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Grand Rapids in 1856

Scene of early Grand Rapids viewed from the...

G.B. Russo Marries

by Kim Rush, John Russo, and Martin Starr

G.B.’s mother had Crucifissa Rocca meet with her daughters at the home of a seamstress. G.B. and a friend proceeded to kidnap Crucifissa to Holland where they were married. Kidnapping girls in those days was not uncommon because Italian girls were so scarce in America.[1]  The prospective bride’s parents, who did not consent to her marriage before the kidnapping took place, then demanded the marriage of the couple afterwards, as they figured that no future husband prospect would want their daughter after this event had occurred.

G.B. Russo married Crucifissa Maria Rocca September 5, 1906. Their marriage license lists his residence as Holland, Michigan. However, this bogus Holland address was probably implemented as part of the marriage scheme.

The young couple eventually had two daughters, Mamie and Mary. But in less than seven years, tragedy struck; seventeen days after giving birth to their third daughter, Josephine, Crucifissa died, February 28, 1913. The cause of death is recorded as puerperal septicemia, a form of blood poisoning. G.B. had no choice but to do the best he could without her. While mourning the loss of his wife, G.B. struggled with the responsibilities of watching his children while operating his grocery store and his macaroni factory.

[1] Russo family history compiled by Jennie Russo Moschetti, Mary C. Russo, John Russo, and Frank D. Russo.



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