Vaccaro Family History

Submitted by James Joseph Vaccaro I am the first-born child of Lawrence and Josephine Abbate Vaccaro. The values they taught me are the ones I live by and which have allowed me to become the person I am today. Tragically, my mother passed away when I was only twelve years old and she was so very young. Our lives were changed forever. My grandparents, Joe and Louise Abbate, put aside their grief and cared for the three youngest children. Josephine was still a baby. They are probably the strongest, most caring, and loving people I have ever known besides my Dad. My family had a close relationship with them until my grandfather’s death in 1976 and my grandmother’s death in 1983 and we still miss them. I stayed with my Dad during this time and we grew very close as we shared our profound loss and tried to adjust. Therefore, this personal reflection is mainly about my Dad’s life. The Jim Vaccaro Family settled in Stafford in the early 1900’s. Catherine Baiamonte Vaccaro and Jim Vaccaro, their infant son Frank, Catherine’s brother and his wife, and Jim’s cousin Mott left Palermo, Sicily in Italy and sailed to America in 1905. They wanted to provide a better life for their children and grandchildren. They arrived in Galveston and traveled to the Bryan-Navasota area where relatives had immigrated earlier. They had selected Texas to settle because Texas had very good soil for farming. In the Bryan area they share-cropped the land and endured severe weather and harsh living conditions. Catherine and Jim had five more children: Frances, Lawrence, Janie, Rosalie and Annie Mae. After a few years of struggling to make a living, they boarded a train with their animals and belongings and moved to Stafford’s Point. Starting out in Stafford, they lived with the Jebbia family until they could acquire land and build a house and barn. Jim bought fifty acres at a time until they had almost 200 acres. Jim’s cousin, Mott returned to Italy and sold his land to Jim. Jim and his family farmed cotton and supplemented their income with growing and selling vegetables at the farmers market in Houston. All the children contributed and from a very modest beginning, they developed a very successful farm. Frank never married. In 1937, Lawrence married Josephine Abbate, the daughter of Joe and Louise Abbate of Houston. Their wedding reception was held in the Missouri City High School gymnasium. Janie married Frank Lampson, Rosalie married Leon Zummo, Annie Mae married Lawrence Zummo, and Frances married Philip Comardo. Janie remained in Stafford, Frances moved to Bellaire, and Rosalie and Annie Mae moved to Port Arthur, Texas. The Vaccaro family had a close and loving relationship. During the early years when the family was getting established in Stafford, first Frank and then Lawrence had to drop out of school to operate the farm. Their father’s arthritis limited his physical contribution. Jim and Catherine did not speak English and at a very young age, Lawrence had to shoulder much of the responsibility for managing and operating the farm. Lawrence was extremely resourceful in his efforts to provide for the family. They used their land year around raising multiple crops (cotton, okra, cantaloupe, tomatoes, beans, hay). In addition, they leased farm land to raise cotton and hay. Frank lived with and cared for his parents. Frank was always close to his brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, and their children. He was well loved. Lawrence built a home next door to his parents. Lawrence started his family in 1938. He and Josephine had four children, James Joseph – named for his two grandfathers, Lawrence, Jr., Kathryn and Josephine. In 1950 Lawrence’s wife Josephine passed away. Lawrence later married Betty McManners and adopted her daughter, Linda. Subsequently, they had two more daughters, Betty, and Gina. Betty was the daughter of Pete and Pearlie McManners of Missouri City, Texas. During their marriage, Betty served as the Assistant Tax Assessor-Collector for the Fort Bend Independent School District and later served as the Tax Assessor-Collector for the Lamar Consolidated School District. Betty died in 1998. The Vaccaro family was very instrumental in developing the City of Stafford. Jim, Frank, and Lawrence along with other Italian men, helped to build the first Catholic church, Holy Family. In 1949 Lawrence purchased property from Mr. Rudy in downtown Stafford. This property included rental homes, a service station, auto repair shop, and a building in which he