|The Libonati family originated in Noepoli, a small town in the southern province of Basilicata, Italy. The origin of the name is obscure -- one commercial genealogy service connects the name to a southern town called Vibonati; a Libonati living in Rome, after preliminary research, theorizes that it is a shortening of "delli Bonati"; one legend maintains that the famiily was actually of Greek origin.The change from Libonati to Libbon occurred after the family's arrival in the United States. (Other Libonatis, some from other locales in Southern Italy such as Rotonda, managed to keep the surname after emigration.) Two different explanations for the change have been offered -- that a foreman in a Pittsburgh steel mill shortened the name for simplicity's sake (a common enough practice in the U.S.); or that Frank Libonati changed his name to Libbon in order to avoid the prejudice against Italians that might hinder his ambition.The earliest ancestors (who we have been able to identify) of our branch of the Libonati family are Guiseppi Libonati and his wife Marantonia, born Angiolilli. They had three sons: Vincenzo, Matteo, and Francesco. -- Matteo died in infancy.-- Vincenzo, born 1849, married Mary Lapenta in 1875; they had three sons: Guiseppi (b. 1877),|
Francesco (b. 1882, later Frank Anthony Libbon), and Joseph Anthony Libbon (b. 1891)-- Francesco married Rafiel Santaluccia; they also had three sons: Antonio, Joseph Prospero, and Frank. Both of Guiseppi Libonati's surviving sons, Vincenzo and Francesco, emigrated to the United States with their families, settling eventually in Sharpsburg, Pennsylvania. (Vincenzo's second son, Joseph Anthony, became the first member of this branch born in the U.S.) The accepted year for Vincenzo's emigration is 1886; the passenger list for the ship Italia, which arrived in the U. S. December 1886, shows a M. Lapenta aged 32, as well as an F. Libonati, aged 3. This roughly corresponds to the time Mary Lapenta is known to have travelled to the United States with her son Francesco. If you have any information about this or any other branch of the Libonati/Libbon families, contact me. The family tree I have pieced together so far is extensive, but many gaps remain.
Updated February 28, 2010