21 December 2021

A Ghost of the Past


The above missive is from James Buchanan, Secretary of State in the cabinet of president James Knox Polk of the United States, to my ancestor, the reverend John (Jno) Serretta dated November 1st, 1846 in response to the previous request from John Serretta that United States of America passports be issued to himself and two fellow Spanish priests who wished to travel from New Orleans to Vera Cruz in Mexico, in order that they may join the mission of the order of St Vincent de Paul there.  As a state of war between the United States and Mexico existed at the time, this request could not be granted.  I wonder if the three priests ever managed to get to Mexico?  I have no further information to offer on that question.

There was a Guiseppe Serretta born around 1800, who married Marietta, Comtessa-Teresa, the daughter of the Comte Costa-Teresa of Spain.  They produced 5 children, none of whom were named Giovanni or Jao (Johnathan).

The family archive, in an entry in the diary of Ninio Serretta, has the following:

Domenico Serretta born in 1789, had three brothers Enrico, Luigi and Antonio.  Together they formed a Banking Co,  Banco Nazionale de Sicilia

Domenico’s son Giuseppe married Maria Costa.  Their children were (of those known):-

Lucio born 1843 married Maria Brusca born 1837 was a Brigadier and is direct ancestor of the South African branch of Family.

Cosimo born 1844, became a general.  

Luigi born 1845 married Guiseppina Scutta and immigrated to USA

Elvira born 1847 married Prof Cutrona of University of Palermo.

The Jno Serretta referred to in James Buchanan’s letter must be of the original Spanish family from which all of the Sicilian branch are descended.  The Luigi Serretta referred to above, as having emigrated to Spain, was only born in 1845.  However, one is left to presume that he had relations in Spain to pave his way.  

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