operated a modern grocery store know as C&V; Food Market. Later he moved the grocery store to a new building and opened a Laundromat in the original store building. For a number of years, while living above the facility, Chester Wright and his son Donald operated the service station and auto repair shop. Mr. Wright was the first Mayor of Stafford. Around 1956, Lawrence and Frank decided to limit their farming and use some of their land to build rental homes. Shortly after that, Lawrence started to develop Vaccaro Manor, where the streets are named for family members. He also built a neighborhood convenience store. Today, Vaccaro Manor hosts a beautiful Park named after the subdivision. Lawrence was a key contributor to the development of Stafford for more than two decades. He worked with the city founders in 1956 when the city was incorporated, including serving a term as a City Councilman. He served on the original Fort Bend Independent School Board from 1945 through 1961 and until Missouri City and Sugar Land consolidated into John Foster Dulles High School. He was a charter member of the local Lions Club and remained an active member of the community until his death in 1980. The oldest of Lawrence’s children, James Joseph (Jim) married Joan Broughton of Stafford. Jim and Joan were childhood friends and high school sweethearts. They attended Missouri City School together. Jim started at Missouri City in the first grade and Joan joined him in the sixth grade. Jim and Joan have three daughters, Suzanne, Natalie, and Jaime. Jim received Bachelor and Master of Science degrees in Engineering from the University of Texas at Austin. He spent 40 years in the aerospace and defense industry. Jim is a retired Lockheed Martin Inc. executive. His career with the company spanned 27 years and three cities – Houston, Austin, and Denver, Colorado. He is presently a consultant in Austin. Lawrence married Betty Hammond of Houston and they have three daughters, Lacy, Lori, and Lisa. Lawrence attended the University of Texas and is the Director of Public Works and Municipal Services for the City of Stafford. He is serving the community as it moves into the 21st century. Betty has spent a number of years working in Stafford Municipal School District Administration. Kathryn is married to Andy Houston, a retired Marine Lieutenant Colonel, who served in Vietnam and the Pentagon. Kathryn and Andy are graduates of the University of Texas at Austin. Kathryn is an employee of the government. They have two children, Rick and Michelle and live in Shertz, Texas. Josephine received a degree from the University of Texas at Austin and was head of the Stafford Municipal High School Math Department for a number of years. Jo lives in Sugar Land and teaches in Houston. Linda married Robert King and has two boys, Justin and Roan. Linda lives in Sugar Land and works in real estate in the Houston area. Betty attended the University of Texas at Austin, married Tom Hutchison and has a son Tommy. Betty and her son Tommy live in Austin where she owns a boutique. Gina married Tom Fulkerson and has three children Kelly, Kathryn, and Pierce. Gina and Tom received law degrees from Baylor University and each has their own law practice. Residents of Bellaire for many years, Gina and her family have recently moved to Wimberley, Texas. Presently, there are eleven great-grandchildren. I have vivid memories of my life in Stafford and working on the farm and in the grocery store. Starting at the age of 12, I assisted Uncle Frank with the farm while my Dad operated the grocery store. I often drove from the farm to downtown to get groceries and ice for the farm workers. In the afternoons I weighed the cotton while Uncle Frank took the cotton to the gin. On Saturdays, I worked in the grocery store checking, stocking, weighing produce, sacking and carrying out groceries. My Dad loved to barbeque in his back yard where he had constructed a large brick pit. On Sundays we often gathered at his table for his specialties, including stuffed artichokes, pasta, steak rolls, home made Italian sausage, and other wonderful dishes. These are precious memories. Dad loved having his family around him. My parents and grandparents taught us to value hard work, love of God and Church, and love of family. For this we will always be grateful. Lawrence was a man of integrity and decency. He was always fair and honest in his dealings with family and friends. Lawrence had a close, loving relationship with his family and is missed everyday of our lives.

