them ahead to take over and run the store, Antonio sold the farm a few years later and he and Rosa joined their two youngest sons to run the grocery business. Again they prospered, keeping the store until the Johnny and Tony were both on their own and Antonio decided to retire.