A Brief History of Frank Vaccaro

Frank Vaccaro was the oldest son and first born of Jim and Catherine Vaccaro. He was born in Sicily in Italy in August of 1905. When he was an infant his family, including an uncle, aunt and cousin, came to America seeking a better life. They arrived in Galveston and traveled to the Bryan-Navasota area. Someone told them Texas had very good soil for farming. They share-cropped the land and endured very severe weather and harsh living conditions. With the family savings they moved to the Stafford area and purchased farm land. To work the farm, Frank dropped out of school at an early age to help his parents farm and spent most of his life as a farmer. He never married but lived with and took care of his parents as they aged. As most immigrants, Frank worked hard growing cotton and other crops to help his family make a living. Frank enjoyed fishing and made many trips to spots along the Texas coast with relatives and friends. He was a member of the Lyons Club for many years and enjoyed going to the Viking Den, a local cafe hangout in Stafford, for his morning coffee. He also loved cars and would get a new one often. It was not easy making a living at farming so the family decided to utilize the land they owned to develop a subdivision and build houses. Frank helped his brother Lawrence in this venture while continuing to farm for a while, but eventually relinquished farming altogether. In his late years he built a new home near Lawrence on land that had been part of the farm and lived with his sister Francis until he died in April of 1983. He loved his family and everyone loved Uncle Frank Vaccaro.

Brief History of Annie Mae Vaccaro and Lawrence Zummo

Annie Mae was the youngest of 6 children born to Jim Vaccaro and Katherine Baiamonte Vaccaro. Annie Mae was born in Mumford, Texas and when she was approximately a year old her family relocated to Stafford. Growing up in Stafford and farming cotton and okra was hard work for all the siblings. Annie took to the outdoors helping to pick the crops. She always enjoyed being outside working with her brothers and sisters. Annie Mae and her older sister, Rosalie, were the last children to marry and move away from Stafford. Annie met her future husband, Lawrence Zummo, at a dance in Houston. Rosalie also met her future husband, Leon Zummo, at the same dance. They both dated the Zummo brothers and eventually married in a double wedding ceremony in Stafford and then moved to Port Arthur in 1947. Annie Mae and Lawrence had only one child, Rose Ann. Annie Mae was a devoted mother and wife. In order to help with the finances, Annie started taking children to and from school. This proved to be a great help, as money was very tight. Annie continued to transport children to and from school for several years. Annie Mae, Rosalie and Rose Ann would visit family in Stafford as much as they could. When their dad’s health started to decline, they would come to Stafford during holidays, and in the summer to help take care of him. Annie Mae and Rosalie always cherished their time in Stafford with their brothers and sisters. They enjoyed playing cards with their sister, Janie and brother-in-law Frank. Annie Mae’s husband, Lawrence suffered a stroke in 1966. He was in the hospital for nearly 2 months. During this time, Rosalie and Leon took care of Rose Ann. Lawrence was able to return to work for a while, but he continued to have medical issues and declining health. Lawrence was in business for himself, operating a gas service station and later became employed with the City of Port Arthur. He died on 6-10-1981. Rosalie’s husband, Leon, died of lung cancer a month previous to Lawrence’s death. Now, the Zummo sisters were widows together. Annie Mae sold her home and moved in with Rosalie. They lived together in Port Arthur for more than 25 years. Annie lived to be 94 years old and was a loving wife, mother, grandmother and great-grandmother. Annie loved her family and always talked about how much fun she had growing up on the farm. She always tried to help when any of her brothers or sisters became ill and needed assistance. She was a very giving and loving person. She was a devout Catholic and led a Christian life. Annie’s granddaughter, Kimberly and her two great-granddaughters, Whitney and Kelby, will always have wonderful memories of “grandma”, who always had a smile on her face and was thrilled to be a part of their lives.

Brief History of Rosalie Vaccaro and Leon Zummo

Rosalie was one of 6 children born to Jim Vaccaro and Katherine Baiamonte Vaccaro. Rosalie was born in Navasota, Texas. When Rosalie was still very young, the family moved to Stafford where they farmed cotton and okra. Rosalie and her sister, Annie Mae, were the last siblings to marry and leave Stafford. Both sisters met two brothers at a dance in Houston. They dated the Zummo brothers and married in a double wedding ceremony in Stafford in 1947. Both sisters then moved to Port Arthur where they lived for the remainder of their lives. Rosalie and Leon never had any children. Leon had his own shoe repair shop in Port Arthur and Rosalie was a housewife and also helped her husband at the shoe repair shop. Leon became ill in his later years and died of lung cancer in 1981. Rosalie, Annie Mae, Leon and Lawrence were very close and were always together. They enjoyed dancing and being with family. Rosalie and Leon helped to take care of their niece, Rose Ann, when it was needed. Rosalie did not drive, so her sister, Annie Mae would take her shopping and be there with her for doctor visits or to assist her in anything she needed. When both sisters became widows, they lived together in Port Arthur for more than 25 years. They were referred to as “The Zummo Sisters” because they were always together. Rosalie became ill in her later years, suffering from dementia, until her death on Christmas Eve 2002. Rosalie cherished her family and was a devoted wife. She was a devout Catholic and led a Christian life. She always took pride in being a godmother and aunt to her nieces and nephews.

A Brief History of Janie Vaccaro Lampson and Frank Lampson

Janie, one of 6 children, was born in Mumford, Texas on September 12, 1912 to Jim Vaccaro and Katherine Baiamonte Vaccaro. The Vaccaro family moved to Stafford, Texas along with several other Italian families including the Lampsons. The prevailing custom of intermarriage of Italians and the close proximity and friendly relations between families facilitated the meeting and eventual marriage of Frank Lampson and Janie. They were married in Stafford on November 21, 1937 and quickly settled into the area. Frank farmed land in the Stafford and Missouri City area. After their marriage, Frank and Janie moved to Missouri City and farmed a plot of land near Cartwright Road. They also raised and sold chickens and pigs to supplement their income. During WWII Frank served his country faithfully as a private first class in the Army. He was stationed in many locations across America including California, South Dakota, Nebraska and Florida while Janie lived at home with her family part of the time, and traveled with him at other times. While Frank was away, Janie worked in a canning plant in Sugar Land and helped take care of her aging parents. When he returned home after the war Frank and Janie gave birth to an only child, Frankie. Frank became convinced that farming could not produce a sufficient income to support his family so, when an acquaintance offered him a job as an apprentice carpenter, he jumped on the opportunity. He quickly learned the art of building homes and soon struck out on his own as an independent contractor. Frank built many of the homes, including three of his own, in the Stafford-Missouri City area as well as many homes in Houston during his 25 plus years as a carpenter. Carpentry was not always consistent, so to supplement the family income Frank fell back on his first trade, farming, as a second job. Janie and Frank both worked about 10 acres of farm land during the summer months growing okra, corn and other vegetables but the main cash crop was cantaloupes. A daily haul of 30 or more crates of cantaloupes to several local grocery stores was not uncommon. Of course, Janie helped Frank in the fields and tended to the household chores while raising a son and, at times, taking care of an elderly, bedridden parent. Janie was a devoted housewife, a terrific mother and a great cook, but she did not stay home all the time. In order to help the family income she utilized her sewing skills and worked as a seamstress for Palais Royal for a number of years. In 1972, Janie and Frank retired while living in Missouri City. They spent their retirement years fishing, cooking, making wine and growing a large vegetable garden with many fruit trees in their back yard. They also enjoyed visiting with family and playing poker with relatives. Although they had only one child, Frank and Janie were blessed with 4 beautiful grandsons. Unfortunately, their last years were as difficult as their early years due to their deteriorating health. After a 10 year struggle with cancer and being confined to a wheelchair for 5 years after a stroke, Janie died at the age of 83 on April 6, 1994. During that time Frank faithfully took care of Janie, but shortly after her death he was diagnosed with lung cancer and died at the age of 85 on August 13, 1995. Throughout their challenging lives the anchors that always sustained Frank and Janie were determination, hard work, and their faith in Christ. The trials and hardships endured by this early family of Stafford are surely a testament to their work ethic, love of country and faith in God.